The National, Wednesday, May 25, 2011
DESPITE the heat, the isolation and the harsh terrain, plenty of Australians trek Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Track for the adventure, the physical challenge and to pay tribute to soldiers from both countries who fought in the area during World War II.
Soon a team of Bundaberg High School students in Queensland will join the ranks of those who had made the iconic 96km march.
Seventeen-year-old Alicen Munn from Bundaberg State High School (bshs) is one of the participants.
“It’s through an RSL youth programme, which we were told about at school,” Munn said.
“We had four weeks of training selections and they cut out those that they knew weren’t going to make it. Then at the end they just decided to draw our names out of a hat. That was harsh!”
Harsh for Munn – her name was not one of those picked.
But as she was so keen to go, she was one of two students paying her own way to accompany the 12 selected participants.
“I remember reading a book back in Grade 5 about the Kokoda Track, it’s been something I’ve wanted to do since then. I am really interested in Australian war history, so it’s going to be an amazing experience to learn something about our culture.”
Claudia Jenner, also from BSHS, was another local student taking part in the trek.
Like the rest of the group, she was hard in training for what the journey was going to hold.
“A lot of walking; up, down, sleep, up, down, sleep,” Jenner said.
“They say it’s going to take roughly eight days.
“It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be a mental challenge and take a lot of strength to do it, but hopefully all this training will help me pull through.
“Just to be able to say I’ve walked Kokoda – it’s such an experience to be able to do that. There are heaps of people out there who would probably love to do it but don’t have the opportunity. We’ve been given this opportunity, so why not?”
The students are training four afternoons a week to build up strength for the trip – on top of the usual senior high school student’s homework load.
Munn and Jenner have found a way to combine the two, by creating films for their film and television class on their adventure.