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Old 12-04-2003, 09:09 PM
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Kokoda Trail - Story by Philip Rehder

The following article appeared in the Paradise in flight with Air Niugini Magazine No 156 March - April, 2003.

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Kokoda Trail - Story by Philip Rehder, Photographs by Peter Savage :

Gradually men dropped out utterly exhausted -just couldn’t go on. You'd come to a group of men and say 'Come on! We must go on. ' But it was physically impossible to move. Many were lying down and had been sick... many made several trips up the last slope helping others.

An officer of an Australian unit who fought on the Kokoda Trail recorded what happened when his unit made an ascent at one of the many extremely difficult ridges across the Owen Stanley Range. That was during a defence by Australian troops to prevent the vigorous Japanese army's movement towards Port Moresby after they had captured Kokoda in July 1942.

Fifty-eight years later, a small group of us numbering seven from Sydney, Port Moresby and Goroka made the same journey across the infamous Kokoda Trail- the first group to do so in the new. millennium.

It had been our goal to experience the challenges the trail offered - minus the hardships of the war. The trail was originally a link from the north to the south coast and was first used by miners struggling north to the Yoda Kokoda gold fields of the l890s. But it was the war which made it famous.

We all came together at Port Moresby two days before the walk to ensure all supplies and material were included and checked. Good preparation was essential.

Due to availability of a wider range of products there, the Sydney lads had brought up the food rations and the important first aid kit. We did not plan to travel with a local guide, so expedition co- ordinator and second time walker, Joe Holloway thoroughly briefed us on the important points of the walk, such as safety, necessary supplies only, proposed camp sites and overall map information.

The Police and National Emergency and Disaster Office were notified of the walk including departure and estimated arrival times.

Enthusiasm was evidently high when everyone woke very early on Wednesday morning. Joe revealed he didn't get much sleep. Perhaps he knew something we didn't.
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