Our Adventure Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge was voted as the most outstanding youth leadership program at the Clubs NSW Annual Awards Dinner in 2017.
More than 450 young Australians from all walks of life have graduated from this program over the past decade. According to the judges of the award this program is without peer in the development of personal leadership qualities based on the enduring values of Kokoda.
Other organisations who have used our programs for leadership development are Kings School, Parramatta; Riverina Anglican College, Wagga Wagga; combined schools from the Hills District in Sydney; Penrith Panthers on the Prowl; Canberra PCYC and Lomandra School, Campbelltown.
Our leadership programs for schools are based on lessons learned from our own experience as graduates of the army Officer Cadet School, the Royal Military College and the Australian Command and Staff College. We draw upon the experiences of our Adventure Kokoda trek leaders who have a combined total of 130 years professional military service that includes combat experience in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
During our 10-day treks students are disconnected from the travails of social media and reconnect with themselves, their fellow trekkers, the environment, the culture of the Koiari and Orokaiva villagers along the trail, and the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign.
We de-clutter the theory of leadership and get back to basics in a physically challenging isolated foreign environment where risk is real, personal commitment is required and teamwork is essential. And no matter how hard the going gets we are constantly able to reflect on the difficulties our young troops had in fighting their way across the trail against all the odds in 1942.
We stress that the relevance of the Kokoda pilgrimage is not about the glorification of war - it's about the commemoration of sacrifice. It's also a realistic demonstration of the ability of the human spirit to conquer adversity.
But most of all It's about Australian leadership!
'the art of influencing and directing men to achieve an assigned goal in such a way as to obtain their obedience, confidence, respect and loyal co-operation'.
Essential military leadership characteristics include:
faithfulness to country, corps and unit, and to your seniors and subordinates.
Sense of Honour
(Integrity): Uprightness of character and soundness of moral principles, absolute truthfulness and honesty; fairness and impartiality in exercising command.
Sense of Responsibility:
Consistent endeavour to discharge the responsibilities accepted as an officer.
Acquired information, including professional knowledge and an understanding of your men.
A mental quality that recognises fear of danger or criticism, but enables a man to proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness.
Seeing what has to be done, and commencing a course of action, even in the absence of orders.
Ability to reach decisions promptly and to announce them in a clear, forceful manner.
The ability to deal with others without creating offence, and show respect for individuals
The certainty of the proper performance of duty.
Endurance: The mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to stand pain, fatigue, distress and hardship.
The display of sincere interest and exuberance in the performance of duty.
Avoidance of providing for one's comfort and personal advancement at the expense of others.
Creating a favourable impression in carriage, appearance and personal conduct at all times.
The Aims of Military Leadership are:
- Primary Aim: Accomplishment of the mission.
- Secondary Aim: Welfare of the men.
Military Leadership Principles are guides for the proper exercise of command:
- Be technically and tactically proficient.
- Know yourself and seek self-improvement.
- Know your men and lookout for their welfare.
- Keep your men informed.
- Set the example by deeds, not words.
- Ensure that the task is understood, supervised and accomplished.
- Train your men as a team.
- Make sound and timely decisions.
- Develop a sense of responsibility amongs subordinates.
- Employ your command in accordance with its capabilities.
- Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
- Make the primary mission the combat efficiency of your command.
Military Leadership Techniques are actions given by the leader. Each technique should:
- Be guided by the leadership principles.
- Exhibit the characteristics of a leader.
- Be consistent with the situation.
- Contribute towards achieving the goal.
Combat Efficiency was described as the ability of the unit to accomplish an assigned mission in the shortest possible time with the minimum loss of life and waste of material.
Indications of Military Leadership are:
an attitude of confidence in the mind of an individual when he identifies himself with a group, accepts group goals and works hard to achieve them.
the prompt obedience to orders and, in the absence of orders, the initiation of appropriate action.
- Esprit De Corps:
the loyalty to, pride in, and enthusiasm for a unit shown by the members of that unit.
the technical, tactical and physical ability to do a job well.
