Kokoda good for mind and body

Goma Baker, Sandra-Lee Spragg and Aileen Heard Photo by SOK Images. Photo by SOK Images
Goma Baker, Sandra-Lee Spragg and Aileen Heard Photo by SOK Images. Photo by SOK Images

Several Beaudesert locals undertook the gruelling Kokoda Legacy Challenge on Remembrance Day, 11 November.

Goma Baker and Aileen Heard completed the 20 kilometre trek, while Sandra-Lee Spragg completed the ten kilometre trek.

The women started to think about doing the Kokoda Legacy Challenge while they completed the Walk for Dementia earlier this year, where they walked five kilometres a day.

Goma said the Kokoda Legacy Challenge was more difficult but very rewarding.

“I noticed it was on when I was doing the Dementia walk and Sandra did this with us as well, but walking by herself,” said Goma.

“She and Aileen signed up for the ten kilometre walk but when we picked up our gear it seemed we would all be walking by ourselves.”

“Aileen decided to walk the 20 kilometre trek with me.”

“It is very good for mental health.  It is your mindset – don’t give up.”

“When we did the high hills I could feel the blood flow going to my brain.”

The hiking and trail running event took place on Australian Defence Force land at Kokoda Barracks, Canungra. 

This hallowed terrain holds deep historical significance, serving as the very training grounds where countless Diggers were trained in jungle warfare before embarking on their brave journey to New Guinea during WWII. 

Public access to Kokoda Barracks is typically prohibited as it serves as a base for army training.

The trail encompasses  steep inclines and confronting harsh declines, wading through rivers that echo the very challenges that Diggers once endured.

Participation in the event supported two charities committed to keeping the Spirit of Kokoda alive. 

The Kokoda Youth Foundation, through outdoor experiences and mentorship, empowers and guides young Australians, enabling them to reach their full potential. Likewise, Gold Coast Legacy stands as a pillar of strength, offering unwavering support to the families of those who selflessly gave their lives or faced physical and mental challenges while serving in the Australian forces.

The Kokoda Campaign is a poignant testament to the indomitable spirit and unwavering courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice displayed by those who fought for their country during this pivotal chapter in history. 

Goma said she found going down hills much harder than climbing up.

“My feet and toenails were so sore from going downhill.  Aileen and I went to work as usual the next few days and we were fine but very sore in the legs.  Very hard to sit down and I struggled to get back up!” 

Goma and Aileen, who both work at Whiddon Beaudesert, said the support of residents was important to them in undertaking the walk and achieving their goal of finishing the 20 kilometre trek.

“The hardest part of the walk was when I had 1.5 kilometres left to go. I was ready to give up, but my friend Donna called me and encouraged me to keep going,” said Goma.

“When I finished I called her crying and thanked her for keeping me going right until the end.”

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About Keer Moriarty 471 Articles
Small town newspaper Editor, journo, social media manager and tea lady.