Black Cat Trek - September 2008

The Our Spirit team have really outdone themselves with this package of in depth military history in an area of one of Australia's unsung and often forgotten and bloody commando campaigns.

"I recently completed the Black Cat Trail from Wau to Salamaua with Aidan. I wish to thank him for a well orgainsed and highly successful trek. The Our Spirit team have really outdone themselves with this package of in depth military history in an area of one of Australia's unsung and often forgotten and bloody commando campaigns. It travels through some rugged and relatively untouched natural environments .....heaps of wildlife and military relics. The local cultural involvement by the PNG villagers was another highlight.....a tremendous cultural experience with traditional welcomes and singalongs, rafting the Francisco river on bamboo / banana rafts, watching a village hunter show off his bow and arrow skills, home grown fruit ....sugarcane/pawpaw/cocunuts/pineapple, swimming amongst a coral reef; and to top it off after our mountainous journey, resting the night amongst an idealic coastal/palm tree sunset. The military significance of the trip was brought home on a number of occasions with some heart felt moments for us trekkers and also the legends alike. I think it's the passion, genuine meaning and team building that Aiden gives to the trip that gets to you. Well done Aiden, Kris and the team. This trip is a must."

Owen Turner, Grafton, NSW

Testimonial by Jayson Hawke, QLD

The highlights of the trip for me were the passionate presentation of the war history, particularly the balanced perspective provided on both the Australian and Japanese side...

Kokoda Track - October 2008

Overall a fantastic trip. 

The group leader was a credit to your company and always had complete control of the group. His ability to deal with minor medical issues prior to them becoming issues that may have prevented completion of the track made a great difference to me personally.

Our lead legend accommodated all requests with a smile and his sense of humour is something I will not forget. The highlights of the trip for me were:

(a)  the people along the trek,
(b)  the passionate presentation of the war history, particularly the balanced perspective provided on both the Australian and Japanese side.
(c)  the additional mental toughness and great kick start to getting my fitness on track.

Jayson Hawke, QLD

Testimonial by Andrew Ireland, Lawyer, The Argile Partnership

Great experience, great team. Very good military perspective...

Kokoda Track - October 2008

  • great experience
  • great team, both Rob and Greg were good.  Rob with medical background was fantastic, particularly when two of the boys needed help as well as with feet maintenance.
  • very good military perspective
  • Island resort was great as well
  • As said above - great team

Andrew Ireland, Lawyer, The Argile Partnership

Testimonial by John Ball, Microsoft

I had the tremendous experience to hike the Kokoda Trail with Our Spirit. Our Spirit's leaders did an amazing job of bringing to life the key battles that happened along the way.

Kokoda Track - September 2008

The following email was sent to Stan Bisset upon returning from the Kokoda September trek:

"Stan,

I had the tremendous experience to hike the Kokoda Trail  with Our Spirit, Our Spirit as I am sure you know did an amazing job of bringing to life the key battles that happened along the way.
 
It was truly an amazing experience and one that I will never forget, the terrain, the climate and the local people which I certainly feel in love with.  I was deeply touched in Isuarva by the great sacrifice of the Australian troops and the courage and mate ship that was demonstrated to have them overcome such a  terrible situation.  I wanted to write and express my heartfelt appreciation for what you and your men did in this conflict, words cannot describe your courage and endurance and the great loss that you experienced through this battle.
 
In tribute to Butch,  Our Spirit had the team sing “Oh Danny Boy”, the spirit that was felt by the group was amazing truly not a dry eye around.  I felt that I would like to capture this for you and send you a link so that you could share in the moment.  Unfortunately we are not world class singers but I am hoping the video will help you feel the moment.  
 
 
The spirit of the ANZAC is still alive on the Kokoda Trek and the memory of the sacrifice and suffering has not been lost.
 
Thank you again for what you did to save Australia I feel very honored that I was able to experience just a little bit of what it must have been like.
 
Kind Regards
John Ball"

John Ball, Microsoft

Testimonial by Rob L'Estrange, NSW

I can't tell how much it meant to me to do the Blackcat and what a privilage it was to trek with you and the legends

Black Cat Trail - Sept. 08

"I can't tell how much it meant to me to do the Blackcat and what a privilage it was to trek with you and the legends, thankyou all for the experience and friendship. The trek has sparked a deeper interest in the whole picture of the campains in PNG especially the 2/7th commando's. They were at Mubo, Wau, Bena Bena, Ramu Valley, Nadzab, Kaiapit, Bulolo, Kesaway, Dove Bay, Shaggy Ridge, Dumpu, Wewak. Even if I was fit enough I couldn't cover that amount of territory in the time I have left on the planet. I am going to the 2/7th reunion at Port Maquarie in November I will be taking the video footage I took on our trek and photos to speak about my experience."

