Photos from Project's Booyah's journey along the Kokoda Trail.
Photos from Project's Booyah's journey along the Kokoda Trail. Contributed

Project Booyah's experience of a 'lifetime' on Kokoda Trail

NO SOCIAL media, no contact with home and 10 hours of walking difficult terrain each day.

What sounds like torture to some, not only developed friendships to last a lifetime among Rockhampton's Project Booyah, but provided them with valuable life lessons.

It was a journey that tested both physical and mental limits for 10 of Booyah's youth and five staff members.

Project Booyah participants made the journey to Papua New Guinea, to tackle the 96km track over nine days from June 19 to June 28.

Liam King, 18, said despite falling sick half-way through and struggling with motivation, there was no option but to "keep pushing through”.

"I learnt a lot of life lessons there, being exposed to different people and different places,” he said.

"I pushed myself and learnt my limits and learnt they're a lot further than what I thought they were.

"It was one of the hardest things I've had to do.

"I will always remember it.”

Shai Hayden, 16, said there were days where his body was tired and he'd wake up exhausted.

But at the end of the day, he'd experience a jolt of enthusiasm and even jog part of the track.

"This was a once in a lifetime thing,” he said,

"We helped get each other through the track.

"Most of us made it because of each other.”

Senior Constable and project co-ordinator Joe Ramsay also made the journey.

"It was an unbelievable experience,” he said.

"You can't put a price on what they had to go through and what they achieved and how they come out of it better.

"It was important for them to see how far they can push themselves, how far they could take themselves and what they were going to get out of it at the end.

"I think it surprised them and they've got a better knowledge of themselves, how hard they can go... and that much more physically and emotionally.”

Despite tackling Mt Archer and dedicating themselves to walking and gym work before the trip, nothing could prepare them for what they encountered.

Snr Const Ramsay said the group had their fair share of good and bad days.

"It was a lot harder than what I thought,” he said.

"Some bad days, the stress of the situation got to people and it did go bad, but at the end of the day we all got through it and remained friends.

"I wore a pedometer each day and we walked an average of 37,000 steps a day.

"But when you're sliding backwards and walking up steep hills, it's probably about 12-15,000 a day.

"There were days when I wanted to give up and throw it all in but I was able to push myself further.”

The trip was made possible through funding from different organisations, including the major benefactor, CQUniversity.

Snr Const Ramsay said there are plans to push for another Kokoda trip for Project Booyah's next group of youths in two years' time.

"Kokoda is all about mateship, camaraderie and digging deep for each other,” he said.

"What those diggers went through many, many years ago rallied us together and brought us together stronger.

"Having the porters there, the PNG guys, singing for you, carrying bags, setting up tents made it easier and so much more rewarding.

"Without them it wouldn't have been possible.”



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