Keep track of Kokoda operators

Jill Singer From: Herald Sun October 08, 2009

KEVIN Rudd’s done it. So have Joe Hockey and Ron Barassi. They’re among thousands of Australians who walked the Kokoda Track and lived to tell the tale.

The arduous journey has become an increasingly popular pilgrimage for many Australians. In 2001, only 76 people retraced the steps of our troops in World War II. Now, close to 6000 Australians do the trek each year.

Why do they do it? The main reason is a confluence of patriotism and clever marketing.

Its only six years since NSW MP Charlie Lynn set up the Kokoda Track Foundation, but the to help local communities that live locals who live along the mountainous 130km track shut it down regularly due to various concerns about the hordes that now invade it. Last May, the track was closed after villagers alleged they weren’t being properly paid.

A bad odour now pervades too many aspects of this modern pilgrimage. This year we’ve seen the pull of Kokoda cause one disaster after another.

In April, two young Australian trekkers collapsed and died. In August, 13 people were killed when their plane crashed. Last month Paul Bradfield, 38, died on the trek and this week Phillip Brunskill, 55, lost his life.

Shirley Seal, 60, was on the same trek and had to be flown out with her adult son after her blood pressure shot up and nausea set in.

She’s far from alone. Every year dozens of trekkers have to be evacuated from the jungle by helicopter.

The doomed tour that included Brunskill and Seal was run by Charlie Lynn’s company, Adventure Kokoda, which sells what can only be described as an extreme form of endurance.

Lynn himself boasts of having completed the trek almost 60 times in the past two decades – not bad for a man in his 60s.

After Brunskill’s death, Lynn declared the victim obviously wasn’t fit enough to make the journey. What an insult to the intelligence of a man who can no longer defend himself.

Brunskill had been training intensively for 10 months and was given a health clearance by Lynn’s own company.

Nor does Lynn help his case when he refers to the initial part of the Kokoda Track as the “death zone”.

Not that he’s being inaccurate. Lynn and other operators are literally leading people into a fatality zone.

Prof Kevin Norton from the University of South Australia specialises in exercise physiology and says trekking Kokoda is among the toughest physical feats a person can attempt. He also points out that the death rate on Kokoda is 10 times higher than you’d expect and that emergency evacuations are high.

It is little wonder that insurance companies are reportedly considering designating the Kokoda Track a prescribed zone.

Lest we forget … our soldiers fought in the jungles along the Kokoda Track to ensure our freedom, not out of some misguided and manufactured patriotic fervour.

We might better honour our forebears by showing more respect for contemporary human life – and putting the Kokoda tour operators under the microscope.

Comments

  1. Ian Mackenzie-Smith says:

    As sad as any death is, regadless of circumstances, whatever has happened to people taking responsibility for their own actions?

    At age 63, I was part of Charlie’s July 06 trek. In all the corrsspondence and at all the briefings, Charlie was at pains to stress the difficulties and dangers that exist in taking on the trek. He emphasised the need for fitness and the dire results of takling the trek when not adequately prepared.

    There is probably no other organisation that approaches the responsibilities of Kokoda in a more concentious manner than “Adventure Kokoda”.

    I took on the adventure in the full knowledge of the issues that could be encountered. I prepared myself and undertook all the medical tests required by the trek leaders. It was probably the hardest thing I have ever done physically, but I finished and am the richer for it.

    Waking up in the morning and getting out of bed each day has its risks and Ms Singer needs to recognise that. Journalists of her ilk tend to jump on any bandwagon for headlines sake and their reputation is the poorer for it.

    Keep up the good work Charlie.

  2. Adam Shinnick says:

    Shame on you Jill and I do hope that you read the responses in this blog and secondly take up Charlie’s offer. I trekked with AK in June/July 07 with my father with Chad and Bernie as our leaders. It is indeed unfortunate that someone is allowed to write such rubbish without experiencing Kokoda first hand with AK. I have nothing but the highest regards with the very professional way that AK operates.

    As a teacher I consistently instill in my students (Year 5) that we own our own decisions, choices and behaviour. The consequences of these choices ultimately rest with the individual. As sad as it is that deaths have occurred we ultimately decide whether to walk the track or not. If the necessary cardio vascular training is not done than the individual places there own welfare at risk – not the tour company we travel with. AK makes it very clear on its website of the necessary requirements for this trek. Sadly Jill your ignorance has come forth. Next time be a professioanal and do the necessary checks before you write and then you won’t look silly.

    To you Charlie, you have many thousands of supporters out there. Because of the experience of trekking with AK (Chad and Bernie were brilliant leaders and teachers) my life has been enhanced in so many wonderful ways.

  3. I have just returned from judging a ‘Spirit of Kokoda’ awards program sponsored by the RSL Services Clubs Association. Young people from NSW are sponsored by clubs to participate in the Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge in partnership with Adventure Kokoda. The following entry, from Tyler Bellamy, aged 18 from Macksville, will help educate commentators like Jill Singer in understanding why people trek Kokoda:

    ‘I walked Kokoda September 2008’, wrote Tyler, ‘as a pilgrimage to my two uncles, who were buried in Bomana War Cemetery. I was the first descendant to visit their graves.

    ‘My story begins with a close relationship to my grandfather, Cyril Manusu whose three brothers fought on the Kokoda Trail. Two of the brothers, Guy Eric Manusu and Perry Manusu of the 21st Battalion were killed during a heavy attack at Eora Creek only days apart on the 23rd and 27th October 1942. A third brother, Percy Baldwin Manusu was sent home from New Guinea suffering Malaria and Scrub Typhus. Percy was so ill he was left out with the dead for days before someone saw him respond to the rats eating him.

    ‘It is said Percy was sent home to console a grieving mother. He was later sent back to train troops and their mother, Betsy died from a broken heart. A fourth brother, Homer Manusu returned home from leave but was killed whilst riding his bike which collided with a local milk truck.

    ‘Percy retuned home a broken man, he never married nor had children.

    ‘My grandfather was the only son of five Manusu boys who went on to marry and have children.

    ‘So my trip to Kokoda started with a curiousity and memories of small stories of my uncles. The trip became even more important when one of the old locals described the gory details of my uncles last moments. The walk made the whole story become so real and so sad. At Eora Creek I could picture my uncle Guy fighting and warning his friend of an incoming grenade, only to see it bounce off a vine and kill uncle Guy.

    ‘I could see the trenches where my Uncle Perry must have lied in after he was shot in the groin, knowing he couldn’t be caried out for medical treatment, bleeding to death slowly – his last breath was a puff on a requested cigarette (he had never smoked in his whole life).

    ‘I could imagine the frustration of the isolation Uncle Percy would have felt, knowing his dead brothers were so close, and he couldn’t take responsibility for their bodies. Sitting in the rain and wondering how he could face their families.

    ‘All of their suffering became so real to me, and even now I wonder what may have been if they survived and returned home to their sweethearts and loved ones. I wonder how happy my family would have been. I wonder how the whole community were affected.

    ‘On return from Kokoda, I commenced testing to join the Army. I am still waiting for my medical in Newcastle. I work at K.F.C and help look after my frail grandmother. I volunteer my spare time at the Frank Partridge War Memorial and this Anzac Day, I was proud to lead the march on behalf of all my uncles.

