2017 Shaggy Ridge & Finschafen

The Adventure

The Shaggy Ridge theatre of war in PNG, along with the allied landing at Finschafen is the second part of the Kokoda campaign. It strikes a responsive chord with many Australians, since it is recognised and appreciated that many men fought a bitter conflict there during WWII. If you have already experienced the history and challenge of the Kokoda campaign this adventure is a must for you. It is not an easy trek and requires a good level of fitness to accomplish but with the correct preparation, YOU CAN!

Shaggy Ridge still bears its battle scars in the shape of scattered ammunition, guns, helmets and stirring campfire stories.  For you, the track is firstly an opportunity to pay tribute to the soldiers who died there and to celebrate the renowned Aussie spirit of the Diggers. Shaggy Ridge is a spine that lays across the Finisterre Range above the Ramu Valley in PNG. As you climb its steep contours you instantly become highly appreciative of the endurance our Diggers displayed in 1942–44.This little known story is about two nations that fought along these razorbacks in a scramble for its valued positions. The Japanese army in their desperation, fought tenaciously to try and protect its retreat to Madang on the coast. Many historians acknowledge this campaign as one of the finest feats of arms in the history of the Australian Army. (These treks are led by well recognised War Historians on the Track).

Secondly, and just as importantly, the track is about personal challenge. It is not an easy walk. There are steep rugged mountains, treacherous ridges, jungle terrain, unforgiving rivers, rainforests with giant trees that will tower over you and look down, mocking you, at every opportunity. Conquer it, though, and you will know what a sense of accomplishment really is.

Our Spirit's adventure walks are the ultimate trekking experience. Discover yourself through the history of our diggers on this physical and emotional journey.  

Guided by experienced Australian leaders with comprehensive local knowledge and customs and an unwavering passion for Shaggy Ridge and Finschafen history, hidden battle sites, treasures and most importantly its legacy. Our clients are given the opportunity to experience the highs and lows of the treacherous Shaggy Ridge and Finschafen with a sense of courage, endurance and mateship without the ultimate sacrifice that our digger's made before us.

Participants as young as 14 years and as old as 81 years have successfully completed the PNG adventures with Our Spirit. We strongly believe, pre-trek preparation is the key to our success. In fact, Our Spirit's safety and success record over the past 20 years is unrivalled by any other PNG trek operator. Our passion for the history is second to none as we are able to personalise your experience by including detailed information for relatives of the diggers who fought in Papua New Guinea or elsewhere in the "Pacific campaigns".

Our adventure package includes a pre-trek training program, airfares, accommodation, trekking fees and much more. Please refer to each of the tabs for full details on our inclusions, exclusions and pricing for this adventure or contact us to discuss your specific requirements.

 

Adventure Package Inclusions

 Our comprehensive adventure package includes:

  • Limited group size
  • 3 Month training and preparation program (refer to tab for details)
  • International Airfares and accommodation (refer to tab for details)
  • Australian leadership (refer to Leaders & Guides tab for details)
    • Pre-trek briefing at the hotel followed by daily briefings on the track
  • Vehicle/Boat transfers to/from
    • The start/finish of Shaggy Ridge, Dumpu and Finschafen
    • Hotel to/from Lae Cemetery to pay our respects to those who fought for the freedoms we enjoy today
  • Licence fees and trekking permits
  • Village Fees
  • Adventure accommodation - guesthouses/tents (twin share)
    • New sleeping bag and mat (for you to keep or donate to your legends on completion)
  • Group expedition equipment including:
    • Tents; cooking equipment; ropes; safety equipment; communication equipment (including satellite phone and Epirb); etc
  • eXtreme Cuisine (TM) nutritionally balanced, energy appropriate trekking meals and snacks
    • Our Spirit provides all trek meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner whilst on the track. Breakfast and evening meals are supplemented with local fresh vegetables and fruit, when available. We also cater for special dietary requirements at no extra cost.

