Andrew's Story

“​Small Groups Is Good” – September Trek AJ

As we began our trek, it was obvious that some of the competitors were maximizing their profit margin by having VERY large groups, anywhere from 28 to 46, on the track! Our thoughts were initially on river crossings where if it took them a minute to get each trekker across a log crossing (photos, nerves, etc), well we really did not want to be close behind them!

Fortunately, the group in front of us was pretty well always a campsite ahead of us and the other mammoth groups were coming the other way and let our little group through, but what a contrast.

Our group of six trekkers plus porters was unintentionally fast over a very dry track. Six Septembers I have experienced and overall, this was the driest. The good thing with that is more time to look, talk, adsorb, and experience. And more importantly, more time to spend getting to know our porters. I wonder how many big groups get beyond getting to know each other, let alone the porter team.

Dawn (the pocket rocket) came along with husband Lawrie (don’t get between me and a photo op/market stall) and son Paul (tried sooo hard to keep those two in line). Toss in Jenni who lives just down the road from them & the northern Victorians were a tight team. Big Billy Bugden, (Jack Deia’s newly adopted son) brought his NRL power to the track along with a wicked sense of humour and we all loved having him there, porters maybe more so as they spent all night talking NRL and teaching him Pidgin. Rounding out the group was our favourite Italian Marioo, who had us all drooling over the cooking skills of the generations who raised him. Mario & Jenni had us longing to visit the respective Nona’s and get stuck into a good feed. Fortunately MasterChef Frank was there to distract us, which he did with brilliance, and talk was of a ‘cook-off’ between Frank & the Nona’s!

​Pretty well everything you could hope for was about, except for torrential rain, and with the kids on school holidays, we were joined at times with junior porters and experienced en-masse hilarity as the kids entertained us at Kagi. New bridges, creeks/rivers all magnificent to swim in (remembering we had the time to linger!) and no real slippery descents, what more could you ask for.

Led by the amazing Robert & Lexan, the team of porters did brilliantly, sticking close by and making sure that all went smoothly. Porter of the week was the ever smiling Malau who even without English language skills, was there when he needed to be, worked hard at any task and of course, smiled all the way through, even when regularly applying the ‘nettle’ to his muscular aches! I would still give just about anything to have seen him on the Go-Carts at Phillip Island, first time ever behind the wheel and as he said to Al Grasby, “Al, this has been the best day of my life!!!” Note, he still has the record for…… the slowest lap ever! but his application did get him up into the fast times (easier when no one clearly explained the concept of the brake pedal).

And the other bit of fun? Ringing Jack on Day 7, his first question was, “how is the big boy doing”, he loves his NRL does our Jack. I wonder how Jack felt about his new hero in the ‘house slippers’!

Kokoda really does have everything.

SEP 2015