    ‘My next goal is to return to Eora Creek and lay a plaque on behalf of the 2/1st battalion. I am also trying hard to find and recover my uncles lost medals.

    ‘The most important thing I brought back was the determination to keep the Anzac Spirit alive for generations to come, and to encourage others both in my family and in the community to keep the memory of these brave soldiers alive.’
    This is the what I refer to as the spirit of Kokoda Jill – it is just one of the many reasons young and old Australians trek across the Kokoda Trail. It is something you will also have a better understanding of if you accept my invitation to trek with the next group I lead across the trail – and I repeat my commitment to pay for your return international airfare, all accommodation, meals and transport in PNG, all trek and campsite fees and provide you with all the equipment you will need – I will even pay for a PNG porter to carry your backpack.

    Jill, as a journalist you owe it to young Tyler and his uncles to be better informed – please let me know when you would like to join us.

    Charlie Lynn
    0439 303 303
    charlie@kokodatreks.com.au

  4. Hey Charlie! I bet there’s a fair bit of MUMBLE F@#$%&# going on in Jill Singers office at the moment!! I really hope she takes you up on your offer, then we’ll see what she’s really made of! ALL THE WAY WITH AK!!!!

  5. Fiona Foster says:

    Thankyou for sharing that post Charlie, as I read it tears welled in my eyes- we do have some great kids coming through programs like yours, Melissah Adams told me she was honoured to walk with the 2009 RSL group and that our country is in good hands with young folk like them- I hope Jill had a tear in her eye, if she didn’t she has a heart of stone.

  6. I’ve been saddened reading about the deaths on the track including the plane crash at Kokada this year. It takes a lot for me to “come down out of my tree” and misinformed public comment about the Kokoda Track is a good enough reason.

    I know journalists write stuff they know little about with dead lines in mind, but at least they should check the basic facts.

    I was on the the same trek in 2006 with Nick Anchen (blog42) and endorse everthing he wrote. At 69 I was the oldest in the group. Why was I there? Passion and for what our boys did to defend this wonderfull country of ours. I’m old enough to remember the second world war and was a national serviceman in the fifties. I thought I was too old walk the track until I read about a 81 y.o. WW 11 veteran walking it and now a 83 y.o.! Sure you need to be fit and have a stringent medical. I trained on and off for 3 months before going. Adventure Kokoda spells all this out and gives an excellent historical perspective via their outstanding leadership, in our case Peter Davey and Bernie Rowell. Would I do it again? You bet, if I had the time.

    Keep a place for me Charlie, if Jill Singer takes up your generous offer! Great to see you at the “Battle for Australia Day”( another passion of mine) at Martin Place on September 2. I always attend each year with an 86 y.o. Kokoda veteran who gave me good advice before I went on your trek.

    Maybe, just maybe all this publicity will be for a better understanding of what Kokoda is all about. I’m old enough to have learned to ” put up or shut up”

  7. Mel McEwen says:

    Well done Charlie. The article is so poorly researched that it’s almost not deserving of a response!

    I am sure that neither your integrity, nor the integrity of AK were ever questioned.

    Sincerest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones on the trek.

  8. Graham McPherson says:

    Unbeleivable, where do these Journo’s get off with there continued cutting of quotes, own opinions without knowledge, and being paid for inaccurate articles for which they should be forced to retract ( in Bold print) or even disbarred.

    I was fotunate to experience Kokoda at age 58 with my son 28, son in law 30 and a freind 49 and his son 21.

    A.K. were very proactive with health information, checks and all possible questions prior and during answered in full.

    The treck was arduous, exciting, rewarding and extremely informative.

    I found the facts of what happened there and what our soldiers experienced far more emotional than expected and I beleive this was due to the wonderfull explanations and history knowledge from the group leaders.

    The porters were fantastic, assisting us to complete our journey and were very appreciative of our support for there community, families and that our support gave them the opportunity to improve ther lifestyle and more importantly there health and longevity.

    I have been to base camp Everest and other trecks and would have to say this was a far more taxing trip with the humidity, rain and steepness ( up and Down) of the terrain and anyone who treats this trip as a hike is not for real. A.K. made this clear and we respected their advise.

    Jill should only write about things she knows about and or has experienced. She should remove herself from the office and take up the challenge and then report from experience.

    There are to many half quoted inaccuate reports in all walks of life from everyone who wants to be read.

    Well done Charlie, keep up the good work for the track.

    Graham McPherson

  9. Justin Hayes says:

    Firt of all my deepest sympathies to all those that have lost a loved one on the track.

    And Charlie you continue to supass the allready high respect that I have for you and AK by the way that you gave this foolish foolish woman the time of day.

    Surely someone at that paper had to ok that appauling piece of journalism and they should all bow their heads in shame.

    I had to check who this woman was from my collegues and they we not very polite in their comments on her so I’m just going to leave it at that.

    Great work Charlie, the way you wrote your reply, you would make a far better journalist than the Singer could ever hope to be.

    And as for her doing the track, well Charlie I think your money is safe.

  10. PETE DOWLING says:

    Hi Charlie,

    Having received your unsolicited email, I feel I need to reply. I was disappointed to read the comments attributed to you concerning the death of Mr Brunskill. In the past you have been quick to jump on the publicity bandwagon when other deaths and incidents have occurred and have given other trek operators a thorough “pasting” inferring in some way that they run sub standard operations. Now the shoe is on the other foot your response is as interesting as it is predictable.

    Stop the blame game now Charlie and simply accept that some of your initial comments did you no credit and in this blog your further comments about Mr Brunskill and his training based on some other news report do you no credit either. The use of emotive language “snakey”, “slagging”, “disgraceful gutter journalism”, “irrelevant waffle”, “she has got good form for this” is unhelpful and reflect poorly on you.

    Charlie just take a step back and do not take every personal criticism as a personal attack. Accept that whilst trekkers walk Kokoda there will always be incidents of sudden death.Deal with it. It does not reflect on Adventure Kokoda as an organisation nor should it on any other trek operator when it occurs. Be mindful however if you wish to dish it out ,then when it is your turn, cop it on the chin.

  11. Peter,

    You can always hit the unsubscribe button!

    The only trekker I spoke out about was the unfortunate woman who died during the Anzac period. I did this because I was the one who received the note to arrange for help. The trek group leading her across the trail were not able to do this because they did not have a satphone (they claim they did – but if that was the case why did they send a note from the north side of the Maguli Range to Agulogo campsite to get me to call for help in Port Moresby). They obviously did not have a trained leader because the note only said a woman had asthma – there was no other information about her condition, age, travel insurance or exact location. They did not have a reliable rear link in Port Moresby because he was ‘out’ according to the person who answered – and they couldn’t tell me when he would be back.

    The woman died that night. There is a high probability she would be still alive if she had been with a credible trekking company that invests in trained personal and proper medical and communications equipment. I believe this death may not have happened if the Kokoda Track Authority had a proper accreditation system for trek operators in place.

