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Preparing For Kokoda - The Average Joe

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#31 dan



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Posted 25 October 2008 - 05:30 PM

Just remembered that I have two extra sections of info I should have added long ago to the Prep Notes....  I'm often asked by preparing trekkers "What can I take to help them (PNG people) out?", so I put together the "What can I bring?" section below. It's just suggestions and certainly not expected or obligated.  They will be grateful for you just being there. Anything extra is a bonus.

Pronouncing Village Names and      handy words/phrases:
    • Owers' Corner             -           Oh-wers, not Oh-wens Corner!
    • Ua-Ule Creek              -           Why-Oo-La Creek
    • Ioribaiwa                      -           You-ra-bye-wah
    • Nauro                          -           Now-row
    • Kagi                             -           Kay-gee
    • Isurava                         -           Iss-oo-rava
    • Deniki                          -           Den-e-key
    • Sogeri                          -           So-gear-ey
    • Poroman                      -           My       friend (male)
    • Poromeri                      -           My friend (female)
    • Long long                     -           Crazy!
    • Lik Lik Mangi               -           Young boy
    • Pek Pek                       -           A       No. 2.
    • Good Morning              -           same
    • Apinum                        -           Good afternoon
    • Hello                            -           same
    • "The Bois"                    -           PNG Nationals or Pngees
    • Tenku                           -           Thank       you
    • Tenku tru                      -           Thank you very much
    • Poro                             -           Short neuter form meaning "freind"
    • Wontok                        -           Freind from the same village
    • Oro Oro                       -           Welcome welcome

  What You Can Bring - to help      PNG Nationals

Priority:  Extreme Need
What you can bring:  Medicine - especially   NurofenPlus or alike, Deep Heat, dressings, bandaids, sports tape, Iodine   liquid, cleaning swabs, Vaso. Baby Pandol is like gold in Kokoda because no trekkers take it. Take a bottle with you. These guys have nothing to stop the pain/fevers in their kids.
At the end of your trek, empty out your remaining First Aid Kit contents and give to the head guide or Gail for delivering to:
                               Conwel Barai

Conwel, who lives in Kokoda, will put it to   great use in the Kokoda village treating many locals. The local hospital has no supplies and no medical staff. He has been trained by us in basic First Aid. A smart young lad very willing to help others. His father is a local church pastor. He ensures help is provided appropriately and in a controlled way.

Priority:               V. High need
What you can bring:  Boots.  Hiking   boots are also gold! Sizes 7 and 8 are most common. 2nd-hand boots are   fine.

Priority:                V. High need
What you can bring:  Socks
Explorers or woolen socks. 2nd hand is fine.
Their socks are often thread-bare and full of holes.

Priority:   High need
What you can bring:  KT26's.  Dunlop   KT26s are valued too. Again sizes 7 & 8 are common.

Priority:               High need
What you can bring: Education.  Wherever   possible: "Teach them to fish" – don't feed them fish. Anything educational –   books on Maths, Science, Medicine, Business, English etc

Priority:               High need
What you can bring:  Footy.   Football   or soccer balls

Priority:               Medium need
What you can bring:  Gifts.  Lollies   and balloons for the village kids. Go easy on the sweets - they have no dental services.

Priority:  Medium need
What you can bring:  Music.   Sheet   music of popular tunes - with words and notes. Most of The Boys play the   Ukulele. They're all taught in school. All love to sing favourites.

#32 39thdecendant


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Posted 02 November 2008 - 04:03 PM

Hi Dan,
Have read your notes, and would like to say you have done a fantastic job, but there is something I would like to add in respect to the medicine. If anyone takes medical supplies, especially analgesics, make sure you give them ONLY to a First Aid Centre or Medical clinic. The native’s are not well educated and most do not have watches, time of day to them is irrelevant, so anything that should be taken 4 hours or so, they would not understand, anything with codeine would need to be distributed very carefully, because of their lifestyle and diets, the locals have very weak spleens, and what is day to day stuff to us, could be quite detrimental to them. Our group took in a lot of medical supplies organised and co-ordinated by a Rotary Club on the Gold Coast, most of the clinics have very little in medical supplies especially malaria tablets. We distributed them through out Kokoda, Gona & Buna as well as the clinics along the track. If everyone who undertook the trek all took a little extra for the clinics, they could treat so many more.


