Kokoda Trail – ‘Following in the Footsteps of Heroes’

Kokoda Trail Soldiers

Kokoda Trail Soldiers

One of the bloodiest campaigns of World War II, which has forever sealed the relationship between Australia and Papua New Guinea, began over 70 years ago.

It was on July 21, 1942, that Japanese troops landed on the northern coast of then New Guinea and unexpectedly began to march over the Owen Stanley Ranges with the intent of capturing Port Moresby.

Had they succeeded, the mainland of Australia would have come under dire threat.

More Australians died in the seven months of fighting in Papua, and the Japanese came closer to Australia than in any other campaign.

Many of those young Australians, whose average age was between 18 and 19, now lie buried at the Bomana War Cemetery outside Port Moresby.

Conditions were almost indescribable.

Painting: Stretcher bearers - Owen Stanley, William Dargie, 1947

Stretcher bearers in the Owen Stanleys, William Dargie, 1947. [Oil on canvas 143.2 x 234.4cm AWM ART26653] The evacuation of the wounded was a serious problem. The native bearers carried the stretchers, sometimes under fire, back to the ADS [Advanced Dressing Station]. The Papuans constructed the stretchers: blankets slung between two poles with spreaders at each end. Eight natives were allotted to each stretcher and they stayed with the same patient until they reached their destination. [Papua Campaigns, Report dealing with Medical organisation, 1942. AWM54 481/2/48]

Much of the track was through dense rain forest, which enclosed the narrow passage between walls of thick bush.

It rained most of the time, and at higher levels, the terrain became moss and stunted trees, were often covered in mist.

Worn down and weary from hunger, malaria and dysentery, the men endured some of the most difficult terrains in the world.

But the men kept fighting, making the enemy pay dearly for every bit of ground – buying time for those being prepared to come up from Port Moresby to relieve them.

The force, being desperately tired but determined, kept themselves between the Japanese Major General Horri’s South Sea Force and Port Moresby – defending, retreating and then counter – attacking in a masterly display of strategic defence.

We remember The Battle of Kokoda as one of the most heroic defensive actions in Australian military history.

Why conquer the Character Builders’ Kokoda Challenge?

School students watching Kokoda sling shot activity demonstration

Character Builders – Kokoda Sling-Shot activity

‘Hearing both sides of the story’

A Character Builders’ Kokoda Challenge draws on the past accounts from all sides of the campaign including the Japanese, Australians’ and Papuan soldiers.

These stories help students to understand the importance of putting things into perspective.


  • Amazing outdoor experience for all ages (including Staff)
  • Challenges students to respect diversity and difference in others
  • Culturally and historically important for every student
  • Inspires young minds to look for perspective
  • Demands commitment and a high level of teamwork from students
  • Empowers students to strive for leadership
  • Emphasises the message of “Lest We Forget”

Your students and staff will:

  • carry each other (mountain assault and stretchers)
  • trust each other (team games and base camp duties)
  • share with each other (food on, BBQ cooking and reflection)
  • appreciate the environment


Students and staff walk away from this day having been given the opportunity to stop, reflect on the past, act in the present and plan a more open-minded approach to take back to school and implement into their lives.

* Contact Character Builders to book your Kokoda Challenge

Phone: 1300 205 101  Email: info@characterbuilders.com.au
Web: www.characterbuilders.com.au 

Character Builders Blazing Trails into 2017

Despite temperatures reaching a scorching 37 degrees, we’ve had a fantastic turn-out for the year. Character Builders staff have enjoyed providing events jam-packed with fun, laughter and positivity.

Over the last few weeks we have had the pleasure of working with staff and students from the following schools:

As always, it’s been a pleasure to give students a chance to bond, share stories and enjoy time away from the rigours of the classroom.

We have had an awesome start to 2017 and are looking forward to spending more time with these wonderful groups in the future.

Spring is in the air!

The Character Builders team have been very busy with some wonderful school groups out on camp over the last few weeks.

We have been leading fishing and cooking activity on Straddie, getting stuck into beach Olympics at Alexandra Headlands, trekking in all weathers on Mt Tamborine and taking time to get to know each other’s stories around the campfire in the evening. It is a privilege to facilitate these special events in the lives of young students.

Character Builders believe in building fantastic team spirit that students take with them back into their school and home lives. Working together in teams to take on physical and mental challenges is a sure way to help young people access strengths they did not know they had and to encourage them to step-up and help others. It is a great pleasure to see students grow in understanding of themselves and their peers.

What is your organisation doing to support the growth of great team spirit?

Ask us what we can do to help!

Building Better Communities


How do we build better communities with mindful, engaged participants?

At Character Builders we believe the opportunities are endless!

In our work, we see the capacity young people have to grow in self-knowledge and to connect more deeply with those around them. Knowing oneself and understanding others is key to breaking down the personal inhibitions and social behaviours that keep people locked in negative patterns. Better, healthier, more engaged communities must have mindful participants and what better way to begin than with our young people?

Over the course of the last  10 years the Character Builders team has had the privilege of working within school incursions and with young people on external programs to help support individual growth and social cohesion. The cornerstone of this work involves a technique we call ‘The Check-In’. By guiding people through the process of checking in with themselves, we make possible a pause in the internal chatter of the mind. This is an invaluable experience for young people many of whom are growing up with immersion in social media.

This pause – even by itself – allows one to become more ‘present’. It facilitates a greater potential for understanding oneself. But we don’t stop there! To support young people in building better understanding of, and therefore better relationships with others, we make possible a direct engagement with the lives of others through a powerful method we call ‘Your Story’. More about that next time! In the meantime be well