2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda Campaign, a campaign that saw Australian soldiers halting the advance of the Japanese in numerous battles in some of the most rugged terrain in the world. This feat was done with the help of the people of Papua New Guinea, most famously the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels whose labour and efforts carrying wounded troops back to safety was both invaluable and inspirational. Memories of this important part of Australian history are etched into many a heart and mind making the Kokoda Track a pilgrimage for Australians of all ages. But what is it and what does it mean to those who walk it?
The Kokoda Track is a 96-kilometre single-file thoroughfare that runs through the jungles of Papua New Guinea. It starts at Ower’s Corner and finishes at the village of Kokoda at the northern end of the track. It is a natural rollercoaster with switchbacks, steep climbs and descents, providing close interactions with tree roots, humidity and obstacles that deliver indescribable physical and mental challenges. Mount Bellamy is the highest point at 2,190 metres (only 38 metres shorter than Australia’s highest mountain). To offset the challenges, the heart-warming encounters with locals who live on the track will see you smothered in smiles. Regardless of your initial reason for taking on this challenge, the highlight for most is the interaction with the trekking crew and the people of Papua New Guinea.
The reasons for walking the Kokoda Track vary widely. For the adventure seekers, it offers a tough jungle trek with many obstacles and plenty of opportunity to test out your physical and mental toughness and tenacity. For the history buffs and family members of servicemen who fought in the Kokoda Campaign during World War II, walking the Kokoda Track offers a unique glimpse into the battles fought, the mateships forged and the sacrifices made by soldiers on both sides of the battle. For Inspired Adventures participants, Kokoda offers all of the above with the additional bonus of doing it for charity and making every footstep count.
The first Kokoda Challenge offered by Inspired Adventures was back in 2006 when 14 participants signed up to raise funds for Mission Australia. To commemorate the 70th anniversary, we have a number of departures coinciding with significant dates including ANZAC Day (just departed) and Fuzzy Wuzzy Day (3 November) where teams supporting both Leukaemia Foundation and Cure Cancer will take on this incredible challenge. You can check out the full Inspired Adventures calendar here.
This month, history continues to be made with a 67-year-old Aboriginal elder making the journey to Kokoda to acknowledge the contribution of Aboriginal servicemen who fought in the Kokoda Campaign. With 70 years separating the Kokoda Campaign and the modern world we live in, trekking the Kokoda Track and reliving the spirit of Australian and Papua New Guinean’s who took part in the campaign seems as relevant as ever with around 5,000 per year undertaking this challenge (compared to 76 trekkers in 2001).
Register NOW for:
Leukaemia Foundation Kokoda 2012 Anniversary Challenge – 24th October – 4th November
Kokoda for a Cure – 70th Anniversary Trek – 1st-12th November
Read more trip stories from Kokoda or visit the Inspired Adventures Calendar and find a Charity Challenge perfect for you.