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What did I learn on the Kokoda Track?

I’ll admit to a little frustration with the Australian vernacular since I returned from a wonderful 9-day ordeal traversing the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guniea last week.  You see, people keep annoyingly asking me “How was the Track?”.

It’s actually a very reasonable question and my frustration is borne mostly of just not having the words to describe the location, the struggle, the journey and the value of it all.  It was truly a life-altering experience.

If you bump into me after reading this blog, a better enquiry would be “What did you learn?”

In a nutshell:

  • I learned of a remarkable segment within our national history.  And as our eloquent guide, the extraordinary Aiden Grimes, said “If you don’t know your history, how the fuck do you know where you’re going?”
  • I learned that learning to get across log bridges and down (oddly – down is much harder than up) steep, slippery mountains is hard.  Like, really hard.  Hard learnings are best done with support.  If not for my amazing PNG ‘legend’ Jacob, my learnings would have been less and my progress stunted by self-doubt and injury.  Thank you, Jacob, for being one of the best teachers, with the fewest words, that I’ve encountered.
  • I learned that physical exhaustion removes a barrier into our true selves.  Being tired, therefore, is a learning opportunity and not a learning impediment.  In these moments, self-discovery and vulnerability are maximised. Both are highly valuable for meaningful learning.
  • I learned the value of a tribe.  Doing the Kokoda Track with 11 other incredible and diverse people broadened and deepened my learning scope.  While we rush to online and more solitary learning platforms, we should never forget the immense power in learning collaboratively.

I also learned that there’s a special smell associated with trekking in 31 degree heat and high humidity in the same shirt for 9 days.

Perhaps a less useful learning, but a learning nonetheless!