Last year I kept a detailed journal of each day, documenting every step of the way. I love going back and re-reading and remembering all of the fun and excitement of the trek. I had grand plans to keep just as detailed a journal this year but fun got in the way of the writing. Instead I will do more of a photo journal to keep the memories alive, and perhaps a few notes about how this experience differed to the trek last year.
Before we left, I was feeling physically fit and ready to go. I had done plenty of physical training but I was worried that I would struggle, that my head wasn’t going to be in it. I had hoped to take a few days off prior to departure but work got in the way and as a result I didn’t feel as if I had enough time to prepare. Instead of relaxing with the kids I was running around organising other trekkers, collecting gear and double checking passports. I couldn’t do much about it other than look forward to being back in the jungle.
Day 0 – Melbourne to Port Moresby via Brisbane
Just like last year, the day began at 3am with other participants calling in to let me know that they were awake and ready to head to the airport. I was travelling by bus with a group of students and other sponsors. Worried that we were forgetting something I double checked and triple checked that everyone had their malaria tablets, their passports and trekking shoes. Everyone had to wear their hiking boots on the plane or have them in their carry-on luggage – there would be no way to replace hiking boots if luggage were lost and I wasn’t taking any chances!
Once we made it to the airport it was smooth sailing, or flying to Brisbane. We were fortunate that our luggage was checked through to Port Moresby and we had boarding passes for the second flight. Not having to stress about baggage made the transition from domestic to international much easier. Our second flight was delayed so we had a few hours to kill in Brisbane.
There were only 3 of us that trekked together last year, and we met up with the third of the return trekkers in Brisbane. As a Sydney-sider, we don’t often get to see each other so it was great to have the few hours in Brisbane to catch up before the flight. Another quiet flight to Port Moresby and we were there, almost ready to begin. Despite the fears of lost luggage that was later found, our welcome to Papua New Guinea was warm and colourful as we were greeted by amazing performers.
Unfortunately the delays in Brisbane meant we didn’t have time to do a tour of Port Moresby, instead we headed straight to the hotel to be briefed about the flight details to Kokoda the following morning. I was scheduled to depart on the first flight from Port Moresby to Kokoda with another 8 trekkers on a tiny little 9 seater plane!
It wasn’t until we were sitting poolside that it was announced that along with carrying our packs we would also be carrying our own tents. It was then that I promptly began to freak out. My pack was already overweight with all of the food I had to carry (I don’t know if I mentioned it elsewhere but as I am gluten intolerant I had to carry all of my food for the entire trek with me from the start, everyone else was carrying a days rations at a time. 8 days of food, 3 meals a day and snacks weighed in at over 5kg!) on top of the 16kg or so of other stuff required – sleeping gear, clothes, sat phone, camera journal and water. A tent would add another 3kg of pain that I wasn’t looking forward to carrying.
Oh well, I couldn’t do much about it other than attempt to get a good nights sleep ready for the madness to begin.
Of course I was too excited to sleep so instead sat around the pool with other trekkers talking about what to expect over the coming days and reliving last years trek. Despite having a poolside room, I didn’t go for a swim!
If you are interested in reading about last years adventures, head over here – Day 0, 2010 – Melbourne to Port Moresby via Brisbane.