VAE Draftie Matt HartCompletes Kokoda Track, PNG

VAE Group Draftsman, Matt Hart, completed the extremely challenging Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea last month.

The Kokoda Track is a 96km walk that crosses the Owen Stanley Ranges between Kokoda, a government station west of Popondetta in Oro Province, and Ower’s Corner, 30km north west of Port Moresby. Walking up, and downhill on steep trails for approximately six - eight hours per day, depending on the group’s fitness levels.

The Battle of Kokoda was a four-month struggle which began in July 1942, with the landing of Japanese soldiers in the Australian Territory of Papua (now Papua New Guinea). The Japanese strategy was to take Port Moresby, in nine days, via a track over the Owen Stanley Range. This battle ended in January 1943, when the Japanese army in Papua were defeated.

The Kokoda Track region appears much the same as it did in 1942 when the Australian soldiers and Papuan allies fought there. Along the track, trenches and rusted weapons can still be seen. There is no electricity, there are no shops, and streams are generally crossed by means of a simple log bridge. It is a remarkably beautiful, pristine and historic environment.

Matt and five of his mates finished the Kokoda Trail at the end of August, after almost 12 months of planning and training.

The nine-day trek was one of the most physically and mentally challenging things that I have done but gives me a great appreciation for the hardships and sacrifices made by the Australian and Papuan soldiers during the war.The 96km Trek winds through extremely scenic, but steep and muddy terrain, linking up villages and memorials at battle sites from the WWII campaign. I would highly recommend making the trip to anyone that can as it is truly an unforgettable experience.

Matt Hart