The humidity and rugged terrain of the Kokoda Track paled into insignificance every time a student from The Armidale School paused to recall the wartime sacrifice of an Australian serviceman.
Five TAS boys were part of a group that walked the famous 96km path over a gruelling seven days during the September/October school holidays.
Meanwhile Matthew Rankmore of Gunnedah and Damian Nott of Delwood Road Boggabri battled steep mountains and humidity walking the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.
“It was pretty challenging, but very rewarding,” said Matthew Rankmore, who said a highlight was playing touch football with villagers and ‘the Legends’, local porters who accompanied the group of trekkers. “We took several footballs and inflated them and left them in the villages, and the kids really appreciated that,” he said.
Damian Nott said it was an eye-opening experience, particularly learning more about the military history of the track.
“Every morning our guide would give us a briefing about the history of the Kokoda campaign as we went along, and how tough it was. It certainly made me think about about the fellas not much older than me, who hadn’t eaten for days, carrying thirty kilos of equipment including firearms through mud and rain, and realising what a challenge that would be,” he said.
“At one stage I did think, ‘why am I here’ – but it was good to put myself out there and do something not a lot of people get to do.”
This was the fifth Kokoda expedition offered by TAS as part of the school’s Leadership, Service and Adventure program.