Team,

I’m a member of a group that recently completed one of your treks and wanted to provide some feedback.
Trepidation is probably how best to describe my lead up. I’m now 18 months post surgery from a double hip replacement. I had trained hard but you never are too sure how these things will go.
My 14 year old son was part of the group too.
To say that our experience was awesome does not adequately describe how good the trek was and how glad I am that I tackled this and was able to share it with Griffin.
Darren Savickas was the perfect person to lead the tour. He is knowledgeable and passionate about the track and the history but he also reads people and has an instinct for how best to guide each individual when times are tough. I am the OIC of the Fire Stations in the Perth CBD and know a bit about leadership. Darren is a great leader.
Five of us from Perth joined the group that ended up with fifteen hikers. I believe the group dynamic was strengthened by meeting new people. There is a bond between us that I will cherish forever.
The porters? Graydon led his crew wonderfully and I am constantly amazed at what they did for us. They were sensational.
I would happily recommend the trek and Kokoda Spirit to anyone considering taking it on.
Approaching 50 and with artificial hips I guess I had enough doubts. I’ve never been so glad that I took on a challenge and am so proud to have met it. I remain in awe of what the soldiers did in 1942.

AL Crossman
Perth WA

Hey Wayne,

Since we didn’t really get to say it at Brisbane, thank you so much for the trip!! I had the best time learning about not only the track, but the history of it. It has been the best experience I have had so far and it’s all a credit to you!

 

Kind regards,

Jack Clarkson (Brighton Grammar student)

Hi Wayne

Thanks so much for an awesome adventure out on the Kokoda Track. The boys and staff all loved the experience, and we have had some incredible feedback!

 

Enclosed are many of the photos we took, including photo of the year!

I also put a short video together, which is on the USB, but I am working on an extended version. I’ll send this up as well when it is finished.

Hope your recent trip went well.

 

Regards Cam

 

Cameron Taylor

Director of Operations and Activities (7-12)

Teacher in Charge of Basketball – First Team Coach

Brighton Grammar School

Dear Wayne,

Thank you for the email

I had just sat myself down at the computer to send you an email as your email arrived!

What a fabulous experience I had on the walk.
The Trail was a huge challenge for me and I really questioned my ability to complete the walk from Day 1.

I wanted to write to your company to acknowledge the wonderful staff of our PNG led crew who were wholly responsible for getting me to Kokoda and day 8!

Ruben, John, Max and Mr Bug…. what amazing people you have working for you.
The professionalism, care and compassion of these men, and the entire crew of porters, was exceptional.

I was ready to be Helicoptered out by the end of day 2! however John, the calm presence, kept me going and got my mind into the right state where I started to believe I could make it to the end.
It was slow going for me because I found the “Downs” very hard. Confidence was in hindsight probably my biggest barrier ( what I thought I couldn’t do and what I actually could do) John and Ruben never rushed me or made
me feel I was slow, even though I was a good hour to hour and a half behind my little group coming into camp. The concept of “Julie time” became ours, and when the terrain got particularly bad the other guys would appear from
nowhere and get me through. As John predicted by day 4 I found my Trekkers feet and settled into a wonderful experience of the Trail, the villages and the beautiful people, the awesome vistas as we topped an ascent.
I thoroughly enjoyed the PNG peoples view of history of the trail, as I have read extensively about the Kokoda campaign before taking the trek and continue to read more now I am home ( currently reading The Bone Man of Kokoda about
Kokichi Nishimura ) and feel It offered a balanced experience from all sides of the conflict. The respect of the trail is evident in all the porters and villagers and the privilege of walking the trail was deeply moving.
The sense of achievement on day 8 coming into Kokoda was an awesome feeling.

So I guess I wanted to write to you, so you could pass on my thanks to the crew:
for getting me there! for looking after us so beautifully! and for taking such pride in their work!

My Husband and I will be recommending Kokoda Spirit to everyone and anyone, and who knows we may get back and do it again…..mmm maybe not this year tho ha ha.

Regards,

Julie Renehan

Thank you to you all. It was a great experience.

Greg was an excellent leader, and his passion for and knowledge of the campaign really brought it to life and made it a memorable and emotional part of the trek.

Your guide team couldn’t have done a better job. Their silent dignity and selfless support were essential and greatly appreciated.

And thank you for your partnership in the arrangements in advance. I really appreciated the responsiveness of the office team.

You have a great organisation, Wayne.

Thank you.
Andrew

Andrew Hutchinson

Founder, Executive Chair
Alchimie Pty Limited

Wayne and team – great job, thank you.

Immaculate organisation throughout, well done.

Special shout-out to Greg Chamberlin and his commitment to the walkers’ experience – he had a couple of big tumbles, is there a plan B if the guide goes down?

The porters were amazing. My porter, Neville, was great, it was his first Kokoda run. If you could get him my email address that would be great – I realise it might not be easy.

Lastly, Bart Emmerton has put a good film together of our journey – thought you might be interested – the drone footage of the campsites is amazing.

Thanks again, see you in a couple of years if the knees are still working.

