Bernie called on Friday night to advise that the trekkers were all well in camp at the Goldie.
They had a really nice day, with the porters continuing to sing every time the group stops…and yes, the K12s now know all the words, so expect to be serenaded with some pidgin English tunes upon their return.
They climbed Imita Ridge, the last of the big ridges – Ben decided to carry his porter’s big pack up and over Imita, which is quite an impressive effort.
They crossed the Goldie and had a nice wash, with the trekkers washing their stinky shirts. Thanks to the nice sunny weather, they were able to dry them out as well. They got into camp in the early afternoon, and had a nice evening sitting around and debriefing – Julie read a poem and Lindsay made a speech while they watched the porters gather a massive 3m high stack of wood for a bonfire. They were having a few quiet whiskeys around the fire and looking forward to getting up early this morning for the climb up to Ower’s Corner. They anticipated getting to Ower’s by 7.30am, so are likely now at or en route to Bomana War Cemetery.
By this afternoon, they’ll be at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby, no doubt enjoying some hot showers, clean clothes and SP beers.
Please note: Since writing this blog story, I have now heard by midday today they were a the Gateway Hotel enjoying coffees and hot chips, just like any normal Saturday walk!
We heard from the K12s at 6.40pm on Wednesday night – quite literally heard from all of them as I could heard them all chatting and laughing in the background as Alice provided the update. We had nice (relatively) clear reception too, so Al got a fair few details through.
On Wednesday morning they left their Efogi campsite and headed up Brigade Hill. On the top of Brigade Hill, they had a lovely ceremony led by Brian, and Catherine sang ‘Abide With Me’. The porters also sang. In fact, the porters have been singing a lot during breaks; the same 5 songs over and over, so there’s a fair chance the trekkers will have them stuck in their heads for a long time after they depart PNG.
They all walked together down Brigade Hill, and made quite good time. They had a beautiful lunch at the lovely village of Menari, including fresh pineapple. From there, they headed uphill in fairly hot and humid weather – at this point Ben felt the need for speed, and raced up and then down the Wall, so the rest of the group didn’t really see him again until they got into camp – let’s hope he’s saved enough energy for the big ridges yet to come!
They camped on Wednesday night at Aguaro; it is a nice little campsite in a beautiful spot, with lots of little kids running around. The K12s befriended two other trekkers staying at the campsite, who are walking the Track, just the two of them accompanied by two porters. One of those porters currently holds the record for running the Track (17 hours I believe).
The trekkers are all well and in very good spirits. Those who had had a few problems with blisters due to the wet conditions during the Tribute trek are enjoying the much drier conditions, which have allowed their feet to heal. Last night, many of them had a nice wash in the creek, and Sam shared a block of chocolate he’d been saving for a special occasion (which had thankfully survived the camp dog raids on the trekkers’ tents). Ben has encountered a few leeches and Zorana and Julie came face to face with a snake, but otherwise it’s been fairly smooth sailing thus far.
They’re all doing well even after a tough day of walking, and there’s been lots of joking and laughing. Some of them have managed to stay up til 8pm each night, and from what I could hear on the phone last night as I was talking to Alice, they’re having a great time chatting around the camp fire and getting to know each other. Ben is unfortunately on his last camera battery – I passed on everyone’s good wishes for his photographic endeavours; I’m sure he’s going to come back with some amazing shots.
Today they will be climbing Maguli Ridge, a tough hill with 9 false peaks. A fair portion of it is in the open, too, so you don’t have the forest foliage keeping you cool. They will then head down Maguli, and I believe they will then also climb Ioribaiwa Ridge before camping at Ioribaiwa village tonight. Some very steep climbs and descents today, but the end is in sight…
If you’d like to sponsor the team or contribute to the fundraising efforts of a particular trekker, you can visit these pages by clicking on the trekkers name below.
Bernie called at 11am on Saturday 15th from Isurava Village. The Retreat trekkers are all well.
They left Kokoda at about 4pm on Friday, and walked for one and a half hours to Hoi. While this part of the Track isn’t particularly steep or hilly, it is somewhat open at this point and Bernie says it was hotter than at any point over the past week and a half.
They spent last night in Hoi, which is reportedly as beautiful as always. As they were having tea there was a bit of a downpour – a few leaky tents, but not too bad. This morning they walked to Isurava Village via Deniki – they are all talking about how hard that climb was, which is of great satisfaction to me and, I’m sure, all others who have done the walk from Kokoda and had to deal with the trekkers who’ve done the Track the other way saying “hard? there’s no steep climb there!
This is a smaller, quieter group than the Tribute trek group. So far they’re walked at a fairly steady, easy pace. Ben has been wandering around in awe, wishing he had brought more camera batteries. Alice has been excellent, bringing enthusiasm and careful attention to detail to her role as medical officer, ensuring everyone takes the right drugs and dishing out advice as required. Peter is enjoying the lack of city sounds and, in particular, the lack of phones. Brian is loving the jungle but still can’t believe he has people putting his tent up for him!
