WHEELCHAIR athlete Kurt Fearnley’s incredible crawl across Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Track has left a lasting impression on him that goes beyond blisters and bruises.
Fearnley, 28, finished his 10-day trek yesterday morning with emotional and weary celebrations at Owers’ Corner, at the southern end of the famous 96km track.
But amid the celebrations at the amazing accomplishment, Fearnley said he had fallen in love with PNG and he encouraged other Australians to find out more about their northern neighbour.
“The people here are amazing,” he said.
“I got the biggest smiles and every village I visited I received such a welcome.”
Only a week since winning his fourth consecutive New York wheelchair marathon, Fearnley dragged himself on his hands along the arduous track with the support from 15 family members plus his team of porters and guides.
But before he set off on Nov 8 Fearnley visited Cheshire Homes for an inspiring talk to Port Moresby residents with disabilities. These people and those Fearnley met along the track have sparked a new found cause.
“If there is something I can help out with then I’ll do it,” he said.
“I’ve already spoken to a few people to make sure I come back here.”
Fearnley said he hoped to return to PNG in less than six months, inspired by the people and his wish to make a difference.
“I think (Australian) people should know more about their relationship with PNG,” he said.
“The people out here have been some of the most amazing people I’ve ever meet, I have fallen in love with PNG.
“I’ll be back, they’re one of our closest neighbours but worlds apart.
“There is so much here that Australia can benefit from.
“There were moments along the track I will never forget.”