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Michelle Moir

As a second time trekker with Kokoda Spirit, I feel like I could end my review there. If it wasn’t a 5-star experience, I certainly wouldn’t have gone back. Quite honestly I look forward to a third and perhaps subsequent treks if life allows.
My first trek, I had the good fortune of being guided by Wayne Wetherall.
As the granddaughter of a Kokoda veteran, I went up to try and develop my understanding of what my grandfather experienced back in 1942.
What I didn’t bank on was that when Wayne Wetherall made the connection between my grandfather and I- something I hadn’t made known prior to the trip- that he would not only know my grandfather, but would know so much detail about his story.
Through Wayne’s knowledge of the history and the track itself, the first trek went from a bit of an educational adventure to a subtly personalised experience, as he made sure to draw my attention to points of relevance along the track, or give me a bit of extra time to take in particular locations relevant to my family story.
The first trip opened conversation between my grandfather and I that never existed before, and my grandfather expressed a deep gratitude for people like Wayne for encouraging young Australians across the track, and helping with passing this important Australian history through future generations.
I went back a second time now armed with more knowledge and reference points to trace my history and as luck would have it, Wayne was scheduled for my second trip too.
As a review I can tell you that the food was plentiful; the porters are absolutely wonderful- don’t go without one- they will add so much more to your experience; I never once felt unsafe, in fact I felt very well cared for with the daily check ins to make sure we were all faring well; the days were well planned- even in the face of inclement weather; the respect shown with the small memorials held at several sites were a reminder that this isn’t just an adventure company, but one who cares about the acknowledgement of history.
The granite pillars at the Isurava Memorial are etched with four very poignant words in relation to the Kokoda Campaign. Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice.
Kokoda Spirit as a tour company do many things very well, but one thing I cannot ignore is the encouragement they give to us as trekkers to acknowledge these words. No, we aren’t soldiers, nor are many, if any, of us veterans- but the four words are still so relevant to us as individuals and as Australians. Through the mateship encouraged amongst a group of almost entirely strangers, I watched the other words come to life through Wayne’s quiet, almost stealthy arrangement.
The evening sharing of the day’s experiences effortlessly turned into the sharing of life experiences, quickly shaping a group of strangers into a tightly knit pack of deeply caring friends. What a privilege it is to watch the courage and endurance unfold as the days pass.
What a greater privilege it is to be brought in to share in the personal sacrifices you discover the ordinary Australian makes, to make the country and the world a better place to live in.
The soldiers of the Kokoda Campaign gave their tomorrow so that we could enjoy the freedom of our today, and I truly believe that this is something they would be proud to know is still happening. Walking in their footsteps and acknowledging their history- then laying with newly made friends, under the shade of the most exquisite trees you’ll ever see, catching your breath after a hard climb uphill- and still finding the energy to laugh and appreciate the perfection of that fleeting moment in time.
Kokoda Spirit don’t rush that part of the experience- I don’t doubt you can get across the track faster than we went, but they know that building time into the itinerary to really take it all in, is more important than winning that race.
Book it. Go. And don’t feel like you need to wait for a friend to be ready to go with you. If you’re ready to go- book yourself in and trust the experience will unfold for you.
Michelle Moir
Michelle Moir