This month I decided to do some research into the Kokoda Track itself. I would have begun training but felt it was more important to first arm myself with knowledge because knowledge is power. And I like power. With the aid of the Internet, I started with geography and soon discovered a level of personal ignorance that was almost embarrassing (I'm not sure why I was so surprised - when I joined the RAAF straight from school, I thought Perth was somewhere in Queensland - which would no doubt have come as quite a surprise to most Western Australians. But Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen was the premier of Queensland at the time so perhaps I just saw him as an all-embracing kind of chap).
It turns out the Kokoda Track is in Papua New Guinea, and runs for about 100 kilometres through the Owen Stanley Ranges. It became part of Australian folklore when the Japanese decided to trek along it down to Port Moresby, and were prevented largely by a vastly out-numbered Australian force. Aided, of course, by the heroism of the native Papua New Guineans. While I already knew that Kokoda was a tale of extreme bravery, of comradeship, and of victory against the odds, the details themselves are well worth reading. So many of the men were barely more than teenagers, and the conditions so unbelievably harsh (a good site for an overview is http://www.anzacday.org.au/history/ww2/bfa/kokoda.html)
After a few hours reading all about the campaign, I went back to geography and found out that the Kokoda Track, which is a single-file trail in most parts, runs along some of the most rugged and isolated terrain in the world, reaching a height of 2,250 metres and combining hot, humid days with intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and endemic tropical diseases such as malaria. Not to mention those leeches. I think I need a drink.