Adventure Kokoda

School Groups

Our Kokoda pilgramages for school groups are based on the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign. These treks are led by specialist trek leaders and follow the original wartime trail across the Owen Stanley Ranges. Detailed briefings are conducted at each of the major battlesites.

The wartime history of the Kokoda campaign is more meaningful for those who have an understanding of the political situation that led to the war in the Pacific and eventually to the Kokoda campaign. To better understand Kokoda we provide a comprehensive briefing on the phases of war and the principles applicable to each phase. We then relate these to each battle that occurred from both an Australian and a Japanese perspective.


Student-Parent Treks

There is no greater bond of mateship, or commitment to one another, than that developed between soldiers in the crucible of war. Shared adversity, extreme conditions, privation, reliance on each other and the dry humour that develops in such situations combine to forge lasting personal bonds.

In a similar way, the Kokoda Trail offers the unique opportunity to experience elements of this bonding and relationship building for students and parents in a way that cannot be replicated in normal society. The Kokoda Trail is wilderness trekking in its most pristine form. The pilgrimage is free of the distractions of everyday life that so hinder relationships in today’s busy world.

The relentless terrain, testing climate, perceived dangers (all carefully managed) of unfamiliar jungle, river crossings and grinding climbs will challenge the mental and physical tenacity of participants as they conquer their own self-doubts and replace them with self-confidence. The awe of walking in the very footsteps of our heroic ‘diggers’ who fought and died along the trail will put their own struggle into perspective and inspire them to conquer whatever obstacles they will inevitably face.

For the diggers Kokoda was a profound personal experience that established lifetime bonds: for student-parent groups it offers a similar opportunity to experience the power of a shared struggle in a unique learning environment.

“We have no doubt we are now invincible.  We have plummeted to our worst lows and soared to our greatest heights.  There is nothing physically or emotionally we cannot endure.  We had set off as 34 individuals, half of us Australians and half of us Papuan villagers.  When we part we are friends – an indivisible and strong unit for whom farewells come hard.  If the spirit of Kokoda is strength in adversity, courage and mateship, that spirit has been seeded in us all.”

Marian Frith
The Canberra Times

Kokoda Historical Treks

The Battle of the Kokoda Trail is perhaps, in the annals of Australian military history, second only to Gallipoli. The privilege of walking in the footsteps of diggers who fought and died along the Kokoda Trailin those dark days of 1942 creates a lasting impression of this historic campaign.

We begin with a presentation on the strategic situation leading up to the fighting on the Kokoda Trail. Participants are then given detailed briefings on the strategic and tactical details of each significant battlesite. The values of leadership, mateship and sacrifice are common themes in each of these presentations.

Each night around the campfire we select a topic for group discussion based on the day’s journey.

Our Military History Treks are led by experienced professionals who know when to make the call to have a ‘leadership’ discussion during the trek - and lead the discussion around the campfire of an evening.

We can tailor our leadership programs to meet individual needs of the history curriculum in regard to formal presentations or guided discussions.

Our Kokoda experience will ensure students develop a new perspective of ‘history’ and a deeper understanding and appreciation of the significance of the Kokoda campaign and its linkage with other campaigns that saved Australia from invasion in 1942.

“I don’t think anybody could claim that it’s not an exercise in personal leadership.  But what this week has certainly been about is personal development and challenging people personally.  What Charlie has done is show very, very clearly that they could do things that they couldn’t imagine they could do.  It’s also clear to me that expectations of ourselves can and must be raised in a constructive way.  Charlie has managed to achieve this and it’s an act of creativity of which he should be proud.”

Mr Barry Deane

 Head of Executive Development, CRA

Village Development Projects

We have established Network Kokoda, a not-for-profit organisation that supports village agriculture, education and health programs and community development. Our agricultural projects at boarding schools on the Sogeri Plateau provide fresh produce for more than 600 boarding students. Our pilgrimages include a half-day visit to these schools and other community projects as part of their learning experience. See www.networkkokoda.org

We have established firm friendships with local clan leaders and villagers over the past 22 years through our support for village community centres, educational scholarships, health programs and the employment opportunities we have created for them.