    You state that I have been ‘quick to jump on the publicity bandwagon when other deaths and incidents have occurred’. Not quite true Peter. I made no comment on the first three deaths because I was not aware of the details. I can only assume your source for this claim would be somebody from the Jill Singer school of ethical journalism.

    My comments regarding the trekker who died last month were related to the failure of the management authority responsibe for Kokoda trekking operations to require a standard medical clearance for all people who apply for a trek permit. According to reports of his death he did not get a medical clearance because it is not a requirement of the trekking company he was with. Perhaps he would still be alive if he had been required to obtain one.

    Under the current regime an overweight, unfit, smoker with clogged arteries and dodgy knees could receive a trek permit by paying $100 to the Kokoda Track Authority. No questions will be asked about his/her physical or medical condition. He/she will not be asked to submit a trek itinerary so they might know where to begin looking if they gets into trouble. He/she does not have to engage a trek guide or carrier and is not required to have any form of communications with him. He/she is then free to set off into some of the most inhospitable jungle terrain on the planet. They comprise most of the 100 or so evacuations from the trail – usually within the first two days.

    I will continue to advocate for this standard to be introduced as a management protocol because I think it is the responsible thing to do – I appreciate you might have a different view.

    For your information I am also concerned at the number of trekkers who are abandoned along the trail by some of the cheaper (dodgy) operators. We obviously have to arrange for their evacuation when we come across them – on one occasion we worked with Executive Excellence to treat one trekker and then arrange for his evacuation. On another occasion we worked with Our Spirit. These small – or sub standard – operators know when the credible operators are on the trail and rely on them to provide this ‘service’ because they don’t have experienced leaders or sufficient resources. I am not the only trek operator concerned in regard to these occurrances.

    In regard to Phillip Brunskill – I first advised his son, then his partner as soon as the facts surrounding his unfortunate death were confirmed. I then had discussions with our rear link in Port Moresby and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra (via the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby). I then issued a media statement to AAP.

    For the next 48 hours I answered every call made by the media in regard to Mr Brunskill. I advised that we have three protocols for assessing a person’s physical ability to trek with us. The first is a medical self-assessment. The second is a comprehensive medical clearance certification developed by a doctor from Adventure Medicine who had trekked with us previously. The third is our trek leaders assessment of trekkers once on the trail.

    In view of the fact that our trek leader withdrew him from the trek within the first hour of an easy section of the trail I responded that Mr Brunskill either had a medical condition that was not detected during his medical assessment or he did not prepare himself physically for the trek.

    I stand by those statements.

    One person who did not bother to contact me was Jill Singer from the Herald Sun. She obviously could not attribute any remarks to me because I didn’t make any to her! But that did not stop her from distorting what she had picked up then adding a porky or two to pep up her article.

    I am not going to let that kind of uninformed drivel sit on the record without it being challenged or corrected. A respected journalist in Sydney advised me that it was a good example of ‘lazy attack journalism’.

    You may well bend over when this happens to you, Peter, but I won’t.

    I appreciate your unsolicited comments on the phrases I used in my response to Jill Singer’s article but I didn’t write it to please a tutor, pass an English exam, or impress the chattering class – I just wrote what I felt at the time.

    And I can assure you that you won’t have to worry about any further unsolicited emails.

  12. Ross Bastiaan says:

    Jill Singer has alerted people to some elements of truth in the way the whole Kokoda business is run. For all the loyal and well meaning commentary from walkers about what they experienced, there is an underlying hard nosed business side of this walk that makes some people here and in PNG money. That is a key underlying point of the article. Some make a sizeable amount, others little and there is a need to investigate this aspect if there is to be meaningful control of numbers and physical strengths of walkers.

    Singer must has information from others but her sources are not disclosed. Charlie Lynn has been highlighted as he is one of the most experienced and longest established operators. He also has made him self a high profile and hence an easy target for comment, good and bad. Charlie has always attractive publicity through Kokoda but he has always loved the country and the people among whom has walked for twenty years. Not surprisingly the recent events have highlighted his company and in turn and to be expected, his profile. Singer has interestingly used Lynn to attack the whole concept of commercialisation of the walk but offers little else but criticism. Solving problems are not necessarily her role though I would liked to have seen some suggestions if no more than to indicate her depth of knowledge of the subject.

    Singer earns money by writing articles that stir people up. Charlie et al earns money by taking people over the Owen Stanley’s. But Charlie has his future threatened by Singer and she is free to write what she wants tomorrow, with no threat from Charlie.

    I walked it in 1992 to record in bronze the battles in the jungle but then there were only 42 white men that walked the track that year. I have witnessed a giant industry grow from nothing for Kokoda was not cool in 1992. I never returned to PNG and moved to other areas of interest. But I have never ignored the industry that has evolved around Kokoda. I would wish that from Singers article and from men like Charlie Lynn that a tighter regulation of movement over the trail occurs and that the industry is more closely monitored so quality not quantity prevails. These ideals are being attempted in PNG but progress is ever slow in that country. So don’t shoot the messenger if some of the elements of the commentary are wide of the mark and consider that Singer’s article may accelerate change and so mean that professional organisations like Charlie’s and others may maintain their reputation.

  13. I know Charlie Lynn personally as a Soldier and Friend and I would accept his word anyday against the diatribe put out by Jill Singer. As Bruce Ruxton would say for sure “She is a frustrated journo with no credibility ever” If I were Chalie I would have Singer in court for defamation and libel.

    AK has a track record second to none but it is the shonky operators that should be weeded out. Following the recent tragedy where many lives were lost in the plane accident as we in the Latrobe Valley lost three great people. Sadly that’s the fall of the dice but they died doing what they trained, planned and wanted to do. Maybe helicopters would be a better mode of transport to us!

    To you Charlie, keep going mate and make the Federal Government or someone weed out the crook operators and maybe have it compulsory that all trekkers have insurance and a medical pass by the local doctors to prove their stamina.

    You’ll do me mate!!

  14. Robert Wilson says:

    My sincere condolences to anyone who has lost a loved on the track. Life however is meant to be lived and living life to the fullest has it’s inherent risks. I am a fit & healthy person and trained especially hard prior to doing the track last year. Due to taking a common medicine [ Lipitor ] I had to undertake a comprehensive medical examination before AK would accept me to come along. On day four the cartilage in my right knee became damaged so the trek became even more of a challenge. I recall one day when we passed another group on their second day out of Kokoda, I’ll never forget the look of pure exasperation on two very overweight and obviously unfit trekkers, I thought to myself ‘ how are they possible going to make it ? ‘ .. These two people would never have been allowed [ for safety reasons ] to come along with AK and to that end I can only congratulate AK for maintaining a high degree of professionalism and regard for their clients safety. Keep up the good work and remain an example to other companies who could do well in trying to emulate your standards. Cheers, Robert

  15. Paul Croll says:

    At the risk of triggering another incoherent tirade, I agree completely with the comments made earlier by Robert Townsend.

    I look forward to the day when Charlie Lynn starts displaying some of the respect on this and other Kokoda issues, that he talks so publicly about.

    Paul Croll.

  16. Narelle Chennells says:

    Incoherent tirade? lack of “respect on this and other kokoda issues”? Put your money where your mouth is Paul and use some facts, or even better, go and join Jill Singer.

