Twelve students from Lorne P12 College: Max Caon, Alex Umbers, Liam McCauley, Jarred Shaw, Emily Ross, Laura Babare, Aidan Lewis, Noah Lingam, Oscar Caulfield, Patrick Coleman, Phoebe Lingam, Tilo De Bon recently returned home safely after successfully completing the Kokoda trail as part of their ‘Adventurous Journey’ component of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award.
School staff members: Simon Scholtes, Tony Speed and Amy Lane accompanied the group. The trip was coordinated by Bobby Hale at On Track Expeditions, with Sergeant Jeff MacDonald from South Australia Police guiding the trip. The local Abuari village elder, Naden Lovei and brother Isaac, including the villagers led and assisted the group safely and successfully across the Owen Stanley Ranges from Ower’s Corner to Kokoda, including transport to and from the airport. Without this amazing group, their collaboration, friendship and cooperative nature, the trip would not have been able to go ahead. The Lorne P-12 College participants greatly appreciated the effort by all who supported us. We acknowledge the work of Bill James for his book “Kokoda” as it provided us with an amazing account of wartime history focusing on the events from July to September 1942.
The trip would have not been financially viable had it not been for the support and nomination from The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Australia and the generosity and sponsorship from The Flight Centre Foundation who offer 2 fully funded trips to schools in Australia! Thankyou so much for allowing us to have such an amazing experience.
The trip was humbling, for many reasons. Despite the training we undertook, we still underestimated what was required for such a trip; the mental preparation and resilience given the variables such as the weather, health and fitness. The memories shared about the history and significance of the Kokoda campaign will remain with us all and will be shared with others from the broader school community.
We returned from the trip with an appreciation of the magnitude and the impact that the Australian victory over Japan at Kokoda had on the outcome of the war. Whilst completing the track gave us an empathy with some of the hardships endured in the war, the reality was that no one was shooting at us, we weren’t starving and we were protected from most diseases that debilitated the Diggers and their opponents. Having said that, it was still no easy expedition, yet not one complaint was heard from any member on the trip any time, even when students were vomiting or feeling unwell. Not one! We are so proud of the students for their commitment and resolve.
A dawn service was held at Isurava: led by Jeff McDonald, the ‘Ode to the Fallen’ read by Noah Lingam and the names of those lost read by Laura Babare. It brought together participants, locals and other tourists for a chance to reflect on the past and be thankful for the today we have. Surely we can now live in a world where these nightmares remain in the past and we can focus on a positive future. Hence driving home the importance of living in a world where all nations and communities can strive for peace and unity.