2015 SPC trek to Kokoda

July 23, 2015

SPC at PNG in 2015

In the cold darkness of 2am on June 22 in Ballarat 25 Staff, students, ex-students, parents and friends of the College began the journey of life time to PNG.- During the next 15 days they walked the gruelling Kokoda track, completed a service project at Kokoda College, visited the villages and battlefields of Oro Bay and learned a lot as they attempted to give something back to the local communities.- Most participants would say that the experience has changed them forever.

St Patrick’s College endeavours to raise good boys to the status of great men willing and able to serve their communities.- As a result a rigorous outdoor experience in a developing nation coupled with a theme of service is integral to achieving this lofty goal.- The Kokoda track is ideal for this purpose.-

As can be expected we all found the hike over the steep, slippery and seemingly never ending jungle track a real challenge.- Each participant, no matter how fit, had to overcome mental and physical demons.- It was wonderful to see everyone at different stages of the track help each other out, often unprompted and unacknowledged.

At the famous battle site of Isurava the memorial has four key words:- Courage, Endurance, Sacrifice and Mateship.- While the soldiers who fought on the track had to endure a lot more than us we still came to a deeper understanding of what these words really meant.

Eight days after beginning the track we emerged leaner and browner from the jungle at Kokoda but there is no rest for the -‘Paddy boys’.- After a wash and a sleep we got to work assisting the Kokoda Track Foundation build Kokoda College.- This is a teacher and health worker training college.- The group led by students Chris Milroy and Sam Oostendorp had raised funds back in Australia with the assistance of the student body and the Ballarat South Rotary Club. These funds were donated towards supplying materials for constructing this college.

After a bumpy and uncomfortable ride to Oro Bay we continued to deepen our appreciation of the wonderful roads and comforts of Australia.- The 75 Kilometre drive took over four hours!- At the villages of Oro Bay we experienced wonderful smiles and welcoming ceremonies from these kind and materially poor people.- Their simple spiritually rich lives devoid of the trappings of a consumerist culture were a lesson for us all.

Well done to all participants and especially the staff who organised and led this great venture.