Highlights of the Kokoda Track

The Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea was one of the most enjoyable walks I’ve done, despite relatively average views, and endless slippery, muddy hills to ascend and descend in tropical heat and humidity. Spending a week completely cut off from the world, understanding the battles fought here in 1942, and spending time with the wonderful locals more than compensated.

I’ve already posted fairly detailed day by day accounts of walking the track but here were the highlights.

Time in Menari and Efogi villages
Two of the largest villages along the track, though they are still only home to a few hundred people, including all of our crew. They’re used to groups of walkers wandering through, but beyond some markets and campsites they continue to live their normal lives. In Efogi I watched some of the school sports day and had a great chat with a very well informed (via radio as no mobile coverage or internet access here) teacher. In Menari I talked to the village clinician, who has been on placement there for four years. It was a great opportunity to learn about a quite different culture to mine, always a highlight of travel.

Views from Nauro village
One of the most scenically located villages, which we arrived at while it was bathed in sunshine. The sunset and sunrise that followed were the best of the trip by some margin.

Memorial services
Our crew and group held a couple of memorial services along the track to those who lost their lives fighting here in 1942. The first at Brigade Hill, laying flowers on the memorial, the second a dawn service at the Isurava Memorial, singing the Papua New Guinea and Australian National anthems.

Refreshing streams
After a decent day’s walk in the rainforest there are few things more refreshing than bathing in a wonderfully cool stream. Lying in the streams at Va’ule Creek and Menari was quite blissful. Bathing under the stream at Templeton’s Crossing I much higher up the mountain was more refreshing than blissful. I wasn’t the only one to let out a small scream upon first getting wet.

The campsites
These were far more civilised than I was expecting, with long drop toilets, showers, and huts to sleep in rather than using tents (though most people tent due to larger group sizes and concerns about bugs). When I got home I missed sleeping in an open air bamboo hut in the rainforest, though in Papua New Guinea I did get quite disoriented a number of times waking in the night before remembering where I was…

Sketching
Not something my crew had seen before guiding groups, but I love to sketch when travelling. This trip was perfect for it, with few distractions once I’d set up at camp. I enjoyed challenging myself, with two sketches, the campsite by the river and a porter walking the track, quite different to what I’ve attempted before. Wasn’t sure once I started how I would draw them, but I was happy with the outcome.

Flight from Kokoda
A brilliant way to end the trip, reason alone to walk the track from Owers’ Corner to Kokoda, rather than starting with the flight. The 45 minute flight put the previous week’s efforts walking the track in perspective, with stunning views of the terrain which from the air looked as challenging as it was to walk through. It was easy to identify the villages we passed through, and the flight provided a totally different perspective on them.

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