Kokoda

Retreat Trekkers Complete Their Walk And Come Home

Retreat Trekkers

Retreat Trekkers

As you’d now know, the Retreat trekkers completed their walk on Saturday morning. They got up early and commenced the final ascent to Ower’s Corner. With a false peak blocking the view of the gateway signalling the end of the walk, it is not til they rounded a corner close to the top that they saw the ‘finishing line’ just ahead of them.

The porters were waiting for them at the top, singing as the trekkers passed under the archway. Bernie walked through last, bringing an end to 9 years of Centacare Kokoda treks.

The trekkers were met by a bus loaded with sandwiches, beers and bubbly, upon which they feasted before heading to the Gateway Hotel via Bomana War Cemetery. By midday, they were relaxing with coffees and hot chips at the Gateway.

Most of the group arrived back in Adelaide on Sunday night, and were met by a big crowd of relatives, friends, fellow walkers and supporters. No doubt they enjoyed their own beds and hot showers last night.

Thank you for taking this journey with us over the past three weeks. It was good to be able to pass on to the K12s so many messages of love and support from home.

Claire

 

If you’d like to support the Tribute or Retreat team for their tremendous effort or contribute to the fundraising efforts of a particular Tribute or Retreat trekker, you can visit these pages by clicking on the trekkers name below.
The Team
Alice Victory
Alma-Jane O’Donnell
Anne McEwen
Ben Clark
Bernie Victory
Bob Kass
Brenton Williamson
Brian Horan
Brian Schumacher
Catherine Norman
Chris Adey
Chris Horan
Corina Poole
Graham Peck
Ian Steel
James Trezona
Julie O’Leary
Lee Russell
Lindsay Ames
Liz Maddigan
Lyall Willis
Natalie Horan
Norman Tate
Paul Williams
Pauline Victory
Peter Scherer
Sam Pittolo
Steve Langdon
Zorana Bogatic

Chris Adey’s Reflection

Chris Adey

Chris Adey

I’ve had a chance to reflect on my experience of ‘The Track’, through so many people asking me “How was it?” and i’m sure that as the weeks go on other ideas will surface. For now though here it is:

When I first contemplated ‘doing Kokoda’ it was more in the context of completing a physically demanding challenge. I had heard of others who had completed the journey and they all said how hard it was so I looked upon the trek as mostly physical. Certainly, the training we did seemed to reinforce that idea. However, having read a couple of books – The Coast Watchers and Peter Fitzsimmons “Kokoda”, I became aware that there was a deeper dimension – that of remembering the Australians who had been on the Track in 1942/3. Before I left for PNG I drew up a timeline of the significant battles and movements that occurred and had them laminated so that I could remind myself of what happend at the various ‘significant sites’ and on the ‘relevant dates’ that coincided with our Trek.

I think now that walking the Track as we did, with our daily briefings, personal reflections and our memorial services, made it a type of pilgrimmage. Because of this, walking the Track, for me now, is no longer just a physical challenge [as hard as it was], but will always be a journey of respect and remembrance of the young (and not so young) men who fought, lived and died there.

Walking the Track also gave me plenty of time to think and over several days I really thought about what I could take away from my experiences that I might share with my kids and grandkids – life lessons, if you will. At night I jotted these reflections down in my journal so that I would remember them, and it is my intention to write them up, fill them out and when the time is right pass them on.

Lastly, I came away with the conviction that Australia needs to recognise the Kokoda Campaign, just as we do the Landing at and Battle of Anzac Cove that we celebrate on April 25th. It also occured to me that we, as a now large group of Trekkers over 9 years, could be a significant voice in establishing a yearly memorial. What form that might take, and what significant others we might recruit from the Australian community, who have also ‘done the Track’, are only vague ideas as yet. To do nothing, though, is to suggest that what happended on the Track in 42/3 is not really relevant to us as Austalians. “Lest we Forget.”

Kokoda to Isurava Village

Kokoda to Hoi

Kokoda to Hoi

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!

Deniki to Isurava Village

Deniki to Isurava Village

 
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.

:)

Claire

K12s On Their Way To Kokoda / Port Moresby

Kokoda to Hoi

Kokoda to Hoi

I heard from Bernie again this morning and all is well.

As at 11.30am SA time, 14 of the K12s are on a plane on their way back to Port Moresby, and 12 are bouncing their way to Kokoda in a truck. For those doing the math – Brenton has decided that back-to-back was a silly idea after all, so he has opted to head back to PoM with Anne and the rest rather than joining the Retreat trekkers for the walk back to Ower’s Corner.