#33 dan



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Posted 16 November 2008 - 09:07 AM

Good point Nettie.
We've trained Conwel Barai in basic First Aid (which of course does not include the administering of any medicines).  I agree and I advocate that only the most basic of medicines be left there. Eg. pain killers, baby panadol etc, dressing, tape, iodine etc.  If not with boxed instructions, then I always write instructions for them - which he follows faithfully.  

I feel this mitigates the risk to an acceptable level - to at least a level lower than them not having anything at all - which is the norm for these people.
Thanks for contributing your expertise.

#34 Brian


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Posted 16 November 2008 - 11:22 AM


I agree fully just to not hand any prescribed medications that could be used incorrectly just to anyone at the end of our trek we did have some prescribed Medications that we unsure about giving away I collected them together and gave them to the sister in charge at the Kokoda Hospital.

We could not find Conwell so gave our basic medications to our guide to pass on.

Do not just bring them home or throw them out as they can certainly put to good use in Kokoda.


#35 Tegs



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Posted 23 November 2008 - 01:37 PM

Hi Dan,

I have been keeping up to date with this post for some time now and you should be congratulated for your efforts in preparing no doubt a huge number of people for this trek. I know I have taken lots of notes.

I would also like to thank you for making me aware of the great work that Gail and her team do for the PNG people although I'm not completely surprised, she seems very passionate. I will do what I can when I'm there next year.

I would love a copy of your DVD, hopefully you haven't been swamped but I will email you.

I was just wondering, do you have an opinion on getting visa's for PNG before travelling or just waiting until you get there?


#36 Boss Meri

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 03:26 PM

Dan, once again thanks for your suggestions to future trekkers whether they be ours or people walking with another company (hopefully ours if they are on this forum).  

Tegs, with regards to a visa, the majority of trekkers just obtain a tourist visa on arrival in PNG but it means you either have to join a long line...then change dollars into kina currency and back to the line....or

You obtain your visa in Australia or make sure you bring with you some PNG Kina.  Perhaps someone can answer for Tegs the cost as I have a work permit and do not have to pay to come and go but will try and find out unless an ex trekker can beat me to the answer.  It used to be around the K120 mark but it could have gone up or down as the Tourism Promotion Authority were trying to get the fee reduced at one stage or other.

There is an Australian lady leaving here next week to settle in Brisbane who is going to commence a business in doing this kind of work for tourists and business people coming to work in PNG and to holiday.  She is very experienced and has been working here in PNG in the same line of work.  I will dig out her details and will post later so stay tuned for further updates.  Emily plans on doing the leg work in taking the passports into the PNG Consulate, picking them up and returning them to clients.

Yes, congratulations Dan, keep up the good work as trekkers are obviously appreciating it.  BTW Conwel was in here last week and is still smiling away as always!  Hasn't put on any weight though...haha - wish I knew his secret! - must be walking that track perhaps ?  

Gail (Boss Meri)

#37 Brian


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Posted 23 November 2008 - 05:55 PM


I was advised to and did get my visa here in Brisbane before I left I was pleased that I did so as there were two long slow queues at Port Moresby when I arrived one for Visas the other to get through customs.

By having my visa ready I saved one of those slow queues I recommend that you obtain it here before leaving.

If I recall correctly it cost me $40 you will need your passport, flight information and PNG address when you apply for it.

Enjoy your trek hopefully with KTL.


PS: I used the hotel address when applying.

#38 Tegs



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Posted 26 November 2008 - 08:45 AM

Thanks Gail and Brian,

I am trekking with KTL and very excited about it. Thanks for the info, I will organise to get the visa's here before we go, sounds like the better way to go.

Thanks again

#39 Boss Meri

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 09:14 AM

Have just heard from Emily as follows after I sent her an email and showed her this link.  Emily leaves PNG to live in Brisbane this week so no doubt she will pass on to me more formal information after she settles into life in OZ, but for the moment, refer below for details.  Emily has been working here in PNG for Manpower Management and we went through them for our work permits and passports for staff after we got frustrated trying to obtain on our own.  Good news on that front also as some passports are now coming good, thanks to Emily's effort.  So give her a go, she can be trusted to take care of your needs.

Hi Gail

Fantastic - my email is pngpathway@gmail.com or they can reach me on my Aussie mobile after Friday - 040 878 0025. I have all the forms etc so they can just email me for more info.


