Months of training, preparation and fundraising went into Dubbo MP Troy Grant’s bid to complete NSW Police Legacy’s 2018 Kokoda Trek.
But nothing could have prepared him for the wet and sticky conditions, and the “horrendous” emotional and physical challenge of hiking most of the treacherous 96 kilometres with a sprained ankle.
It rained throughout the 10-day trek, which culminated in Mr Grant laying a wreath on behalf of Dubbo and the NSW government at the Anzac Day dawn service at Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetary.
“We copped the worst of the conditions with rain and the muddiness of the track and navigating treacherous rivers because of the weather,” Mr Grant said.
“Lots of falling down because of the slipperiness of the track and that [getting back up with a 15 kilogram pack] was really exhausting.
“Just being constantly wet, I could smell my skin rotting. It was horrible.”
The sprain, as well as some orthopaedic damage, required strapping each morning, and medical treatment on the second last day.
“That put me at the back of the pack and turned an eight-hour trekking day into 12 or 13-hour days,” Mr Grant said.
“Personally, from a physical point of view I really struggled but it was a privilege to be there. Remarkable to grasp the conditions in which the diggers fought and incomprehensible how they fought a war there, just amazing efforts, so to walk in their footsteps was a privilege and Isurava was amazing.
“It was a hard slog, one that tested my endurance and emotional wellbeing and it’s something that I’m glad I did but probably wouldn’t do again.”
About 35 people made up the trekking group, a mix of former and serving police officers and legatees – the children of deceased NSW Police Force officers.
The younger legatees “were brilliant”, Mr Grant said, while the older participants “all had their own struggles”, including one man who “had a gastro complaint the whole trip”.
Just being constantly wet, I could smell my skin rotting. It was horrible.Troy Grant
Mr Grant raised $40,000 for NSW Police Legacy through the trek, funds that will pay for more legatees to take on the challenge next year.
He said it was an amazing experience “but you need to be up for it!”
“You get an appreciation of the war effort and that’s inspiring in a couple of locations but the majority of the trek is an endurance feat,” Mr Grant said.
“To see the soldiers’ foxholes … how close they were in proximity and how many lives were lost there, it really hit home the level of sacrifice.
“Still feeling very fatigued, but compared to what those diggers went through I’ve got little to complain about.”
Visit 2018kokodatrek.gofundraise.com.au for more information.