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.
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.
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!
Bernie called last night to report that the trekkers were all well at Ioribaiwa village.
This morning they crossed the Brown River, which was raging; so much so that Catherine was swept off her feet and the porters decided to carry her, above their heads, across the river – which would have been quite an experience.
Yesterday was warm, with no rain or intense heat; weather as good as you could hope for on the Track. Maguli Ridge was a hard slog; quite muddy both up and down. They then climbed up Ioribaiwa Ridge, which was also a bit muddy.
They got in to camp at Ioribaiwa village around 4pm, weary but still in good spirits; it was a good day.
Encounters with wildlife have continued, with camp dogs still lurking in the hope of seizing some scroggin and poor Zorana encountering a rat in her tent!
The trekkers have appreciated the messages I’ve been sending through from you all, and they send their love and thanks to you all. They are also happy to hear that donations are continuing to come through for the Gift of Time Appeal, as of course they are all participating in this challenge through Centacare in order to raise much needed funds for respite care for intellectually disabled children and their families.
Today they will descend Ioribaiwa Ridge and climb Imita Ridge – a very steep, tiring incline. They will then descend and, I believe, set up camp somewhere around Uberi. That will leave crossing the Goldie and climbing up to Ower’s Corner for Saturday morning.
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.
Dad (Bernie) called at 7pm tonight. At that stage, only three of the trekkers were still up; clearly the 3 hours of walking today has them all tuckered out!
They departed their Port Moresby hotel at 8am yesterday, and were at Bomana War Cemetery by 9am. They then headed to Sogeri with the hope of catching up with Morris; he wasn’t there, so they were directed elsewhere, but he wasn’t there either so they headed off to McDonald’s Corner to see the statue, and then got to Ower’s Corner by 11.30am. At Ower’s, they had lunch and took photos. While they were there, two other groups came in.
They then headed off at 12.30pm, crossing a waist-deep Goldie River after the initial tricky downhill. The group set a good pace today, with no-one falling behind. There were 4 minor falls as the track was a bit slippery, and there was also some ‘gloopy’ mud. There has been light rain on and off since 4.30pm. In a puzzling move, Anne is sporting hot pink gaiters – although they’ll likely be a fetching shade of mud brown by this time tomorrow (which is probably for the best, really).
As the Track is quite busy, there were two other groups already camped at Good Water when the K12s arrived, so they didn’t get the best camping spot and having only a small shelter. But all four toilets have seats, and the trekkers have all had a wash in the nice little creek followed by a lovely dinner of fried chicken and potato. The porters have been singing for hours, and even have a guitar with them, so it looks like the K12s will be kept well-nourished from an aural perspective.
They had a couple of briefings today – Bernie managed to explain World War Two in 8 minutes and the Kokoda campaign in 2 minutes, and Steve did an excellent talk on army organisation (explaining what a brigade is etc.) The group has many of the same porters as last year. For those of you for whom this means anything: Corina has Kenneth again, Bernie has Koi, Anne is partnered with Robin, Brenton is with Artie again and Alma’s porter is the charming Paul, who was Michelle’s porter last year (it remains to be seen if Alma will be similarly showered with flowers).
Tomorrow, the K12s will be awoken by Alma’s chosen wake-up music by 5am. They’ll be walking by 6.45am, heading up a reportedly very muddy Imita Ridge. They’ll then criss-cross Ua-Ule Creek and head to Ioribaiwa, where they plan to be staying tomorrow night.
We’ll get another update through to you whenever we next hear from Bernie (if at all), but in the meantime remember you can send through your messages of support by email (Claire@duddyshopov.com.au) or text (0438 293 602) to me, or by posting a comment to the blog page.
If you wish to support Alma’s fundraising efforts you can visit her sponsorship website at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/almajane_odonnell