The Student Leadership Programme

Walking the Kokoda Track

In memory of those who served

A key aspect of the Castle Hill Leadership Programme will involve the young leaders following in the footsteps of the young men who fought and died walking the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

Kokoda was arguably Australia?s most significant campaign of the Second World War and represents the first time in the nation?s history that our security was directly threatened.

The young Australians who fought during the Kokoda campaign had an average age of between 18 and 19, many of whom now lie buried at the Bomana War Cemetery outside Port Moresby.

The Kokoda Track is a single-file foot thoroughfare that runs 96 kilometres (60 mi) overland ? 60 kilometres (37 mi) in a straight line ? through the Owen Stanley Range in Papua New Guinea. The track is the most famous in Papua New Guinea and is known for being the location of the World War II battle between Japanese and Australian forces in 1942.

The track starts, or ends, at Owers Corner in Central Province, 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of Port Moresby, and then crosses rugged and isolated terrain, which is only passable on foot, to the village of Kokoda in Oro Province. It reaches a height of 2,190 metres (7,185 ft) as it passes around the peak of Mount Bellamy.

The Kokoda campaign was part of the Pacific War of World War II. The campaign consisted of a series of battles fought between July and November 1942 between Japanese and Allied?primarily Australian?forces in what was then the Australian territory of Papua.

Following a landing near Gona, on the north coast of New Guinea, on the night of 21/22 July, Japanese forces attempted to advance south overland through the mountains of the Owen Stanley Range to seize Port Moresby as part of a strategy of isolating Australia from the United States. Initially only limited Australian forces were available to oppose them, and after making rapid progress the Japanese South Seas Force under Major General Tomitaro Horii clashed with under strength Australian forces from the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the Australian 39th Battalion on 23 July at Awala, forcing them back to Kokoda. Following a confused night battle on 28/29 July, the Australians were again forced to withdraw.

Lt Col Honner DSO MC, who commanded the gallant 39th battalion in the campaign wrote that those young Australians who fought at Kokoda ‘have joined the immortals’ and of those who did not survive he wrote “wherever their bones may lie, the courage of heroes is consecrated in the hearts and engraved in the history of the free.”

The young leaders will also participate in an agricultural service project at Kokoda village where members of the local community have limited access to fresh fruit and vegetables. By participating in the established agricultural development project our young leaders will work closely with the local community on a range of agricultural projects including working the gardens at the school which feeds boarding students, providing instruction on how to market vegetables as well as teaching members of the local community the benefits of a career in agriculture.

A welcome from the first Patron

It is an absolute honour to be the first Patron of the Leadership Programme.

The Leadership Programme will foster in our future leaders values and virtues which will set some of our young Australians in good stead as they transition into adult life.

The Programme will provide a unique opportunity to engage with some of our nation?s finest leaders. We can always learn from others and in fact we can borrow from their repertoire of values and start to live them in our own lives.

The Leadership Programme also has a special focus on service which is highly important as it is what makes us actually appreciate the inherent value of human beings.

I say to those students involved in this programme ? it?s okay to think laterally, to think big, to be confident and to have a go. By putting yourself out, by serving others as you will over the course of this Programme, you will become a better person, a role model and a leader in our community. Be wise about your final year of school and understand that things that you do now may be the hallmark of your life from this point on.

I wish you all the best on your journey over the next year and look forward to meeting and addressing each of you at the inaugural dinner.