  17. Paul,

    Who is Robert Townsend?

    I just received the following email from Mr Don Daniels, Founder and Chairman of the Port Moresby Grammar School – is this the respect you are referring to?

    From: Donald Daniels [donalddaniels@hotmail.com]
    Sent: Saturday, 10 October 2009 2:58 PM
    To: charlie@charlielynn.com.au;
    Cc: Mele Olley; deputyprincipal@pomgrammar.ac.pg; Graham Bamford

    Subject: THANK YOU

    Good morning Mr Lynn

    Years ago, we first met in the dining room of the Parliament of New South Wales when you invited Dame Carol Kidu and myself to a dinner. The occasion then was about assisting Papua New Guinea students, especially those from villages along the Kokoda track.

    Little did I know then, how much Port Moresby Grammar School is now in your debt for the support you have given the school.

    Among other things, this support consists of:

    ** four Adventure Kokoda bursaries
    ** your kindness in sponsoring Margaret Aitsi and Alfreda Nakue on the trip of a lifetime to Australia
    ** over 2500 books received for the library and classrooms
    ** a pletora of stationery supplies
    ** medical equipment and supplies
    ** a wide variety of sports gear

    ** K3500 in cash for special needs aspects in the school

    ** Exposure of our students to wonderful ordinary Australians who come to PNG….and reciprocally for Aussies to see and bond with Papua New Guineans within the school environment.

    On behalf of the Board of Directors of the School, please accept our sincere and grateful thanks for that you have done and we hope this special bond between POM Grammar and Kokoda will continue and strengthen.

    Sincerely

    DONALD DANIELS MBE
    Chairman and Founder
    Port Moresby Grammar School

    OR THIS:

    From: Tessie Soi – 1181609131 – WT [tessiesoi@daltron.com.pg]
    Sent: Thursday, 24 July 2008 12:27 PM
    To: Charlie@daltron.com.pg; Lynn@daltron.com.pg
    Subject: Thank You

    Dear Charlie,
    Thank you for your time in meeting with me.
    Its great to hear that i can email you when i am in dire straits and i will also give you updates and how our programs are going.
    i can use someone else as a sounding board. which i hope you don’t mind.
    but thanks a million for helping me do my programs for our people.
    have a safe walk and hear from you soon.
    Tessie.

    Tessie operates the PNG Friends Foundation which provides support to mothers which HIV/Aids to educate them in how to avoid passing the virus onto their babies. She also collects unclaimed babies from the morgue and the Port Moresby General Hospital and gives them a Christian burial. We provided her with two computers and printers last year and also a portion of the payment we receive from each person who treks with us is allocated to her.

    OR THIS:

    http://www.bukbilongpikinini.org – go to ‘Newsletters’ and scoll down to ‘Special Donors’ – we donate to both the Kai Bilong Pikinini and Buk Bilong Pikinini programs which provide food and books to young patients in Port Moresby hospitals – in fact they will receive a further K1500 from John Nalder on our behalf in the morning.

    OR THIS:

    From: Carol Anne Kidu [cakidu@online.net.pg]
    Sent: Saturday, 14 June 2008 12:47 PM
    To: Charlie Lynn
    Subject: Re: Allocation of Trek Fees to Kokoda Trail Schools and Community Learning Development Centres

    Dear Charlie,
    Great approach! The Kokoda District Focal Point co-ordinator has been into Pom for workshop – I think Secretary is co-ordinating launch with your trek – Is that correct? CO Siale Diro has been working on the Kokoda Day and War museum development. Said he wants me to take NEC submission in during June or July and launch the concept in late July.
    Hope you are well – am really overstretched at present
    Carol Kidu

    —– Original Message —–
    From: Charlie Lynn
    To: ‘Warren Bartlett’
    Cc: ‘Joseph Pagelio’ ; ‘Joseph Klapat’ ; ‘Peter Vincent’ ; ‘Carol Kidu’ ; ‘Chris Moraitis’
    Sent: Friday, June 13, 2008 12:39 AM
    Subject: Allocation of Trek Fees to Kokoda Trail Schools and Community Learning Development Centres

    Hi Warren,
    In view of the absence of an authorised management agency for the Kokoda Trail with effect from 11 June 2008 I plan to allocate our Adventure Kokoda Trek Fees for the July period directly to the following schools:

    Sogeri Primary School – K5,000 (provides for Owers Corner and Vesilogo)
    Ioribaiwa Village – K1,000
    Nauro Community School: – K3,000
    Menari Community Primary School – K3,000
    Efogi Primary School – K3,000
    Kovovo Primary School – K5,000 (provides for students from Kagi and Naduri)
    Alola Community School – K3,000
    Abuari Community School – K3,000
    Kovello Community School – K3,000
    Kokoda Kindergarten – K$2,000
    Kokoda Primary School – K5,000
    Kokoda Trade School – K5,000

    In addition to this Adventure Kokoda will provide K20,000 in partnership with the Department of Community Services for the establishment of Community Learning Development Centres at Kokoda and Owers Corner.

    I will be in Port Moresby between treks during the period 18 – 23 July. I will liaise directly with Dr Pagelio and Dr Klapat to arrange for school and sporting supplies duriing this period. I will then arrange for their delivery during my trek beginning on 24 July.

    I will do an assessment of the village health needs during my two treks in July. We will then allocate our trek fees for the month of August to the provision of medical supplies to assist in meeting these needs.

    I will arrange for the K20,000 for our Community Learning Development Partnership to be transferred to your account. Perhaps you could then liaise directly with Dr Klapat to transfer the funds to his Departmental Account when they are ready to commence their projects at Kokoda and Owers Corner.

    I plan to continue this arrangement until an authorised management agency is established to properly manage the track.

    Lukim yu,
    Charlie

    Paul, you would be aware that Adventure Kokoda was the only trekking company to pay its trek fees in full and in advance in 2008. This ensured that villagers continued to receive ongoing shared benefits whilst the Kokoda Track Authority had to chase up all the companies that were in arrears. I have been advised that the clan leaders were very appreciative and respectful of this. We are involved in many other village projects supporting health and education initiatives – I can list these for you if required.

  18. s claverotte says:

    I live in polynesia. Do you know how many eco discovery lagoon tours there are here? Many more than treking companies in New Guinea! But like every tourist destination in the world there are all types! There are those who are passionate about what they do and pass their knowledge onto our tourists because they beleive in sharing the beauty and culture, respect, protection….etc, and then there are those who jump on the band wagon and ‘copy and paste’ information to set up their own business. But then there are others, the worst kind….those that fall off, even the ‘band wagon’ couldn’t quite make it, because it wasnt ‘so easy’ – but ooh la! – don’t they hate the others! It creates jealousy…..don’t you think Mr Croll?

  19. Paul Asbury says:

    Never let facts interfere with a story that you are being paid to write!

    Charlie, take Ms Singer to the legal cleaners and give the libel proceeds to the PNG villagers.

  20. Ms Singer,

    It would appear that you have caused something of a stir. I have not walked the Kokoda Track but I do know a number who have. Without exception, they have regarded it as a life-changing experience. I think you do these people an injustice when you imply that they have been conned by some fast-talking salesman. I also believe that you do Charlie Lynn an even greater one when you impugn his motives and his Company’s actions.