      Please contact us if you would like specific information about our trek menus
  • Certificate of completion
  • Subject to accessibility, GPS Spot tracking updates which enables family and friends to follow your journey. 

 

Airfares & Accommodation

Our adventure package includes:

  • International economy class airfares to Port Moresby from Brisbane or Sydney (when available with Air Niugini)
  • Pre-paid departure taxes from Australia and PNG
  • Airport/accommodation transfers in PNG
  • Package travel insurance (individual coverage subject to approval)
  • Twin share accommodation in Lae
  • Return PNG domestic flight from Port Moresby to Lae

 

Adventure Package Exclusions

The following personal items and expenses are not included in this adventure package. 

  • Travel Expenses:
    • Australian domestic airfares and accommodation (if required - refer to inclusions for details)
    • Passport and PNG visa
    • Personal expenses in Lae (including meals on first and last day of the trip)
    • Airline charges for excess baggage (limit of 17kg personal luggage allowed)
  • Trekking Equipment:
    • Backpack
    • Waterpack/bladder
    • Head torch
    • Personal items:
      • trekking boots and premium trekking socks
      • appropriate clothing, footwear and hat
      • eating utensils (bowl, cup, knife, fork, spoon)
      • toiletries and towel
      • Basic personal first-aid kit, including insect repellent and pharmaceutical items

Note: a comprehensive equipment checklist is provided to participants, upon receipt of the deposit and prior to commencing the training program. 

  • Medical Expenses:
    • Pre trek preparation and associated medical costs (including, but not limited to obtaining medical clearance, required prior to commencing the training program)
    • Malarial medication and any prescription medications recommended by your doctor
  • Other Expenses:
    We recommend trekkers take approximately $150-$200AUD to exchange on arrival in PNG for incidentals which are not included in the package. For example:
    • Subject to availability, additional fresh fruit and drinks can be purchased from local villagers along the track, if desired
    • Handmade crafts and souvenirs can also be purchased from numerous villages along the track

 

Pricing

Our standard adventure package is $4600, please refer to Adventure Package Inclusions and Exclusions tabs for full details on what is and isn't included. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our budget, which covers exclusions and personal items for this adventure. Large group discounts and exclusive charters are also available on request.

The following optional extras are also available at the time of booking or can be added up to 2 weeks prior to departure:

  • Personal Porterage Service:

    To maximise your trekking enjoyment, hire the services of one of our PNG local legends who will carry either your own backpack - $550 or with one of our backpacks - $580 (limited to 16kg) along the track. If you choose either of these options, you will still be required to carry a smaller day pack (up to 6kg) with essential personal requirements.  

    Note: Unlike some trek operators, our porterage fees include all trekking meals and travel costs for the PNG local providing this service to ensure the income goes back to the village of origin and isn't wasted in Lae.
  • Singles Supplement:

    Our singles supplement is available for clients who want a hotel room to themselves on the first and last night of the trip. Additionally, they will be given their own tent to use for the duration of the trek. A surcharge of $295* is applied at the time of booking, if this option is selected.

* Subject to change in exchange rates between Australia and PNG.

 

Leaders & Guides

Our Spirit have the most experienced Australian Trek Leaders and qualified medics on our PNG adventures. They ensure participant safety and deliver an experiential journey based on mateship, courage, endurance and sacrifice by:

  • Providing individual motivation and encouragement (including pre-trek training advice)
  • Creating opportunities for team cohesion
  • Presenting the most passionate and comprehensive historical briefings along Shaggy Ridge and Finschafen (supported by various battalions from the Australian Military campaign).
  • Guiding participants to significant battle sites on and off Shaggy Ridge and Finschafen
  • Informing participants of cultural etiquette and educate participants on basic Motu (local Papuan language)
  • Arranging ceremonial welcomes into villages
  • Hosting a tour of the Lae Cemetery
  • Recognising and rewarding individual achievements on completion (including certificate of completion)

Our PNG Support Crew are Local Legends are an essential part of our team and include: 

  • Group Guides - provide essential local knowledge and safe passage across Shaggy Ridge
  • General Crew - carry our food supplies and the group expedition equipment
  • Group Cook - prepares all trek meals and assists with general crew duties

Important: Unlike other trek operators, Our Spirit PNG support crew ratio is 1 local legend for every 2 trekkers, which enables us to ensure your safe direction and provide you with the best cultural experience. Additionally, our package fees include all meals and airfares (to/from village of origin) for our local guides and support crew. 