Some 50 years on the gender of our language has changed but the principles and techniques remain the same.
By day 5 . . .
'The years I spent in war were the happiest I ever spent. I shared a task with men of every type and every social station and was admitted to a fellowship so rare as to almost justify the beastliness that made it possible. There is this to be said of war: you live simply if at all, and you do it in the company of men at their very best, spurred to a passionate unselfishness by a common purpose which at all other times is lacking'.
Around the campfire our trek leaders will discuss the '3+1 Rules of Survival' and various theories of leadership based on our own experiences: the army 'Group' theory based on the premise that he or she who wears the rank is not necessarily the leader; 'Command' leadership relevant to combat situations; 'Situational Leadership' which is the ability to shift behaviour according to the demands of the situation. We discuss the characteristics of effective team leadership which encompasses the natural mix of decisive action people, thinkers and carers.
By this stage the group are no longer strangers and are beginning to develop strong bonds of friendship. They now have an appreciation of the term 'Esprit de Corps' which wartime historian, Dudley McCarthy, attributed to another young group of strangers, the 39th Militia Battalion:
'Although possessing no permanent site, having neither roof nor walls, no unchanging form, it yet becomes home for those who serve in it. Away from it, each of its members can revert to being homeless individuals, lost uncertain, without proper identity. Because of this it calls to life in a man, rounded into fullness through shared battle, suffering and death, each other will always feel some sense of brotherhood for each other man of his battalion. Through this thing the strong lift the weak to efforts and achievements beyond their own strength and their conscious wills, and the dependence of the weak gives greater strength and endurance to the strong. For every individual human part of this battalion who is killed, this thing changes something in those who survive and calls to life something new that never was there before'.
Students then retire to think about a leader who has inspired them in their lives thus far - a parent, a teacher, a coach, a friend. Later in the day they return to the group and tell us about that person and the values they have and the qualities they exhibit that inspires them as a role model.
We then share a view on leadership from an old mentor:
‘From long experience I have learned the importance of knowing the capacities of my people. I view each person as an individual with strong and weak points. I have considered opinion about the strengths and limitations of each person and the responsibilities each will probably be able to handle best. In a general way I know when it will be safe to let a person ‘have his or her lead’ and when to ‘tighten the reins’. I consider it is part of my job to provide conditions that will allow my people to perform at their best.
‘I have learned to watch for signs that a person may be reaching breaking point, particularly during prolonged periods of stress. When I sense a person to be reaching breaking point I arrange for their relief as tactfully as possible.
‘I follow the practice of pushing decision making as far down the organization as it should reasonably go. For example, I give most of the problems that come to my desk to people who I think should handle them. Usually I do not comment on these problems in advance even though I usually have my ideas on how they should work.
‘I try to avoid making commitments that involve my people without their knowledge. I recognize it is tempting to promise people they will get everything they ask for. Instead I take note and promise that their request will be looked into, and that they will get it unless a good reason exists.
‘I have learned to be especially careful in one aspect of my actions. I have found that people are highly sensitive to anything a boss says or does. I have found that even the most vague speculations about possible actions can cause my entire organization to shift into high gear. Accordingly, I learned long ago not to throw off any chance remarks which might be construed to be subtle directives.
‘Despite my calculated reserve I am constantly tempted to tell employees how things should be done. I have a reputation for getting to the root of problems and, of course, I like seeing things done according to my own preferences. However, I am convinced that much of my effectiveness depends upon resisting this temptation. I have found that this restraint has resulted in my people getting high satisfaction from their own jobs. I believe that this is also why I have developed a reputation for always having my people ‘behind me’.
‘I have learned to use my people as a team. I encourage ideas and suggestions from everyone concerned, not only by saying so, but also by making sure that those who ‘stick their necks out’ do not feel threatened by their or others’; comments.
‘I insist that my people clear their ideas with each other before coming to me. I recognize that most problems will involve the activities of more than one branch or section.
‘I am concerned about the development of my entire organization and I make effort in this direction. I make it a specific responsibility of supervisors to bring on their employees. I encourage supervisors, for example, to invite selected employees to conferences where the latter can make a contribution or learn something relevant to their own work.
