Our Adventure Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge was voted as the most outstanding youth leadership program at the Clubs NSW Annual Awards Dinner in 2017.
More than 450 young Australians from all walks of life have graduated from this program over the past decade. According to the judges of the award this program is without peer in the development of personal leadership qualities based on the enduring values of Kokoda.
Other organisations who have used our programs for leadership development are Kings School, Parramatta; Riverina Anglican College, Wagga Wagga; combined schools from the Hills District in Sydney; Penrith Panthers on the Prowl; Canberra PCYC and Lomandra School, Campbelltown.
Our leadership programs for schools are based on lessons learned from our own experience as graduates of the army Officer Cadet School, the Royal Military College and the Australian Command and Staff College. We draw upon the experiences of our Adventure Kokoda trek leaders who have a combined total of 160 years professional military service that includes combat experience in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
During our 10-day treks students are disconnected from the travails of social media and reconnect with themselves, their fellow trekkers, the environment, the culture of the Koiari and Orokaiva villagers along the trail, and the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign.
We de-clutter the theory of leadership and get back to basics in a physically challenging isolated foreign environment where risk is real, personal commitment is required and teamwork is essential. And no matter how hard the going gets we are constantly able to reflect on the difficulties our young troops had in fighting their way across the trail against all the odds in 1942.
We stress that the relevance of the Kokoda pilgrimage is not about the glorification of war - it's about the commemoration of sacrifice. It's also a realistic demonstration of the ability of the human spirit to conquer adversity.
But most of all It's about Australian leadership!
'the art of influencing and directing men to achieve an assigned goal in such a way as to obtain their obedience, confidence, respect and loyal co-operation'.
Essential military leadership characteristics include:
faithfulness to country, corps and unit, and to your seniors and subordinates.
Sense of Honour
(Integrity): Uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles, absolute truthfulness and honesty; fairness and impartiality in exercising command.
Sense of Responsibility:
Consistent endeavour to discharge the responsibilities accepted as an officer.
Acquired information, including professional knowledge and an understanding of your men.
A mental quality that recognises fear of danger or criticism, but enables a man to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness.
Seeing what has to be done, and commencing a course of action, even in the absence of orders.
Ability to reach decisions promptly and to announce them in a clear, forceful manner.
The ability to deal with others without creating offence, and show respect for individuals
The certainty of the proper performance of duty.
Endurance: The mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to stand pain, fatigue, distress and hardship.
The display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty.
Avoidance of providing for one's comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others.
Creating a favourable impression in carriage, appearance and personal conduct at all times.
The Aims of Military Leadership are:
- Primary Aim: Accomplishment of the mission.
- Secondary Aim: Welfare of the men.
Military Leadership Principles are guides for the proper exercise of command:
- Be technically and tactically proficient.
- Know yourself and seek self-improvement.
- Know your men and lookout for their welfare.
- Keep your men informed.
- Set the example by deeds, not words.
- Ensure that the task is understood, supervised and accomplished.
- Train your men as a team.
- Make sound and timely decisions.
- Develop a sense of responsibility amongs subordinates.
- Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.
- Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
- Make the primary mission the combat efficiency of your command.
Military Leadership Techniques are actions given by the leader. Each technique should:
- Be guided by the leadership principles.
- Exhibit the characteristics of a leader.
- Be consistent with the situation.
- Contribute towards achieving the goal.
Combat Efficiency was described as the ability of the unit to accomplish an assigned mission in the shortest possible time with the minimum loss of life and waste of material.
Indications of Military Leadership are:
an attitude of confidence in the mind of an individual when he identifies himself with a group, accepts group goals and works hard to achieve them.
the prompt obedience to orders and, in the absence of orders, the initiation of appropriate action.
- Esprit De Corps:
the loyalty to, pride in, and enthusiasm for a unit shown by the members of that unit.
the technical, tactical and physical ability to do a job well.
Some 50 years on the gender of our language has changed but the principles and techniques remain the same.
By day 5 . . .
