Kokoda is a must for teachers!

Leonie Turner, Ultimo Primary School says "I guarantee you cannot walk the [Kokoda] track and come back a better version of yourself, personally and professionally."

"I met Aidan Grimes back in 2007 when I walked the Kokoda Track with Our Spirit and Aidan as our guide, and it turned out to be a life changing experience on several levels.

My only child, my daughter, had died in 2002 and I was still struggling dealing with my grief. The Kokoda Track would offer a level of physical exertion that matched my grief and somewhere on that track I left my very raw pain. The first day I had several breakdowns, crying inconsolably when one of the Papuan porters moved up next to me and walked the rest of the track, every day with me. Just a bit of the Fuzzy Wuzzy spirit happening there.

Right from the beginning Aidan was the quintessential teacher, leading our group, supporting when needed, sharing stories of the track that he knows so well, that you felt you were living a part of history. I remember my daughter explaining why her history teacher was the best. It was because he told stories, that he lived the history and this is what Aidan does. Each trek a person is chosen each day to carry some lost medals. Aidan has researched who they belonged to and you learn about this person’s service. It was an honour to carry these for one day and know that on return to Australia they would be reunited with the soldier’s family.

I had read up on the Kokoda Track before commencing, but being there, experiencing the conditions, the steepness, humidity, mud and more mud, helped me understand just a little what our boys must have faced and the depths of human spirit they drew on during that time and afterwards.

Since returning from Kokoda in 2007 I have taught my Year 5 & 6 students about the Kokoda Track in addition to other campaigns Australians have fought in. When I tell the stories of Kokoda and my students see how I am emotionally moved by the experience and I can describe the conditions first hand it becomes all the more real. I also tell my students about the happy and friendly children I met along the track. These children who by our standards have very little, yet are richer than we are because of their ties to their community. I also show photos of the Kokoda school and describe how pristine their book work was; their handwriting perfect and their grammar correct. I explain this is because they value their education as not everyone has the right to it.

I work at Ultimo Public School in Sydney and I have taken over how we commemorate Anzac Day (all our students know how to respectfully lay the wreath (even kindy kids) and listen thoughtfully to our service) and Remembrance Day. Hopefully, our school will encourage our students to continue to learn about our history after they leave primary school.

For me what I took away from Kokoda and Aidan was the beginning of learning to love life again and I do now! I learnt it’s okay to laugh and love. I learnt others have done things tougher than me and survived. I learnt I can do something others think is crazy and too hard and finish with a smile. I loved trekking the Kokoda Track with Aidan so much that I walked The Black Cat Track in 2008 and took, what is now, my husband with me.

Trekking Kokoda with Aidan is the most amazing educational experience you can get, but it is so much more than that. I guarantee you cannot walk the track and not come back a better version of yourself, personally and professionally. Every year when sharing stories about Kokoda with my students I encourage them to walk Kokoda when they are old enough and I keep telling colleagues they should walk Kokoda with Aidan and Our Spirit at least once in their life! If I had my way it would be compulsory for all Australian students!

Leonie Turner
Ultimo Public School"

Kokoda Trek - April 2016

Listen to Australian actor, Les Hill describes his Kokoda Track experience - April 2016

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2016

David Mitchell shares his experience with Our Spirit after completing the 2016 ANZAC Kokoda trek.

Aidan and the Our Spirit team do not tick things off your personal bucket list. The whole team provide a holistic approach to preparing you to embrace the real meaning of the Kokoda Track; the ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’ (legends), The ANZAC’s, the sacrifice and intestinal fortitude of so many. 102 successful treks is testament that Aidan himself is a modern day Veteran of the track, although his humble view of his own accomplishments would suggest other wise. Aidan’s ability to deliver a truly unique experience is founded on his constant devotion to his personal pledge and not your own demands. That pledge focuses on the true tails of the track, based on the soldiers that sacrificed it all and their personal experiences. Couple this with his heightened ability to understand people’s strengths and weaknesses and you have unforgettable journey that will see tears, smiles, laughter, possibly some gastro and most of all everlasting memories. 