‘I believe that written directions or memoranda are most useful when they summarize or record concepts that have already been discussed.
‘I have found that the idea within which employees can act on their own initiative needs defining. I therefore keep in touch with my people so that I can show them where they are in over their heads. I don’t hesitate to tell them when they have failed – I do so plainly but in a way which stresses how such mistakes can be avoided in the future and how they can profit from them.’
- All transportation
- All accommodation
- All trek fees
- Mosquito-proof tents
- Day 1: Flight to Port Moresby
- Day 2: Sogeri - Owers Corner - Imita Base
- Day 3: Imita Base to Ofi Creek
- Day 4: Ofi Creek to Agulogo Creek
- Day 5: Agulogo Creek to Efogi Village
- Day 6: Efogi Village to Bomber's Campsite
- Day 8: Bomber's Campsite to Templeton's Crossing
- Day 7: Explore Lake Myola from Bomber's Campsite
- Day 9: Templeton's Crossing to Isurava via Abuari Village
- Day 10: Isurava to Hoi Village
- Day 11: Hoi Village - Kokoda - Bomana War Cemetery - Sogeri Lodge
- Day 12: Return flight to Australia
Dates & Availability for School Groups
Photos from the School Groups
FAQs about this trek
The VHF radio net along the Kokoda Trail has improved however there is only one channel and it is sometimes difficult to break into the chatter. The system does not have a base station with a 24/7 listening watch which could be critical in an emergency.
Adventure Kokoda are equipped with satellite phones for use in emergencies.
Operators who do not have a satellite phone with an active account fall into the 'dodgy' category - unfortunately they exist and the only protection trekkers have is the old caveat emptor of 'Let the buyer beware'.
Trekking without a satellite phone in your group is classified as 'unnecessary risk'.
If you trek from Owers Corner to Kokoda via the wartime trail you follow the footsteps of our young Diggers as they advanced across the Owen Stanley Ranges to meet the Japanese 144th South Sea Islands Regiment.
If you trek from Kokoda to Owers Corner via the wartime trail you follow the route of the Australian withdrawal in the face of overwhelming Japanese odds back to the last line of defence on Imita Ridge.
There is no 'best' way to trek Kokoda. The experience is just as powerful in either direction (that is the opinion of Charlie Lynn who has trekked 62 times from Kokoda to Owers Corner and 34 times from Owers Corner to Kokoda).
The difference is the experience and knowledge of your trek leader. If your trek leader has a detailed understanding of the history of the Kokoda campaign you will get maximum value from your trek. If they don't you will be disappointed and will soon realise the savings you made from going 'cheap' are a false economy in more ways than one.
Trip Advisor is the only independent and reliable forum for trekkers to post their comments in regard to their trek. You should therefore be wary of companies who don't rate much of a mention because trekkers obviously did not rate their experience with them. .
The following post illustrates the difficulties you could face if you do not conduct proper research on the company you choose:
'I do not recommend booking Kokoda with INTREPID
'Trek is an amazing experience but not with Intrepid. I was doing it in July.
Organization of the trip was terrible but price really high (2600 -2800 pounds).
'Our guide .....oh it was impossible to understand him. First I thought - it's because of my English ( it's not my first language ) but soon I realized - nobody can't understand him. So from my point of you - the historical part didn't exist! I am not Australian i just had a tiny knowledge about the battle. Hoped I will learn more during the trip - unfortunately...nothing! Need to read about it at home.
'Another thing: it's a challenging trek. You ( or maybe just me) expect that at the end of the day person who look after the group will ask: are you ok? how are you feeling/doing?
'Nothing.Two guys were ill during the trip. The only thing they did - stopped trek when they were throwing out. People from the group cared after each other - sharing first kit, happy to help each other
'Food - disaster. For breakfast salty crackers with jam of honey, corn flakes with powder milk.....every day. Never ate it). Dinner and lunch - boiled pasta/ noodles/ spaghetti plus breakfast set. 18 meals - PASTA. Sorry...twice we had rice. No fruits - if you want to, need to get for yourself. Didn't expect amazing meals, understand that you can't get products on the way....but other groups had really great food - so if you want to, you can organise it much better than ours.