 

History

Shaggy Ridge is a six-and-a-half kilometre long razor-backed ridge that is the highest feature in the Finisterre Mountains in north-eastern New Guinea. The ridge rises between the valleys of the Mene and Faria Rivers and ends at Kankiryo Saddle - a bridge of land separating the Faria Valley from the Mindjim River Valley. In 1943 Shaggy Ridge was the site of the main Japanese defensive position blocking access from the Ramu Valley to the track and road network that joined it with the north coast. Operations by the 7th Australian Division in September and October 1943 had caused the Japanese to withdraw from the Ramu Valley and the lower features of the Finsterres and consolidate their defences around Shaggy Ridge. The ridge was named after Captain Robert "Shaggy Bob" Clampett of the 2/27th Battalion whose company was the first to reconnoitre its approaches.



Initially, orders from II Australian Corps for 7th Division to limit its operations to a scale that could be maintained by the limited supplies available prevented action being taken to capture Shaggy Ridge, but by late December sufficient supplies were available to conduct a limited operation to secure a foothold on the southern end of the ridge around a knoll called the Pimple. B Company of the 2/16th Battalion attacked just after 9am, following an intensive aerial and artillery bombardment of the Japanese positions. Clambering up the precipitous slopes, still supported by artillery fire, the Australians quickly captured the Pimple and pushed on for another 100 metres to capture the next knoll along the ridge. B Company was subsequently relieved by D Company, which renewed the attack the next day and captured the next two knolls along the ridge, the last being named McCaughey's Knoll after the commander of the leading platoon. The Japanese counter-attacked that afternoon but were beaten off and thereafter were content to shell the Australian's newly-won position with a mountain gun.

The next major assault along Shaggy Ridge - codenamed Operation Cutthroat - would be launched by the 18th Brigade with the aim of capturing the entire feature, including Kankiryo Saddle. The plan involved the brigade's three battalions converging on the saddle from three different directions. The 2/12th would advance from Canning's Saddle, east of Shaggy Ridge, and attack Kankiryo Saddle via two well-defended knolls on the northern end of Shaggy Ridge known as Prothero 1 and 2; the 2/9th would attack northwards along Shaggy Ridge itself; and the 2/10th would advance along Faria Ridge, which lay to the east of Shaggy Ridge and joined it at Kankiryo Saddle. All three battalions would be supported by artillery and Allied aircraft.

The 2/10th and 2/12th Battalions commenced their approach marches on 19 January; the 2/12th in particular had a great deal of precipitous country to traverse and was not scheduled to attack for another two days. On the 20th the 2/10th attacked Japanese positions on Cam's Saddle in order to fight their way onto Faria Ridge but were held up by stubborn Japanese resistance. The operation began in earnest the next morning with the 2/12th clambering up the steep slopes below Prothero 1 and A Company of the 2/9th doing the same on the eastern side of Green Snipe's Pimple, the highest point on both McCaughey's Knoll and Shaggy Ridge. The unexpected direction of these attacks, up slopes the Japanese obviously regarded as almost impassable, allowed the Australians to quickly establish a foothold on both features and they were secured by the end of the day. The new occupants, however, had to withstand several counter-attacks and persistent and accurate artillery bombardment. The 2/10th's own artillery support had helped it to force its way onto Faria Ridge earlier in the day and by nightfall it had advanced to within a kilometre-and-a-half of Kankiryo Saddle. 22 January resulted in another day of hard fighting. The 2/12th Battalion pushed south along Shaggy Ridge to capture Prothero 2 while the 2/9th pushed north to take the rest of MacCaughey's Knoll. As the two battalions readied themselves to meet the inevitable night time counter-attacks, less than a kilometre separated them. Next morning patrols encountered little opposition and by midday the 2/12th and 2/9th had linked up; all of Shaggy Ridge was in Australian hands. The 2/10th had attacked both north and south along Faria Ridge on 22 January and continued to do so on the 23rd. In the north it was held by another strong Japanese position that was not occupied until late on the afternoon of 24 January.