I had the pleasure to attend the 2016 NSW Police Legacy Trek with a group of amazing people who all had their own amazing stories. The correspondence from the Our Spirit team had me completely prepared for the journey however; Aidan’s daily history briefings on the track made the experience one I will never forget. Not once did a person in our group make the journey about themselves and that was led from the front, on the back of Aidan’s personal example. 

I have attended ANZAC Day dawn services for the last 30 years. This year I was in awe of my surroundings as I participated in the service at Bomana War Cemetery, Port Moresby. Surrounded by the 3824 Commonwealth burials and the thousands of people that turned out was most humbling and an opportunity that I am truly blessed to have been a part of. 

I thank Aidan and his team, which consists not only of local legend Papuan people but many people behind the scenes back in Australia. I would not hesitate to continue my journey of understanding into our local history with the Our Spirit team. 

‘Their name liveth forever more – Lest we forget.’ 
David Mitchell

Kokoda Trek - 2015

Watch this video testimonial from a young woman on her first trekking adventure across the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea with Our Spirit.

Testimonial 102

Trish King share her Kokoda journey with Our Spirit on Aidan's 100th Kokoda trek.

Kokoda Trek - 2015

Shane Nelson talks about his Kokoda experience on Aidan's 100th trek

Kokoda Trek - November 2015

Neil Davis shares his Kokoda experience with Our Spirit.

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"I didn't think I'd make it! Your passion and perspective on Kokoda and Australian history is both amazing and inspiring"

"G'Day,

What an amazing journey you've taken us all on. I didn't think I'd make it! Your passion and perspective on Kokoda and Australian history is both amazing and inspiring.

Well done on continuing the ANZAC legacy and thank you again for allowing me to be a part of it.

Good luck in the future and 1000 blessings!

Simon Day"

ANZAC Kokoda Track - 2015

"I feel very proud to walk in the footsteps of our forefathers and humbled to do it under the leadership of someone as passionate as you"

"Aidan,

Having spent the last 9 days with you and this amazing group of people, I feel very proud to walk in the footsteps of our forefathers and humbled to do it under the leadership of someone as passionate as you. Well done mate. Thanks for the memories!

Cheers,

Dan Palmer"

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"Not only have I forged many friends and long standing friendships, I have also grown from my experience"

"Dearest Aidan,

I would love to personally thank you for making my journey so enjoyable. Not only have I forged many friends and long standing friendships, I have also grown from my experience.

Your knowledge and understanding of those in PNG both past and present is outstanding. I could listen to you talk all day about it.

Take care, be safe and travel well my friend.

Until we meet again

Donna Stewart

PS. put your hands up in the air."

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"Thank you for your humour, leadership, encouragement... I hope to bring my son back - it would be life changing for him"

"Dear Aidan,

What an experience. The track has made such a difference to me. It has been a wonderful journey for myself and equally for Baz.

Your passion and knowledge of Kokoda made the difference! 

Thank you for your humour, leadership, encouragement and imitation of my down hill walk!!

I hope to bring my son back - it would be life changing for him

Mandy Hobbs"

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"Thank you so much for all the hard work, planning and scheming that went into making our Kokoda 2015 experience so unique"

"Dearest Aidan,

I certainly see why my father spoke so highly of you - what an amazing experience you have put together. Thank you so much for all the hard work, planning and scheming that went into making our Kokoda 2015 experience so unique. Stan would be so unbelievably proud of the way you retell not only his story but the stories of the countless men who served during the Kokoda campaign.

Your passion is contagiuos and inspirational and you have made a difference to the lives of so many people.

Thank you so much, you crazy Irishman.

Ange "the doc" Fraser"

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"YOU, Aidan Grimes are a man that so reinforces that anything is possible through strength of mind and positive reinforcement"

"Dear Aidan,

I'm a believer of fate and also a believer that we make things happen - to enrich our lives and expand our knowledge. I strive to achieve to be the best I can and create adventures that excite a make life worth living - YOU, Aidan Grimes are a man that so reinforces that anything is possible through strength of mind and positive reinforcement. This fantastic trek on the Kokoda Track is one example of the journey of life that you alone have made very memorable and moving to me and Mandy (physio) for the rest of our lives.

I thank you so much for this journey as I sit now in the Bomana Cemetry totally in awe of the last 14 days.