'The years I spent in war were the happiest I ever spent. I shared a task with men of every type and every social station and was admitted to a fellowship so rare as to almost justify the beastliness that made it possible. There is this to be said of war: you live simply if at all, and you do it in the company of men at their very best, spurred to a passionate unselfishness by a common purpose which at all other times is lacking'.
Around the campfire our trek leaders will discuss the '3+1 Rules of Survival' and various theories of leadership based on our own experiences: the army 'Group' theory based on the premise that he or she who wears the rank is not necessarily the leader; 'Command' leadership relevant to combat situations; 'Situational Leadership' which is the ability to shift behaviour according to the demands of the situation. We discuss the characteristics of effective team leadership which encompasses the natural mix of decisive action people, thinkers and carers.
By this stage the group are no longer strangers and are beginning to develop strong bonds of friendship. They now have an appreciation of the term 'Esprit de Corps' which wartime historian, Dudley McCarthy, attributed to another young group of strangers, the 39th Militia Battalion:
'Although possessing no permanent site, having neither roof nor walls, no unchanging form, it yet becomes home for those who serve in it. Away from it, each of its members can revert to being homeless individuals, lost uncertain, without proper identity. Because of this it calls to life in a man, rounded into fullness through shared battle, suffering and death, each other will always feel some sense of brotherhood for each other man of his battalion. Through this thing the strong lift the weak to efforts and achievements beyond their own strength and their conscious wills, and the dependence of the weak gives greater strength and endurance to the strong. For every individual human part of this battalion who is killed, this thing changes something in those who survive and calls to life something new that never was there before'.
Students then retire to think about a leader who has inspired them in their lives thus far - a parent, a teacher, a coach, a friend. Later in the day they return to the group and tell us about that person and the values they have and the qualities they exhibit that inspires them as a role model.
We then share a view on leadership from an old mentor:
‘From long experience I have learned the importance of knowing the capacities of my people. I view each person as an individual with strong and weak points. I have considered opinion about the strengths and limitations of each person and the responsibilities each will probably be able to handle best. In a general way I know when it will be safe to let a person ‘have his or her lead’ and when to ‘tighten the reins’. I consider it is part of my job to provide conditions that will allow my people to perform at their best.
‘I have learned to watch for signs that a person may be reaching breaking point, particularly during prolonged periods of stress. When I sense a person to be reaching breaking point I arrange for their relief as tactfully as possible.
‘I follow the practice of pushing decision making as far down the organization as it should reasonably go. For example, I give most of the problems that come to my desk to people who I think should handle them. Usually I do not comment on these problems in advance even though I usually have my ideas on how they should work.
‘I try to avoid making commitments that involve my people without their knowledge. I recognize it is tempting to promise people they will get everything they ask for. Instead I take note and promise that their request will be looked into, and that they will get it unless a good reason exists.
‘I have learned to be especially careful in one aspect of my actions. I have found that people are highly sensitive to anything a boss says or does. I have found that even the most vague speculations about possible actions can cause my entire organization to shift into high gear. Accordingly, I learned long ago not to throw off any chance remarks which might be construed to be subtle directives.
‘Despite my calculated reserve I am constantly tempted to tell employees how things should be done. I have a reputation for getting to the root of problems and, of course, I like seeing things done according to my own preferences. However, I am convinced that much of my effectiveness depends upon resisting this temptation. I have found that this restraint has resulted in my people getting high satisfaction from their own jobs. I believe that this is also why I have developed a reputation for always having my people ‘behind me’.
‘I have learned to use my people as a team. I encourage ideas and suggestions from everyone concerned, not only by saying so, but also by making sure that those who ‘stick their necks out’ do not feel threatened by their or others’; comments.
‘I insist that my people clear their ideas with each other before coming to me. I recognize that most problems will involve the activities of more than one branch or section.
‘I am concerned about the development of my entire organization and I make effort in this direction. I make it a specific responsibility of supervisors to bring on their employees. I encourage supervisors, for example, to invite selected employees to conferences where the latter can make a contribution or learn something relevant to their own work.
‘I believe that written directions or memoranda are most useful when they summarize or record concepts that have already been discussed.
‘I have found that the idea within which employees can act on their own initiative needs defining. I therefore keep in touch with my people so that I can show them where they are in over their heads. I don’t hesitate to tell them when they have failed – I do so plainly but in a way which stresses how such mistakes can be avoided in the future and how they can profit from them.’
