Prepare for trek: Abel

National, Normal

CULTURE and Tourism Minister Charles Abel is urging Australians tackling the tough Kokoda Track to train for at least three months before setting out.
The minister, who recently hiked the 96km track through the Owen Stanley Range, said the death was of great concern to PNG.
“Four deaths in a year is not good and our condolences, thoughts and prayers go to the families,” Mr Abel said.
“We know with the latest death he (Phillip Brunskill) had medical clearance, so it’s a real issue all stakeholders are going to have to tackle.
“Trekkers need to do at least three months’ training but, we, as stakeholders, have to sit down and work out more precautions to reduce the risk,” Mr Abel said.
He said the Kokoda Track Authority had recently brought in a new licencing system to strengthen the industry.
“We set that up to ensure safety and better standards for all involved so we’re going to have to sit down and look into how to assess if someone is fit to trek the track.”
Meanwhile, Charlie Lynn, who established Adventure Kokoda in 1991, said the group had followed the same procedure it had done for 18 years, during which time it had led 4,000 trekkers.
“People have to take responsibility for their health. To be struggling where he was, probably the easiest part of the trek, is a worry,” Mr Lynn said, who has led 56 Kokoda expeditions  and is a NSW upper house MP.
“He (Mr Brunskill) rang us last week and said he wanted to walk the track over the weekend because he had a long weekend. We don’t walk the track in a weekend, I told him.
“Some of the queries we get indicate how people know nothing about the conditions up here.”
Mr Lynn said Mr Brunskill had completed a self-assessment, had a doctor’s certificate but was stopped by the tour leader due to health concerns.
“If you’re struggling in the first hour, it’s a pretty clear indication you haven’t done any preparation,” he said. – AAP