    The time has come for you to either put up or shut up. Take up Charlie’s invitation and learn some about him, what Kokoda really means and maybe even something about yourself.

  21. Geoff Rich says:

    What an embarrassment Ms Singer must be to legitimate journalists. At best, her article is unadulterated drivel. Where are her supervisers or don’t they care about reporting standards?

  22. Dear Ms Singer

    I first walked the Kokoda Track in 1974 as a 29 year old and more recently in April this year at the age of 64 years. I know well the challenges such a walk presents for both those who are young and fit and older and not so fit. This year I personnaly experienced the challenge that comes from assuming a level of fitness and preparation that very nearly caused me to withdraw from the walk on Day One. Whilst not with Adevnture Kokoda Charlie Lynn happened to be passing at the time and with some well chosen soothing words of comfort i.e. “Get off your backside Ryan and get going” all ended well and I reached Owers Corner a second time and in good condition.

    Why am I telling you this Ms Singer? You obviously do not understand the nature of personal challenge, living the dream or honouring those men who fought and died in that most inhospitable environment to ensure that you and I have the Australia we live in today. Those men did not sit back and criticise and leave others to do what they knew had to be done. They went up that Track, fought with courage and died there with the results of a free Australia and tragically so many headstones in the Bomana War Cemetery.

    Yes I know Charlie Lynn and have have done so for over 40 years. Your comments are simply wrong but you know what, they reflect more on you as an individual and as a journalist than they do on Charlie Lynn the motivated leader of Adventure Kokoda, the MP and the man who continues to contribute to the well being of so many locals on and around the Kokoda Track. He does not have to prove himself Jill. That is for you to do now Jill!

    Accept the invitation from Charlie Lynn and Adventure Kokoda. You will meet so many great Australians, young and old[er], fit and not so fit and from the many ethnic backgrounds that now comprise our nation. Find out for yourself why they walk the Kokoda Track, their level of preparation and the obstacles they personally overcome to walk through the Gates at Owers Corner. Jill we are each the master of our own fate!

    Take care,

    Kel Ryan

  23. Jill, you insult my intelligence and any-one that has chosen to take on the challenge of trekking the Kokoda as I did in August 2009.

    I was not swayed by “clever marketing” or the “pull of Kokoda” and it is not up to you to speak on my behalf. My reasons were personnal and after months of research I chose Adventure Kokoda to lead me through my journey. I chose them because of their professionalism and genuine respect for the culture and wellbeing of the villagers along the Track. Adventure Kokoda would be one of the very few Companies that do give back on an ongoing basis to the people.

    Whilst I trained for 6 months & passed my medical I struggled. I have never been so challenged in my life and I have Bernie(Trek Leader),my fellow trekkers and the boys to thank for helping me to find the courage and endurance to complete the trek. What better way to honor our forebearers.

    I hope you do take up Charile’s offer – Charlie I think you would have a lot of people that would like to be on that Trek. I might start training now!!!

  24. Julie Taylor says:

    Ken and I walked the track with AK919 commencing on the 11th of August 2009, on the morning of the tragic plane accident. I cannot speak more highly of the professional and empathetic way in which Charlie and Jill Lynn communicated with our son after the accident and over the period of our trek, giving the factual information needed to reassure him where we were and how we were going. They went over and above what was needed to minimise the alarm caused by the inaccurate reporting that had caused so much distress to our family.

    Chad Sherrin and Glen Mason provided the true leadership skills that AK is known for and with the members of our group surrounded us with some of the best team spirit I have encountered. We saw all the wonderful qualities that people have emerge: humour, compassion, understanding, sharing, tolerance, persistance and acceptance. I would want to have these people with me if ever I was in a battle. This is where the ANZAC spirt is.

    Without the drive that you obviously have Charlie, to have established AK and run it as you do, Ken and I may never have had the priviledge to go to this pristine part of the planet. A piece of paradise that has not been spoiled by the many influences of western civillisation that suppress the best of what we experienced with our fellow trekkers on our adventure.

    The locals that we met along the track and the porters employed by AK are some of the most generous, happy people one could encounter.Without their firm, but gentle supporting hand and knowledge we could not have done what we did. We felt priviledged to be able to walk through their villages, along their track, over their rivers and through their jungle.

    They have looked after their families and managed their beautiful environment far better than many of us have.

    Your aspirations for this country and the people who live there are high Charlie. Your desire to inform those willing to listen and learn about the spirit of Kokoda is crucial. Your professional company that enables people to LIVE LIFE with as much support as one can realistically expect when in such an isolated part of the world is professional and caring. Do not give up on your standards. After reading the words written above by other Kokoda trekkers I have now realised that there are two groups of people in this world – those who have done Kokoda and those who have not! Thank you Charlie, Jill, Chad, Glen and the wonderful people of PNG for the priviledge of being able to be in the group that has.

  25. John Pritchard says:

    Jill,

    I to have known Charlie for 42 years and I have never known him to turn his back and let anyone down.

    You are supposedly a professional journalist and professionalism behoves the fact that you check all of your facts first. You have not checked the facts and I hope the full weight of the legal professionalism descends on you.

    Oh, to show you are what you claim to be, take up the challenge and walk the track.

    John Pritchard

  26. Matt Rossiter says:

    Duck upstairs and grab me a latte Jill, the machine is busted in the kitchen and I have a paper cut I have to find a medic for !!!

    You Dope……..

  27. John Neenan says:

    Singer’s piece is a prime example of gutter “journalism”. I cringe when I think of the jaundiced dishonesty she has purveyed in this instance. She has certainly made a a squalid name for herself. And Pete Dowling’s lonely voice in the wilderness amazed me for its lack of perspicacity. On the other hand, I am impressed by the overwhelming and well-deserved support for Charlie’s rebuttal. Well done, Australians; that’s the right spirit!

  28. Jill,

    I cant wait to read your report after taking up Charlie’s offer!

    I did the track with my 14 year old son in Aug 08, organised by AK. It was a life experience that we will both remember.

    For sure its a tough challenge, but with some decent training and preparation can be managed successfully.

    The sights and experiences of being on the track is something that can only really be appreciated when you are out there………….commenting from the safety of your bunker without that experience leaves you poorly equiped to make any assessment.

    Have the internal fortitude to take up Charlies offer! Its an offer that 50,000 others would jump at!!

  29. Keith Gear says:

    I haven’t walked the Kokoda Track – but I have spent time walking with Charlie as a soldier in the Australian Army. In fact, I enjoyed my time serving with Charlie, better than any other experience.

    Why?

    Because he was as honest as the day was long, was a straight speaker (called a spade a spade), looked after the people who worked with/for him and importantly, never gave reason to question his motivation or integrity.

    Did he set challenges? Yes

    Did he have a sense of humour? Yes

    Did he stick up for what was right and just, even if it had potential to affect his career? Absolutely (very few do………..)

    I know little about the trekking business in PNG, but even without doing my research, I would jump at the chance of walking with Charlie again, and hereby offer my services as a (semi) neutral observer should Jill Singer accept Charlie’s challenge. In fact, I would recommend that Jill Singer accepts the challenge and deals with the entire process from start to finish as if she was a paying customer. She can then accurately document the experience (hopefully by also seeking the views of fellow trekkers, villagers, porters et al).