Our Leadership Team

Our Adventure Kokoda trek leaders are without peer on Kokoda:

  • We have a combined total of 135 years military service with extensive experience in expedition leadership which assures your safety on this wilderness experience.
  • Our trek leaders have broad training and practical experience in management and leadership at many levels in both military and civil spheres giving them the ability to impart this knowledge in a no-nonsense and realistic way.
  • We understand military history - the strategic situation that led to the war in the Pacific, the techniques of the conduct of war, and understand and have a soldier’s knowledge of the tactics of each battle of the Kokoda campaign, thus enabling us to ‘bring-to-life’ this important chapter in our nation’s history.

'It was such a great experience, I learnt so much from Kokoda, both historically and personally. I especially liked how we were encouraged to set personal goals to change something about our life when we returned. I have come back to Australia and applied for a volunteer internship with UNICEF through my summer holidays and I would never have had the motivation if it were not for Kokoda and the experiences which I had over there. I have also volunteered with Red Cross – it was great how we were encouraged to go back and do something special, as it has made it so much more meaningful to go out and complete volunteer work, hoping that I am helping someone in some small way’.

Grace MacPherson
Age 20
RSL Services Clubs Association Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge

Felicity Martin, Trinity College:

How did your Kokoda experience increase your understanding of the each of the 7 understandings for effective leadership i.e. your understanding of yourself, your friends, other cultures, the environment, our wartime history?

I definitely learned more about leadership from Simon than in our leadership program that preceded the trek.

I learned a lot about myself and had a chance to reflect on the way I got through the tough bits of the trek, as well as some insights into my own personality in a broader sense. It was also great to get to know my friends better and observe how we all dealt in different ways with the difficulties, and adjusted our own behaviours to fit in with the group. I really enjoyed the chance to get to know locals, play with kids and observe life in the villages, and was really inspired to return when I’m a qualified doctor to work in some of the hospitals in PNG. The sing-sing in Agulogo was a real highlight.

I was stunned by the beauty of the country, and it was quite a shock to return to Port Moresby afterwards! Coming from QLD it wasn’t as new to me as some of the others, but I was really touched by the beauty of the forest and the mountains.

I learned a lot more about the wartime history than from my own reading before the trek – absorbing it in the right context was fabulous, and it was all well told by Simon. I was really touched and moved by the memorial service at Isurava memorial, and also the poem Simon read at Brigade Hill. These were both real highlights of the trip for me. I have never been so affected by poetry and war stories, and I think it has given me a new interest and sense of connection to that part of our history. I just wish my grandfather was still alive so I could talk to him about it!

Do you feel better equipped to face the challenges of the future as a result of your experience on our Kokoda Adventure Leadership Program?

Yes! I had my interview for Medicine at Uni today, straight after getting back from PNG, and I was able to talk a lot about the trip and what I’d learned from it. I think it’s really shown me that I’m much stronger and more capable than I thought I was, and I definitely feel more inclined to take on more challenging things, which I was definitely reluctant to try in the past.

How can we improve the program?

I honestly can’t think of anything!

We will be sending a group from Trinity in September next year, and hopefully we’ll be able to continue this every year for many years to come! We would also really like to establish further connections between  Trinity College and PNG. For example, it’d be great to try to get scholarships for some bright young Papuans at Trinity, and also help with fundraising for worthwhile developing projects and funds like healthcare for Junior, in Ioribiwa. We will hopefully be in contact with you to work on some of these things! Many many thanks to Adventure Kokoda!!

Testimonials

More information on our Kokoda Adventure Leadership Program together with extracts from participant reviews can be viewed by clicking here.


Further Information

For further information on the opportunity to organise a group for your school please email your query to charlie@kokodatreks.com.au and advise of the objectives you would like to achieve and the probable size of the group you would like to organise.

We will then send you more information and a quote for your group.

'If the aim of the Kokoda Leadership Program was to develop personally, to learn more about teams and how they work, to identify personal strengths and opportunities for growth, to learn about leadership, to identify how I might instil better leadership qualities in myself, to appreciate others, to learn and appreciate Australia’s history, to live and learn and appreciate another culture ..... then all of these aims, and more, have been achieved'.


Karen Dunshea