#40 kishi2009



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Posted 16 January 2009 - 03:28 PM

QUOTE(dan @ 21 Feb 2007, 08:06 PM) View Post
So here's my take on how to prepare for walking The Kokoda Track. It's not gospel - but what worked for me and my mates. You must decide what works for you. Happy to share and happy for feedback on this to improve things.

Kokoda Preparation Tips: Author: Dan Towler Version: 2.0

Preparing You!

1. Train hard - physically + mentally. If you can’t keep up, the head guide will evacuate you by chopper/plane at your own expense – and this does happen to those who under-prepare. Apart from the physical challenge, there’s very little danger on the track. The locals take great care to protect Aussies and their trekking industry. So, training tips would include:
  • Steps, steps & steps. Try the fire-stairs in a 10-story+ high-rise. Do this for three hours and you get a taste of what it will be like six to eight hours per day on the track. Yes – really!
  • Published bushwalks in Australia tend to be well graded and gradual accents/descents (nothing like the Kokoda Track) - so they’re not great preparation. Find a rough, very steep dirt mountain track that’s not meant for public traffic and would make a mountain-goat think twice about climbing. That’s the one to train on – walking up to six hours on that track.
  • Overload your pack-weight (by 50% of expect track weight) in training. This will offset the strength-sapping impact of PNG’s humidity. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Lots of cardio work
  • Lots of strength-building of core muscles (to protect the lower back)
  • Strength-building thighs for climbing & upper body for carrying a pack
  • Consider knees and ankles. These will get hammered all day every day. Glucosamine works wonders for some. Take daily for months prior to see a result.
2. Never do on the track what’s not been tested by you (for months) in training. Can’t stress this highly enough. That is, if you haven’t tried it during months of advanced training, don’t circum to last minute “bright ideas” (from yourself or others) on the track.  Unless proven Ok for you many times in training, for example:
  • Don’t wrap your feet or toes in sports tape
  • Don’t buy new boots just before going on the track
  • Don’t wear new clothes
3. One exception to the above is on-time medication. Yes, you probably won’t be taking malaria tablets during your months of training, but they must be taken at the right time per medical advice – before, during and after the track. We’ve seen complacency resulting in a nasty bout of malaria in one Aussie school boy.

4. You can expect the soles of your feet to become numb from the constant foot slogging. This typically lasts for months after the trek is over.

Preparing Your Gear:

1.Your pack must be absolutely 18Kg or preferably less including water:
  • An optional personal porter will carry your pack (up to 18Kg). You’ll need a day-pack for water etc for yourself.
  • Food porters will carry your food. These guys (and food) are included in the price.
2. Take well worn-in hiking boots – a must! Hiking boots will typically have a metal spine through the sole. This protects the foot from rock injuries.

3. Gaiters / over-boots – helps stop rocks and some water entering your boots. But expect your feet to get wet – no matter what you do.

4. At least one Quality hydro-pack
  • Some take el-cheap-o hydro-packs. They’re in trouble when they leak!
  • Two hydro-packs suggested – both 2 or 3ltrs – see reason below.
  • Fill just one and use. When nearing empty, fill the second and insert puritabs. Must wait 30mins before drinking. Once purified, switch to full water pack. This way, you’re rarely without of water - waiting 30mins for the puritabs to work.
  • Extra hydro-pack also useful for long stretches between water refills. More of an issue in the dry months.
5. 6x good hiking socks:
  • Super-fleece hiking socks from BCF or camping stores are excellent.
  • Never wear cotton socks – like gym socks. They’ll trap water/moisture and your feet will rot.
  • Some wear two pairs of socks at once. Trial in training what’s best for you.
6. heavy duty plastic poncho
  • light & handy.
  • Can throw on over pack and self at moments notice – don’t need to stop
  • Also allows excellent ventilation
7. First-aid kit.   Suggested inclusions:
  • 1 or 2 packs of Scholl’s blister covers. These things are awesome – like a second skin.
  • Puritabs – to clean water. Never take a chance. Getting the quirts id bad news.
  • gastro-stop tablets – just in case you do cop it.
  • nurofen-plus (stops pain and reduces inflammation)
  • quality Sports tape. Good for repairs to body and equipment, and strapping!
  • Small tub of Vasoline – to smear on soles, heels & between toes before putting socks on each morning. Also repels water from skin and is an anti-fungal – reducing foot rot. Try it in training to see if it works for you.
  • Iodine to put on cuts and abrasions
  • Medi-swabs for cleaning wounds
  • Dressings, bandaids, bandages to suite
  • Antibiotics – just in case
  • Malaria tablets.
  • Splinter remover
  • Spare pair of boot laces
  • Insect repellent – “Bushman’s+” includes sunscreen. Don’t use on the face – it burns like hell. Being 80% DEET, I call it Chernobyl-juice!
  • Sunscreen for face and neck.
  • Vaccination records
8. Trim toe nails or lose them!
  • Seriously – the constant downhill impacting is very tough on the toes. Failing to trim toe-nails will cause pain during the trek and eventual loss of the nails.
9. Electrolytes:  Gatorade or alike
  • With the humidity and work rate, you could drink around 12ltrs per day without trouble. But water alone is not enough because of the body-salt loss.
  • Gatorade or alike provides a noticeable boost – even if only used when feeling flat.
  • Maybe even some extra salt in the first aid kit could be useful. Your body will crave it like mad.
10. “Bushmans+” – sun-block + anti-mozzie

