Tuesday the 11th of April saw 6 very keen trekkers depart their respective states and arrive in PNG, physically & mentally ready for the massive task of completing a feat no one else has done before – the Back 2 Back Kokoda Trek (192k). Some had never met each other before so this was a first for ProSport. Nerves, anticipation & excitement were at an all time high!
Kokoda is a single-file foot thoroughfare that runs one way 96 kilometers overland through the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea. The track is the most famous in Papua New Guinea and is known for being the location of the World War II battle between Japanese and Australian forces in 1942. The only difference this time, we were doing it twice.
The track typically starts at the Kokoda station (after a quick 30 min flight into Popondetta & then a 3 hour truck ride) & ends at Owers Corner in Central Province, 50 kilometers east of Port Moresby. It reaches a height of 2,190m as it passes around the peak of Mount Bellamy. The B2B were starting at Owers Corners & returning back to Owers Corner 13 days later.
Hot, humid & sometimes wet days with intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and the risk of endemic tropical diseases such as malaria make it a challenge to successfully walk it.
This trip was discussed years ago, a few good mates Sharpy & Cookie were the masterminds behind putting this adventure together (others came as it was promoted). Simon (our local No Roads leader) had chats with us back in 2014 about this & agreed he would be on board if we did it. A few conversations with Pete from No Roads & The B2B was put together & promoted through a few avenues which lead to Scott & Deanne Millet from Cairns, Scotty Beaven from Melbourne & my mates Tony Sharp from Melbourne & Cliff Cookie from Mildura all committing to doing this with me.
During the first night at the Holiday Inn it suddenly dawned on the group that tomorrow morning when we got the bus to the start line & we were ready to have a crack at doing something that has never been done before – it was D-day for all of us. 2-3 years of talking, training & preparing – it was about to begin & everyone suddenly felt really excited but really nervous at the same time.
I am extremely proud of you ALL! Overcoming feelings of hopelessness, weakness, vulnerability - the feeling of wanting to give up, thinking I can’t get to the top of Brigade Hill, but I can proudly sit here today & say we ALL overcame those feelings & thoughts and made it. It makes our achievement as individuals & as a group something very, very special.
Here is a day-to-day recap of the trek.
Day 1 - 12th: Leave PM for Owers Corner (90 min bus ride) Depart OC for Va – Ule Creek (6 hours)
Day 2 – 13th: Va – Ule Creek to Browns River (12.5 hours)
Day 3 – 14th: Browns River to Kagi (12 hours)
Day 4 – 15th: Kagi to Templeton 1 (7.5 hours)
Day 5 – 16th: Templeton 1 to Alola (9 hours)
Day 6 – 17th: Aloha to Kokoda (9 hours)
The first part to this epic adventure was done & dusted. I couldn’t have been any more proud of this group. We have 24 hours in Kokoda to rest up, have a swim in the creek, dry out some wet clothes & touch base with family & friends back home to tell everyone we were ok.
The next part to this journey was going to be really tough physically & mentally. I knew this group could do it.
The exciting part about this trip was having 9 new faces join us at Kokoda for the trip back to Owers Corner. In that group was my Dad Chris (AKA Pop), my sister Livvy, my son Harry, Prosport’s favorite son Toddy, Steph, Scotty P, Cam, Em & Matty.
The crew arrived safely around noon from having a pretty hectic morning of travelling. Everyone was together now & after having a quick tour of the Kokoda museum & history lesson on what had happened in the first battle of Kokoda, we were ready to trek from Kokoda Station to Owers Corner.
Day 1 – 18th: Flight to Popondetta / 3 hour truck ride to Kokoda station / 3 hr walk to Deniki (3 hours)
Day 2 – 19th: Deniki to Euro Creek via Ioribaiwa for a look at the 4 pillars and a history chat & then to Alola for lunch. Then to our camp site Eora Creek for a swim and a rest (9 hours)
Day 3 – 20th: Eora Creek to Kagi via Mt Bellamy (highest point of the track – 2190m) into Kagi (11 hours)
Day 4 – 21st: Kagi to Brigade Hill for some more history and then lunch & then down to Menari Village (9 hours)
Day 5 – 22nd: Menari to Nauro 1 Village via the swamps (9 hours)
Day 6 – 23rd: Nauro to Ioribaiwa Village via Ofi Creek for lunch & a quick swim (8 hours)
Day 7 – 24th: Ioribaiwa Village to Owers Corner (6 hours)
Day 8 – 25th: ANZAC DAY at the Bomana War Cemetery
Here is a quick wrap of the ProSport ‘2017’ team:
Back 2 Back Trekkers:
Scott ‘TEAM MAN’ Beavan: Bevo, you brought humor & determination to the group which was great mate. I saw a look in your eyes on day 1 that you were hurting (a few early spews will do that to you) you never complained or gave up which is a terrific trait mate. Highlight was completing the B2B with you. Well done! Thanks for being a part of it.