As mentioned in the last update, the Retreat trekkers will arrive in Kokoda then start walking to Hoi in the early afternoon. This will be a gentle* but beautiful start to their walk.

Claire

(*gentle in actual, normal person terms, none of this crazy “oh it’s just gently undulating” walking language)

Arrival in Buna

Popondetta

Popondetta

I heard from Bernie last night and this morning, and from Pauline in PoM last night. Everyone is well and it seems things are finally going to plan!

Yesterday, the bulk of the group finally got to Buna. This involved 4 hours of the most bumpy, squashed ride ever. They took a break in Popondetta en route, and a soccer game provided some welcome relief from the cramped truck ride. During the course of their 4 hour adventure, I understand they ran out of petrol twice; again, standard PNG fare.

Upon arrival in Buna, they were welcomed by locals dressed in full traditional regalia. Some of the trekkers then opted for a longboat ride to Sanananda (which probably would have been slightly more relaxing without the 1.5m waves). It was an adventurous day; lots of waiting around and bumpy truck rides probably doesn’t constitute  the greatest way for the Retreat trekkers to start, but I’m sure they’ll get into the zone later today when they start walking on the Track.

Buna

Buna

By 7pm last night, they were all dry and having tea in a nice hut overlooking the ocean. At that point they were not optimistic that the truck would get back from Popondetta in time (3am) for them to meet the plane, but they did end up getting to Popondetta as planned this morning and, in any event, the plane time was changed so that Pauline and Brian S didn’t fly out of PoM til 8.30am, meaning the K12s who are not doing the Retreat will likely fly out from Popondetta to PoM around 9.30 this morning. Those trekkers will spend tonight at the Gateway in Port Moresby before flying home tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the Retreat trekkers will walk from Kokoda to Hoi today. From memory, this will only take them 1 – 2 hours, and they’ll likely get in to the lovely village of Hoi after lunch.

Claire

Comings And Goings

View From The Air

View From The Air

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!).

One Of Nature's Beauties On The Track

One Of Nature’s Beauties On The Track

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.

Claire

Nice Relaxing Day and Birthday Celebrations

Birthday Celebrations for Brenton and Zorana
Birthday Celebrations for Brenton and Zorana

The K12s made the best of yesterday’s delay, spending a funny, relaxing night in resort Kokoda. They enjoyed some birthday celebrations for Zorana and Brenton. This may be related in some way to the request for further supplies (of scotch whiskey) that came through yesterday…

They were hoping to truck it to Popondetta at 4am today – no word yet as to whether or not that has happened. They are particularly keen to hear whether any more donations have come through since they’ve been in PNG.

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.

Claire

The Team
Alice Victory
Alma-Jane O’Donnell
Anne McEwen
Ben Clark
Bernie Victory
Bob Kass
Brenton Williamson
Brian Horan
Brian Schumacher
Catherine Norman
Chris Adey
Chris Horan
Corina Poole
Graham Peck
Ian Steel
James Trezona
Julie O’Leary
Lee Russell
Lindsay Ames
Liz Maddigan
Lyall Willis
Natalie Horan
Norman Tate
Paul Williams
Pauline Victory
Peter Scherer
Sam Pittolo
Steve Langdon
Zorana Bogatic

Plans Fall Victim To Standard PNG Chaos!

The Truck From Popondetta Didn't Arrive

The Truck From Popondetta Didn’t Arrive

The trucks from Popondetta didn’t arrive, so the trekkers are spending another night in Kokoda. If all goes to plan,* they will depart for Buna at 4am.On the plus side, this likely gives the back-to-back trekkers a slightly higher chance of getting their soaking wet clothes and boots slightly more dry…Claire

(*i.e. the plan that is their new plan after their original plan and back-up plan fell victim to standard PNG chaos!)

Hurry Up and Wait!

Trekkers Will Be Waiting For Their Plane
Trekkers Will Be Waiting For Their Plane

As you’d now know, the Tribute trekkers finished their walk at Kokoda yesterday. They then camped at Kokoda last night. Most of the Retreat trekkers arrived in Port Moresby yesterday and stayed at the Gateway Motel last night.

Today, the plan is for the Retreat trekkers to fly to Kokoda, and for the whole group (minus a few who have opted not to do the beaches and to head straight back to Port Moresby) to then get to Popondetta by truck, and then head to the Northern Beaches.

As of 9.30am this morning, the scenario is textbook PNG: the plane from Port Moresby has been delayed because of low cloud over Mount Bellamy, and the trucks coming from Popondetta have been delayed by breakdown. But all being well, the K12s will be in Buna tonight.

Claire

Centacare Adelaide
Centacare Adelaide

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