In July, Brad and his family journeyed to Papua New Guinea to walk the iconic Kokoda Track…
Esther Horn, 21, describes the experience in her own words…
The flight into Kokoda was spectacular with scenic views of the mountain range and dense rainforest spotted with small remote villages. Upon arrival we made our way through a small village market and up to Kokoda Station to visit the war museum. Whilst I had heard many recounts of the Battle of Kokoda and how the soldiers fought valiantly against the ruthless Japanese invaders, it was not until we arrived at the museum and began reading the accounts of these brave men did it become apparent how much they endured to protect our country.
After meeting out team of local PNG guides and porters; Carlos, Ben, Ray, Manu, Johnson, Philip and chef Phineus, we began our trek. The first part of the day felt easy, walking on flat stable land, but as we continued the track began to narrow and the terrain grew much more mountainous and physically demanding. It is hard to imagine how the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels managed to carry the injured soldiers through this taxing and at times slippery territory.
Walking through the humid jungle, it felt almost prehistoric. The track was covered in all sorts of flora and fauna that was continuously changing. We saw endless choko fields, giant pandanus, as well as an array of colourful displays of fungi. The ground was covered with fallen fruits, sticky, slippery mud and winding roots. Whilst most of the time I struggled to find my feet, the guides floated across the terrain with ease.
Each day followed a similar routine
-Wake up with the sunrise
-Breakfast and then begin walking
-Lunch, at a scenic ridge or flowing stream
-And finally coming to a new campsite for the night where would swim in the near by stream, eat dinner and relax.
On our second morning we arrived for breakfast at the Isurava memorial. The view was unbelievable. Dad (Brad Horn) read a detailed brief of how the battle had unfolded and shared stories of soldiers who had been remembered for the service and bravery. As Dad is ex army this trip was particularly close to his heart. Whilst this was not his first time on the track, the opportunity to share a very important part of Australian history (with his family) that he is very passionate about, made it a especially meaningful trip.
We passed through many villages, where the locals live a relatively traditional lifestyle. We were constantly greeted by smiling faces. On day three we stayed at Kagi village where we were honoured by a choir of local women and children who sang (about the Kokoda journey) and presented us with a gift each, a hand made billum and lay of local flowers)
The final leg of the trip was to the Bomana War Cemetery. It was hard not to get emotional looking at all the head stones, many were unnamed or scribed with the names and dates of soldiers the same age as me.
For a group of young adults this was a highly important trip that connected us with our history and reminded us of how lucky we are. I thoroughly enjoyed pushing myself physically and mentally on the track and learnt a lot about the PNG culture and landscape. I will remember this trip fondly for years to come and hope that one day I might be able to bring my own family here.