An immensely rewarding experience that will be truly hard to top.
A 50 year old primary school teacher of 30 years,my interest and passion about Australia's military had taken me to Gallipoli,The Western front and Changi memorial in Singapore. I'm also a volunteer guide at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. I often stop and look at Charlie McCallum's medals won on the Kokoda Track before his death.

So when I was offered the chance to accompany 19 Year 11 students in July of this year I became very excited. I began a regime of rigorous exercise to adequately prepare myself for the trek. Mark was our amazing leader. He connected brilliantly with the students and like a large family we nurtured and encouraged each other throughout the trek. It was gruelling yet rewarding and the changing landscape fascinated me.

The caring, friendly and resourceful porters were a modern day version of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. From helping us across raging rivers to carrying a stricken student on a mocked up stretcher, they quickly gained our trust. Mark’s grasp of the struggle of the 39th Battalion and the 21st Brigade against the overwhelming force of Japanese warriors was excellent. Poignant services and talks at Imita Ridge, Brigade Hill and Isurava.

The interaction with the children living in the villages we stayed out with our students was something I’ll treasure. I’m glad we were able to cool our heels at the northern beaches before we flew back to Australia. We definitely needed to recharge our batteries after such a full-on experience.