Adventure School Treks (Getaway Trekking Pty Ltd) is a Licensed Commercial Operator appointed by the Kokoda Track Authority.
Each member of our trusted and close knit team at Adventure School Treks lives and breathes our core values and whole heatedly believe in our slogan ‘Trek Smarter’.
The following five points outline the beliefs and values that help make Adventure School Treks the successful company we are today:
1. Fitness, Training & Safety
We are very committed to ensuring our clients are properly prepared in both a fitness and information sense.
We have an enviable safety record, with minimal medical evacuations over our 15 years of operation and believe this is in large part due to the training and briefing we undertake with our clients.
In addition to minimising prospects of injury, appropriate preparation will maximise enjoyment of the trek – it is difficult to be happy and exhausted at the same time!
We offer monthly training programs in 3 areas: Melbourne, Adelaide and Cairns, which are available to our clients free of charge. We find that in addition to the fitness aspect, it’s a great way to mix with like minded people, benchmark your training and pick up snippets of information from people who have already been, training to go, or simply considering their options!
2. Social Responsibility
Our most long term relationships are with the people of PNG and in particular the villages of Buna, Gona and Sanananda. Staff and clients of Adventure School Treks have been regular and welcome visitors to these villages for the 15 years we have been in operation.
We love interacting with the kids at the Buna school, and have been able to provide some much needed materials for their use. Australian schools often have books that have are no longer required, and the kids at Buna have been the happy recipients of many of these, and other materials necessary for day to day activities at school.
In addition, we have assisted both financially and physically with other village infrastructure works in Buna, and continue to work with village representatives and through the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF).
As the only ongoing employer in the region, we take our responsibility to this wonderful community very seriously. With our encouragement, the team have created a committee to select porter teams for each trek.
Selections are based not only on performance on the track – ability to carry weight, approach to customer service, teamwork and leadership skills, etc – but contribution to the community.
On many occasions young men who have lost their way have been encouraged to join the trekking team, and have benefited from lessons learned on the track: ability to take instruction, teamwork, fitness, customer service and others. In addition, they learn that our clients are genuinely interested in learning about them and their culture, and conversely, that there is much for them to learn about the world outside their village.
We are delighted with our team’s enthusiasm for learning, and endeavour to provide personal development opportunities when we can. First aid and food management training are only two areas, and recipients of training are expected to bring their new skills back into the village community.
Our team in their new uniforms recently had the pleasure of meeting the Australian Governor General at Isurava Memorial on Anzac Day – how excited they were chatting with such a warm and engaging woman who was genuinely interested to hear what they had to say.
3. Cultural Sensitivity
Papua New Guinea is Australia’s closest neighbour. Yet for most Australians, the culture of this country is little known. With over 800 distinct cultures – and languages – this is a land rich in tradition, from which we can learn much.
We firmly believe we have the best porters on the Kokoda Track! Perhaps one reason for this is their upbringing and their lives away from their work with Adventure School Treks. Living in rural villages on the north coast of PNG, our porters spend their time off the track fishing, tending their gardens and supporting the community. When one young man wishes to build a house for his family, it’s a communal effort – everyone helps. There’s no television, shops or access to alcohol.
Our trekkers learn a great deal from their porters during their trek – and not just where to put their feet! We learn about family, community and traditions including bride price, currency and settlement of disputes, and we are honoured to be treated to traditional welcomes including cultural dress. But perhaps most importantly, we are reminded of the values sometimes lost in the more ‘advanced’ world, where houses, cars and plasma screens have superseded traditional community values.
For those who choose to take on those lessons, the Kokoda Trek can be a truly life changing experience.
4. Trek Preparation
As we say to all our clients – it’s all about the preparation! The Kokoda Track is a challenging trek even for those who are fit and active. We believe that appropriate preparation is not merely helpful, it is mandatory to ensure safety, wellness and enjoyment to the highest standard.
We have talked in point 1 about our regular training program in three areas. We also believe preparation covers information delivery, and we ensure that information regarding equipment, medical (vaccinations, etc.) and travel requirements, and what to expect on the track, is distributed to all trekkers. We provide a thorough information kit, which is followed up by regular emails and communications reinforcing the more important details.
Our experience is that trekkers who undertake historical research prior to their trek gain more from their experience, and we encourage all to do so, providing suggested reading and links to website material. This is supported by strong historical narrative during the trek, and the services we hold at Brigade Hill and Isurava Battlefield Memorial.
5. History – a great Australian story
In 1942 a group of undertrained, under resourced and undermanned Australians were sent across the Kokoda Track to face the might of the Japanese forces in the most brutal of conditions. Peter Brune speaks of this brilliantly – ‘If its achievement in the Great War of 1914-18 was a proclamation of the nationhood of Australia, then the war of 1939-45 was to be a harsh and exacting test for its survival.’ While the trained soldiers of the Australian Infantry Force (AIF) were in Europe defending the Empire, the defence of Australia was left to a militia battalion, so-called ‘chocos’ as they were considered by the AIF to be ‘chocolate soldiers who would melt in the heat of battle’.
After considerable engagement at the northern end of the track, the 39th Battalion dug in at Isurava where the Japanese were held for four critical days. It was at this time they were finally reinforced by the AIF in the form of the highly trained and regarded 2/14th Battalion. The 2/16th, its sister battalion, was held in reserve at Alola.
Although the 39th had been relieved, their commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Honner, successfully argued that they should be allowed to stay and fight. Two days previously, 30 of the 39th’s sick and wounded considered unable to continue had been sent to Alola.
A veteran known only by his initials – J.W.B was quoted: ‘The battalion was in trouble, so twenty-seven out of thirty went back. The three who didn’t were: minus a foot, had a bullet in the throat, had a forearm blown off. We never did it for God, King and Country – forget that. We did it because the 39th expected it of us.’
And so a legend was born. The four pillars at the Isurava Memorial say more about the diggers than anyone we could:
Our experience is that trekkers who undertake historical research prior to their trek gain more from their experience, and we encourage all to do so, providing suggested reading and links to website material.
This is supported by strong historical narrative during the trek, and the services we hold at Brigade Hill and Isurava Battlefield Memorial.