- All transportation
- All accommodation
- All trek fees
- Mosquito-proof tents
- Day 1: Flight to Port Moresby
- Day 2: Sogeri - Owers Corner - Imita Base
- Day 3: Imita Base to Ofi Creek
- Day 4: Ofi Creek to Agulogo Creek
- Day 5: Agulogo Creek to Efogi Village
- Day 6: Efogi Village to Bomber's Campsite
- Day 8: Bomber's Campsite to Templeton's Crossing
- Day 7: Explore Lake Myola from Bomber's Campsite
- Day 9: Templeton's Crossing to Isurava via Abuari Village
- Day 10: Isurava to Hoi Village
- Day 11: Hoi Village - Kokoda - Bomana War Cemetery - Sogeri Lodge
- Day 12: Return flight to Australia
Dates & Availability for School Groups
Photos from the School Groups
FAQs about this trek
Most evacuations from the trail are due to gastro-intestinal problems which cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea and chronic dehydration.
Unhygienic handling and preparation of food is the most common cause of the gastro problems which lead to medical evacuations. Most evacuations result from trekkers who eat vegetables prepared by local villagers.
To avoid this we carry all of our own food which we purchase from supermarkets in Port Moresby.
We actively discourage our trekkers from eating food prepared in villages as we cannot guarantee the standard of the local hygiene.
Some operators rely on village food to save costs - If the operator you choose includes ‘village food’ as part of their catering plan it might save them money but it could lead to your evacuation from the trail.
The trek across Kokoda is the toughest physical challenge most people will encounter.
The decision as to whether to carry your own backpack is important because it can mean the difference between enjoying the experience or suffering and having to withdraw from the trek.
Some trekkers in the past have stubbornly refused to engage a personal carrier because they want to do it like ‘the diggers did it!’
If this is your rationale we suggest you purchase a pair of hobnail leather boots, carry a canvas backpack with webbing pouches; travel with a half-blanket which you will willingly share with up to six other trekkers; borrow a rifle and ammunition; sleep outside your tent and leave your underwear and toiletries at the hotel in Port Moresby!
For those who are young, confident and physically fit it will not be a problem. But for those who lead a sedentary lifestyle; who might be carrying an extra kilo or two; who might be harbouring some self-doubt about their ability to burden themselves with extra weight; or who do not maintain a daily regime of physical training it will be a struggle – you will find the track does not make concessions to anybody! It is therefore important that you do an honest assessment of your physical capabilities.
If you are physically fit, are an experienced extreme conditions trekker, and have prepared yourself with a strenuous training program then you should be able to carry your own pack. On the other hand if you have any doubts about your ability then you should consider engaging a personal carrier for yourself or sharing one with a mate.
If you engage your own Personal Carrier prior to your trek we provide them with a trek uniform and purchase additional food and camping gear for them before we leave Port Moresby – there is none available along the track.
The cost of a Personal Carrier is between $660 - $790 per person, depending on the trek type/duration. The cost will be displayed when completing the online Booking Form.
If you decide to engage one after you arrive an additional $150 surcharge will apply to cover the additional costs we have to incur as short notice.
From time to time we have trekkers who realise they cannot carry their backpack after the second or third day - we then have to try and recruit additional carriers along the trail. This is a difficult exercise in the middle of the Owen Stanley Ranges as we are not able to arrange for additional food, uniforms or camping gear for the additional carriers. It’s also unfair as our PNG trek guides and carriers, who already work hard under extreme conditions, don’t appreciate having the size of their meals reduced whenever we have to engage additional personal carriers during the trek.
A Personal Carrier will carry your backpack and act as your ‘trek caddy’ for the duration of your trek – he will often catch you before you fall; will assist you over the most difficult sections of the trail; assist you with packing up and setting up and proudly introduce you to his family in his village.
NO! PNG trek guides are masters of their environment however their knowledge of the Kokoda campaign and their presentation skills do not rate at this stage of their development.
