Australians undertaking the Kokoda Track this ANZAC Day will be doing so partly for adventure, partly to connect with history. However, they’ll also have the chance to visualise its present, and future, in a whole new light.
No Roads Expeditions, a Melbourne travel company, announced that it has brought 250 solar-powered LED lights to the village of Kagi, which lies along the Papua New Guinea track.
The company agreed to provide the lights in coordination with the Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), whose Light Up the Track initiative has provided over 3,000 solar lights to 30 PNG villages.
“We have a close relationship with Kagi and it was only natural that we helped them out with the 250 lights the KTF asked us for,” said Peter Miller, No Roads’ managing director.
The past decade has seen a renewed interest in the gruelling 96-kilometre track, which can only be traversed by foot. This year, thousands of Australians will make the pilgrimage to retrace the steps of their forbears, who engaged in intense combat with Japanese forces in the World War II campaign.
The trek also offers an opportunity to interact with the locals. No Roads, with seven years of tour experience in Kokoda, contracts most of its porters from Kagi, a community of thatched huts with no access to electricity.
The solar lights charge during the day and are ready for use after dusk. “This will help the children of Kagi to do their homework,” explained Miller. “It will also help people prepare food at night without the need of lighting a fire in their hut, thus reducing the chance of fire.”
The lights can also be clicked together to increase light capacity for larger spaces, such as community halls and schools.
KTF was founded in 2003. The Sydney-based NGO promotes community development and sustainable tourism throughout the Kokoda catchment area.
April-through-October is the dry season in PNG and is considered the best time of the year for travel. 2012 marks the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda Track military campaign.
Image by Arthur Chapman