My porter was really bad too. Here I need to admit that I was unlucky because it was just few like him! He rarely was behind me - didn't have any help/security. When he was on his place .... I don't know who saved more other bottom. He landed on my back quite few times!
'Also when he finally arrived on place where we were staying ( people from the group were enjoying water, I was waiting for my porter) , very often was leaving my backpack somewhere....I had to find it.
'Finally .... I had a feeling that they just going with us, we weren't a group 9 I mean a crew and people from the group). The didn't stay with us after walking, didn't' talk to us etc.
'Anyway: I think that the trek is great and Kokoda can be an amazing experience.....but think twice before you'll book it with Intrepid.
Ask annapietrasz about Kokoda Track
'Blackbirding' was a term associated with the kidnapping of Pacific Islanders to work in the Queensland sugar-cane fields in the late 19th Century - it was later outlawed as a form of slavery.
The practice, and its ugly connotations has been adopted by shady Australian trek operators who have sought to benefit from the increasing interest in trekking Kokoda in recent years. These operators are able to get away with the exploitation in Papua New Guinea because they do not have systems in place to protect their villagers against such abhorrent practices and because many Australians are seeking the 'cheapest' deal.
Blackbirders can be flushed out by asking the following questions:
- Do you have a maximum weight limit of 18 kg for the local guides and carriers you engage?
- Do you provide each of your local guides and carriers with a sleeping bag and mat each?
- Do you provide each of your local guides and carriers with a full trek uniform i.e. a cap, shirt and shorts?
- Do you pay each of your guides and carriers PGK 70 per day?
- Do you pay each of your guides and carriers a 'Walk-Home-Allowance' of PGK 250?
If they cannot answer an affirmative 'Yes' to each of these questions - no ifs or buts - you are dealing with a Blackbirder.
No - we are not.
We declined the invitation to join the Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA) which was established to protect the interests of Australian companies operating in PNG and does not provide for the welfare of the PNG guides and carriers they engage.
We believe the reasons for establishing the KTOA were well-intentioned however whilst they tolerate practices that allow some of their members to exploit local PNG guides, carriers and subsistence villagers we will not join.
The failure of the KTA to provide proper welfare support to local villagers they engage is evident in their reluctance to require all KTOA members to provide such basics as a sleeping bag and mat for each guide and carrier they employ. We do not believe that PNG guides and carriers should have to sleep on wet ground because they are not provided with such essential items of comfort.
One KTOA tour operator has a record of failing to meet their legal and moral obligations in regard to the payment of trek fees which are meant to benefit local subsistence villages along the trail.
Recently a local carrier employed by KTOA tour operator tragically died on the trail. A local Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) Ranger has alleged that the load he was carrying was far in excess of the 20 kg recommended in the KTA Code of Conduct for tour operators. According to other KTA Rangers the overloading of local carriers is a common practice by many Australian tour operators as a means of keeping their costs down.
Adventure Kokoda will not join to the KTOA until they weed out those who don't provide for the proper welfare of their local guides and who deprive subsistence villagers of their rightful share of benefits from the Kokoda trekking industry.
The difference between Adventure Kokoda and KTOA members is that we provide the following for each of our PNG guides and carriers:
- Maximum allowable weight of 18 kg (which means we have to engage more carriers);
- Full trek uniform - cap, shirt, shorts
- Sleeping bag;
- Sleeping mat;
- Wholesome meals - equivalent to what we provide for our trekkers;
- Gratuity equivalent to one day's pay at the end of each trek; and
- A 'Walk-Home Allowance' of PNGK250 to allow our guides and carriers to walk back to their villages after each trek.
In addition to this we engage a PNG medic with a full medical kit to look after their specific medical needs across the trail.
If our guides or carriers suffer serious illness or injury during their trek we arrange for them to be evacuated by helicopter and treated at the Port Moresby Private Hospital - they receive the same care, attention and treatment as our trekkers.
