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.
You can support Peter’s fundraising efforts at http://www.everydayhero.com.au/peter_scherer