Eight students and two teachers from Bundaberg State High School undertook a 48km trek through the Gold Coast hinterland as part of the Kokoda Challenge.
The only catch is they had to complete the trek in 39 hours with no breaks.
Students Ryan Neophitou, Blake Gardner, Bailey Kuplen, Dylan Kattamuri, Cheyenne Clacher, Marcus Tanner, Dustin George and Ethan Evans all agreed it was a challenging event.
“The hike was really tough,” Dylan said.
“We had to work as a team to finish together. Every single one of us pushed ourselves and committed which was a big part of our success.
“It was very exhausting mentally, especially near the end. Towards the end of the walk I was very tired and almost delusional.
“Physically I was sore, but mentally I was very proud of myself and my team.
“Cannot wait to do it next year!”
Bailey, Blake and Ryan said teamwork was essential to finishing the walk and the students supported each other throughout.
Bailey said he wanted to be mentally challenged and to show his respect and gratitude for the Anzacs who walked the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during WW2.
“I have not experienced anything like this before and I really wanted to push myself and be part of a team that was committed to training and not letting down the team.”
Students train to prepare for Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge
Blake said rigorous training went in to preparing for the Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge.
“To prepare for this event, we did 13 weeks of training and during this time we walked over 300km.
“Training involved an overnight 52km walk from Innes Park to the Bundaberg Port and back.
“This overnight walk was mentally and physically challenging producing many blisters and bruising of feet.
“Apart from this, we walked as a team weekly and attended gym sessions to build our physical fitness and endurance.”
Teacher Jessie Rodgers, who also participated in the challenge, said she was keen to see the school involved in the challenge after participating in a similar event last year.
“Students were keen to get involved in training and begin preparing for the event.
“With 13 weeks of training under their belts, students were excited to hike the gruelling 48 km in the Gold Coast hinterland.”
Far from being discouraged from the challenging event, the students are already planning an even bigger challenge next year.
With six months of training planned Bundaberg State High School will look to participate in the 96 km Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge.
The students thanked “our Principal Mrs McCord, our family and friends, the Bundaberg East Rotary Club, Mr and Mrs Bray, Mrs Higgins, Mr Tranent and Miss Rodgers for the time and effort that went into preparing us for this event and giving us the opportunity to participate in the Kokoda Challenge”.
Bargara local chosen to MC event
That’s not where the region’s involvement in the event ended with Bargara local Annie McGrath selected to MC the event.
She has been involved with the Gold Coast Kokoda Challenge for 10 years, ever since her son Shane Stedwell completed the Kokoda Track in 2005.
He was one of the lucky 12 to experience the real deal in Papua New Guinea.
Annie said Shane was selected because every day he walked 4 km to catch a train to school, impressing the Kokoda Youth Foundation organisation with his dedication to schooling.
“I became a Kokoda mum and then 10 years ago I started to volunteer for the program,” Annie said.
“Hundreds of volunteers come out once a year.
“The whole thing is to raise money to take this team of 12 kids, to take them over to Papua New Guinea to walk the track.
“It’s the largest self-funded youth program in Australia.”
Annie said it wasn’t until Shane came home one day and said he wanted to walk the Kokoda Track that she learnt of its history.
“They were only kids themselves that walked the Kokoda Track.
“Some of them were only 15; they were fighting against 8000 Japanese and they won.”
“It teaches kids to have a lot of respect. It promotes mateship.
“They have to rely on each other and they have to be available to be relied on.”
After moving to the Bundaberg Region two years ago Annie said she was keen to see a local school participate in the program and was thrilled to find Bundaberg State High School would.
“It’s quite a big feat for them as well because they’ve never done anything like this before.
“They don’t stop for a rest it’s straight through.
“The greatest thing about this program is it doesn’t matter if you’re an A grade student or an at risk kid, it benefits them all.”
- Other news: Bundaberg State High School is one of the local schools selected to pilot the Link and Launch program