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Kokoda Trek

Trekking Kokoda: Meet the group heading to Papua New Guinea

This week, a group of 13 Defence community members are making the trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG), to take on the historic Kokoda Trek with Invictus Australia and Peak Learning Adventures. The group will be in PNG from 3-11 July, 2024.

Trekking the 96 km Kokoda Track is a journey into the heart of Australian history. It offers a unique opportunity to comprehend the crucial role played by the Australian Defence Force during the Kokoda campaign. Walking the Kokoda Track provides a chance to comprehend these symbolic words fully and to take your reflections home with you.

This group is made up of veterans and family members, all with a unique motivation to be taking on this challenge. There are several members on the trek that are in the wounded, injured or ill veteran community and have been supported by our partners at the Invictus Games Foundation to travel to and Trek Kokoda.

While some of our participants are wounded, injured and ill veterans, others are family members from the Defence community or current serving personnel, however, all of them have a unique story to share. Get to know some of the group below


Jye Martyn, NSW

Jye is a former member of the Royal Australian Air Force. he served for 12 years before being medically discharged for a spinal injury. He now works at Invictus Australia as a Veteran Engagement Manager.

“I am trekking to pay my respects to the brave men that served in PNG during WW2. This has been a bucket list item since learning of Kokoda in school and I feel very fortunate to be going over with a group of former serving military members. This will be the hardest thing I have ever attempted and I am hoping to show that even with my spinal injury, my body is still very capable.”  

Craig Whitehorn, NSW

Craig Served as a Recovery Mechanic posted to 8 transport Squadron and 107 Field Workshop from 1991 – 2000.

“I am trekking to pay homage to my families military history, both my parents served, my brother served, I lost an Uncle in Vietnam, both my grandfathers served in WWII and great grandfathers served in WWI.”

Emma Kearton, SA

Emma is a former serving Army veteran. During her time in service, she served in the transport corps as a driver.

“I have chosen to partake in this Kokoda trek as it has been a dream of mine since I was young. There are many challenges about the trek that appeal to me, I like to push my limits and see how far I can go.” 

James Barker, SA

James served in the Army, working in the Australian Army Catering Corps. He was medically discharged from the Army after sustaining injuries from a vehicle accident. He competed with Team Australia in the Invictus Games Dusseldorf 2023.

James comes from a line of veterans, having 2 grandfathers who served in WWII, a wife and grandfather who served in the British Army and an Uncle who served in the Australian Army.

“This has always been a bucket list to participate in the Kokoda trek. I would like to inspire other people with physical injuries to never give up and give something a go

Dr Anna Lewis and Declan Lewis, NSW

Dr Anna Lewis is a current serving Air Force Physiotherapist with a career full of unique and amazing experiences. Highlights include posting to 1EHS R2, sports (Head Physio ADFRU-M, Adaptive Sports and Arafura Games), research studies (Adaptive Sports/Invictus Australia and HMAS Kuttabul Clinical Pilates), deployments on OPCOVID Assist and current posting in the Directorate of Air Force Specialist Health Reserves. 

I was not planning this at all until the opportunistic sighting on the Invictus Australia (IA) Facebook page and I was hooked. It will be an honour and a privilege to trek with the IA group led by Peak learning adventures, and most importantly of all, my son is joining me on this challenge. We are going to ‘stretch the rubber band’ together! 

Jay McTeare, NSW

Jay served 13 years in the Army in catering, travelling around Australia attached to different units. During service, Jay travelled to Iraq, East Timor and Malaysia.

“I am trekking because my Grandfather served in Papua New Guinea during WWII so it will be a honor to walk the track he fought on.”

Nichola Doxford, QLD

Nichola served in the Army for 22 years and discharged in March 2023.

“Kokoda has been something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and the opportunity to do it with other veterans came at a perfect time.” 

Annette Lambert, SA

Annette served in the Royal Australian Navy as a Nursing Officer 1995-2008. Her Grandfather was from a Royal Navy family, Portsmouth, England and joined the Australian Army when WWI began, serving in WWII also. Her other Grandfather served in WWI aswell.

“When I was medically discharged in 2008, with PTSD and numerous physical injuries, I felt my career and my life had been cut short, and it has taken until the last couple of  years to regain any confidence in my abilities.  When this opportunity came up, I knew I had to try and was extremely grateful to be given the chance.  Having now read so much about Kokoda’s history I can’t wait to get there and take it all in. I am so in awe of what the soldiers and locals went through, and I want to pay tribute to these brave people. I think all Australians should learn or re-learn that part of our history. I already feel stronger, not just physically, but mentally as well.  I hope I can continue this progress and show all the people who have supported me, that their efforts have not been in vain!  I know my friend and his family will be happy. I’m grateful to them all.”

Michael Kruger, NSW

Michael served in the Australian Army as an Infantryman for 28+ years from 1992 – 2020 deploying to East Timor, Solomon Is, Timor Leste and Sinai, and serving in 6 RAR, 2 RAR, 5 RAR, School of Infantry, NORFORCE, CTC – Jungle Training, and Sydney University Regiment. His Great Uncle served in WW1 with the 15th Bn AIF, and his Grandfather served on Kokoda and Bougainville.

“Walking the Kokoda Track would be more than a physical challenge; it would be a profoundly emotional journey, allowing me to trace the steps my grandfather took, to reflect on the immense hardships faced by those who fought there, and to pay my respects to the legacy of all who served during the Kokoda campaign. This trek would provide a tangible link to the past, offering me a unique opportunity to honour my grandfather’s memory in the most meaningful way possible, by experiencing firsthand the terrain he and his comrades endured under extraordinary circumstances. Furthermore, this trek presents a precious opportunity to reconnect and share this deeply personal journey with other veterans. Since transitioning from Defence in 2020, I’ve felt a disconnect from the veteran community. The Kokoda Trek, with its deep roots in the values of the Defence community, offers a unique platform for re-engaging and forging new bonds within this community. Being part of ‘Team Veteran’ on this trek would enable me to support and share with fellow service members, collectively honouring our shared heritage and reinforcing our connection to each other and to our past.”

Ben Homburg, former serving Army officer and Chris Kirk, who served in the British army for 17 years will also join the group in PNG. This group is so excited to begin this challenging Trek. All with their unique motivations, they will soon be bonded over a once in a lifetime experience. Keep up to date with the groups trek on our socials.