Brett Kirk:

'After getting off the plane at Kokoda Plateau we were shown two memorials, they were both Japanese.

'I asked Charlie Lynn where the Australian memorials were and he said there wasn't any. I couldn't believe it and was absolutely disgusted.

'How could the Australian government not formally recognise the significance of Kokoda?

'This was as close as a major Japanese assault came to our shores and they were turned back by all of these young heroes and as a nation we don't even acknowledge them.

'Charlie explained to us that the Japanese had come up about 15 years ago and put up these memorial s to their soldiers. For the life of me I can't understand why we haven't done the same.

'During the course of the trek I kept thinking back to what the soldiers must have endured - they couldn't have known what was happening a lot of the time.

'They were all kids, much younger than most of us at the Swans and here they were fighting to save our country.

'When I was growing up I would go to the Anzac Day marches and watch my grandfather with the other Kokoda veterans but I never really knew the significance of the Kokoda campaign.

'Even reading about Kokoda you don 't get any idea about what it must have been like during the war.

'But once you experience the terrain, and hear about the battles they fought, only then can you understand what these soldiers did for our country, why we are who we are today.

'I kept wondering about the soldiers, my grandfather in particular, and how they survived in the face of such tremendous adversity.

'Sure it was the toughest six days of my life but I l earned a great deal from those six days - for one thing I learned that most of us have never pushed ourselves to anywhere near our full capacity.

'I also learned what real bravery and courage is a ll about.

'After we returned from Kokoda I spent a l ot of time with my grandfather over Christmas, for four or five days we talked about the Kokoda campaign  and I could visualise what he was talking about after having been there.

'It only reinforced in my mind the disgust (of no Australian memorials) I had when I stepped off that plane and set my first foot on the l<okoda.

'What the six of us players went through was nothing to what the soldiers went through which was far beyond anything we could have ever imagined.

Leo Barry:

'I can't help thinking back lo the first night, when we started trekking.

'It was 6.30 pm and just starting to get dark, everyone was fresh but we had to carry 32 kg backpacks and it didn't take long for the reality to hit home - this wasn't going lo be easy.

'We walked for three or four hours in pouring rain and I was continuously talking to Gerrard Bennett, who was behind me, even this early I was questioning why?

'Physically, it hurt from soon after the start and mentally all I could do was think of how there was six days to go. I'd never done any hiking in my life and I wasn't looking forward to it if this was anything to go by.

'Eventually, we got to our camp area at about 11.30 pm and I have to admit ii I had my doubts about whether I 'd be able to go the distance.

'Nobody was saying anything outwardly, it was all being bottled up inside but looking at the others you could see the anguish in their faces. Looking back I wish I'd had a mirror to see what I looked like myself.

'That first night was the worst by a mile and from there it became much more bearable.

'But still you couldn't help but reflect on what those young men who had fought back in WWII had gone through. At least we knew what the next day held in store for us - they never did.

'As the days went on each of us had their own separate challenge, and each day seemed to bring with it added strength and resolve.

'We learned to overcome adversity and you could see the anguish start to fade as we met villagers and worked together to reach our goal.

'But that never meant that the frustration disappeared completely - we all had our moments but the experience of working together in such dose quarters strengthened our bond.

'There was tremendous camaraderie between the six of us and after that first night we invariably worked to keep each others spirits high.

'I found it inspiring near the end when Charlie said that we were the most tight-knit group he had ever led on the Kokoda.

'The whole experience has certainly enriched my life, learning about those who saved our country on the Kokoda and also meeting the villagers.

'In our eyes they have nothing, but what they do have they appreciate and they live such a simple life without the stress we take for granted.

'I also learned a lot about myself on the Kokoda.

'I learned that when I'm up against adversity I can push past what I previously accepted as my limitations, I feel I'm stronger physically and mentally for the experience of not only having walked the Kokoda but knowing just what the Kokoda Trail really means.

'It means never give up, as there is very little in life you can't conquer.'

Ryan O'Keefe:

'Being the youngest of the six players I might have been a bit more na"ive in taking on the Kokoda and it certainly hit me on the first night.

'Knowing virtually nothing about the Kokoda my initial thoughts were that it would be a long walk but being as fit as we are I thought it wouldn't be anything too tough. l was to be given a rude awakening.

'It turned out to be the experience of my life, but in saying that I'd definitely do it again.

'Physically and mentally it was exhausting, probably tougher mentally because I could never have imagined how hard it was going to be getting myself up for day after day.

'In the end I think that's one of the things I took away from Kokoda more than anything else - the enjoyment of having adapted to something completely foreign.