Regards
Jim

Jim Mantle

Managing Director
Alchimie Pty Limited
Ph. +61 3 9728 6688
Mob. 0412 196 983

Good afternoon,

Greg was a wonderful guide. His friendly demeanour, genuine empathy for the fallen soldiers and local PNG people, knowledge of military strategy, respect for the individuals in the team, jovial spirit, compassion and respect for the local people, love of the outdoors and natural environment was uncompromising. He was a joy to be around and made the experience even more memorable.

Kind Regards,

Emma GALLIGAN
Executive Assistant | CRO
HSBC Bank Australia Limited

Chris Dyer speaks about his experience during Cams Cause Kokoda Spirit Trek 2018:

Earlier this month (July 2018) a team set off under the Cam’s Cause banner to attempt the infamous Kokoda Track under the guidance of Wayne “Bosso” Wetherall from Kokoda Spirit.
Our aim as a group was to walk in honour of CPL Cameron Baird VC MG, our nations 100th Victoria Cross recipient. Or “Bairdy” as he was known to many.   But further to that we wanted to  pay our respects to the diggers that fought on the track in 1942 and keep their story alive.
What we underestimated as a group was just how amazing this journey would be and the lasting memories that were to come over the next 9 days.

This was also a fundraiser for Cam’s Cause, with all money raised going directly towards soldier welfare camps.  These camps invest in the long term psychological and physical care of our elite special forces soldiers. 

Setting off from Owers Corner we met our porters and trekking guides.  It was clear from the start that the relationship Wayne had with the PNG people was amazing.  Due to the care and treatment of his porters and the work Wayne does investing back into PNG tourism, you could see the porters were proud to wear the Kokoda Spirit shirt.

With Kokoda our target, this group of trekkers and porters formed a strong bond right from the start.  To anyone debating whether to get a porter or not, I would highly recommend getting one.  They are amazing people who represent their ancestors, the “fuzzy wuzzy angels” with pride.  

Day after day we were blown away by the scenery and the spiritual side to the track. The Kokoda Track is untouched and therefore you get a realistic feel of what it would have been like back in 1942 when the 39th Battalion initially marched across it.

Every day we would walk through villages and camps spots that have to be seen to be believed.  Iorabaiwa, Nauro, Agulogo, Menari, Efogi, Isurava, Eora Creek, Hoi were places that you simply cannot describe.

Every night our porters would sing songs about the track which just took the experience to another level.  A special mention to Ruben the porter for his guitar efforts every night. An awesome guy to say the least!

We were constantly marvelled by Wayne’s knowledge and passion for the track and more importantly the diggers that fought on it. At Brigade Hill and Isurava we held two of the most moving services for the diggers.  Poems were emotionally read out, the last post was played and the sacrifices that were made by our diggers were remembered and honoured.
Isurava in particular deserved an honourable mention. The view of the four stone pillars marking Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice was a site that left us all in awe.

 

It was equally as moving to hold our service at the rock and plaque where Private Bruce Steele Kingsbury earnt his Victoria Cross by pushing a wave of Japanese back with his Bren gun, creating a turning point in the battle.  Kingsbury was then killed instantly by a sniper whilst reloading his Bren gun by that exact rock.  To stand at that rock and read Bairdys Victorian Cross Citation and explain it more in depth, was something I personally will never ever forget.

All of these emotional highs and physical challenges are what make the journey of Kokoda such an accomplishment.

Walking into Kokoda will be undoubtedly remain one of the most moving moments of my life.  One which will be cherished forever. The pride to see what our group had achieved together, the friendships that were made and the bonds that were forged are all feelings that you cannot buy.  

This group of Australians banded together and achieved something special. Something they can look back on for years to come and be proud of.  Not only did they conquer the Kokoda Track, they paid respects and honoured all diggers past and present and raised an amount of just over $55000.  An amount that far exceeded any expectations. At this point I would like to point out $24000 of that total was donated solely by Kokoda Spirit.  The efforts Kokoda Spirit put in to donating to charities is remarkable.  On top of that the work Wayne puts in to supporting the country of PNG and its people is inspiring. 

This amazing journey would not have been as life changing as it was if it was not for Wayne’s professional and accommodating service.  It was said constantly by everyone along the track how happy they were to be trekking with Kokoda Spirit. Wayne’s amazing office team of Julie and Lyn were a pleasure to deal with and bent over backwards for anything we asked. 

The cherry on top was spending a night either side at the amazing Stanley Hotel.  There was no better way to end our adventure than with beers and burgers by the pool 🙂

On behalf of all involved at Cam’s Cause we want to thank Wayne for what he has helped us to achieve and commend him on the work he is doing over on the Kokoda Track.  This is a partnership I believe will continue long into the future where we can work together to achieve some great results.

To Rach, Glenn, Robbo, Linda, Cal, Jodie, Raz, Mal, Trav, Brocky, Andrew, Vicki, Ben, Nick, Amy, Sam, Tim, Kelly, Kev, Tania, Mitchy and Laura……. Thank you.

You guys were awesome.  This was a time in our lives where we achieved so much as a team.  The memories we will always share together!!  What you all did as a group was enable Cam’s Cause to honour our mate Bairdy in a way he would have been proud of.  
And for that we are forever grateful.

KOKODA 2018!!! 
Done….Dusted…..SMASHED IT!!!!!!!!!!

