So I put a post on this forum asking about backpacks, what to look for etc. I mentioned that I was doing the Kokoda trek in Papua New Guinea, and promised a write up, its here, a bit late I will admit. But better late than never right?
Day one was spent mostly in transit (Hobart-Brisbane-Port Moresby).
(Port Moresby from the air, probably the best view of it...)
On the plane ride from Brisbane I managed to befriend a local of the city, which came in handy as when I landed in Port Moresby the pick up from the hotel that was meant to be there, wasn't. Him and his wife then rang up the hotel to see what was going on, and stayed with me till the pick up and Wayne (Australian trek leader) arrived. Which was a good thing, to paint a picture, its 11pm, there's lots of people around, a few suss looking groups around the front of the airport, 4wd utes seem to be the vehicle of choice as trays are handy to transport people. Yea, its that kind of place.
Later found out that my new friend is actually a Lieutenant Colonel in the PNG Defense Force, and his wife works for another hotel there, and said to contact them next time I'm there, so its good to have friends in high places
Bus ride from the airport to the jetty from where I had to take a boat ride to the island hotel however is when the shit hit the fan. Ever have that feeling that something isnt right? I did, before uttering the words "oh shit wheres.... oh f***! WHERES MY PASSPORT!? AND TRAVEL DOCUMENTS?! AND LOCAL CURRENCY!? F***!"
Yea, with in an hour of being in a foreign country, my passport, documents (including visa... kinda important) and $250au worth of money was pinched. This is after I took all pre-cautions possible. If it was pinched out of my pack, or if I lost concentration for a second, I honestly couldnt tell you. Lesson learnt though however.
Which meant that what would have otherwise being a hell of a midnight boat trip in awesome weather (around 25c) was spent silently cursing myself with Wayne telling me not to worry about it, as they can easily sort things out.
Good news though, after getting about 2 hours sleep, the next morning word came through that everything but the money had being recovered by airport security, so that was a relief! (sorry if I'm crapping on here...)
Met the rest of the group, took the boat ride back to the mainland.
(A similar boat to the night before... except with a roof)
(Heading from the hotel)
From there we caught a bus to Bomana Cemetery, where the allied dead from the campaign are buried, that was a real shock seeing.
And then from there it was on to Owers Corner where we met "The Boys" (the carriers) and to start the trek.
From here it gets really difficult to talk about the walk itself. Not just because "we walked Kokoda in 8 days" doesnt do it any justice, but because you really cant explain it to people that haven't been there, it was a discussion that a few of us had one night, to understand and appreciate it, you cant go by descriptions, you have to actually do the walk itself.
My impressions on it however, were that it was an amazing experience, and I got so much more out of it than I ever expected to. The group itself was great with no disagreements, which surprised everyone, even the leaders.
Reading about these events and battles is one thing. But actually being at the village of Isurava and seeing Kingsburys Rock (google it), seeing the Memorial at Isurava which I've only ever seen in pictures, climbing Imita Ridge, seeing the weapons pits along the track, being given a description of a flanking maneuver at this site and the loss of life that went with it is what will stick in the years to come
All of the carriers are great, and are there to help you and you will eventually end up great friends with a few of them.
(Carrier with remains of a Bren at the village of Menari)
The walk itself, wasnt really the physical challenge that I was after, not saying it was a walk in the park, but I certainly never found myself thinking "I cant do this"
If I had to pick a favorite moment from the track, it wouldnt be easy, but I would probably have to say the service at Brigade Hill and being given the chance to do a reading there.
(one of my favorite pictures from the trip)
Not one person had dry eyes after that service.
Or the memorial at the village of Isurava.
That pretty much sums up the trek itself, sorry if I'm a bit vauge on the events there, but its something that really cant be put into words.
Isurava was the morning of the last day, from there we finished off the walk at the village of Kokoda, where we bought.... BEER!
Now buying the beer at Kokoda was interesting. Went for a walk with a few of the boys to the local store (which by the way proves my theory... that no matter where in the world you are, there's always a dodgy Chinese run, all-in-one store, seriously, you could buy anything from beer to machetes to soccer shirts... Not that its a bad thing), it just had the air of being a place where a non-local wouldnt want to be caught without local frirends. Getting back to where we were staying, I dont think I've ever seen people (self included) down beer so quick, pretty sure that first one didnt touch the sides
If anyone has any questions to ask, or wants me to elaborate on anything at all please dont hesitate! I know its a bit of a crappy write up, I always struggle doing things like this.
*EDIT* I'm sorry for the lack of posted pictures, I just wasnt keen on posting pictures of others from the group for privacy reasons, I have more that I will post later.