11. Hiking stick
  • A mud cap on the point is a must – else the point spears deeply into soft mud under load when climbing. This  is frustrating when you’re really needing your arms to provide extra lift.
  • A hiking stick with a spring shock-absorber is recommended by some to lessen downhill impacts
12. Digital camera with flash + rain-proof pouch
  • A camera that also takes videos is a bonus. So many things are better captured with movement and sound
  • I use a simple Sony Digital camera (that also does videos) with a 2Gb card
  • This camera used only one set of AA batteries the whole trek – but I’d take a spare set too. Disposable Lithium batteries are what I use.
13. LED Head-lamp
  • Almost every morning starts pre-dawn and maybe some notes into your diary each night, so having an LED head lamp keeps your hands free to pack-up/write and is very economical on batteries. One set in the shute is plenty.
14. Sleeping Bag
  • Apparently it can get quite cold in the upper regions of the Owen Stanley ranges, so a warm (and light) sleeping bag is recommended.
  • Having said this, most slept on top of the bag because it was quite warm.
15. Tent
  • Use a wedge-shaped tent – not a dome tent.
  • Must have fly-screens to keep mozzies out
  • Blackwolf Mantis 2p tent is what I use and is a good example
16. Sleeping mat
  • Self-inflating.
  • Make sure it’s 1kg or less. Some of these mats can be huge and heavy.
  • Kathmandu has Half-price Sales several times a year and their own-brand self-inflating mattress is very light and comfortable.
  • Take a pillow slip to stuff clothes into – to use as a pillow
17. Clothes
  • Taking too many clothes is a common mistake causing unnecessary pack weight.
  • A Day set of clothes for hiking. You should expect to use the same set of (what will become) filthy, stinking, cold & wet day clothes for hiking. You can wash these each night in a creek as you bathe, but they never dry in time for the pre-dawn kick-off the next day. So you’ll be climbing into cold wet clothes each morning – a good wake-up call!  Remember – if you do err in judgement and put on your clean-dry clothes, they too we be dripping wet within 15min of the day’s hiking – so don’t. Keep your fresh & dry clothes for relaxing and sleeping in each night.
  • The night set. The clean, dry set to climb into after a creek bath, dinner and into bed to enter an exhaustion-induced coma for a few hours.
  • Consider using Lycra pants under your shorts instead of jocks etc. They reduce chaffing and support the thigh muscles – reducing muscle fatigue.
  • Some take track-pants to sleep in.
  • Some take sandals to do creek crossing in – to avoid getting their boots wet. These are also useful to wear around camp of evening when your boots are wet.
  • Some take rain coats in addition to a poncho. Personal choice.
  • Some take knee-high gaiters (instead of over-boots), but the heat typically ensures these come off pretty quickly.
18. Odds & Sods
  • Toilet paper in a resealable plastic zip-lock bag. Wet loo paper isn’t fun!
  • Container to eat from – like a bowl.
  • Tools to eat with. A spoon is enough really.

I appreciate your time and kindness.It is really informative.