    The integrity of Charlie Lynn and Jill Singer is what is at question here. I know Charlie has it but would need to be convinced that Jill Singer has any journalistic integrity at all.

  30. George Batia says:

    Well said Taubada!!

    I hope Jill Singer accepts your invitation so that she will analyse her thoughts before putting pen on paper.

  31. Perhaps Jill Singer should consider a career writing fairytales for children. She certainly has a good imagination.

    I was on the trek (AK919) with Stuart Titheradge and Julie Taylor above. Our group experienced a quite emotional start to our journey, as our flights to Kokoda were on the same morning as the tragic plane crash. It was evident from the first moment that of primary concern for AK was our health, safety and wellbeing. The way in which alternate arrangements were made to get us safely into Kokoda, with minimal inconvenience to us, and the quick response to concerns from our own families, back in Australia after the initial crash reports, is testament to the level of professionalism of Charlie and his team here in Australia, and in PNG.

    As for myself, I have medical conditions that could have prevented me from trekking Kokoda. But I took responsibility for my own health and safety prior to Kokoda, by training hard, getting medical clearance, and educating myself about exactly what I was getting into. I ensured I was accountable to myself, before giving AK responsibility for me and my wellbeing whilst on the track.

    As it turned out, the malaria medication made me extremely ill on the first day of trekking. There is no way I could have known it would have such a major impact on my health. However, our trek leader Chad Sherrin provided me exactly the right medication, and after a slow start that day, I spent the next almost two weeks accompanied by the most fantastic group of people I could have hoped to share the journey with, including the trek leaders, our guides, and the villagers along the way. I’m sure had I been trekking with a less reputable company, I may have not received the medical attention I needed at that moment and I doubt I would have been able to continue my journey.

    As a personal trainer and knowing my body, how it works physically, and how I am mentally, I knew it would be attitude that would mean my success or failure, not my medical problems. Fitness was not a concern. If I had any concerns in that regard, I would have postponed my trip. THAT is the key. Every single individual needs to take a long, hard look at not just their physical fitness (aside from, and related to, any pre-existing medical conditions), but also their mental fitness. If you’re not ready in some regard, this is not the trip to decide to plough on and tough it out anyway. Bad things happen when you don’t prepare for things. Under-prepared for Kokoda, to me, is close to not preparing at all. Why would you take the risk?

    One cannot point out from a line-up who may or may not have a heart attack. However, you can try to gauge people who may have problems along the way. (I know AK do this as I was asked by one of our PNG guides before we even reached Kokoda if I thought I was fit enough.) Regardless, it highlights, at least to me, the need to require some kind of mandatory fitness assessment in addition to medical, before being accepted.

    I have major issues with people in the media, such as Jill, historically promoting stupidity. Shows about how overweight and unfit people are doing the trek sends out a massive implication that it’s not as hard as everyone says and it’s all talk and hey, anybody can do it…but that if they can’t it’s the sole responsibility of the trek operator. THAT is the attitude that needs to change, because there are people out there who won’t be responsible unto themselves, because the media has affirmed their naivety.

    A death on the Track affects the experience of all trekkers on that trip, and all those associated on the trek company side (and an obvious flow on effect to the community at large). Nobody can protect people from themselves and nobody can predict a freak accident or unknown medical condition that might cause a death. We can ALL take personal responsibility for our own actions or inactions relating to our health and safety.

    I am committed to providing fitness training to potential trekkers and I will do what I can to educate people – even if it’s one person at a time. A bit more effort, a bit more training, a bit more awareness…doing something is always a better alternative than doing nothing.

    Potential trekkers should do their research into which company they choose, but they also need to be brutaly honest about their own ability/inability to take on such a gruelling physical and mental task.

    It’s offensive to me that Jill assumes all trekkers go to Kokoda out of some “misguided and manufactured patriotic fervour”. Jill, you do not speak for me, and I assure you there is nothing misguided or manufactured about my patriotism, nor my absolute respect for those who fought for us (FOR YOU!) along the Track. You would be well served to take up Charlie’s offer to join one of his treks and experience just what it means to “walk in the footsteps”. But perhaps you’re not that patriotic? I’d rather be seen to be a misguided patriot than not patriotic at all…or worse still, ignorant.

    Charlie, I’ll be back next year!

    Eve

  32. Chris Moriarty says:

    Jill

    When I was a kid Kokoda was a myth and its people forgotten. Now I have walked the track along with thousands of others.

    The point is, as a result of Charlie’s work in opening the track up Australians and all the villages along the track are being re-integrated and are talking. The people of the track are no longer mythical, but are real.

    In fact, if it was not for Charlie’s work, you have to wonder what the relationship between Australia and PNG would be like. You can not underestimate the impact of having thousands of Australian’s doing this walk every year on the human-to-human relationship between the two countries.

    The people of the track live on the track, the track is the only road in or out. I will never forget seeing a dad with his two young kids (probably 4 and 6) walking up to the Imita Ridge heading to Pt Morseby as we all lay in a heap recovering our breath.

    He was taking them to a school in town where he had managed to enroll them.

    Extreme?? Not to the people who live there. Tough?? Certainly.

    But, if we don’t make the effort to go out there and meet with these people then what? Are they going to come and meet with us?

    Jill, the track is not about being macho – as you seem to imply – really it is about going out and meeting our neighbours. I strongly recommend you take up Charlie’s offer.

  33. Ms Singer . . . I was so disappointed to read such a malicious and cowardly piece of journalism. I strongly suggest you take Charlie up on his offer, you wont regret the trip. It is a gift that will keep on giving. I trekked with AK in 07 (aged 47) and surprised myself. I’d describe myself as built for comfort more than speed, but was able to do it, what’s more, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and what’s more there’s rarely a day goes by when I don’t relfect on my experience in one way or another. Go on Jill, give it a go!

  34. Ed Chapman says:

    Thanks for taking the time to reply to her story Charlie. Full credit to you.

    Ms Singer, please do accept Charlies offer to walk the Kokoda Track. You will not be disappointed and will walk away with a greater understanding of the contribution that trekkers bring to the PNG people. The villagers are wonderful and I have many pictures to attest to the fondness that they have for us trekkers.

    Yes, it is a challenge that is achievable for most ppl with a good level of fitness. People trek for various reasons, including a pilgrimage to honour the achievements of our diggers, paying respect to fallen family members or just because it is there.

    Walk the track and then write another story. This time one based on personal experiences and hands on knowledge of the area. Plan it for Anzac Day next year and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

  35. Annette Ross says:

    I didn’t read Ms Singer’s original article, but I do take exception to a number of her references.

    Firstly I would like to address the question she asked ‘ Why do they do it? The main reason is a confluence of patriotism and clever marketing.’

