In five days time, Springwood’s Debbie Robinson, 48, will find herself on the Kokoda Track — an arduous single-file foot thoroughfare that runs 96 kilometres overland through the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea.
She will take 10 days to complete the event, passing through rugged mountain ranges in the jungle and walking in the footsteps of courageous Australian men and women who tried to stem the Japanese advance.
Nine women will keep her company on the trail, including her touch footy buddy Leanne Adam, also 48, from Mount Riverview, as part of the first ‘PINK’ Kokoda Trek.
“Im a bit nervy about it,” Ms Robinson said. “I’ve completed two marathons so the physical side doesn’t really worry me, more the creepy crawlies,” she said.
Ms Adam, who has been training by completing up to 30kms bushwalks weekly for months around the Mountains, was also worried about the “unknown” and the “weather”.
PINK Kokoda Trek organiser Jane Prior said the event was about “empowering women” but also about raising awareness and money for Stanley’s Orphanage in the village of Efogi and McGrath Foundation.
“The Kokoda track journey represents sacrifice, courage, endurance, and mateship in each and every participant, reinforced with an emotional and inspiring visit to Bomana Cemetery at the completion of the trek,” she said.
Ms Robinson, a teacher, said she was looking forward to the challenge, the biggest she has encountered. She is a long distance runner and had planned to run the six foot track this year until that event was cancelled due to bad weather.
Most of the other women have been on bushwalks together to prepare for the event, she said.
Ms Prior, an Australian child protection officer, said the women planned to visit the “desperate and vulnerable” children at the Efogi orphanage and raise money to provide basic food and medical supplies.
“This orphanage is supported only by the local village and of Aidan Grimes of ‘Our Spirit’. We want to support Stanley’s Orphanage and the 17 children for the next 12 months, to cloth them, educate them and provide basic life needs such as food and medical supplies. The cost per child is $150 Australian dollars so our trek needs to raise a total of $2550 Australia dollars. This will make a real and sustainable difference and will empower the desperate and vulnerable children to live with dignity and develop self-sufficiency and independence.”
The women will stay at the orphanage half way through their trek and “help build a special education centre, whilst also caring, teaching and nurturing the children” during their visit. The trekkers and porters will carry clothes and educational supplies in their backpacks for the children who range in age from four to 14.
“The 10 ladies involved in this trek are going to follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before, to raise money and awareness for breast cancer and the McGrath foundation and to give back to the descendants of the ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ and educate and provide the children of this third world country with basic human rights.
“We must protect, educate and nurture all children world-wide and give them the sense hope, dignity and to support them to reach their potential,” Ms Prior said.
Ms Adam said they were keen to help a good cause and she had already raised $1000 through friends and family. To donate to the trek send cheques to Our Spirit PTY LTD, c/ Jane Prior, 66 Playford Rd, PadstowHeights NSW 2211.