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Year 8 students take on Kokoda Challenge

Year 8 Kokoda Challenge 22

On Monday 24 April, Year 8 students walked in the footsteps of ANZAC heroes, as Brisbane’s infamous Mt Cootha lookout transformed into the rugged terrain of Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda trail. It was along the Kokoda track, 75 years ago, that our diggers overcame overwhelming odds and atrocious conditions to take victory over the enemy. Outnumbered and outgunned, this was possible due to their trust and respect for each other, their ability to never give up and their determination to hang in there when all seemed lost.

The day begun at the foot of the mountain, where students were organised into platoons and sent off to navigate their way up 35-degree gradients of unforgiving rocky territory. Platoon 3, kept the momentum of their march yelling war cries up the mountain, and while doing this made them an easy target for the enemy, but their larrikinism captured the true ANZAC spirit. Bold, bloody and resolute, students reached the top of the summit after an hour, where Damon, the dynamic and passionate facilitator, spoke to the Year 8s about the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ and how they utilised teamwork to help transport our injured troops during WWII.

Having reached the halfway point, students stepped into the shoes of ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’, where they made stretchers out of bamboo poles and hessian potato sacks to transport their wounded (or lazy) soldiers. Year 8 Coordinator Ms Nelson, decided to exploit the Fuzzy Wuzzy’s and hitched a ride on a platoon’s stretcher, while Joey Winten kept his platoon in high spirits singing ‘Fuzzy wuzzy, fuzzy wuzzy, fuzzy wuzzy’ all the way to base camp.

After a quick recoup and refuel, students moved onto several team challenges which were designed to make them pull together to achieve success in problematic situations. One activity involved catapulting balls from giant sling shots into the arms of awaiting comrades. This ended up being a precarious activity since platoons were having to avoid the infamous channel nine Rooster who had made his way through no man’s land and into the firing line. By the end of the team challenges the Rooster was lucky to be alive, not because he’d evaded their grenades, but because he’d evaded their hunger. Despite grumbly tummies, the Year 8s still had to journey to their final post for lunch where they would finally face their formidable enemy, the Kookaburras.

After lunch rations were distributed, soldiers took responsibility of either chopping, cooking or protecting the barbeque lunch. While teachers were anxious about being food poisoned, students were anxious about an impeding ambush. It was evident that the enemy were upon them; they were high in the gum trees above, watching and waiting for their moment of attack. Notwithstanding strong fortifications, one platoon lost four burgers to vicious Kookaburra snipers. Luckily, despite the enemy assault all troops were victorious in being fed.

By the end of the day, the Year 8 students had experienced a shared sense of camaraderie and reliance on each other. They had demonstrated strength of character, trust, integrity, courage, endurance and mateship, all principles that take origin from our Australian soldiers who fought on the Kokoda track in Papua New Guinea 75 years ago.

Thank you the Form teachers and Mrs Middleton who trekked up the mountain alongside the Year 8s this year.

Melodie Nelson
Year 8 Coordinator