Rob L'Estrange, NSW

Testimonial by John & Richie Butler (son, grandson of Captain CDG Butler - 2nd 14th)

Your knowledge of the battles, the positioning of the opposing forces and the enthusiasm and knowledge with which you spoke was simply inspiring. Dad (Captain CDG Butler of the 2/14th Battalion) had spoken many times...

Kokoda Track - August 2008

John and Richie meeting with Stan and Gloria Bisset post trek"Dear Aidan and Rob and the Our Spirit team, 
 
Thank you both so much for leading such a successful and rewarding adventure that my son Richard and I have just completed. Your knowledge, enthusiasm and focus of the historical events and the personal sacrifice of the Australian soldiers on the track in 1942 constantly reminded us of their extraordinary commitment, many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice in defence of Australia.
 
Your knowledge of the battles, the positioning of the opposing forces and the enthusiasm and knowledge with which you spoke was simply inspiring.   Dad (Captain CDG Butler of the 2/14th Battalion) had spoken many times to us as family members about how hard it was, but until you actually participate and take to the track, you have no idea of what those circumstances may have been like back in 1942. Certainly, we can only truly marvel at the young men who were involved in the conflicts back in 1942.  
 
May I wish the Our Spirit team every success in your continued endeavours to tell of the unique stories of the track and its importance in the defence of Australia during the World War II.  The service Rob and Aidan conducted at Isurava memorial was something that will remain with us forever. Those words carved in the granite stones, Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice tell it all. As I walked the track after Isurava, those words kept going over and over in my mind and they truly tell of the spirit of the soldiers, many of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice.
 
As I recall the track and the emotional and physical challenges that are presented each and every step, may I thank you once again for bringing to us the opportunity to participate in and forever recall a unique and humbling experience. 
 
With best wishes to the team at Our Spirit."

John and Richie Butler - VIC

Testimonial by Gary French (Son of Lt. French, 39th Militia Battalion) VIC

My trip was the culmination of a lifetime ambition to be there and pay my respects to all who fought on the track...

Kokoda Track - August 2008

"Dear Aidan,

Just a short note to let you know that my trip was the culmination of a lifetime ambition to be there and pay my respects to all who fought on the track and in particular the 39th Battalion.  Your guidance and commentary was exemplary and I regard you as a very passionate AUSTRALIAN.  I place you on the same level as the authors, Peter Brune and Peter Fitzsimons with regard to making people aware of what took place on the track.

Good luck for the future,

REGARDS, Gary"

Gary French (Son of Lt. French, 39th Militia Battalion) VIC

Testimonial by Robert Mann - VIC

Aidan's passion and knowledge of/for the track made the whole experience a sensational holiday for me and our group.

Kokoda Track - August 2008

"Dear Our Spirit team,

Thank you all so much for the help and guidance that you gave me and our group on our recent Kokoda adventure.

Your passion for the track is evident to us all and we encourage you to continue the good work on keeping it sustainable, so many more people can visit and experience what it was like during 1942-43.

Please find enclosed my last remaining kena what you might put to good use when you go back in a few weeks time.

With kind regards,

Bobby Mann"

Robert Mann - VIC

Son of 39th Militia Lieutenant on Kokoda

I place Aidan Grimes on the same level as the authors, Peter Brune and Peter Fitzsimons with regard to making people aware of what took place on the track.

Kokoda Track - August 2008

"Dear Aidan,

Just a short note to let you know that my trip was the culmination of a lifetime ambition to be there and pay my respects to all who fought on the track and in particular the 39th Battalion. Your guidance and commentary was exemplary and I regard you as a very passionate AUSTRALIAN. I place you on the same level as the authors, Peter Brune and Peter Fitzsimons with regard to making people aware of what took place on the track.

Good luck for the future,

REGARDS, Gary"

Gary French (Son of Lt. French, 39th Militia Battalion) VIC

Kokoda Trek - August 2008

Your guidance and commentary was exemplary making this trip a culmination of a lifetime ambition to be there and pay my respects to all who fought on the track and in particular the 39th Battalion.

"Dear Aidan,

Just a short note to let you know that my trip was the culmination of a lifetime ambition to be there and pay my respects to all who fought on the track and in particular the 39th Battalion. Your guidance and commentary was exemplary and I regard you as a very passionate AUSTRALIAN. I place you on the same level as the authors, Peter Brune and Peter Fitzsimons with regard to making people aware of what took place on the track.

Good luck for the future,

REGARDS, Gary"

Gary French (Son of Lt. French, 39th Militia Battalion) VIC

Kokoda Track - August 2008

Your knowledge, enthusiasm and focus of the historical events and the personal sacrifice of the Australian soldiers on the track in 1942 constantly reminded us of their extraordinary commitment, many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice in defence of Australia

John and Richie meeting with Stan and Gloria Bisset post trek"Dear Aidan and Rob and the Our Spirit team,

 
Thank you both so much for leading such a successful and rewarding adventure that my son Richard and I have just completed. Your knowledge, enthusiasm and focus of the historical events and the personal sacrifice of the Australian soldiers on the track in 1942 constantly reminded us of their extraordinary commitment, many of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice in defence of Australia.
 