 

Kokoda… what can I say…..a place and an experience of extremes and Jarassic proportions … extreme hill ups & downs extreme heat, rain, humidity & mud. Extreme jungle pathways with Jarassic plants, rivers, swamps and cliffs. This place is truly hard to explain to the non trekker as we have nothing in our land to compare to give a relatable understanding… The military history of our Australian boys back in 1942 and how they battled for our independence and freedom along this track is mind blowing, truly courageous and unfathomable…The poverty throughout the villages is so far from materialistic that it’s an education and a self evaluating moment in itself.. The huge smiles, the human warmth and willingness to give and share from its people is nothing I’ve ever seen here in Australia or in my world travels. Kokoda is a track that absorbs you from the moment of your first step, it’s immerses you completely with no outside world influences and it engraves itself into your mind, heart and skin that will remain forever…the photos attached are a token only of our trip and the track and unfortunately will not show its true beauty, it’s physical and emotional struggles or it’s true sacrifice… if you have the capability, the fortitude and the drive to experience one of the most challenging, satisfying yet most humbling experiences of your life, I would suggest you get yourself to Kokoda and walk the track…. I am forever changed…..For the better!!!!

Kindest Regards
Janis

Mr Ryan described his experience as life-changing.

‘‘I’ve come home with so much gratitude and a real appreciation of how lucky we are to live in Australia and how often I take it for granted,’’ he said.

‘‘I don’t think a lot of people my age realise how close the war came to Australia.

‘‘I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know that much about it before I went over there. I knew it was important, but I wasn’t aware of the actual battles.

‘‘I now have a much better understanding of what the Aussie soldiers did.’’

Mr Ryan said learning about the Battle for Brigade Hill hit home the hardest.

The battle was fought during three days in 1942 and was an unmitigated disaster for Australia’s Maroubra Force.

‘‘The Japanese advanced on the Australians and they had to retreat to get back to a better position,’’ Mr Ryan said.

‘‘The problem was, they ran out of ammunition. So some of the guys took off their dog tags, gave them to their friends, and volunteered to charge the enemy with bayonets.

‘‘These were men my age and younger. They hadn’t even lived yet.

‘‘They knew they were going to die. But they did it anyway so their mates could get away.’’

Mr Ryan said the concept of mateship was constantly reinforced on the track.

‘‘I had never met the people in my group, but it didn’t take long for us to grow close,’’ he said.

‘‘The trail brings mateship out in people, because it is so hard.

‘‘You want to help out the people in front of you and the people behind you, because although you’re doing it tough, you’re in it together.’’

‘‘The Australian soldiers could not have done what they did without the people of Papua New Guinea and neither could we”

Kieran Ryan

Is it just me or does everyone think we need to go on more adventures?

I’m just back from the Kokoda Track. It’s my third time across the mighty Owen Stanley Ranges but it never gets any easier, any less exciting or life affirming. We had wet weather.

It’s always wet around ANZAC Day so we were reasonably prepared but a wet sleeping bag is not really something you can prepare for, trust me. I’ve climbed The Wall and Brigade Hill before but it still had me in tears.

I’ve looked out across the Kokoda Gap before but it still took my breath away. I’ve held babies on the track before they still stole my heart.

People always ask me what the trek is like and why I keep going back?

Papua New Guinea is one of the most beautiful counties I have ever been too. It’s lush and leafy, with ancient pandanus forests and moss in every shade of green. The track winds to the heavens with rushing waterfalls, grassy terraces to rest on and pristine mountain villages.

The people of the track are just as beautiful. During WWII the locals were described as angels by the soldiers they helped. One digger wrote: They carry stretchers over seemingly impassable barriers, keeping the patient comfortable. If night finds the stretcher still on the track, they will find a level spot and build a shelter over the patient. They will make him as comfortable as possible, fetch him water and feed him if food is available, regardless of their own needs.

Porters are no different today. They carry your stuff and gently encourage when the going gets tough, ‘Slowly, slowly, do not be so impatient.’ Porters collect water, sort tents, cook meals and then sleep huddled together around the fire. My porter is the only reason I have ever made it across the track.

And there is the history. When 10 Thousand Japanese landed in PNG, Australia initially sent just one thousand under-trained and poorly equipped men to the fray. Those ‘ragged bloody heroes’ put up a desperate fight, slowing wearing the Japanese down until they turned away, beaten and exhausted. Approximately 625 Australians were killed and more than 1600 wounded. Sickness killed 4000 more.

Wayne Wetherill of Kokoda Spirit is a track expert. He is ‘Bosso’ to villagers along the track, he fights both the Australian and PNG Governments for the rights of PNG land owners and honours our soldiers by knowing their names and telling their stories.

If I can walk the Kokoda Track, then anyone can. A week of camp food, hard slog and war tales around the fire are good for the soul. And I don’t care if you heard me cry on the radio, I promise you’ll love it.

Caroline Hutchinson 92.7Mix FM xxx

Having recently completed my trek and I just like to officially thank everyone involved during my 11 days in PNG, and Lyn and Julie for their help and encouragement in the months prior to heading out.

It was life changing to say the least for me.

I have made new friends for life, we have a bond no one can ever understand until they trek Kokoda themselves.

Our Guide John Titmus is an absolute gem of a human being. As an ex-serviceman myself, I commended him personally for his historical military knowledge. For someone who hasn’t worn the uniform, he may as well have.