    I would like to give you a little history My father, Bill Guest, was a 39th Battalion veteran of ‘A’ Company, a Company who’s exploits in holding Kokoda have been well documented. My father not only fought along the track, but also rejoined the army at the end of the war and returned to Port Moresby in the PNGVR, Papuan New Guinea Volunteer Regiment. As a patrol officer, he led native patrols back over the track after the war, he then went to Lae in the PIR, Papuan Infantry Regiment. So, as the daughter of a veteran of the 39th, as well as having lived in PNG for 21 years I feel that I am justified in replying to your rather uninformed questions.

    Firstly your statement that in 2001 only 76 people tracked Kokoda reflects directly on the very sparse and non existent publicity that the Kokoda Track had been given in the media and more importantly the lack of education that our children have been taught in the course of their education about a war that had more direct impact on our shores than any other conflict.. When my own children were at school, Kokoda was only briefly touched on, and glossed over, which was something that annoyed my father immensely, the only conflict to directly affect the security of our Australian shores. ‘The main reason is a confluence of patriotism and clever marketing’ yes, clever marketing has bought Kokoda to the fore, and thus has promoted the patriotism which propels people to take on Kokoda and for myself, I applaud that. The accolades for the sacrifices of our Australian soldiers who fought along the track have been long overdue. Finally, the hardship and bravery of these young men have been recognised, It’s only recently that the full story of the Kokoda Track has been told, why? not because of our education system, or our politician’s, but by the very trekking companies who you have chosen to malign.

    ‘to help local communities that have locals who live along the mountainous 130km track shut it down regularly due to various concerns about the hordes that now invade it. Last May, the track was closed after villagers alleged they weren’t being properly paid.’

    If you had researched your article properly, (as well as proof read it!) you would have found out that the work generated by these trekking companies as porters, carriers and trek leaders is the main source of income and in most instances the only source of income that the local community have. The hordes that invade it provide food on the table for many families. As for shutting the track down regularly, to my knowledge the track has been shut twice, firstly by a village leader who was coerced by a mining company which had it’s own financial agenda and then, as a direct result of the media attention this bought, by another leader to bring attention to the inefficiencies they perceived of the current Kokoda Track Authority. If you had carried out your research correctly, you would have soon found out that direct monetary gain by these leaders is often squandered away in Moresby or used to fly to Cairns. Little if any finds it’s way back into the village community. Financial retribution must come in the form of infrastructure and not by payment. Unfortunately the almighty kina rules.

    ‘Lest we forget … our soldiers fought in the jungles along the Kokoda Track to ensure our freedom, not out of some misguided and manufactured patriotic fervour.’

    Thank God my father is not alive to read this, I do challenge you to take up Charlie Lynn’s offer, I challenge you to walk the track and not feel patriotic, I challenge you to walk into Isurava and not feel the raw emotion while walking around the memorial. This is an extract from Dad’s diary:

    My father was one of the last 39th out of Isurava, he was in charge of getting the wounded out and back down the track, his last vision of Isurava was of two diggers staggering down the ridge, hardly visible in the poring rain, carrying a stretcher between them, on it a badly wounded mate. The guns of the advancing Jap army could be heard, dad called out to them, ‘ Mate’s, we have to get out of here, the Jap’s are almost on us’ they either didn’t hear him, or ignored him, as he watched, they gently lowered the stretcher to the ground, one then put a lit cigarette between his wounded mates lips as they both took up a position on their knees, hunched over him to try and give him some protection from the rain and with guns cocked, faced the advancing Jap army, knowing full well they wouldn’t survive, but would not leave their mate. I challenge you to walk off the track and not feel the same sheer admiration for the men who fought along this track that every trekker feels on completion, or not want to trek it again. Misguided? I think not!

    I have walked part of the track, in 2007 my son; I walked into Isurava from Kokoda to spread dad’s ashes. Charlie Lynn has had a long association with the 39th Battalion, offering a trek each year to a direct descendant of a 39th Battalion veteran. While I have yet to meet Charlie, I have had correspondence with him via email and my father always spoke highly of him. Charlie has long been a staunch advocator for improved infrastructure along the track and he is well respected by the local community.

  36. Thank you Annete – to have been part of a process that has led to the proper recognition of our Kokoda veterans is my proudest achievement. It has been a process that has involved Australians from all walks of life – male and female – young and old – rich and poor – smart and smarter. To date our post-war generations have been cheated by our education system and our arts industry which has a heavy bias to the left.

    Fortunately we are now able to do our own research and make more informed choices on what we want to learn, what we want to do, and where we want to go.

    The search for our military history has begun and nobody can stop it. The custodians of political correctness can attempt to ridicule it as Singer has tried to do but people now have a forum via the net to correct the record and expose their agenda.

    And I reckon Bill would be very proud of your contribution to the debate on Singer’s ill-informed and misleading drivel in the Herald Sun.

  37. Koi Koi Lasi says:

    Charlie, although I have never met you or been on one of your treks (although many years ago I walked part of the Trail) I have no hesitation in acccepting your version of events ahead of those of Singer. Firstly she is a journalist, in other words a person who is incapabable of telling the truth, who has no ethics, and who is wiling to deliberately harm people’s reputations to flog their revolting newspapers. Secondly she works for News Corporation, a media operation that is the most despicable of a despicable industry. This is the same disgusting, sickening mob who described the pilots of the MBA plane that crashed there as grossly inexperienced, no doubt traumatising the pilots’ families (whom i know personally), the families of the passengers and their colleagues and employers. It was a totally untrue claim, and one made with the deliberate intent of sparking controversy to sell more newspapers. This is clearly what that lying parasite Singer is doing. Her item is also totally unethical in that she at no stage sought comment from you to at least provide balance, not to mention to establish some facts.

  38. Roger Cooke says:

    THe Media is suffering from”budget cuts” like everyone’ Journalists make up for this by “not letting the truth get in the way of a story.” In fact, just like “shock jocks” on radio they sensationalise stories to grab head lines . The journalists do not have the time they had in the past to properly research their subjects. This in turn sorts the sheep from the goats. Ms Singer is one of the goats.

    Once the community could rely on the press to expose bad practices in government and business but now there are a lot of “goats” like Singer so the credibility of the media as a whole suffers. Unfortunately the better journalists are taking jobs as spin doctors for Governments so the dregs remain in the papers.

    The worry is that Ms Singer will not learn by her mistakes and will perpetuate bad journalism. SHe has been offered to be told counter points of view but elected to ignore it.

    There would be no more deaths on the Track due to over exersion than there would be in the general community. There is no suggestion that people who die after a game of say golf have died because of the golf. They die in the community but because people on the track die in the isolation oF the Track then the death cannot be attributed to the the exertion of the Track. They were to die anyway.

    Roger Cooke

  39. There is a couple of things I would like too say, I have walked the track, I have also been unwell on the track, I walked it with Charlie’s compnay. I have also been with the tour leader who was in charge when the fatality happened. Firstly I have never felt safer than I felt with Adventure Kokoda. I was probably not the fitest person I could have been on the track, and in my own way misled both myself and the tour leaders on my fitness. But I got through, with their support, and with the support of my fellow trekkers. We will see more deaths on the track that’s a fact, we have more people walking it, but there is only one treking company I would travel with, that is Adventure Kokoda, they walk it for the right reasons. To Jill Singer ring me, email me , talk too me, if you dare, and find the true story, of why and how a man who came from and low fitnes base walked that track. Though I am sure she will not because she will hide behind her own green jungle camfoflage that she calls the Herald Sun paper

  40. Darren McCabe says:

    Hi Charlie,
    I walked the track with you in 2007. There is barely a day go by where I don’t think of the experience in some form. When anyone talks to me about wanting to walk the track themselves, I always mention ‘Adventure Kokoda’ and your name. I could not have been in better hands during my 10 days.

