The Kokoda Challenge | Thomas Hassall Anglican College

The Kokoda Challenge

The Kokoda Challenge is be a fitting and challenging event for all who take part and it seeks to provide leadership training for our students to undertake other suitable projects and challenges in the future.

Increasingly we know that young people respond positively when they are faced with practical problems.  Kokoda also allows those who take the challenge the opportunity to understand more of the Australian national identity.  We understand that Kokoda symbolises the example of great sacrifice and service by young Australian men and women in honour of their country. We welcome your involvement, and look forward to your application to participate.

All enquiries should be directed to Mr Kaye the Kokoda Trek Coordinator.

Kokoda 2015 – My Experience- Tara McManus

Kokoda is a physically and mentally challenging track, however, I recommend most people I meet to take part in it and give it a go. The Kokoda track taught me more about myself and what I can physically and mentally achieve. It gave me a new perspective on how lucky we are as Australians to live in a country that has so much wealth. 

Kokoda helped me understand that even though our country is economically wealthy, Papua New Guinea was wealthier because their country loved the Lord. The people there are poor and live on the bare essentials and on minimal possessions, however, they’re happy and are devoted to God. Each morning the Porters get up early and do a devotion, sing and pray, they also repeat this at the end of the day. If we were lucky we would get a treat from the Papua New Guinea children, or the Porters who would sing to us in beautiful voices and harmonies, songs that praise Jesus. It was incredible! The people of Papua New Guinea who I met were all lovely loving people and they never failed to put a smile on my face with their humour and cute personalities. Even though their “5 minutes” actually means another couple of hours… The people over there demonstrated great love and mateship to all of us, but it was particularly evident through one Porter who never left the side of a man who was struggling on the track. 

Kokoda is an experience which left me feeling extremely grateful for those who fought for our freedom, the ANZACs. The track is very difficult to walk, however, our group of 2015 didn’t experience much rain on the track. The only rain that we experienced was at night when our tents were already set up which meant we had it much easier than the ANZACs as they experienced torrential rain over a longer period of time. We learned to appreciate to a greater extent of what our ANZACs suffered for us as we had Porters carrying our gear, while the ANZAC’s did not, and they had heavier equipment because they had to carry guns which we got to experience picking up in the local museums and I can tell you that they are really, really, heavy. The THAC 2015 group, even though it was very difficult had it much, much easier, we weren’t getting shot at like the soldiers on the track were which meant that we could sleep a lot easier at night than the soldiers could when they were fighting on the track, which meant we would have had a lot more energy than they did. However, we were always extremely exhausted at the end of the day. 

The views that we experienced over in Kokoda were spectacular. Each section we walked too had different scenery. There was one part I distinctly remember, we came out of the thick terrain to a big open area where it looked like we had just walked into a massive African plain. We experienced views of mountains from extremely high positions and got to witness the tracks of the Japanese and the Australians and stand on the grounds of those who died and fought for our country which was emotional and breathtaking. We also got to witness the fighting pits, bases and equipment of both the Japanese and the Anzacs. 

Walking through the Kokoda track was essentially walking through a huge cemetery. We reached the end of the track and were taken to the ANZAC cemetery where we saw rows upon rows of dead men, each with family and friends who left messages for their loved one. It was a very emotional experience witnessing boys who were not much older than I am, who sacrificed themselves for the freedom of our country. They each, even though I don’t know all their names, will forever have a special place in my heart. The part that hit me the most was the men that were found but could not be identified. On their plaque was written “Unknown Soldier” with the writing “Known unto God” which really hit me because the men who sacrificed their life, had been found but now cannot be identified and recognised for their brave deeds, however, God recognises, knows and loves them. There was also a tomb for the soldiers that are still left in the track and haven’t been found. The long list of their names hit me hard because I had probably walked right next to those men who hadn’t been found yet, that had died for my freedom. 

Kokoda is definitely an experience that I would recommend people to go on. I strongly believe that every Australian should go on it at least once in their lifetime, if it is within their physical abilities, as it shows you a greater understanding of what our soldiers went through and a greater understanding of yourself. I strongly recommend if you do go that you train months before you do go on the track, make sure you are fit and train your body to wake up early. Kokoda taught me to endure through hard times and look at only the next step in front of me because when you look too far forward, you get overwhelmed with the huge mountain ahead and suddenly feel great pain throughout your body. The people in THAC Kokoda 2015 were lovely and I feel that I have made friendships with people that will last my entire lifetime. The track is very difficult but it is worth the pain 100%.