He included us all in the memorial services we held along the track, but he also included me on many occasions to explain things from my military service, certain aspects of army life, expectations, my experiences in jungle training.

I was asked to read The Ode 3 times, at Kokoda, at Isurava & at Bomana. I could hardly recite it as I was so emotional on each occasion, so honoured to honour the fallen in that way. To Johnny, I will be ever grateful for that honour as an ex NZDF serviceman, the descendant of real ANZACs who served in France and Gallipolli and WW2.

I have been lucky to have 4 days off work upon my return, it will be hard getting back to work after this amazing period in my life.

Thanks again to you all, especially Wayne Wetherall for making ANZAC day 2018 at Isurava so special for our entire team, including our porters. God bless you all for the great jobs you all do.

P.S I will be back to trek PNG again with Kokoda Spirit, the Black Cat track seems like another fascinating piece of our history that also needs to be experienced.

 Kindest Regards

Dave Owen (Davey, Davo).

Dear Team at Kokoda Spirit,

We have recently returned from another Kokoda Spirit led trek, and I just wanted to touch base to express our appreciation for a brilliant trip.

Once again, the experience was first-class and the 8 boys that we took away have been raving about it. Our tour leader Sarge was phenomenal, and had a great manner with the boys. He was a wealth of knowledge, and his passion for the Kokoda story was really evident, having a profound effect on our boys. The rest of the team including the porters were absolutely outstanding, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way the trip panned out.

Thank you also for your patience during the organisational stages, as we pushed your deadlines to the absolute limit. I hope you will consider taking us through again next year should we generate enough interest around the school.

Thanks again,

Adam

Good morning Julie and Wayne,

I would like to pass on my huge thanks to the organising team of Kokoda Spirit but especially to our guide Steve Mackie for an awesome Kokoda experience! Walking the Kokoda Track was an incredible journey and I felt honoured to be there. We had a wonderful group – we connected very quickly, maybe because we all had a common thread – raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s Australia.

Our guide Steve was fantastic – he was so thoughtful, considerate, observant, experienced, knowledgeable, intelligent, respectful and fun. Steve has a wonderful gift of being able to connect with total strangers and bring them together to work (and walk) harmoniously. He is a great story teller and historian – he shared his deep knowledge of the Kokoda, which added to the experience. I enjoyed our daily high and low discussions. Steve was very attentive when fellow trekker Marie was unwell on the second day. He was also aware when the porters had sores on their feet and attended to their cuts/abrasions – I was able to assist him being a registered nurse and felt privileged to do so.

The local porters did an amazing job – never once did I feel hungry – the food was plentiful including donuts, pikelets and pizza! They were incredibly attentive to each trekker and did everything to ensure our safety and enjoyment.

I am still absorbing the whole experience and feel very proud of my achievements.

If I ever have another opportunity to do Kokoda again, I will definitely grab it. It was AWESOME! (I am thinking of exploring voluntary avenues utilising my nursing skills in some capacity).

Thank you for this amazing experience/journey.

Regards,

Sarah Pettenon

Good Morning All, Firstly may I say a huge thank you to one and all for such an amazing business and the opportunity to walk the Kokoda Track with a man who is as passionate about it now as he was when he first started many years ago. Wayne, you are an inspiration and I thank you for what you do. Melissa, well what can I say…. she was outstanding, what an incredibly strong woman, physically, mentally and emotionally, we all had the best time ever. Lots of photos and even more memories to be cherished forever. To the porters a massive thanks particularly Eddie and Russell who had to follow me up and down the mountains and across the waterways, sorry it wasn’t someone younger fellas, but I will be forever grateful for the music you provided along the way it certainly helped me to keep going.

It was the most gratifying experience ever and I am proud to say I have followed in the footsteps of our courageous soldiers albeit in considerably more comfort. Oops forgot to mention the meals/snacks we consumed along the way, how incredible were they. To create cakes, donuts, pizzas in the middle of nowhere with just a few pots and an open log fire, oh my god. The evening meals were always delicious and plenty to go around. The entertainment by the porters was also very enjoyable.

A million thanks to all

Best wishes

Rhonda Donaldson

Special thanks to Bill Kelly, he made the trip one of the best I’ve been in after travelling the world doing treks at Everest, Kilimanjaro, Galapagos, Camino – this one was the most moving.

Anyone who has trekked the Kokoda in recent years will recognise these four words as part of the Isurava Memorial. “Courage, Endurance, Mate-ship, Sacrifice “. Each of these words carved into 2 tonne granite blocks is testimony to the diggers that fought in WWII so we can enjoy the freedom we have today.

I had wanted to do the Kokoda for many years, The highlights of the trek for me were the battle briefings at Brigade Hill, Eora Creek, the lost battlefield and Isurava. Our expedition leader Bill Kelly was nothing short of wonderful, his story time provided insights into the tactics, challenges and sacrifices at each of these major battle sites. Each battle briefing followed moments of being so moved at the heroic Aussie digger to never giving up in what seemed to be a no win situation.

After days on the trail, finishing in Kokoda brought a flood of emotions; exhilaration to have made it, joy of having shared a special trek with very special people and humbled by the knowledge of what our diggers had endured

Janie Hartman
19 – 27 August

Well what can I say, but THANK YOU!

I am now finally coming back down to earth and to be honest, a little sad that the adventure is all over after the months of prep I had.