Meet the Trek Leaders
In 2015 Charlie was inducted as an Officer of the Logohu by the Government of Papua New Guinea in their New Years Honours and Awards list 'for service to the bilateral relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia and especially in the development of the Kokoda Trail and its honoured place in the history of both nations' over the past 25 years.' More..
Chad is a decorated Vietnam veteran - he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in action. Chad first joined the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8 RAR) as a tracking dog handler. He was promoted through the ranks to Sergeant while serving with 8 RAR and served with the Battalion in Malaysia and South Vietnam. More..
Scott joined the Australian Army as a 16 year old apprentice in 1985. He was promoted through the ranks and has spent over 34 years serving in the Australian Regular Army.
Scott has worked with the United Nations in Sudan as a Military Observer and as an Adviser in Afghanistan with the US 82nd Airborne and the 3rd Infantry Divisions. More..
Craig joined the Australian Army in 1979 and was posted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps where he has served for 40 years with over 20 years serving in Special Operations Command as a Commando.
Craig has seen regimental service as a soldier and officer rising through the ranks within The Royal Australian Regiment and Special Operations Command, his career culminated as soldier with two Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) appointments prior to commissioning to officer in 2005. More..
Rowan is a pioneer of the Kokoda Trail. He first trekked it 30 years ago when he served with the PNG Defence Force. He is fluent in the local language 'Tok Pisin'. Rowan is a military historian and is acknowledged as the most eminent authority on the strategy and tactics of the Kokoda campaign. More..
Over the past 34 years Captain Reg Yates has explored most of the WW11 battlesites in PNG. He is fluent in Tok Pisin and is well respected by village elders along the Kokoda Trail. More..
Peter Morrison is an unassuming young Australian. He first trekked with Adventure Kokoda almost a decade ago and developed a strong desire to learn more about the campaign and the people he met along the trail. Peter is a professional boxer and former NSW Welterweight Champion. More..
Simon joined the Australian Navy a Cadet Midshipmen in 1973 and carved out an outstanding career spanning 33 years. He specialised in maritime surface ship operations and spent the majority of his career at sea. More..
Bernie is a Kokoda tragic. He first trekked with Kokoda to honour his father who served in New Guinea during the war. He has since trekked it 43 times. Bernie has transposed his success in business to his passion for leading treks across the Kokoda Trail. More..
Rod is currently serving as a Sergeant in the Royal Australian Artillery at 4 Field Regiment Townsville. He has served in the Sinai Peninsula and Iraq and has a deep understanding of the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign. He is also a competitive ultra-marathon athlete. More..
Peter served in the Army Reserve for 7 years and has two grandfathers who served in both World Wars - one being a highly decorated soldier. Peter recently graduated with a MPhil in Military History with the Australian Defence Force Academy and is now studying for his PhD. More..
Prior to John joining Adventure Kokoda he used to wrestle crocodiles with Steve Irwin. John is a qualified para-medic and expert bushman. He has a deep emotional commitment to Kokoda and the veterans he has met over the years. He is a keen student of the Kokoda campaign. More..
Fiona has a strong passion for Kokoda, PNG and its people which was sparked as a young girl knowing her grandfather fought on Kokoda.
As a school teacher Fiona has extensive experience in developing leadership in young Australians and has been involved in the development of a leadership program within the school environment. This saw her bring two passions together; teaching our future generations and Kokoda, whilst getting them outside of their comfort zones, and allowing them to learn about themselves. More..
Carla brings great organisational skills, energy and humour to her role. She is passionate about the Kokoda campaign and thrives on seeing how transformative and life-changing this experience can be for trekkers.
Carla was initially inspired to trek Kokoda to honour her Grandfathers service with the AIF in Buna and has now successfully participated in a number of Adventure Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge treks as a Trek Guide. More..
Tracie is the General Manager and engine room of Adventure Kokoda - she is on-call 24/7 and will look after your every need and concern from the moment you book your trek until you arrive back in Australia. More..