Adventure Kokoda organises PNG led Kokoda treks for groups who are looking for a physical challenge in preference to learning about the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign.
Whilst our PNG leaders have been well trained in expedition leadership and are the best in the business they do not have the knowledge of the military history of the Kokoda campaign or the presentation skills to conduct battlesite briefings.
Trekkers meeting PNG support crew on arrival at Kokoda airfield
The day they raised the Australian flag at Kokoda
Australia was unprepared for the war in the Pacific in 1942. Our faith in ‘great and powerful friends’ coming to our aid in the event of Japan entering the war was shattered with the sinking of HMAS Prince of Wales and HMAS Repulse near Singapore on 10 December 1941 and the secret deal struck by UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt for American aid to be directed to the European theatre of operations at the expense of the South West Pacific.
The defence of Australia and its mandated territory of New Guinea was dependent on untrained militia forces and a small band of New Guinea Rifles as our experienced AIF units were returning from Europe to meet the new threat.
Resources were so scarce in New Guinea that young males were forcibly recruited to support the war effort. Many of these men from remote mountain villagers had no idea of the war and were conscripted against their will. They were told that men from Japan were the enemy. For many of these men other villagers living in remote tribal lands were also considered ‘enemy’. One can only imagine the fear and uncertainty they felt as they were forcibly marched away from their families and clans.
They were designated as Carriers but were to become known as ‘fuzzy-wuzzy angels’ because of their selfless sacrifice in assisting wounded and sick diggers during the various campaigns.
They carried vital war supplies on their bare shoulders in endless lines over hostile and inhospitable terrain. Modern day trekkers are in awe of their efforts. Without this vital link in the chain of our war effort Japan would have been successful in the conquest of New Guinea.
Today, 71 years after the Pacific War, they are the only link in the chain not to have received any official recognition. Many claim they were not properly paid. None were ever issued with a medal. No day has been set aside to commemorate their service or sacrifice.
It is difficult to understand why successive Australian governments have ignored this important omission.
The recent upsurge in interest in the Kokoda campaign by Australian trekkers indicates there is a strong desire for our wartime links with Papua New Guinea to be recognised. This can be achieved by providing them with an incentive to visit, or revisit the country.
The proclamation of a ‘Kokoda Day’ dedicated to the wartime carriers would provide this incentive.
This paper recommends that November 3rd be officially proclaimed as a day of commemoration for the carriers. This is the day the Australian flag was raised at Kokoda – a ceremony that would never have been possible without the support of the New Guinea Wartime Carriers.
An earlier proposal was approved by the PNG Government National Executive Council however the name was changed to ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angel Day’ in the process. This decision defeated the purpose of the announcement as most Australians do not know anything about ‘fuzzy-wuzzy angels’ until they have visited Papua New Guinea.
In marketing terms the name ‘Kokoda’ is priceless whereas the term ‘fuzzy-wuzzy angel’ only has emotional appeal to those who have already trekked.
To seek the support of the National Executive Council to proclaim 3rd November as ‘Kokoda Day’ to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the Papua New Guinea wartime carriers.
The PNG Carriers who supported Australian troops during the Pacific have never been properly recognized. Some were never paid and none ever received a medal for their service.
According to our official history of the war in the Pacific by Dudley McCarthy (Australia in the War 1939-1945, p116) the Australian New Guinea Army Unit (ANGAU) was authorised by the Australian government to provide for:
‘the conscription of whatever native labour might be required by the Services..’
Rates of pay were to be determined and the Senior Military Officer or District Officer was empowered:
‘to have the natives so employed to enter into a contract with the Australian Government.’
It has been estimated that some 10,000 PNG nationals served as Carriers in support of the Australians during the Kokoda campaign in 1942.
A further 42,000 are estimated to have been indentured to support Australian troops in the Milne Bay and the Buna/Gona campaigns. They were paid 10 shillings per month.