I could not have asked for a truly greater experience. The entire tour, from beginning to end was an unforgettable, emotional experience.

Bill Kelly. What an absolute asset to Kokoda Spirit. Bill quite simply, made the trip. His knowledge was faultless, care for all was impeccable and ‘groove’ for life, inspiring.

With Bill’s help, the group connected on many levels and this of course made it all the more easy for those travelling alone and to of course help with team moral along the way.

The laughs and tears, that were had along the way, were one for a lifetime memory.

I would, without a question of doubt, recommend Kokoda Spirit to anyone who will listen. And I am telling my story to many!

Regards,

Jacqueline Pidd
19-27 August

As part of a group of 10, working hard to raise much needed funds for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation, I’ve just completed the Kokoda trek with Kokoda Spirit.

I absolutely loved ever minute of the experience. Fortunately I was part of the most selfless, caring, respectful and fun loving group of people that one could only dream of.

My good fortune however didn’t start there. My brother completed the trek 2 years ago and raved about the knowledge, passion and experience of chief guide, Wayne Wetherall of Kokoda Spirit. I couldn’t believe my luck when I learned that the Humpty Foundation had chosen Kokoda Spirit to host the trek and Wayne to lead our group.

Wayne is a WW2 historian with an amazing knowledge of the Kokoda trail and the entire wartime campaign fought by our brave diggers. He brings battlefields to life with his emotional portrayal of campaign events and short services to remember those who fought under the most horrific circumstances to allow us to enjoy the lives we lead today. Emotions ran high in our group with lots of tears flowing during those wonderful services. Those memories will be with me and I’m sure other group members forever.

On the trail, it was very evident as we moved from village to village that Wayne was highly respected by those village communities.
Our porters and support staff were outstanding. Throughout the trek they were on hand to look after our every need and of paramount importance for the porters was our safety. Their attention to detail on slippery descents was incredible…….at the slightest hint of a slip you would feel a hand on your backpack securing your footing – guardian angels indeed. The food was varied, plentiful and of a high standard – it’s hard to believe one can enjoy pizza, donuts and hot chips on this type of expedition. Max our paramedic looked after any medical requirements with aplomb and shared many of his passionate stories of the campaign.

We had a fairly diverse group of individuals that gave Wayne the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to relate really well to people of all ages, backgrounds etc. and he he certainly did that. He displayed a close interest in every member of the group’s journey, looking to ensure they completed the trek safely and in good spirits.

I agree wholeheartedly with my brother’s assertion that you couldn’t wish for a better guide on the Kokoda Trek than Wayne Wetherall and his outstanding team

Kevin McElduff

Dear Wayne and the Kokoda Spirit Team,

Walking the track in June with Peter Sergent was an amazing experience. I was walking with two friends to raise money and awareness for an extremely rare and debilitating disease called PSP that my father developed. Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP) is similar to Motor Neurons and Parkinson’s Disease. It is robbing my father of the ability to walk, talk and function normally and eventually it will kill him. We managed to raise a massive $17560 for PSP Australia (Parkinson’s Victoria) and I am so proud to have walked the track for this cause.

Our trek was lead by a group of local boys, Sai, Frank and their team, who though they didn’t say much, were so very caring and helpful. My personal porter Lei Lei really had his work cut out as I am very clumsy to begin with, so when meandering over tree roots and up rock faces he proved his weight in gold. The boys singing, lead by Jimmy, was so beautiful and often was just enough encouragement to make that last climb before we stopped for a break.

Acclimatising to the PNG way of life took some adjustment, and the toilets made us laugh as we quickly learnt to stuff our nostrils with toilet paper before entering. Even with mud soaked legs and aching muscles I loved every minute of it. I will never forget the experience and will cherish it forever.

Thank you,

Sarah Lenane

Hello Team Kokoda Spirit,

I’ve been meaning to send you an email of appreciation for a few weeks since completing my trek on July 7/15th, but have been waiting to let my trip fully sink in.
And to be honest, I don’t know that it ever will.
After returning home from PNG I shared my experience with family and friends.
I found it hard to explain the emotions and intense feelings I was experiencing along the way.
And then a few weeks later I returned to work, and tried to share my trip with colleagues.I am not the most eloquent with words, but I can tell a good yarn.
Kokoda has me stumped though.
I try and tell the kokoda story and my journey with photos but its hard to fully appreciate the gravity of it all through a picture.
In the end I just simply tell people they must go. MUST!
There is no doubt in my mind that my experience was made so very much better because I chose to go with Kokoda Spirit (a family member went with you guys a few years back and she said look no further than Kokoda spirit, so I didn’t).
Our guide was Greg Chamberlain.
I can admit I was apprehensive after my initial introduction with Greg, for no other reason than he was in the army for the majority of his adult life.
I figured this will be very a regimented hike.I couldn’t of been more wrong and simply cannot thank Greg enough for leading us. His military insight and passion for kokoda was an experience within an experience.
His snippets from military diary’s, conversations with diggers, just everything about the way it was presented, still brings a tear to my eye.
Even thinking of it all now, its almost like a dream!
I’ve been there.
I’ve walked in the footsteps of heroes.
And it was Greg who brought it all to life for me, and I will be forever grateful.
Overall I really can’t find many ways that my trip and experience could of been scripted any better.
We had good weather.
The porters blew me away each and every day.
Greg as I have tried to explain.
Even the re-enacters dressed like the 39th battalion that we met along the way… WOW!!
I’m so very very glad my dads cousin told me to choose you guys for the trek, and anyone that will listen is getting the same message from me, so a huge thank you to all your team.
I feel grateful, honored, humbled and very proud of myself for doing the trek and for the men that fought there so that we can continue to lead the lives we have.

