Kokoda Track Authority – Shonky and Secretive!

In 2008 Adventure Kokoda was the only trekking company out of 37 licensed trek operators to pay all of their trek fees in full and in advance – something we are very proud of.

A discreet audit revealed that operators from the Australian Kokoda Tour Operators Association tried to sneak a total of 770 trekkers across the trail without paying trek fees – so much for their fake respect for subsistence villagers along the trail!

The Australian CEO then did a secret deal with each one of them which resulted in them all receiving discounts from what they owed. As a result Adventure Kokoda had to wear a heavy financial penalty for doing the right thing.

The following ‘Freedom of Information‘ request to the Australian Government cost us more than a $1000 which turned out to be the most expensive 7 sheets of paper we have ever purchased!

So much for transparency – and they wonder why nobody trusts them!!

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SACRIFICE MADE BY AUSTRALIAN SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN

Speech to the Parliament of New South Wales by The Hon Charlie Lynn MLC on 4 May 2006

      Debate resumed from 2 May 2006.

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN [4.32 p.m.]: The acknowledgment of traditional owners of the land seems to have been introduced around the time of the republican and reconciliation debates during the Keating Labor Government era. Left-wing academics, inner-city urban dwellers and doctors’ wives were among the comfortable middle-class voices calling for changes to our flag and our system of parliamentary democracy. They also wanted us to say sorry for historical wrongs over which we had no influence. As it turned out, the only thing that changed was the Government.

I would hope that these ideological warriors of the Left will come to understand that the wider Australian community will accept such changes to our systems, symbols and institutions only when they are treated as equals in the debate, not as a group of uneducated westies or rednecks. My view is that concentrating on so-called progressive issues for our indigenous people has done them more harm than good. The “feelgood” factor for the chattering classes in comfortable inner-city environments does not translate into worthwhile sustainable benefits for indigenous people in remote and isolated areas. It has taken the emergence of indigenous leaders such as Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine to get some balance back into the debate and to earn the respect of the wider community in the process.

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Much to Repent over the Kokoda Trail

While the arrival of half-a-dozen Australian Government Ministers in PNG during their annual ‘Repentance Day’ holiday is coincidental it does provide a timely opportunity to offer some repentance of our own for the past few decades of paternalism in our relationship with our closest neighbour, former territory, fellow Commonwealth Member and wartime ally.

The delegation is obviously an outcome of the recent visit to Australia by Prime Minister James Marape who was accorded VIP treatment by our PM, Scott Morrison. Indeed it was the highest profile visit by any PNG Prime Minister for at least three decades and there is no doubt the two leaders have developed a close friendship.

I would hope the Ministerial delegation will include a visit to Bomana War Cemetery to allow them to pay their respects to the thousands of young Australian and Papuan soldiers who gave their lives in defence of the freedom we enjoy in both countries today.

One cannot visit Bomana without feeling an intense sense of pride in the work the Office of Australian War Graves do in maintaining such a sacred site. It was therefore disappointing to see our Minister for Veterans Affairs was not part of the delegation in view of the fact that PNG is the custodian of land sacred to our shared wartime heritage.

Bomana is not only a sanctuary for reflection on past sacrifice it is also a gateway for relationship building as increasing numbers of Australians are seeking pilgrimages to battlefields in Kokoda, Buna, Gona, the Black Cat Track, Shaggy Ridge, Milne Bay, Lae and Rabaul. Over the past decade more than 50,000 Australians have trekked across the Kokoda Trail which has generated more than $150 million for tourism income.

Unfortunately the mood of the delegation will change if they are venture beyond Bomana.

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Why Adventure Kokoda?

TripAdvisor has judged Adventure Kokoda to be the best trekking company on the Kokoda Trail in 2019 – for the 5th consecutive year.

The 560 trekkers we have led across the trail this year has generated the following benefits for PNG:

  • K1 million for Air Niugini
  • K200,000 trek fees for the KTA
  • K290,000 for food purchases at Port Moresby supermarkets
  • K260,000 for accommodation at Sogeri
  • K100,000 for bus/truck transport
  • K450,000 for charter aircraft between Port Moresby and Kokoda
  • K2.56 million in wages for our PNG guides and carriers
  • K400,000 for campsite owners
  • K130,000 for local purchases along the trail
  • K260,000 worth of school and medical supplies donated by our trekkers
  • K60,000 worth of clothing and equipment donated to guides and carriers at the end of their trek

This equates to a total benefit of K5.35 million for PNG from Adventure Kokoda this year![i]. In 1991, when Charlie Lynn first trekked across the Kokoda Trail the combined income of all the subsistence villages was estimated to be around K60,000 – we have come a long way together.

In addition to this Network Kokoda, a Not-For-Profit company established by Adventure Kokoda, has:

  • Built a Koiari Women’s Learning Centre at Sogeri
  • Developed community market gardens at Sogeri and Iaowari High School and Sogeri National High School
  • Built a Community Centre at Abuari
  • Assisted in the building of a TB Isolation Ward at Popondetta Hospital
  • Engaged a full-time agricultural graduate to provide assistance to school and villagers on the Sogeri Plateau
  • Developed a Commercial Fish Farm at Iaowari High School
  • Donated 4000 library books to Port Moresby Grammar School

Major Charlie Lynn’s work in establishing the Kokoda trekking industry was recognised in 2015 when he was honoured with his induction as an Officer of the Logohu by the PNG Government in their New Years’ Honours List ‘for service to the bilateral relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia and especially in the development of the Kokoda Trail and its honoured place in the history of both nations’ over the past 25 years.


Matthew Billy evacuated from Hoi for an emergency operation in Port Moresby
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