According to wartime journalist, Osmar White[i]:
‘ANGAU contrived a maximum mobilization and use of native labour. At the critical period, its method of conscription was even more arbitrary than German recruiting in the early days. In some villages every able-bodied male over the approximate age of sixteen years was rounded up, transported to the clearing centres, and thence drafted to whatever type of work had priority in the immediate emergency. Brutal disciplinary measures had often to be taken in the field; but when the first and worst crises of invasion were surmounted, ANGAU did what ti could to conserve the life and health of its native levies and to maintain the viability of native communities depleted of 40 or 50 per cent of their able-bodied men. Under military rule, the labourers’ health was more carefully considered and their diet in general better than under private employers before the war. ANGAU was fully aware of the value of native labour and co-operation to the Allied effort.
What is not understood by many is that male villagers indentured for work as Carriers faced two potential enemies – the invading Japanese and traditional clans whose customary land was foreign to them.
During the period 1944 to 1957 approximately 2 million pounds was paid by the Australian Government in compensation for property damage to PNG nationals by the Australian Government. In 1975 PNG gained independence and the PNG Government assumed all legal obligations for compensation of its veteran community.
Unfortunately the PNG Carriers were excluded from benefits under legislation for compensation of PNG nationals who served in the Defence Force. In 1980 they were also deemed to be ineligible for the PNG War Gratuity Scheme for ex-Servicemen.
In 1981 the Australian Government paid $3.25 million to the PNG Government under the Defence (PNG) Retirement Act as a final payment for compensation for Carriers. In 1986 the PNG Government introduced payments of PNGK1,000 for each surviving Carrier. The payments ceased in 1989 and many Carriers claim to have not received any money.
During the 50th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign the issue of payment and compensation for many of the Carriers who claim they were never paid was raised with the Keating Government.
On 21 April 1992 The Australian newspaper reported that returned servicemen in PNG had called on the Australian Government to pay hundreds of local war veterans who helped Australian troops during the Kokoda campaign. According to the report:
“The President of the PNG Returned Services League, Mr Wally Lussick, said Australia had sent about $3.5 million to PNG to help compensate local war veterans in the early 1980s, but much of the money had gone to the wrong people and a large group of carriers missed out.
“Mr Lussick said much of the money went to those press-ganged into being carriers for the Japanese and many people who took no part in the war received payments.
“The visit to PNG later this week by the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, for Anzac Day services to mark the 50th anniversary of the Kokoda battles would provide a good opportunity for Australia to make a commitment to the surviving carriers, he said.”
In the PNG Post-Courier of 24 April 1992, the Prime Minister of PNG, Sir Rabbie Namaliu called on Australia ‘to help compensate WW2 carriers and stretcher bearers”. He raised the issue with Prime Minister Paul Keating at the time. According to the Post-Courier:
“Most of the carriers and ex-servicemen received compensation payments from Australia in the mid-1980s, but many legitimate veterans from the Southern Kokoda Trail near Port Moresby, missed out.
“PNG authorities estimate up to 200 surviving carriers are still waiting for some kind of payment from Australia for their wartime labour and service.
“Mr Namaliu said the Government was considering making an approach to Australia to identify and pay those carriers who have gone unrewarded for half a century.”
On 5 May 1992 the Bulletin with Newsweek reported:
“Keating says compensation cases will be dealt with on their merits and all worthy claims examined; but no concrete sum for individuals has been discussed. The difficulty of maintaining a list of the original carriers is underlined by how few speak English. Family members of dead carriers are calling for posthumous compensation – after all, they took part in a battle that Keating described this week “as more important to Australians than any other battlefield in Europe or Africa.”
Whilst Prime Minister Keating was genuine in his desire to resolve the issue it is clear that his bureaucracy put it in the ‘too hard basket’ at the time.
The argument that ‘it would be inappropriate for the Australian Government to consider taking any further action on this matter in the absence of a detailed proposal from the Papua New Guinea Government’ was a cop-out.
The increasing numbers of Australians trekking Kokoda (Federal and State politicians, prominent media personalities, successful business people and a number of private schools)- and reconnecting with the ‘sons of the fuzzy-wuzzy angels’ will be enthusiastic supporters of a day dedicated to their memory.
Remembrance Day – Papua New Guinea
Remembrance Day commemorates Papua New Guinean servicemen who sacrificed their lives in World War 11 and Bougainville. It occurs on 23 July which commemorates the day in 1942 when the Papuan Infantry Battalion first fought against Japanese soldiers near the Kumusi River in Oro Province. Remembrance Day is a public holiday.
