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