James Forman’s 2018 Journey on the Kokoda Trek


We talk to James about how he prepared for his Kokoda Challenge.

Each year Dee Why RSL sponsors two specially selected employees on an arduous 10 day, 146km trek across the original Kokoda Trail in Papua, New Guinea.

Organised by the RSL & Services Clubs Association, it gives employees the chance to experience and foster courage, mateship, endurance and leadership.

Through your support, your Club selected Gaming Attendant, James Forman and Receptionist, Tamara Thompson, to complete the trek earlier this year.

This month, we reflect on James Forman’s journey on the KOKODA trail and the impact it has had on him since.

What inspired you to apply for the KOKODA Trek?

I’ve always taken an interest in military history, so the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the men who served
our nation in its past conflicts was too good to pass up. I was also told by previous staff members who have completed the trail that it would be beneficial development for me, and it definitely was.

How did you prepare yourself mentally and physically for the trek?

Physically I prepared through, runs, weightlifting and healthy diet. Mentally, I thought that, considering what the ANZACs went through during the Kokoda campaign in WW2, my experience, whilst still difficult, would be less intense as I was not part of guerilla warfare throughout the trek. My only worry was the heat, fatigue, and avoiding injury.

What was the hardest part of the experience for you?

The most demanding part of the experience was a section of the track named Brigade Hill, which has a reputation for being the most difficult part overall. According to our guide, if one makes it to the top of Brigade Hill and across the ridge, the worst of the track is over.

The Hill starts with a dangerous river crossing that immediately jumps into a near vertical ascension that continues
for three hours during the hottest part of the day. I started the three hour climb dry, however by the end of it, I was drenched in my own sweat. This particular part was immensely challenging but I told myself that the only way I wasn’t going to get to the end of it would have to be through a serious injury. I made it!

How has the experience had an impact on you?

Its had a huge impact on me, it immediately inspired me to start working harder towards my life goals and has made many positive changes in personal aspects of my life.

What would you say to anyone thinking about taking part on a KOKODA trek.

Apply for selection next time the opportunity arises. I can honestly say it was a once in a life time experience that was worth it in every aspect.

If you could sum up the experience in one sentence, what would it be?

A rare opportunity to test your character and make improvements whilst discovering new things about yourself.