In 2008 Governor-General Paulias Matane paid tribute to these soldiers and added:
"Also we must remember those who provided intelligence reports, coastwatchers and the fuzzy wuzzy angels. All these fallen heroes contributed in a significant way to the strategic defence of our land then and today."
Whilst Remembrance Day commemorates the service of uniformed Papua New Guinean servicemen who served, and those who sacrificed their lives in action during the Pacific War and the Bougainville crisis, Kokoda Day would be dedicated to the service of the Wartime Carriers.
Kokoda Day would not be a national holiday. It would be a day of commemoration which could include:
- a morning service in schools (thus providing an opportunity to educate Papua New Guinean students on the achievements and sacrifices of their grandfathers);
- a flag raising re-enactment at Kokoda; and
- a service at Remembrance Park in Port Moresby.
Why 3 November?
The Kokoda campaign began with a full scale attack on the Australian 39th Militia Battalion on 29 July 1942. The campaign lasted three months as the Australians were pushed back to last line of defence on Imita Ridge. The Australians rallied at this point and pushed the Japanese back across the track. Kokoda was recaptured on 2nd November 1942 and the Australian flag was raised at a service the following day.
The flag raising ceremony symbolised the turning of the tide in the Pacific War. It also symbolises the service and sacrifice made by Carriers in all campaigns throughout PNG.
This victory would not have been possible without the vital support of the PNG Carriers across the track. In addition to their contribution to the war effort hundreds of Australian soldiers owe their lives to the selfless sacrifice of the Carriers who guided and carried them to safety over inhospitable jungle terrain in the most adverse of circumstances.
Tourism Benefits for Kokoda (Oro Province)
The proclamation of Kokoda Day would provide an incentive for Australians to travel to Papua New Guinea for the commemoration services.
Following is a monthly comparison of Australians trekking Kokoda in July and November since 2008:
The proclamation would effectively extend the trekking season into November by providing an incentive for Australians to visit PNG. There are many Australians who are not physically able to trek Kokoda however they would visit the village if there was a strong reason for them to do so.
Commemorative activities would not be limited to a single day in Kokoda. It could include short treks up to the Isurava Memorial, across to Abuari and down the Eastern side of the range which was defended by the 53rd Militia Battalion. It would also provide them with an opportunity to extend their stay and visit Tufi Resort and the beachheads at Buna and Gona thus bringing increased tourism benefits to this region.
In addition to the re-enactment of the raising of the flag Kokoda Day would provide an opportunity for local clans to showcase their Orokaiva culture with sing-sings, traditional dances, markets and craft displays.
In Port Moresby a service could be held at Remembrance Park in the morning and a beating of the retreat at Bomana War Cemetery in the evening.
Digger Tributes to PNG Wartime Carriers
In a report on the medical aspects of the fighting withdrawal in the face of overwhelming Japanese forces after the Battle for Isurava was lost, Colonel Kingsley Norris, Assistant Director Medical Services with the 7th Division praised the work of the Australian medics. No living casualty, claimed Norris, was abandoned to the enemy and overall 750 wounded and sick were shepherded down the track to safety. Norris was also full of praise for the ‘walking wounded’. They had, in Norris’ words, to be treated with ‘absolute ruthlessness’ and not provided with stretchers:
‘Those alone who were quite unable to struggle or stagger along were carried. There was practically never a complaint nor any resentment … One casualty with a two inch gap in a fractured patella, splintered by a banana leaf, walked for six days …’
Captain ‘Blue Steward, Regimental Officer, 2/16th Battalion:
“… they never forgot their patients, carrying them as gently as they could, avoiding the jolts and jars of the many ups and downs. The last stretcher was carried out by the Regimental Aid Post boys, two volunteers, Padre Fred and myself. Till then we never knew the effort needed, nor fully appreciated the work the carriers were doing. Their bare, splayed feet gave them a better grip than our cleated boots could claim on the slippery rocks and mud.