The trekkers expect to arrive at the Isurava battlefield around 2pm today. Some of them hope to walk up to the B Company positions. The others will surely spend the afternoon enjoying the magnificent view while reflecting quietly on the sad significance of this most beautiful, moving site.
I’ve passed on the footy results but I’m sure the trekkers are also keen to hear from friends and family, so keep the messages coming and I’ll pass them on when possible.
I just had a call from Pauline, who is relaxing with a coffee at the Gateway Motel in Port Moresby. This morning, Chris Adey flew out, Pauline went to the airport to collect Peter’s bag, which didn’t arrive with him on Tuesday, and Lyall met up with some local friends before heading home.
As for the K12s heading to the Beaches: one of the guides Pauline spoke to in PoM said he thinks they’re still stuck in Kokoda, but Pauline’s friend Cecily, in Kokoda, thinks they’ve left Kokoda – so who knows?! Hopefully, they’re at or en route to the Beaches. At this stage they’ll probably only visit Buna, as they then need to be back at Popondetta by about 7am tomorrow to get their flight back to PoM.
This afternoon, Brian Schumacher will arrive in Port Moresby, and he and Pauline will spend the afternoon touring around PoM with a guide. They (and Peter’s bag) will then fly to Popondetta tomorrow morning to meet the rest of the group and distribute additional Leukoplast tape, fungal cream and video camera memory cards (which Brian kindly packed last night) to the back-to-back trekkers and – perhaps as importantly – supplies of cheese, Vegemite and mayonnaise to Cecily (essential items the villagers cannot buy in Kokoda!).
Pauline reports that it was hot and sunny in Kokoda yesterday – hopefully that means the Retreat trek will be a bit less wet than the Tribute trek. The Tribute trekkers’ spirits were given a real boost by the arrival of Alice, Ben, Zorana, Paul and Peter yesterday, with their bountiful energy and enthusiasm. Ben was taking lots of photos and Alice took over drug duties (making sure everyone was taking their anti-malaria medication etc.), in between general excited bouncing around the campsite.
We may not hear from the group tonight due to a lack of battery and reception, but whether they’re at Buna or Kokoda I understand that they’re enjoying the break before flying home or commencing the walk back over the Track to Ower’s Corner.
Pauline, Alice, Zorana, Paul, Ben and Peter flew from Port Moresby to Kokoda mid-morning today. All but Pauline have now gone to join the Tribute trekkers to head to the Northern Beaches, except Chris Adey and Lyall who have flown back to Port Moresby with Pauline. Those three are not going to the Beaches – Chris and Lyall will, I believe, return home in the next few days (please note this is not due to injury or illness; this was the plan all along), while Pauline hopes to visit some people and places in and around Port Moresby before joining the rest of the Retreat trekkers at Kokoda on Friday, along with Brian Schumacher who leaves Adelaide tomorrow.
Confused? Yeah me too!
Some of the Retreat trekkers departed Adelaide bright and early this morning to join their fellow K12s (in their muddy, wet, stinky glory) at Kokoda or Popondetta (depending on where the plane can land in the wet conditions).
Pauline, Alice, Zorana, Ben, Paul and Peter were farewelled by a small, bleary-eyed crew, and arrived in Brisbane mid-morning. They had a 3 hour wait for their next flight and will arrive in PNG later today. Brian Schumacher heads off on Thursday, and the rest of the Retreat trekkers are already in PNG as they are doing the Tribute + Retreat option (Bernie, Brenton, Sam, Catherine, Lindsay and Julie) – I wonder what they’re thinking about that decision now!
Most of the K12s who are coming home after the Northern Beaches will arrive in Adelaide on Saturday evening (15th September), and most of the rest of the group will return on Sunday 23rd September…so we’ve still got a while to go; I do hope you stay tuned and keep those messages from home coming – especially for those who are not even quite halfway through their adventure yet!
If you wish to support the Centacare Kokoda Challenge team’s fundraising efforts you can visit the sponsorship website at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/bernie_victory or by downloading the donation form here.
I’m Ben Clark…
I am 17 years old and attend Woodcroft College in SA. I love to express my creativity and vision through my Art and Photography, which I am most passionate about. Keeping fit is also something that has been within me forever.
I have been involved with many different sporting commitments throughout my life since I can remember. I’m fond of the outdoors and love to experience every part of this world while I travel as much can and hope to do more so in the future.
I guess the young Australians around my age that were injured and killed during WWII in Papua New Guinea, had no idea of what was waiting for them. I have been inspired to trek the Kokoda Trail because I wish to experience the Track for myself and walking in our soldier’s footsteps would be an honourable privilege.
A bit of hard yakka every Saturday morning is significantly preparing me for Kokoda. My physical and mental capabilities are increasing and I believe I can confront Kokoda along with the sort conditions it holds. However I believe this is immense challenge I’m going to face and I am willing to pursue it for the experience, self achievement and my fellow Australians that have fought and died to save our nation.
“Life is short, some opportunities only come once… seize them.”
If you wish to support Ben’s fundraising efforts you can visit his sponsorship website at: http://www.everydayhero.com.au/ben__graham_fundraising_for_kokoda_challenge_with_centacare