'After the first two days I found I had settled into what we were trying to achieve and it became easier as the trek went on.But there were still days when I wondered how we would gel through it but nobody wanted to let anyone else down and we all gained strength from that.

'You end up with a totally different mindset as to how you approach things and in the end I'm certainly tougher mentally because of the Kokoda experience.

'One of the things that was driven into us was the fact we all have a ta lent and we have lo appreciate what we've got, we have lo use that talent to the full.

'As well as learning about myself and my team mates it was also such a great opportunity to learn about the Australian heroes of the Kokoda and to also see how the villager people live, their happiness with their lot.

'To see the look on the faces of those who had never seen white people before is something I'll never forget about Kokoda, it was amazing.'

Andrew Schauble:

'It's funny how you just accept our will to survive, but it's only when you understand the endeavour to which an individual will go that you really appreciate what 'the will to survive ' really means.

'The one thing that stands out most in my mind from trekking Kokoda was Charlie telling us the story of the Japanese soldier who end red three days hiding from the Australians inside a tree.

'He had dug himself in and stayed put while all this fighting was going on around him .

'At stages during those three days he even had Australian soldiers leaning on the tree until the Japanese eventually pushed them back a nd he was able to come out.

'There was also the story of the 30 Australian soldiers who were either shot or wounded and they were retreating for treatment, these men were carrying each other, crawling, doing anything they could just to keep alive and get back to their base camp.

'Word got to them that their mates on the front line were in trouble so they turned and went back to help, all except three who were too badly injured.

'When you hear stories like that it makes you realise the lengths to which human endeavour can take you.

'Those stories a nd the trek itself reinforced to me that we all have the capacity to achieve great things if we push ourselves, when we talk about pushing to the limit I can now only question, what is the limit?

'I question whether we know at all, whether we really know, what our full potential is, in my case I don't th ink I do by any means.

'We think we find our limits but the reality is we really don't.

'Taking into account what the soldiers on the Kokoda had to endure I don't think we were pushed to hal f of what we could have achieved on the Kokoda if the need really arose.

'Talking to Charlie about group dynamics I now realise that you have to be more understanding in a team environment, you have to be prepared to appreciate the individuality of each person and work out how we can help each other for the best end result.

In any team, whether it's sport, business or war, there are obviously some with better skills tha n others but in the end ifs the harmony and camaraderie between everyone that eventually reaps the greatest harvest.'

Rowan Warfe:

'There are so many aspects of the Kokoda experience that I 'll never forget .

'Obviously at the forefront of those thoughts will be the courage of the Australian soldiers who fought there and the conditions which they had to endure.

'But I 'll also never forget the six days we spent together as a team, the good times and the bad, and the lessons t learned from it.

'And I 'll also never forget the kids we met along the way.

'There are so many things we take for granted in the society in which we live, the simple things like a mirror for instance.

'We took a video camera with us and I can still see the look on the faces of these four and five-year olds watching themselves for the first time.

'Imagine not knowing what you looked like, never having seen yourself before in a mirror - ii was an enlightening experience to see these youngsters realising how they looked.

'They were all so happy, even though they had none of t he comforts we take for granted. We live in a society that is so materialistic but i n the end it doesn't make us any happier - these kids were proof of that.

'On the trek itself I 'd have to say it was the hardest six days of my life with the second last night the worst for sure.

'After a day of trekking th rough swamp I was so fatigued and kept slipping and falling over. I 'd lost my wal king stick and to top it off I got stung by a wasp - I was frustrated and hurting, and so tired.

'But like everyone else I knew I just had to get through it and in the end I have no doubts I'm a better person for the whole ordeal.

'I now know I'm better prepared for things that might confront me in life.

'We were taken out of our comfort zone on Kokoda, there was never going to be any worries about our fitness, but it was our mental toughness that was really tested and we all got through it and emerged the better for it."

Gerrard Bennett:

'As we were trekking on the third evening Charlie told us we had a one hour mountain climb then a 3km flat walk to the next village.

'After we had reach the top of the mountain we were greeted by an open paddock and were quite happy when we saw no trees or scrub.

'Only thin g was that while the walk was flat ii turned out to be 2 hours trudging knee-deep through a swamp.

'Charlie kept saying there was only a half-hour to go but ii was two hours later before we finished - I could have throttled him. I kept yelling at Charlie and I was so frustrated I sort of felt if I had died at that moment I don't think I would have cared .

'I was so tired, we were wearing miners helmets with lights but when the batteries ran out I was too exhausted to stop and change them so I just walked the last hour in the dark - I have never been so fatigued in my life.
The first couple of days leading up to that were tough but that third night just took me to the edge. However, after I had collapsed at the end of that night I decided lo attack the rest of the trek differently.'