State Member for Ovens Valley and Shadow Minister for Veterans Tim McCurdy has returned from a gruelling eight-day trek of the Kokoda Track, describing it as the toughest experience of his life.
Mr McCurdy completed the 120km trail in honour of Australian veterans, with this year marking the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda conflict.
‘‘The experience was physically, mentally and emotionally absolutely gruelling,’’ Mr McCurdy said.
‘‘There was no easy sections on the track, it was steep up and steep down. The downhill sections were not a rest, they were difficult and slippery.
‘‘We were up each day at 4am and on the track by 5am with headlamps to light the way. By 8pm I was in bed, exhausted.’’
Along the way there were two days of continuous rain and two members of the group were airlifted out for medical reasons.
Mr McCurdy undertook the trek with daughter Danielle and fellow MPs Tim Bull and Gary Blackwood.
‘‘We went the same way as the Aussie diggers, walking from Owers Corner to Kokoda,’’ he said.
‘‘I wore my poppy every day and it was a reminder every step of the way of the sacrifices made by Australian troops.
‘‘Brigade Hill brought a tear to my eye; just to be there and to imagine the bravery of the Australians against overwhelming odds was so emotional.
‘‘The Isurava monument is a sight to behold that every keen Australian war historian should see.’’
Mr McCurdy said as Shadow Minister for Veterans he wanted to walk a mile in our diggers’ shoes.
‘‘I know the circumstances are different but to actually do the walk gave me a greater insight and greater respect to what they went through.’’
He encouraged others to go but warned it was very challenging.
‘‘You need to be very fit, manage steep hills and humid conditions and be mentally prepared for an exhausting, emotional experience.’’