By this time, the remaining Japanese stronghold in the area was atop a knoll north-east of Kankiryo Saddle known as Crater Hill. It was the former Japanese Regimental Headquarters and the defences were well-sited and constructed. It was decided that rather than attack this position the 18th Brigade would contain it with patrols and then pound it with bombs and artillery to inflict sufficient casualties so that a final assault could be conducted at minimal cost. This siege lasted until 1 February when a company from each of the 2/9th and 2/10th Battalions advanced up Crater Hill to find it devastated and unoccupied.

The capture of Shaggy Ridge cost the 18th Brigade 46 killed and 147 wounded and inflicted over 500 casualties on the Japanese, including 244 confirmed deaths. It cleared the way for an advance across the Finsterres to the northern New Guinea coast to link up with the Australian forces advancing from the east and thus complete the capture of the Huon Peninsula.

 

Itinerary

The following itinerary is recommended as a guide only. Track and weather conditions will inevitably determine the final journey of each trek. To maintain our unblemished safety record, all trekking is done during daylight hours only.  Trekking at night on cliff faces and across raging rivers increases the risk of injury and should only be attempted by experienced trekkers when absolutely necessary.  As many of our Aussie Diggers will attest, the journey across Shaggy Ridge and Finschafen is one of respect to those who endured unthinkable conditions during the war in 1942-44.

Our sample itinerary is available for you to download here.

 

Training & Preparation

Our Spirit have the best safety and success record of any operator on the PNG tracks. We attribute much of our unrivalled track record to our pre-trek training and preparation program, which includes:

  • Trek specific exercise program and nutrition advice - designed and monitored by our team of qualified exercise physiologists
  • Personal equipment and training advice
    • Quality trekking equipment available from our online shop (free delivery with orders over $100)
  • Recommended training buskwalks throughout Australia
  • Clear instructions, travel advice, supporting documentation and timely communication leading up to the event

 

Photos

 

Muskari Village

 

Considerations

Our Spirit holds current public liability insurance and maintains comprehensive risk management procedures for all our adventures as part of our standard business practice. Our experience, safety and success record with our PNG adventures is unsurpassed by any other trek operator, however there are still some things which you should take into consideration prior to booking.

  • It is recommended that each person joining the party be physically prepared by the time of departure. An exercise program, including training walks and nutritional advice are included in the program.
  • There are several sessions within the program that require training with full packs, (that is the backpack and all equipment you intend to use on the trek). By wearing or breaking in your hiking boots (aided by our specifically designed premium trekking socks), you will minimise the risk of blisters and unnecessary sweat problems if they can be addressed prior to commencing the trek. 

 

Booking Information

We recommend that you make your booking for this adventure at least 6 months prior to the departure date to ensure you have adequate time for the physical preparation that is required. Bookings generally close 3 month prior to departure when international flights and accommodation are finalised.

During the booking process, you will be required to submit your contact details as well as personal information about your health, any conditions or prescribed medications you take; your current fitness levels (including your height, weight, activity) and your emergency contact person's details.

Additionally, you will be required to check all items on the terms and conditions section of the booking form. If you are under 18 years of age, you will also be required to enter the details of a consenting adult who will receive a copy of the form.

A non-refundable deposit of $500 is required to secure your booking with the final balance due 30 days prior to departure.

Upon receipt of your deposit, we will send you a series of emails, which contain instructions and important information that you will need to prepare for this adventure. Alternatively, please let us know if you prefer to receive the preparatory documents on a USB stick and we will post them to you.

