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.