“Some of the bearers disliked the tight, flat canvas surfaces of the regulation army stretchers, off which a man might slide or be tipped. They felt safer with the deeper beds of their own bush made stretchers – two blankets doubled round two long poles cut from the jungle. Each time we watched them hoist the stretchers from the ground to their shoulders for another stint, we saw their strong leg, arm and back muscles rippling under their glossy black skins. Manly and dignified, they felt proud of their responsibility to the wounded, and rarely faltered. When they laid their charges down for the night they sought level ground on which to build a rough shelter of light poses and leaves. With four men each side of a stretcher, they took it in turns to sleep and to watch, giving each wounded man whatever food, drink or comfort there might be.
Laurie Howson, 39th Battalion:
“The days go on. You are trying to survive, shirt torn, arse out of your pants, whiskers a mile long, hungry and a continuous line of stretchers with wounded carried by ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzies’ doing a marvellous job. Some days you carry your boots because there’s no skin on your feet. But when I look around at some of the others – hell! They look crook! Then I have seen the time when you dig a number of holes in the ground and bury your dead. Nothing would be said, but you think ‘maybe it will be my turn next.”
The Australian army would have been defeated in the Kokoda campaign if they had not received vital logistic support from the New Guinea Wartime Carriers. Hundreds would have died of their wounds and tropical illnesses if they had not been carried off the track.
These wartime Carriers have never been officially recognised. The Australian government specifically excluded them from benefits under legislation for compensation of PNG nationals who served in the Defence Force. In 1980 they were also deemed to be ineligible for the PNG War Gratuity Scheme for ex-Servicemen.
The service of the wartime carriers and the sacrifices they made towards the allied victories in Papua New Guinea should be honoured and enshrined in a special day dedicated to their memory.
The most appropriate day is November 3 as the Australian flag would never have been raised on the Kokoda plateau if it had not been for their service.
‘Kokoda Day’ be proclaimed on 3rd November each year to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the New Guinea Wartime Carriers.
AWM Photo of the raising of the Australian Flag on the Kokoda plateau on 3 November 1942
[i] Parliament of a Thousand Tribes, The Cataclysm. P.129-130
Trip Advisor is the only independent and reliable forum for trekkers to post their comments in regard to their trek. You should therefore be wary of companies who don't rate much of a mention because trekkers obviously did not rate their experience with them. .
The following post illustrates the difficulties you could face if you do not conduct proper research on the company you choose:
'I do not recommend booking Kokoda with INTREPID
'Trek is an amazing experience but not with Intrepid. I was doing it in July.
Organization of the trip was terrible but price really high (2600 -2800 pounds).
'Our guide .....oh it was impossible to understand him. First I thought - it's because of my English ( it's not my first language ) but soon I realized - nobody can't understand him. So from my point of you - the historical part didn't exist! I am not Australian i just had a tiny knowledge about the battle. Hoped I will learn more during the trip - unfortunately...nothing! Need to read about it at home.
'Another thing: it's a challenging trek. You ( or maybe just me) expect that at the end of the day person who look after the group will ask: are you ok? how are you feeling/doing?
'Nothing.Two guys were ill during the trip. The only thing they did - stopped trek when they were throwing out. People from the group cared after each other - sharing first kit, happy to help each other
'Food - disaster. For breakfast salty crackers with jam of honey, corn flakes with powder milk.....every day. Never ate it). Dinner and lunch - boiled pasta/ noodles/ spaghetti plus breakfast set. 18 meals - PASTA. Sorry...twice we had rice. No fruits - if you want to, need to get for yourself. Didn't expect amazing meals, understand that you can't get products on the way....but other groups had really great food - so if you want to, you can organise it much better than ours.
My porter was really bad too. Here I need to admit that I was unlucky because it was just few like him! He rarely was behind me - didn't have any help/security. When he was on his place .... I don't know who saved more other bottom. He landed on my back quite few times!
'Also when he finally arrived on place where we were staying ( people from the group were enjoying water, I was waiting for my porter) , very often was leaving my backpack somewhere....I had to find it.
'Finally .... I had a feeling that they just going with us, we weren't a group 9 I mean a crew and people from the group). The didn't stay with us after walking, didn't' talk to us etc.