    I learnt so much about myself on the track. For example, I do not need to be feeling 100% everyday to accomplish something. It is just as easy to say ‘I can do it’ as it is to say ‘I can’t do it’. The track has taught me that. After getting married and becoming a father, walking the Kokoda Track is what I am most proud of achieving in my life.

    I guess I am like most people who walk the track with you…I will only do it once in my life. From my point of view, you have made it your life’s work to not only ensure ‘the spirit lives’ but also improve the quality of life for the people who live on the track.

    Having walked the track I feel I am qualified to talk about it….as for Jill Singer???

  41. Just who is Paul Croll anyway ?

  42. Judy & Geoff Terry says:

    In support of AK and the professionalism with which Charlie Lynn prepares all his trekkers or the guidelines he sets. Of course it is up to the individuals to get a full medical before undertaking such an adventure. I am an australian resident through immigration and took part in a trek under Charlie’s expert guidance in 2008. It left me with an understanding of Australian history that could never be learned in a book and for this I will be forever grateful. Yes the trek is a challenge but I have never before been so well prepared for an undertaking as we were for this trek. We were guided through the type of physical preparedness we should undertake and we were never given any false pretenses that it would be easy but if we prepared and finished the trek it would be life changing and it has been. From the hygiene and care of our feet to the amount of water necessary each day we were well briefed and have shared this with others. without the expert guidance and support from AK and Charlie the challenge would never have been fulfilled. The esteem with which Charlie Lynn is held by the porters and villagers along the track is heart wrenching he has given hope and employment to people who had nothing. One can never do it like the diggers but one can trek this spiritual ground and pay homage to those who gave us our freedom. The memory of the diggers will always live on as long as you have people like Charlie Lynn educating us to the sacrifice made for us by not only the diggers but the people of PNG. Don’t knock a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes or trekking boots. I hope Jill takes up the offer and then writes of her experience.

  43. So sorry for you Charlie that this Jill lady had the hide to do this to you. I myself completed the trek in July this year not with you but another company and was at all times treated with respect and dignity and felt I was always looked after.

    I am a great believer in Karma hope you are too.

  44. Nicky,
    Great to hear from you – as you well know by now – you must experience Kokoda to understand it. I don’t think it’s something that Jill and her ilk in the commentariat will ever appreciate – I’m with you on the Karma bit.
    Keep well Nicky and thanks for your response.

  45. I’m a journalist with The National newspaper in Port Moresby and I did walk with Charlie during last year’s ANZAC day celebration. Of course I decided to walk the track when invited by Charlie (all expenses met by Adventure Kokoda) after all the media hypes of landowners calling for the closure of the track.

    And what an experience it was for me. I had sore feet, sprained my left knee when descending down the muddy slippery steeps to Abuari creek from Alola village during the rain. Mind you that was on the 3rd day and I had to limp painfully for the next 6 days. On the 5th day Chad Sherin had to strap my affected knee and gave me voltaran (anti-inflammatory) tablets. I also had to take panadol every night before sleeping as I had developed fever.

    Well the valuable experience I got was getting the correct information from the villagers along the track of the benefits they receive from trekkers rather than from city slicking landowners who spend all their lives in Port Moresby and spreading false rumours about closing the track. And of course who will forget the physical and mental conditions that I had encountered.

    Yea, I still believe Jill Singer should take Charlie’s invitation and walk. I’m sure she will do a better story about Kokoda and Adventure Kokoda in the future.

    By the way, I have entered my Kokoda experiences on my blog at http://cliffordfaiparik.blogspot.com/search/label/Kokoda

  46. What can one say to such an ignorant, prejudiced, vindictive and darkly imaginative piece of writing better suited to a London tabloid. It does not even qualify as genuine journalism. Then again, maybe it does… It is not like the truth is what really matters.

    I never saw any marketing or even knew many tour operators existed when I decided to walk the track in 2006. I had returned home from a tour of Iraq, and when a friend suggested the trek, it seemed like the ideal way to make sense of past and present. It achieved that and more. There was no misguided sense of patriotism or seductive marketing involved. It was, in the mind of someone who has experienced the death and destruction of war, a way to appreciate the sacrifices of the past. This is not something Jill Singer has a hope in hell of ever understanding, unless she is prepared to leave her comfy safe chair – the one our diggers fought to provide her.

    Maybe it is becoming too commercial, but targeting one of the few honourable operators on the track who genuinely cares about the people living there, is not the answer. Charlie gives much back to the communities every year and they appreciate this. If there was one thing beyond the military history and the beauty of the place that stood out for me, was that the villagers love Charlie…because he actively and constructively cares.

    Which is more than I can say for the comments that started this blog…

  47. Norm Godfrey ,AK910 says:

    On Ya Charlie, great response to Singers powder room investigative reporting. To Jill Singer experience is the best form of research so give Adventure Kokoda a call get a info pack, get a medical, do the training and then do the trek, if you’re up to it, and then do the right thing and report YOUR!! experience first hand not from what seems to be a growing stream of liquid waste that some people are panning and selecting their stories from. All the best to all at AK, keeping the memories alive.

  48. THe Media is suffering from”budget cuts” like everyone’ Journalists make up for this by “not letting the truth get in the way of a story.” In fact, just like “shock jocks” on radio they sensationalise stories to grab head lines . The journalists do not have the time they had in the past to properly research their subjects. This in turn sorts the sheep from the goats. Ms Singer is one of the goats.

    Once the community could rely on the press to expose bad practices in government and business but now there are a lot of “goats” like Singer so the credibility of the media as a whole suffers. Unfortunately the better journalists are taking jobs as spin doctors for Governments so the dregs remain in the papers.

    The worry is that Ms Singer will not learn by her mistakes and will perpetuate bad journalism. SHe has been offered to be told counter points of view but elected to ignore it.

    There would be no more deaths on the Track due to over exersion than there would be in the general community. There is no suggestion that people who die after a game of say golf have died because of the golf. They die in the community but because people on the track die in the isolation oF the Track then the death cannot be attributed to the the exertion of the Track. They were to die anyway.

    Roger Cooke

  49. Tyler Guy Bellamy says:

    I know ive jumped on the band wagon a bit late, but i would just like to say, My name is Tyler Bellamy, i am 20 years of age and i walked the kokoda track when i was 17 years old with adventure kokoda.

    What jill has said, and other posts on here have made me absolutely sick to my stomach. I pity each one of you for thinking that people who walk the trek is “misguided” and a ” manufactured patriotic fervour”. Walking Kokoda was the greatest experience of my life and to have people slander such a great tour company(AK) and man (Charlie) for helping people experience this, greatly offends me and my family. I hope one day i see you on the track as i will DEFIATELY be doing it again. Keep up the good work charlie, God bless.

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