We will remember them.

Kind regards

Terry Howe.

 

EXCITEMENT is building in Kaitlyn Pobar’s Mudjimba home for what is expected to be an emotional trek honouring her late father.

emotional-trek

Mrs Pobar and her husband David are three weeks away from landing in a former war zone famed for a muddy, dangerous track which weaves across it.
Her decision to walk the Kokoda Track came a few weeks after her father, former Sunshine Coast police officer Detective Senior Constable Russell Sheehan, took his own life.
She is now a board member for police mental health support charity Blue Hope.

“I am doing it (the trek) for Blue Hope but I’m doing it in memory of my dad,” Mrs Pobar, 30, said. “He was really interested in war history.”

The Pobars will take six current serving police officers from around Australia as well as a friend and administration officer with them on the eight-night adventure.
Mrs Pobar said the serving officers were all motivated by colleagues who had suffered from the mental health consequences of the job.
They leave for Papua New Guinea on August 18. “It’s supposed to be one of the driest, coolest times.” More than $10,000 has already been raised as a result of the trek to go to Blue Hope. “Dad was well-known in our circles and the policing community. “It’s actually one of many fundraisers that have been done in his name, which is nice.” Between now and then she just plans to keep training hard. She has been traversing hinterland trails for practice. “It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “I’ll obviously be appreciating what the diggers did over there but also missing dad.” For more information or to support the fundraising cause visit www.bluehope.com.au or www.mycause.com.au/events/kokodateamchallenge.

For support call Lifeline on 131 114 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

A few words and a big thank you regarding Kokoda.
In fact, words won’t capture my level of gratitude and appreciation for all each of you have done.

Jenny, thank you so much for being the inspiration for the participation of students from Surfcoast Secondary. Your organisation, motivation, communication and drive to make the Kokoda experience happen has been just brilliant for the group as a whole. The personal support you have provided Laila is amazing and I feel so lucky that my children attend a school where staff care so greatly. From picking up Laila for those early morning drives and walks, to having to trek back to meet her and miss time with the group, to just being an adult female role model she can talk to and connect with, you have impacted on Laila in just so many positive ways.

Peter, we sat and watched the video you created this morning and it was an emotional experience for all of us. Thank you so much for also giving up your time to support Jenny and the students and for taking the time to capture the experience so that family and friends can share just that little bit more closely. I honestly felt just that bit more secure about my daughter heading off to Papua New Guinea knowing you were there as well.

Scott, thank you for being a principal prepared to take a risk with the kinds of educational experiences offered to your students. As well as supporting the program at a leadership level, it was lovely to see the principal driving the bus load of excited (and apprehensive!) trekkers to Melbourne. Then, when Laila and I needed your support to obtain documents to assist her passage to Port Moresby, your instant offer of support and springing into action helped greatly when our stress levels were still huge.

Wayne, you have provided Laila with a gift that I have no doubt will play a role in shaping the rest of her life. Again, I can’t express my appreciation highly enough. For you to arrange the reversal of the walk was beyond anything I expected. The arrangements you then put in place for Laila to be collected individually, two days after the rest of the group, and to then escort her personally, whilst catching another group and eventually the Surfcoast group, demonstrated a level of flexibility and commitment to the care of your client that is of the highest order. I won’t go into the details, but I think if Laila had missed out on the trek, as looked likely to happen, then I think the short and long term damage to her self-esteem would have been immense. Laila mentioned how comfortable she felt in your company – whether you were both talking or whether you were just slogging it out in silence. She said there was a point when she felt absolutely out of her depth, exhausted, overwhelmed and full of self-doubt. The comfort you gave her, with your kind words, encouragement and compassion, was exactly what she needed at that moment. Thank you.

Thank you also to Lyn (our Kokoda Spirit contact person), who was so efficient in supporting me whilst we were madly trying to get arrangements in place and had so many questions for her. Her level of communication was excellent – right to the day of departure when I called her in desperation at about 6am. (An officious Qantas representative had met with us and declared, ‘there’s no way Laila is flying. She can’t get on the plane. They won’t even look at her in Port Moresby, as she doesn’t have a visa’. Thankfully, he was wrong.)

15 months or so ago, Laila snapped her cruciate ligament and her medial ligament. At that point in time, there is no way I thought she would be walking Kokoda just over a year down the track. Laila was inspired by you, Jenny, to undertake the journey. When she first came home to ask if she could go I was both proud of her for being so pro-active, but also nervous (would she recover from her knee injuries in time? was it safe in P.N.G.? did the transport plane have twin engines?!) There are so many aspects to the experience that challenged Laila. The early morning training sessions when she wanted to lay in bed, like teenagers do. The evening training sessions at Bird Rock stairs, when it was cold, wet and dark. Then, to have to deal with losing her passport and thinking she wasn’t going and to see the rest of the group depart without her. Then, to have to deal with the possibility that we should try to make arrangements for her to fly – but know that there were a huge number of ducks to line up and it may not happen. Then, to have to fly to Port Moresby alone (very much the unknown – which is so often what frightens us). Then, to have to make up time to catch the rest of the group.
Thank you, all, from the bottom of my heart.