'Anyway: I think that the trek is great and Kokoda can be an amazing experience.....but think twice before you'll book it with Intrepid.
Ask annapietrasz about Kokoda Track
Meet the Trek Leaders
In 2015 Charlie was inducted as an Officer of the Logohu by the Government of Papua New Guinea in their New Years Honours and Awards list 'for service to the bilateral relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia and especially in the development of the Kokoda Trail and its honoured place in the history of both nations' over the past 25 years.' More..
Chad is a decorated Vietnam veteran - he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in action. Chad first joined the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8 RAR) as a tracking dog handler. He was promoted through the ranks to Sergeant while serving with 8 RAR and served with the Battalion in Malaysia and South Vietnam. More..
Scott joined the Australian Army as a 16 year old apprentice in 1985. He was promoted through the ranks and has spent over 34 years serving in the Australian Regular Army.
Scott has worked with the United Nations in Sudan as a Military Observer and as an Adviser in Afghanistan with the US 82nd Airborne and the 3rd Infantry Divisions. More..
Craig joined the Australian Army in 1979 and was posted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps where he has served for 40 years with over 20 years serving in Special Operations Command as a Commando.
Craig has seen regimental service as a soldier and officer rising through the ranks within The Royal Australian Regiment and Special Operations Command, his career culminated as soldier with two Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) appointments prior to commissioning to officer in 2005. More..
Rowan is a pioneer of the Kokoda Trail. He first trekked it 30 years ago when he served with the PNG Defence Force. He is fluent in the local language 'Tok Pisin'. Rowan is a military historian and is acknowledged as the most eminent authority on the strategy and tactics of the Kokoda campaign. More..
Over the past 34 years Captain Reg Yates has explored most of the WW11 battlesites in PNG. He is fluent in Tok Pisin and is well respected by village elders along the Kokoda Trail. More..
Peter Morrison is an unassuming young Australian. He first trekked with Adventure Kokoda almost a decade ago and developed a strong desire to learn more about the campaign and the people he met along the trail. Peter is a professional boxer and former NSW Welterweight Champion. More..
Simon joined the Australian Navy a Cadet Midshipmen in 1973 and carved out an outstanding career spanning 33 years. He specialised in maritime surface ship operations and spent the majority of his career at sea. More..
Bernie is a Kokoda tragic. He first trekked with Kokoda to honour his father who served in New Guinea during the war. He has since trekked it 43 times. Bernie has transposed his success in business to his passion for leading treks across the Kokoda Trail. More..
Rod is currently serving as a Sergeant in the Royal Australian Artillery at 4 Field Regiment Townsville. He has served in the Sinai Peninsula and Iraq and has a deep understanding of the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign. He is also a competitive ultra-marathon athlete. More..
Peter served in the Army Reserve for 7 years and has two grandfathers who served in both World Wars - one being a highly decorated soldier. Peter recently graduated with a MPhil in Military History with the Australian Defence Force Academy and is now studying for his PhD. More..
Prior to John joining Adventure Kokoda he used to wrestle crocodiles with Steve Irwin. John is a qualified para-medic and expert bushman. He has a deep emotional commitment to Kokoda and the veterans he has met over the years. He is a keen student of the Kokoda campaign. More..
Fiona has a strong passion for Kokoda, PNG and its people which was sparked as a young girl knowing her grandfather fought on Kokoda.
As a school teacher Fiona has extensive experience in developing leadership in young Australians and has been involved in the development of a leadership program within the school environment. This saw her bring two passions together; teaching our future generations and Kokoda, whilst getting them outside of their comfort zones, and allowing them to learn about themselves. More..
Carla brings great organisational skills, energy and humour to her role. She is passionate about the Kokoda campaign and thrives on seeing how transformative and life-changing this experience can be for trekkers.
Carla was initially inspired to trek Kokoda to honour her Grandfathers service with the AIF in Buna and has now successfully participated in a number of Adventure Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge treks as a Trek Guide. More..
Tracie is the General Manager and engine room of Adventure Kokoda - she is on-call 24/7 and will look after your every need and concern from the moment you book your trek until you arrive back in Australia. More..