WALKING Kokoda isn't challenging
Australia's fastest skier and legendary Paralympian, Michael Milton,
has just returned from Papua New Guinea where he mountain-biked and
walked from the north to the south coast, a distance of 293km, in just
The Kokoda Spirit Coast to Coast adventure included three days
on a mountain bike and five days walking the Kokoda Trail, a trek that
Milton has done before.
He and friend Wayne Wetherill from trekking company Kokoda Spirit and
two others started their journey at Buna Village on the beach, near
Poppandetta on the north coast of PNG. From there they travelled for
120km and two days on mountain bikes, crossing 23 creeks and rivers.
"The terrain was fairly flat but the surfaces we were riding on changed
all the time - from pot-holed bitumen to boggy sand in a matter of
minutes. It was hard and hot riding but frequent rests made it a lot
"Many of the bridges along the route were washed away during the
cyclone in 2007 so we did a lot of swimming but we weren't complaining.
It was such a refreshing break from riding," said Milton from his home
in Canberra where he is recovering.
Arriving at Kokoda Village early in the afternoon on day two, the team
wasted no time starting the walk and took just five days to reach the
southern end of the Trail at Owers Corner.
"The first time I did Kokoda in 2006 it took eight days. This time we
did it in five so it was really hard and also much wetter. The humidity
and the rain really takes its toll on my hands and walking with
crutches in mud when you're sinking and slipping all the time makes it
that much harder.
"At camp the night before we were due to get back on the bikes for the
two-day ride to Port Moresby, my right hand was so sore and weak I
wondered how I would change gears," explained Milton.
He did manage to get back on the bike to ride the 80km into Port
Moresby, complete with police escort.
"I'm not really sure what the police escort was for but it made us feel
like rock stars. When we arrived at the yacht club, we rode straight
into the sea. It was a great feeling and an enormous relief when it was
over and we could finally have a shower and sleep in a real bed," said
He hasn't come home unscathed though and is still waiting for some
nerve damage in his hand to heel. It's a serious injury for a man who
walks on crutches. Was it really worth it?
"Absolutely. I had a great time. I love to test my body, probably even
moreso since my cancer diagnosis and surgery two years ago. Life is
short and I'd much rather die riding my bike or walking Kokoda than
sitting in front of the television."
You can read about Michael's eight days in PNG in more detail by
checking out his LATEST BLOG.
Photo: Michael leads the pack as they head away from Kokoda towards
Port Moresby and the end of their journey from coast to coast.