 

Adrian Bassett

To the whole team at kokoda spirit
I wanted to take the time to truly express my thanks and gratitude for preparing and leading us on an unforgettable journey through the kokoda trail.

I was part of the Paul McNamara group that trecked from the 1.7.17-9.7.17. I must admit, each and every one of us may have had all the gear but truly had no idea what we were in for. Right from the very beginning, from dealing with the team to ensure we were ready and organized; through to take off to the kokoda trail, I felt very well supported. Our Treck lead, sai, Treck master, Frank, and personal porters were absolutely amazing. Our porters ,by far, made the trip the most memorable experience. Aside from never leaving our side and constantly ensuring we were strong, fit and healthy, the way they interacted with the group, joined in on jokes and games and sang as a group along the way, i honestly believe is what kept our spirits so high and got us through.

On top of this spirit, I had to abide by a GF diet on the trip. The amount of effort the boys went to ensuring I had a GF diet every single meal blew me away. Each and every meal was absolutely amazing, tasteful and GF. I could not be more thankful!

Since returning home, I have missed the Treck more and more every single day, and especially missed the whole entire team. I cannot express my thanks more to the kokoda spirit team, especially to Frank and his team of mighty porters. I have recommended the company to all friends and family and will be sure to stick to the spirit for future trecks.

Hi Wayne,

We heard lots about you from Peter! The trek Peter led was incredible, he is a fantastic leader. His knowledge, enthusiasm and sense of humour was so great and really made the trek. I didn’t have a personal porter, but the boys who were with us all looked after us so well, to the point of picking fresh flowers and tying them to our tents of an evening. Their sense of humour, care and compassion was next level. I was incredibly nervous that I would not be strong enough, but without even knowing my story, the care, compassion and kindness that Peter, the boys and the entire group offered me meant that I not only got through the trek, but absolutely loved it and have come out the other side so much stronger and happier. I have already recommended your company to everyone I have spoken to, it truly is amazing! THANK YOU for this experience, and helping change my life for the better!

Hannah

Hi Wayne,

My feedback will be in the form of a major article I am writing in Reader’s Digest, which will be distributed throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia, more than likely in next March’s issue.

Kokoda Spirit, you, Cam and Craig all get a pat on the back.

Let me just say this. Although I was sceptical it would, my experience on the Kokoda Track did, in fact, change my life … I saw my son mature … I saw myself react in ways I never thought I could.

It’s interesting … when I am having some difficulties I think back to Kokoda and that adventure brings a smile to my face and makes me realise that what I see as an insurmountable problem, may not be so significant.

Thank you again

Simon Bouda
Senior Journalist/Reporter


1 June 2011 By SBLT Ryan Zerbe

Mud, steep hills and river crossings were all just part of the experience for the Top End Navy team which recently returned from a seven day trek with trek company Kokoda Spirit along the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

The 10-strong joint group from HMAS Coonawarra and Assail 4 returned sore and weary, but proud of their effort to trace the path of Australian veterans of the battle that “saved Australia”.

Setting out from Kokoda, Top End Navy travelled 96 kilometres to Owers Corner battling heat, heavy rain, exhaustion and the mental challenge of false peaks.

For LSPT Scott Daniel, the experience has been a long-term goal and he spent many spare hours preparing himself for the challenge.

“I was pack marching in the Darwin heat on weekends and making sure I was strong and ready to take it all on”, he said.

“Everyone on the team had to push hard to keep their legs pumping but getting to the end was one of the most satisfying feelings I’ve ever had”.

Despite the hard march they faced each day, the team took time to appreciate the significance of Kokoda and Australia’s wartime history. Weapon pits, trenches and left over ammunition all served to remind them of the battlefields that once covered the region.

“We stopped at Brigade Hill to remember the deeds of the Australians who were there long before us”, LSPT Daniel said. “Beyond beating the personal challenge we had set ourselves, seeing those relics and memorials made the trek all the more worthwhile.”



Team Top End Navy at the start of their trek. Heavy rain made was one of many challenges the team faced.

 

Congratulations to the crew of HMAS Coonawarra, who have just completed walking the Kokoda Track with Kokoda Spirit owner Wayne Wetherall.

The crew of HMAS Coonawarra comprised members of the shore based crew and members of our Elite Sea going border security teams out of Darwin.

The team was led by Patrol Boat Captains Kylie Beumer and Zane Geary. All members of the crew carried their own packs and completed the trek in under 7 days.

The crew was blown away by the intense history of the track presented by Wayne and commented how life changing Kokoda is for the participants.

Kylie was very impressed with the whole Kokoda Spirit operation and commented that it was very slick and professional.

Wayne, commented that is was a great experience and humbling to be part of such a great dynamic group. He also commented that it is very reassuring that Australia’s borders are being protected by such professional and dedicated people.

The team is very keen to bring more members back across Kokoda to walk in the footsteps of heroes.