Tony ‘MR CONSISTENT’ Sharp: Tough / hard / committed & very consistent. Never complained & always had a smile on his face (& always laughing). You did ask a lot of questions though? Was great having you a part of the group again mate. Highlight – doing this track with you 4 times, the funny thing is I could do it all again with you mate. Thanks for everything.
Cliff ‘DIAMOND’ Cooke: Mate, you should be very proud of yourself – your willingness to keep leading the team forward everyday was just awesome. Even though you pretty much walked the first part of the trek on one leg, the way you kept motivating everyone day in day out is a very special skill. Thanks for all your support out on the track. Highlight having you on the track & listening to your music.
Deanne ‘KOKODA MUM’ Millet: Deanne, you were very easy to lead. You were tough, strong & consistent. Simon was right on day 3. It was so good seeing you & Milly push each other day in day out. What a special trek, congratulations on being the first female to ever complete the B2B. Highlight – taking the Kokoda Mum role on and looking after us. We were very lucky to have you. Thank you.
Scott ‘NEVER SAY DIE ATTITUDE’ Millet: I think that sums you up perfectly. No step or hill was big enough to stop you Milly. The way you pushed yourself up that hill into Kagi was brilliant. Highlight was celebrating your 50th birthday on the track. That’s pretty special!
One way Trekkers:
Em ‘MISS DETERMINATION’ Reid: Everyone showed glimpses of determination but your whole trek was determination, you gritted your teeth everyday & did an amazing job walking the Kokoda trek. It was great seeing you get stronger as the trip went on. Well done for making it through – I was really proud of you & I bet your family will be too. Highlight – that noise you make every time you slipped.
Matty ‘SH*T LIPS’ Boyd: We promised you we would get you home safely. You made my job pretty easy mate by being a great bloke, you never ever complained, you were always up & about chatting, laughing & getting to know everyone. (you did pick on me a bit too much which wasn’t funny ha). It was great seeing you finish the trek in great spirits alongside your father in law. Highlight – watching your face every time you copped a fine – priceless.
Livvy ‘MISS GENIUNE’ Hazell: Funny, caring, kind, non-intimidating, friendly & the ultimate team player is you in a nutshell Livvy. You brought everything to the trip that highlights what a good person is all about! Highlights were your fall, that was pretty special and the quote of the trip “OH C’MON” that was a tough day..
Todd ‘THE FINE MAN’ Beames: Great work with the fine system mate, you were great to have in the team as my right hand man. Always talking, motivating & joking around but when it was time to get serious you were the first person to put your head down & get going. Thanks for being a legend TB. Highlight was you looking like every night you were going to rob a village.
Harry ‘JUNIOR’ Anderson-Hazell: I couldn’t be any prouder of you Harry. Was so good having you a part of this trip. Your willingness to get around everyone was amazing. Thanks for being the best tent partner, you gave it 110% & for that your reaped the ultimate result of finishing the Kokoda trek – my highlight was watching you always look after Pop, not that he needed it you were always there which I thought was pretty special.
Chris ‘POP’ Hazell: I’m so pumped for you Dad, you did not miss a beat! You were never down, you were always pushing hard which is pretty impressive. You were so good to have on the team. Sharing this experience with Livvy, Harry & myself was brilliant. Thanks for coming Dad & being a great leader & the stronger 60+ walker on the track. Highlight – your daily determination & one liners were gold! (a few of those falls were too).
Steph ‘MISS 4 PILLARS’ Mac: What an honor winning Most Improved award! You were the complete all-rounder. Always up for a chat, never complained, always had great energy & gave everyone the same amount of time. Well done Steph for bouncing back after day 1 & smashing Kokoda & doing it in style. Highlight – the way you were able to fall & keep telling a story at the same time was special.
Cam ‘STRONG & TOUGH’: Cam, you were a star mate. You were very easy to lead (that’s why we had to put the brakes on you – you were too quick). You were tough, strong & consistent. Always up for a footy chat & a laugh. Highlight – was having your birthday on the track.
Scott ‘THE PORTBURY’ Portbury: Scotty P. Not many people finish the Kokoda with a now famous award named after them. In all seriousness, I was so happy seeing you have a great trip, you were always up & about during training & the fact you successfully made it is just brilliant. Thanks for being great fun during the whole trek mate. Highlight – it has to be that double knee fall / slide I witnessed.
So to wrap this up, I am honestly very proud to have lead you guys through the Kokoda Track – to have done the B2B with Cookie, Sharpy, Deanne, Milly & Bevo is something I’ll never forget. My favorite memory was heading up to Deniki with a great group beside me. I knew at that moment this was going to be a special trip full of great memories & the success of everyone in this group climbing Owers Corner as one.
Please don’t ever forget the 4 pillars & what they represent.
Mateship |Endurance | Courage | Sacrifice No one can ever take away the experiences we ALL shared over the last week together.
Once again, thank you – I honestly loved the challenge, the friendships & all the moments we all shared along the Kokoda trail...
One last time...Where’s the road? – NO ROAD!
Thank you, congratulations