About Us

Trekking party taking a break at Con's Rock

Kokoda Track Experience – Early Days

When Vietnam Veteran Merv Hains first walked the Kokoda Track in September 2005, it was the beginning of the Kokoda Track Experience.  Merv has since completed 20 trips over the Track and returns regularly to walk alongside trekkers young and old.

The Kokoda Track, linking the Southern and Northern coast of Papua New Guinea, is a challenge to be enjoyed by the fit bushwalker. The Track, 96 km in length, passes through the rugged country of old tropical rainforests, the rarified climbs of the mountain ranges, the secluded jungle camps and the local villages in some of the remotest regions of PNG. The unspoiled villages along the route of the Kokoda Track are invariably welcoming, and the Koiari and Orokaiva people will greet you with smiles and tempt you with seasonal fruit and vegetables.

Merv’s second trip over the Kokoda Track took place during September 2006 – he escorted four Army Cadets from Cairns along the Track. Further three trips followed in 2007, with a group of Air Force Cadets completing the Track – one group spending Anzac Day at Isurava. Merv will tell you that age is not a barrier for would-be walkers. During his first trek in 2005, one of his walking companions was a 74-year-old grandmother from Australia. In 2014 a Korean veteran completed the Track. He turned 80 on the Track.

For most, the Kokoda Track is a fitting reminder of the Australian Army’s heroic battles, fought in 1942, to defend Port Moresby at extraordinary odds from the advancing forces of the Japanese. These historic encounters on the Owen Stanley Ranges ensure that the Kokoda Track remains a classic memorial.

Merv’s respect for the wartime heroes of the Kokoda Track and his admiration for the local villagers grew with each trip, and Kokoda Track Experience was born. He believes that the local villagers should benefit tangibly from the visitors who walked the Track, and has established an organisation to fund and implement community projects in the villages along the Track. Today, Merv and his team of experienced Trek Leaders and Guides help visitors of all ages appreciate the significance of the Kokoda Campaign and the part it played in Australia’s history.