Northern Navy Trek 2011 HMAS Coonawarra

Dear Wayne,

Thank you for a great trek. It was well organised and exceeded all of my expectations.

Your leadership and knowledge of the Kokoda Track and its history was first class.

Congratulations on a job well done.

Dr David Stevens
Director of Strategic and Historical Studies
Sea Power Centre-Australia. Royal Australian Navy

I thoroughly enjoyed the recent trek across Kokoda and thought it was well organised and led.

In the RAN a ship’s Captain is the ship, and sets the standard for his ships performance.

Wayne is the ship’s Captain for Kokoda Spirit and has done an outstanding job. His knowledge of the track and in particular the battles along the Kokoda Track were excellent.

His positive and warm relationships with his local staff and landowners and his passion to improve their lives and protect the heritage value of the Kokoda Track is to be commended.

His leadership, professionalism and easy mannerism are to be commended.

Peter Jones
Rear Admiral
Royal Australian Navy

Dear Wayne

On behalf of the Queensland Police Service contingent who recently visited the Northern Beaches of PNG and walked the Kokoda Track with Kokoda Spirit I wish to express our sincere thanks for your professional and comprehensive service. Your passion, knowledge and respect for the track and its local inhabitants are truly inspiring.

As you are aware we conducted an in-depth evaluation process of numerous Kokoda Track service providers before selecting Kokoda Spirit. Your adherence to risk management protocols, delivery of promised services, professional conduct and historical briefings were of the highest order.

Cam McNeill
Detective Senior Sergeant
State Intelligence Group | State Crime Operations Command, Queensland Police Service

If you want to challenge yourself, learn more about yourself and those that you walk with learn about the importance of team work or honour those that fought and died for this country, walk the Kokoda Track with Kokoda Spirit, their knowledge of the history and battlefield operations along the Kokoda Track were outstanding.
Wayne and his team really know the lay of the battle fields and build such a comprehensive story that you can really feel the spirit of the Diggers and what took place back in 1942.

Graham Coleman
Superintendent
Queensland Police Service

Australian Army Kokoda

I was able to obtain permission from the Australian Army to lead 14 serving members, predominantly gunners of the 48th Field Battery, to conduct a Battlefield Study Tour of the Kokoda Track.

Crucial to the success of ‘Exercise Bold Angel’ was the choice of trekking company Kokoda Spirit.

The assistance that Wayne and Kokoda Spirit provided in terms of advice on equipment, training and practical experience was exactly what I required as the Activity Commander.

I was impressed with Wayne’s and Kokoda Spirit’s ability to make things happen in very trying circumstances.

Wayne provided in depth knowledge of the events on the track and we were thankful that we were trekking with a company that held our safety and best interests as their primary importance.

Wayne impressed the team with his calmness under pressure, decision making and organisational ability, and communication skills. The professionalism, knowledge and experience of Wayne and his team at Kokoda Spirit was outstanding.

I have been in the Army for 10 years, and was privileged to work with Wayne, and I know that years ago Wayne would have jumped at the chance to serve in the Australian Defence Force, and I believe that we were unlucky to miss out on him.

He displayed the skills, knowledge and attitudes of current commanders of Australian troops serving overseas on operations.

I would highly recommend Wayne Wetherall and Kokoda Spirit.

Captain Scott Calvert
Activity Commander
Exercise Bold Angel
48th Field Battery
Keswick SA

Hi Wayne,

Wayne, I would like to express my personal appreciation and that of my patrol of ex Army officers for the outstanding organisation and delivery of the trek. As ex military we had high expectations and it was everything and more that we expected when looking for a trekking package solution.

I know that your personal passion about the track, its history, people and environment rubbed off on us all and we are all the richer for having trekked with Kokoda Spirit.

Thanks for always being available for advice – best wishes to Kokoda Spirit.

Peter Keane
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired)
Australian Regular Army

Dear Wayne,

The Kokoda track presents itself as an ultimate physical and emotional challenge. The steepness of the mountains cannot be found in Australia, or anywhere else I have been. It bears no resemblance to any other track I have been on.

I was blessed by being guided on the trek adventure by Wayne and Michelle Wetherall’s, Kokoda Spirit Company. They provided us with a wealth of information beforehand, provided excellent equipment, met us at the airport, briefed us at our hotel, and then linked us up with our fellow guides, trekkers, and porters.

Wayne himself moved up and down the track providing briefings at key historic sites complementing the daily briefings.

I had to come on this adventure desiring to gain a deeper understanding the Kokoda campaign and I came away very satisfied of the experience I had. I experienced Kokoda at both the physical and emotional levels. Highlights of the experience for me were:

— bonding with a group of like minded Australian trekkers.
— Meeting and getting to understand the Papuan guides and porters. My personal porter Simon Nasavi was constantly by my side and saved me from falling more times than I can remember.
— the on site briefings of the key battles such as Brigade Hill, Kokoda Gap, Templeton’s Eora Creek and Isurava.
— Memorial services at Bomana Cemetery, Brigade Hill and Isurava.
— The personal inspiration of the Kokoda Spirit team in offering a personal and comprehensive package
–successfully completing the trek at age 55!!

I can heartily recommend the Kokoda Spirit package.

Gary Stone,
Australian Army Infantry officer 1970 -1996 Lieutenant Colonel,
Australian Army chaplain 1996 to present.