Your knowledge of the battles, the positioning of the opposing forces and the enthusiasm and knowledge with which you spoke was simply inspiring. Dad (Captain CDG Butler of the 2/14th Battalion) had spoken many times to us as family members about how hard it was, but until you actually participate and take to the track, you have no idea of what those circumstances may have been like back in 1942. Certainly, we can only truly marvel at the young men who were involved in the conflicts back in 1942.
 
May I wish the Our Spirit team every success in your continued endeavours to tell of the unique stories of the track and its importance in the defence of Australia during the World War II. The service Rob and Aidan conducted at Isurava memorial was something that will remain with us forever. Those words carved in the granite stones, Courage, Endurance, Mateship and Sacrifice tell it all. As I walked the track after Isurava, those words kept going over and over in my mind and they truly tell of the spirit of the soldiers, many of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice.
 
As I recall the track and the emotional and physical challenges that are presented each and every step, may I thank you once again for bringing to us the opportunity to participate in and forever recall a unique and humbling experience.
 
With best wishes to the team at Our Spirit."

John and Richie Butler - VIC

Kokoda Trekker - July 2008

Hear in explicit detail through descriptions, explanations, accounts and poetry about the hell our diggers went through in '42.

Kokoda Track - July 2008

"To do the Kokoda Track and not hear the full and complete story of the hell the diggers went through is a dreadful missed opportunity that some trackers face. Our Spirit allows the Kokoda track to challenge us both physically and emotionally as you hear in explicit detail through descriptions, explanations, accounts and poetry about the hell our diggers went through in '42.

Everybody was touched by the passion and emotion that your trek leaders create as they recounted the desperate fighting withdrawal of the 21st brigade and the 39th battallion. This is an experience that I would recommend to all Australians, Thanks Aidan."

Kerrin McKenzie, Terang, VIC

Testimonial by Michelle Terry, Sergeant, Newcastle City Police

I could not image doing it with any other group. Everything from juggling full time work and training, to being a mother of a two year old boy... walking in my grandfather’s footsteps it was truly the most amazing journey of my life.

Kokoda Track - ANZAC 2008

"I am very glad and appreciative of having walked the track with you.   I could not image doing it with any other group.   I have such strong feelings of walking the track.   Not a day goes by without me thinking of this experience.   It was such an amazing journey for me and one I will cherish forever.   Everything from juggling full time work and training, to being a mother of a two year old boy, being away from home for two weeks & most importantly walking in my grandfather’s footsteps it was truly the most amazing journey of my life.

I would like to thank you for sharing your knowledge, experience and passion with me."  

Michelle Terry, Sergeant, Newcastle City Police

Testimonial by Matt McConnell, 20 year old, Warrnambool

Overall I was honoured to do the track with such a professional company and will one day do it again! Thanks heaps - it has been a great journey!!

Kokoda Track - July 2008

As a 20 year old male, I found the Kokoda Track an amazing experience.  Before the trip I knew barely anything about the torturous conditions suffered by all of the soldiers.. Our trek leader was amazing at giving all of us on the trip a great insight into the happenings along the track and his feelings were shown greatly in his presentations, particularly at Brigade Hill and Isurava.

Loved the way that we were able to interact with villages along the way and also village meals were great.

The Legends (Papuan guides) on our trip were an amazing bunch of blokes who were willing to help with the understanding of their native "motu" language and with details on the track.

The days were at a great length with the "rest days" fitting in well to the itinerary.

On talking with people trekking with other companies, we realised we were quite lucky to get the insight on the track that they didn't seem to.

I did although, get sick of pasta, fresh fruit/vegies were great and teh roast/hotpot meals were different and nice.

Matthew McCallum, 20 Year Old, Warrnambool 

Testimonial by Anne Brown, Bendigo, VIC

Looking at many of the groups along the way, it was just a trek, they were way too big, didn't get the history or the spiritual or emotional reason for being there. We were mate looking after mate...

Kokoda Track - July 2008


I have just experienced the most humbling event of my life! I always thought it would be special, but little did I know just how much.  Your extensive, loving and emotional history of the track just blew me away.  Even being there it is still so hard to comprehend what our brave boys went through.  Looking at many of the groups along the way, it was just a trek, they were way too big, didn't get the history or the spiritual or emotional reason for being there.  For some it was a race to finish or just get that bit over with.  For us, it was like a tight unit was formed from the start.  It was mate looking after mate, watching each others backs just as our young boys did may years ago.  It was their journey that we all relived each day we were on the track.  Thank you for allowing me to be a partof such a wonderful, emotional and educational experience.

