27th June – 8th July 2016
It was 5° when we gathered at Tullamarine airport at 4.30am on Monday 27th June. A diverse group of 9 adventurers introduced themselves with a common degree of nervous excitement. Our team was made up of the following 3 groups:
Elaine and Louis – Mother and Son
Adam and Mark – Mates
Nigel and Gavin – Mates
Brothers Daniel and Michael – Nigel’s nephews
Brayden – Gavin’s son
It was Nigel’s 3rd Kokoda trek and Daniel’s second
Seamless flights through Brisbane to Port Moresby and transfer to the Holiday Inn where we were soon enjoying the pool and surrounds in 32° warmth.
An early start on Tuesday and a short flight had us at Popondetta. Some last minute shopping was completed before we visited the intimate Popondetta War Memorial. We learnt about the war history at Buna and Gona and Elaine spoke about her father’s service in the 2/14th Battalion at Buna in early 1843.
A picturesque and bumpy ride in our PMV had us at Kokoda for lunch, a museum visit, and a tour of the Kokoda battle site. We spent some time with the No Roads School group led by Phil Monteduro, who we would be sharing The Track with for the first 4 days into Kagi.
We integrated with our ready, willing and able porter team – let by Jack and managed by
Off we go! A gentle “walk in the jungle” through Hoi Village to Deniki campsite with only a couple of noticeable “what have I done” expressions from the team.
The Campsite is established and we settle in for our first No Roads feast – devil sausages and vegetables – meticulously prepared by Master Chef (2015 porter of the year) Paul. All is well as we drift off, although Nigel (the veteran) is a bit off colour.
Day 2 – We break camp with the “everybody in” warm up exercises and No Roads war cry. Torrential overnight rain to the north has made The Track very slippery and there have been several landslides which has made the going very challenging as the Porters cut a new path to climb up and around the eroded areas. Nigel is finding the going tough and is walking at a slow pace. We push on to Isuravu Memorial to stop for lunch and a battle site service while Nigel takes his time with Smithy and Walter as he “acclimatises and gets his Track Breath”.
Day 3 – Phil and No Roads “brother/sister” groups head off along a wet and slippery track through Eora Creek, Templetons II crossing, and into our campsite at Templeton I crossing.
Day 4 – We enjoy walking along a dry track to Kagi Village via the B25 Bomber crash site, Myola Lake, and the ammunition stockpile site. We are greeted at Kagi by the women and children who sing a beautiful welcoming song and present us with a flower necklace. Many tears of joy are shed.
Day 5 – Saturday is the Sabbath for the villagers. We have a great day in Kagi resting, attending the church services, visiting the school and talking with the Villagers and playing games with the children.
Day 6 – We are off trekking again – down to Main Creek, up to Efogi II, down to Efogi I, up to Brigade Hill, down to Menari River, and up to Menari Village. We now know what it must be like to be a yo-yo with all of the ups and downs! Some highlights include a service and placing of poppies at Brigade Hill, a swim in Menari River, and an after dinner sing along with the teachers and children from Menari Village.
Day 7 – We climb up from Menari to summit “The Wall” and then trek down to Brown River where we enjoy morning tea and a swim. Spirits are high as we arrive at Nauro Village for lunch and spend the rest of the day relaxing and taking in the breathtaking views.
Day 8 – We head off at first light for a hard trekking day which takes us up to the top of the Magouli Ranges and then a long decent to Ofi Creek for morning tea and a swim. A challenging climb to the top of Ioribaiwa Ridge and then lunch at Isurava Village. Our final decent for the day takes us to Ua Ule Creek where we traverse it several times before arriving at the Ua Ule Creek campsite for another well-earned swim and rest.
Day 9 – We are all excited as we head off on our final days trekking. After a long climb, we reach the top of Imita Ridge where we share a special moment with the porters – singing our respective National Anthems to each other. We trek down the Golden Staircase to the Goldie River for our final swim in the jungle. The last hill – our tired legs carry us up to the famous arches led by our new “Queen of the jungle” and we pass through as a very proud group. An unforgettably emotional experience and a proud sense of achievement by our fantastic group of achievers. God bless The Porters !!
Kokoda Track – Bloody Awesome!