Thank you again Aidan and I pray our paths cross in the near future in a similar vain.

Cheers mate

Barry (Baza) Hobbs

"You rock fella""

Kokoda Track - April 2015

"I have never experienced anything close to that adventure in my life. Your knowledge and passion for the history of Kokoda made me want more and kept me going"

"Dear Aidan,

I'm finding it hard to find the right words to express how amazing the last 10 days have been for me and how grateful I am to you for your encouragement and inspiration. I have never experienced anything close to that adventure in my life. Your knowledge and passion for the history of Kokoda made me want more and kept me going. So THANK YOU!!

April"

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"Your passion for our history and being able to bring it alive has made our Kokoda experience so memorable. The Diggers of the Kokoda campaign would be so proud of the way you pass on their stories"

"Dear Aidan,

Thank you for this amazing journey!

Your passion for our history and being able to bring it alive has made our Kokoda experience so memorable. The Diggers of the Kokoda campaign would be so proud of the way you pass on their stories.

It was an emotional journey for me and I know Glen was with me every step of the way. I hope to return sometime soon to walk the track again with Joseph and Ruby.

Thank you again for this incredible experience.

Lisa Huitson"

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"Thank you for honouring those who died and paid the ultimate sacrifice for "All Australians". You have a wonderful gift in your exemplary leadership"

"Dear Aidan,

Thank you for honouring those who died and paid the ultimate sacrifice for "All Australians". You have a wonderful gift in your exemplary leadership. Thank you for sharing your passion of Australian history with me and showing us and sharing with us the 'Kokoda Spirit'. May you continue to encourage others to be all that they can be. May you continue to motivate and harvest the inner strength that you bring out in others. Good luck with all your future endeavours and may you continue to be a blessing to others. You really a wonderful gifted and humble man. 

Best wishes,

Cheryl (Doris) DAY

PS Let me know when your knees pack it in and you need assistant trekkers. :-) "

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"You have enabled me to connect with my family history in a way that I would never have envisaged... Your preparation tips were invaluable and prepared me well"

"Dear Aidan,

Thank you for providing one of the most memoriable experiences of my life. You have enabled me to connect with my family history in a way that I would never have envisaged (as you recall my uncle was killed by a sniper on Black Cat). I have now gained a minute appreciation of what he possibly endured that words that were unsaid in his letter to my mother. Your preparation tips were invaluable and prepared me well. I smelt the roses and spent a lot of time self reflecting. As I said, your rendition of 'Danny Boy' was amazing and really struck a chord. I was so humbled to then be awarded the Stan Bisset medal for a day- it was like fate. It meant more than I can say. Perhaps we will meet again on the Black Cat Track.

Thank you so much.

Kerrie Ann"

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"I very much appreciate how well organised and purposeful all your efforts are. I believe the whole group are the better for choosing the track under your leadership.

"Dear Aidan,

Thank you for an awesome experience. I very much appreciate how well organised and purposeful all your efforts are. I believe the whole group are the better for choosing the track under your leadership. Thank you so much for your patience and good humour. From oldest to youngest, you are a great example and wonderful leader. Good luck and God bless on all your future efforts.

Warmest regards,

Garry McPhee"

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"It was great, due to you pushing for preparation in terms of fitness. As most of us were track fit it allowed us to focus on working as a group and enjoying the experience..."

"Hey Aidan,

Thanks for taking us across the Kokoda Track. It was great, due to you pushing for preparation in terms of fitness. As most of us were track fit it allowed us to focus on working as a group and enjoying the experience as much as possible with minimal injuries. The history presentations along the way were most informative.

Regards,

Damien Mitchell"

ANZAC Kokoda Trek - 2015

"From day one you displayed inspirational leadership. Your energy and passion for our history is contagious and your support and building of mateship and endurance authentic"

"Aidan,

From day one you displayed inspirational leadership. Your energy and passion for our history is contagious and your support and building of mateship and endurance authentic. Simply put, Stan Bisset left you with a legacy which drives you on. I'm sure as he looks down on you he would simply smile knowing that you work tirelessly to uphold our Digger's history on Kokoda.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the opportunity of experiencing and learning about our military past. All the very best and please stay in touch.

Max"

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