Anne

Anne Brown, Bendigo, VIC

Testimonial by Kerrin McKenzie, Terang, VIC

To do the Kokoda Track and not hear the full and complete story of the hell the differs went through is a dreadful missed opportunity that some trackers face with other companies.

Kokoda Track - July 2008

"To do the Kokoda Track and not hear the full and complete story of the hell the diggers went through is a dreadful missed opportunity that some trackers face.  Our Spirit allows the Kokoda track to challenge us both physically and emotionally as you hear in explicit detail through descriptions, explanations, accounts and poetry about the hell our diggers went through in '42.

Everybody was touched by the passion and emotion that your trek leaders create as they recounted the desperate fighting withdrawal of the 21st brigade and the 39th battallion.  This is an experience that I would recommend to all Australians, Thanks Aidan."

Kerrin McKenzie, Terang, VIC

Testimonial by Richard Cummins, Orange, NSW

Our Spirit's leadership, passion, knowledge of the history and deep respect for the brave young kids from Australia who protected us and our way of life, combined to make the trek one of the best experiences I have had.

Kokoda Track - July 2008

"Walking the Kokoda Track was physically demanding, educational and emotional.  We were lucky to have Our Spirit as our leader.  Their leadership, passion, knowledge of the history and deep respect for the brave young kids from Australia who protected us and our way of life, combined to make the trek one of the best experiences I have had.  We were lucky to have a relatively small group size of 16 which helped us bond with a look out for others.  There were many highlights but the biggest was the service at Isurava and my son Scott being chosen to read a poem at Brigade Hill that was a tribute to the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.  Scott was honoured and he will never forget it.  The visit to Bomana cemetery at the end of the trek was a sobering experience.  The sacrifice made by these young Australians demands that we appreciate the life we have and strive to be worthy of what they did for our country.  Emotions kicked in on my return to Australia."

Richard Cummins, Orange, NSW

 

Testimonial by Peter Auchettl, Warnambool, VIC

There were many positives with going with Our Spirit. The small group size was terrific for camaraderie... Our guide was exceptional! Our Spirit's knowledge of the track and of the history associated with it was first class.

Kokoda Track - July 2008

"There were many positives with going with Our Spirit.  The small group size was terrific for camaraderie and for those times when ceremonies were undertaken and for when points of interest needed to be explained.  Our guide was exceptional!  Our trek leaders knowledge of the track and of the history associated with it was first class.  The ceremonies at Isurava and Brigade Hill were unforgettable and the opportunity to visit the was cemetery at Port Moresby was a meaningful ending to our trek.  Walking from Kokoda to Owers Corner is the only way to go!  visiting the war cemetery at the beginning of the trek would not have the same impact and neither would finishing at Kokoda when the diggers pushed on to the beach head.  Flying into Poppendetta was a great start! 

The legends were terrific!  They were always there to help but did not interfere with the individual trekkers' daily experiences."

Peter Auchettl, Warnambool, VIC

Testimonial by Richard Page, Grafton, NSW

The physical challenge gave me some perspective of how difficult it must have been for the Diggers, carrying a much heavier kit and fighting the Japanese at the same time.

Kokoda Track - July 2008

"Overall highlights...

Our trek leaders incredible extent of knowledge which brought the whole history of the campaign into perspective.  Getting to know, walking and camping with a group of interesting guys and a gal was a terrific bonding experience culminating at the point where we walked through the Arches congratulating each other.  Every member of the group were so supportive.  I can't remember ever receiving so much moral support.  Maybe this had something to do with me being the "mature age" student of the class.  It was a good feeling and meant a lot to me.

The physical challenge gave me some perspective of how difficult it must have been for the Diggers, carrying a much heavier kit and fighting the Japanese at the same time.

It was rewarding to be one of four father and son teams in the group and a wonderful experience to achieve this goal together with my son Ashley"

Richard Page, Grafton, NSW

Testimonial by Keith McConnell

The history and the way in which it was presented was fantastic - it gave me the feeling of what it may have been like for the young diggers.

Kokoda Track - July 2008

"The history and the way in which it was presented was fantastic - it gave me the feeling of what it may have been like for the young diggers, but as you said Rob, "how they survived is beyond our understanding"!!!

The legends and support crew were fantastic, it takes a few days to get to know them but the feeling of kindness and warmth shows through from these remarkable people.

The village people and their way of life to me was also a highlight of the trip to see people able to live a simple life and show enjoyment was brilliant, compared to our modern society.  I hope it comtinues that way for some time yet.

The work Rob and Aidan do for the orphanage really struck a soft spot with me and I hope to contact you in the near future about some fundraising that I hope to do, hoping that you may be able to make sure it gets through to them."

Keith McConnell,

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