For leading fundraisers of the 2018 Kokoda Challenge, Multiplex, the finish line at the Nerang Velodrome of that year was only the halfway mark of their Kokoda journey.
Having been pipped at the post in fundraising in 2017, Multiplex had a mission coming in to the 2018 event, to not only finish the gruelling 96kms in a reasonable time, but to take out the title of leading fundraiser. The ultimate goal, to create life-changing opportunities for local Australian teens through the Kokoda Challenge Youth Program.
Raising over $40,000 and claiming the title of lead fundraiser, they earned a trip of a lifetime – the opportunity to head to Papua New Guinea with our partners Getaway Trekking, to walk in the exact footsteps of our ancestors, and understand the true Spirit of Kokoda.
Having recently returned from their 8-day experience, Dan Humphries, Greg Bowers, Dustyn Cogan and Charles Grant, were finding coming back into everyday Australian life, a little unsettling.
“After being over there, it’s a different perspective,” said Dan Humphries.
“The peacefulness was phenomenal – the people that you meet, they’ve got it so right, and we have got it so wrong,” said Greg Bowers.
The reflection of the Spirit of Kokoda was very evident, hearing that three groups of men started on that track, came together to complete it as one core unit.
Not only did the guys get a guided experience with historical references from a guide, they were accompanied by 23 porters, and another team of five from Victoria.
Their porters and personal carriers had travelled, in some cases up to 80km, to hike with them over the 8 days.
Upon speaking with their porters, they were surprised that many of them were direct descendants of some of the Papuans who had lost their lives or fought and assisted the Australians against the Japanese front.
“You’re getting the real-life version in front of you. Real life stories handed through the generations,” said Dustyn Cogan.
“You stop hiking for half a second and take in what’s around you, and take stock that they [sic Australian Soldiers, Papuans and Japanese] fought that war looking at their feet’, he said.
When asked about the most moving part of their experience, Brigade Hill was almost sang in unison. The first stop, where they do a few readings, sound the last post and the finish with singing the Australian National Anthem - a real goose bump moment.
Now back into the swing of things, Multiplex have some big projects to tackle, one especially to assist the Kokoda Youth Foundation at the upcoming Kokoda Challenge on the Gold Coast.
They have teamed up with Cogent Scaffolding to alleviate a key pinch point close to the start line, you can read more about that here.
Have they experienced everything Kokoda? Perhaps, but you will catch them all on the track for the 96km Kokoda Challenge again this year. This just proves, the Spirit of Kokoda really does capture you.