IMPORTANT: Exclusive group bookings and group discounts are available by negotiation. Please contact us to discuss your specific requirements.

 

More Information

CONTACT US NOW if you would like more information about this adventure.

  • Invite one of our highly qualified Trek Leaders to deliver a comprehensive Track History presentation to your group
  • Discuss your individual or group requirements
  • Have your adventure specific questions answered by one of our experienced Trek Leaders.
  • Request contact details for clients who have trekked with Our Spirit and are willing to discuss their experience with you.

 

Dates

Exclusive group treks (minimum 14 participants), to suit your preferred travel dates are available on request. Please note, the first and last day of this adventure includes your international travel to and from Port Moresby as well as accommodation on the first and last night. Refer to the specific tabs for full details.

 

2017 Shaggy Ridge & Finschafen2017 Shaggy Ridge & Finschafen5 Aug 2017 - 14 Aug 2017The Shaggy Ridge theatre of war in PNG, along with the allied landing at Finschafen is the second part of the Kokoda campaign. It strikes a responsive chord with many Australians, since it is recognised and appreciated that many men fought a bitter conflict there during WWII.
If you have already experienced the history and challenge of the Kokoda campaign this adventure is a must for you. It is not an easy trek and requires a good level of fitness to accomplish but with the correct preparation
More...Book Now for Individual or Group Member...Book Now for Family...Add to Calendar
2017 Shaggy Ridge & Finschafen2017 Shaggy Ridge & Finschafen9 Sep 2017 - 18 Sep 2017The Shaggy Ridge theatre of war in PNG, along with the allied landing at Finschafen is the second part of the Kokoda campaign. It strikes a responsive chord with many Australians, since it is recognised and appreciated that many men fought a bitter conflict there during WWII.
If you have already experienced the history and challenge of the Kokoda campaign this adventure is a must for you. It is not an easy trek and requires a good level of fitness to accomplish but with the correct preparation
More...Book Now for Individual or Group Member...Book Now for Family...Add to Calendar

 

Upcoming Events

2017 Kokoda Trek (11 Day Trip)2017 Kokoda Trek (11 Day Trip)24 Jun 2017 - 4 Jul 2017Join us on this incredible 9 day adventure walk in the footsteps of the Aussie Diggers. Limited group size. Guided by an experienced Australian leader with comprehensive local knowledge and customs and an unwavering passion for the Kokoda history, hidden battle sites, treasures and most importantly its legacy, you will experience the highs and lows of the treacherous Kokoda Track with a sense of courage, endurance and mateship without the ultimate sacrifice that our digger's made before us.More...Book Now for Individual or Group Member...Book Now for Family...Add to Calendar
2017 Kokoda Trek (11 Day Trip)2017 Kokoda Trek (11 Day Trip)15 Jul 2017 - 25 Jul 2017Join us on this incredible 9 day adventure walk in the footsteps of the Aussie Diggers. Limited group size. Guided by an experienced Australian leader with comprehensive local knowledge and customs and an unwavering passion for the Kokoda history, hidden battle sites, treasures and most importantly its legacy, you will experience the highs and lows of the treacherous Kokoda Track with a sense of courage, endurance and mateship without the ultimate sacrifice that our digger's made before us.More...Book Now for Individual or Group Member...Book Now for Family...Add to Calendar
2017 Shaggy Ridge & Finschafen2017 Shaggy Ridge & Finschafen5 Aug 2017 - 14 Aug 2017The Shaggy Ridge theatre of war in PNG, along with the allied landing at Finschafen is the second part of the Kokoda campaign. It strikes a responsive chord with many Australians, since it is recognised and appreciated that many men fought a bitter conflict there during WWII.
If you have already experienced the history and challenge of the Kokoda campaign this adventure is a must for you. It is not an easy trek and requires a good level of fitness to accomplish but with the correct preparation
More...Book Now for Individual or Group Member...Book Now for Family...Add to Calendar

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