#41 Fluppy


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Posted 12 July 2009 - 01:57 PM

QUOTE(dan @ 25 Oct 2008, 05:30 PM) View Post
Pronouncing Village Names and      handy words/phrases:
    • Poroman                      -           My       friend (male)
    • Poromeri                      -           My friend (female)
    • Long long                     -           Crazy!
    • Lik Lik Mangi               -           Young boy
    • Pek Pek                       -           A       No. 2.
    • Apinum                        -           Good afternoon
    • Tenku                           -           Thank       you
    • Tenku tru                      -           Thank you very much
    • Poro                             -           Short neuter form meaning "friend"

How do you pronounce these ones?  Also, what is Goodbye/Take care or is that the same?  And um...what is 'I need to pee?'  huh.gif

Editors Note:

The above words are a mixture of 'Motu' and 'Pidgin English'.  
  • Man = man
  • Meri = woman
  • Lik Lik = anything small
  • mangi - per above - young man.  As porters are more often young men, they are often referred to as youngpela mangi's.
  • Often the word 'pela' is tagged on to a lot of words.  Onepela, Twopela, Threepela and so on which simply means, 1, 2, 3
  • Poroman or Poromeri are motu words and are pronounced, POUR O MAN and/or MERI.
  • Pek Pek is a normal No. 2 per above but Pek Pek Wari = diarrhea.  With pidgin english a lot of words make sense and with diarrhea they think its like water hence the pigdin word Wari = water.
  • Hospital is a 'Haus Sik' = house sick.
  • Apinun is pronounced, API NOON
  • pee is PISS PISS
  • Goodbye = lookim you

Note from fluppy:  Thank you smile.gif

#42 mikmac1959


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Posted 13 July 2009 - 04:54 PM

QUOTE(mikmac1959 @ 27 May 2008, 08:34 PM) View Post
G'Day All

Recieved a copy of Dan's DVD . It is EXCELLENT and highly recommended to any one wishing to take this awesome trek. It shows how much he enjoyed it and what a wonderful job the KTL team do!!! I will definately be walking with them next time. Also contains  a moving tribute at the Isurava Memorial.   Well done Dan!!

I have sent a copy of my DVD to Dan for review, interested to see what he thinks!!

Would also like to send a copy to you Gail if you are interested to see if you think it is a good learning tool for prospective trekkers

cheers mike

Editor's Note:  Mike would love to see it.  

Kokoda Trekking
PO Box 7541
Papua New Guinea

Hi Gail
will post off acopy of my DVD and CD tomorrow. would be interested to see what you think of it. cheers mike

Editors Note:

tks Mike DVD received, many thanks.  Notice you come from Grafton.  I was born in Kyogle and married in Casino and lived there for quite a few years so you are almost my wantok as they say here in PNG!  Enjoyed the DVD but you need some KTL music for the background to make it even better.  Some village names are pronounced incorrectly but for the average Australian they probably would not know the difference.  For example, Kovello is prounounced as follows - KO VELL 'O'.  All in all gets the thumbs up from me.  If you choose to trek with us next time, will give you a discount due to your contribution to our website.  What year are you planning on walking again?

#43 Efrat Nakash

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:25 AM

Thank you all for your terrific tips. They are really helpful in preparing my upcoming trek.

I would suggest reconsidering the idea of bringing balloons for kids. They explode quickly, leaving litters which degrade very slowly (if at all). I would suggest small notebooks and crayons.


Efrat Nakash Outdoor Photography

#44 Boss Meri

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 08:56 PM

Just noticed a posting from Moreton on another page about tents and thought I would copy paste part of it here as it makes a whole lot of sense:

Just remember the SEVEN P's folks. Prior Preparation & Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

#45 peterh13


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Posted 08 August 2009 - 04:42 PM

QUOTE(Efrat Nakash @ 21 Jul 2009, 06:25 AM) View Post
Thank you all for your terrific tips. They are really helpful in preparing my upcoming trek.

I would suggest reconsidering the idea of bringing balloons for kids. They explode quickly, leaving litters which degrade very slowly (if at all). I would suggest small notebooks and crayons.


Efrat Nakash Outdoor Photography

I would suggest razor sharp knives,,check out this little guy with his implement of death. Happiest little bloke I ever met.

My wife Rhonda and sister in law, Anne were horrified when they saw this little guy with his big knife.
He smiled and said 'ello.

Editor's Note: This always shocks trekkers when they see small children walking around with knives but for the children of Kokoda and the track its like we teach our children to use computers, its how they learn the art of survival.  They are also taught how to light fires at an early age and can often be seen with matches.  Sling Shots are also quite common...sorry for bird lovers...but to them its protein and they are taught to hunt.

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Prepare for the worst and dare the good Lord to dissapoint you.

Non semper erit aestas.

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