Matt McLachlan Battlefield Tours
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Matt McLachlan Battlefield Tours
Trek Kokoda – Kokoda to Owers’ Corner
It is one thing to simply tick the Kokoda Track off a bucket list but it is another to undertake a pilgrimage that immerses you in Australia’s proud wartime history in 1942. The backdrop of the beautiful, rugged and at times harsh terrain of the Papua New Guinea jungle, the very ground upon which the fighting in the Owen Stanley Range took place, sets the scene for this remarkable journey.
Mat McLachlan is a leading battlefield historian, author and television presenter and has spent more than two decades following in the footsteps of Australian troops on battlefields around the world. A journalist by profession, Mat was a writer and corporate magazine editor for 15 years before pursuing his passion for history as a full-time career. He is considered a leading authority on the battlefields of the Western Front, Gallipoli, the Pacific battlefields of World War Two, the Vietnam War and the Normandy landing beaches.
His 2007 book, Walking with the Anzacs, is considered the definitive guide to Australian battlefields on the Western Front. It has been reprinted seven times. Mat’s second book, Gallipoli: The Battlefield Guide, was released in April 2010 (reprinted 2012, 2015) and is the most comprehensive guide to the Australian battlefields of Gallipoli yet published. He is currently working on a book about Australia’s achievements on the Western Front in 1918, and a series of guidebooks to famous WWII battlefields.
In 2007 Mat launched Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours, which has grown to become the leading specialist provider of battlefield tours in Australia, sending thousands of Australian travellers to battlefields all over the world each year. The company runs battlefield tours to France, Belgium, the UK, Gallipoli, Germany, the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and more. Mat McLachlan Battlefield Tours is also the official travel provider for the NSW Premier’s Anzac Scholarship program, the Queensland Premier’s Anzac Prize, the Victorian Premier’s Spirit of Anzac prize (2011) and the Northern Territory Anzac Prize. All the company’s tours are personally designed by Mat McLachlan, and the company employs a team of more than 60 historians to escort them.
Mat appears regularly in historical documentaries on TV, most recently in Tony Robinson’s World War 1, which screened worldwide to much acclaim in 2015. In 2013 he hosted a seven-part Australian history documentary called Australia: Life on the Edge, which screened on the National Geographic Channel and Channel 7, and was nominated for an ASTRA Award for Best Factual Program.
Mat was Associate Producer and on-air presenter of the First World War documentary Lost in Flanders, which was co-produced by the ABC and Screen Australia and aired on the ABC in April 2009. The documentary follows the emotional story of the discovery of the bodies of five Australian WWI soldiers on a Belgian battlefield, and their subsequent identification using DNA testing. This was the first time DNA testing had been used to identify First World War remains. Mat conceived the documentary after fulfilling the role of historical consultant on a British archaeological excavation on Australian trenches in Belgium in 2007, the first time modern archaeological techniques had been used on an Australian trench system. Lost in Flanders was one of the most watched documentaries of Anzac Day 2009, and has garnered high praise from the public and reviewers alike.
Mat appears regularly as an historian on the ABC, The History Channel, Channels 7, 9 and 10 and radio programs Australia-wide. He presents historical commentary each year on the ABC’s coverage of national Anzac Day and Remembrance Day services. He is also a regular guest on Channel 7’s Sunrise, and is a frequent expert commentator on historical stories on 7 News, 9 News, 10 News, ABC Radio and Radio 2GB. In July 2010 Mat co-hosted Channel 7’s live coverage of the dedication of the new Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Cemetery from France. His co-host was respected Channel 7 news reporter Chris Reason.
Mat is passionate about the wellbeing of the current generation of war veterans, and works closely with charities and support groups that assist contemporary veterans. In 2015 Mat launched Australians Joining Forces, an initiative that seeks opportunities to assist veterans and help them transition to civilian life.
Day 1 - Arrive Port Moresby
Welcome to the start of this once in a lifetime adventure. On arrival you will be met by your trek leader and historian before transferring to the hotel. At our welcome dinner you will be given an “in country” familiarisation followed by a presentation on the history of Port Moresby and the lead up to the Kokoda Campaign. You will also have the chance to store any items not required whilst trekking in secure storage. Our staff will also assist you with a final check of your personal equipment. (D)
Day 2 - Kokoda
The next morning we stow our hotel gear into secure storage – and then travel to the airport; in order to fly from Port Moresby to Popondetta. Here we will view the remains of the B25 Mitchell Bomber “The Bar Fly” before we travel to Kokoda. Along the way we will stop at Awala (the site of the first contact) between the Japanese and the Papuan Infantry. We will also stop and view the mighty Kumusi River before stopping at Oivi & Gorari. We will then make our way to Kokoda Plateau where we will make camp for the night and meet the local team of carriers that will help us on the journey ahead. We will also visit the Bert Kienzle Museum and Kokoda Memorials. (B, L, D)
Day 3 - Kokoda - Isurava
Today we will walk from Kokoda – to wartime Isurava. Along the way we will visit Deniki which offers fabulous views of the Eora Valley below. The energetic amongst us will drop packs and make a side trip to view the crash site of a Japanese ‘Val’ Dive bomber (Aichi D3A). It is a very tiring ascent, but for the military history enthusiast, it is a must! We will lunch at the current village of Isurava before heading to the Isurava battlefield where we will make camp. (B, L, D)
Day 4 - Isurava - Templeton’s Crossing
p before daybreak – here we will conduct a Dawn Service – as the sun comes up over the Eora Valley you will stand at the four pillars of the memorial as we pay our respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. Your historian will then conduct a tour of the key areas of the battlefield where Bruce Kingsbury was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. We then continue on to Alola via Con’s Rock and the Bissett brothers’ memorial, before trekking down to Eora Creek. Along the way there is an option to make a short side trip to the Japanese Mountain Gun position where we will hear the story of the Manusu brothers. After lunch at Eora Creek we will then make our way to Templeton’s Crossing where we will make camp. (B, L, D)
Day 5 - Templeton’s Crossing - Naduri
Today we walk from Templeton’s Crossing – through Dump 1 over Mt Bellamy (the highest point on the track) then to the outskirts of Lake Myola, scene of the many supply drops made by RAAF and USAF Douglas Dakota “biscuit bombers”. We will also visit the crash site of a USAF P-40. After we view the significant area of Lake Myola we will then make our way down through the Moss Forest lunching along the way before reaching the village of Naduri with views towards Kagi and Brigade Hill. (B, L, D)
Day 6 - Naduri - Efogi
We will leave Nadurii and trek through to Efogi 2 where will say hello to local man Stanley who will give us a talk at the Nishimura Japanese Memorial then onto through to Efogi 1. There is a small museum in the village and a water hole where you may choose to take a refreshing swim. Today will be a shorter day of trekking to allow time to enjoy a ‘Sing Sing’ by the local people of Efogi. (B, L, D)
Day 7 - Efogi - Menari
Today we well and truly pass through the half-way mark as we make our way up alongside Mission Ridge to Brigade Hill. We will conduct a battlefield tour and hold a short service to pay homage to the men of the 21st Brigade as it was here that the Brigade fought as a whole, for the first time in the campaign. Your historian will give you a detailed tour of the Brigade Hill battlefield and bring to life many of the individual stories of service and sacrifice of the individuals who fought there. We will then descend down to Menari and make camp. (B, L, D)
Day 8 - Menari - New Nauro
Leaving Menari we will make our way down the wall and into the swamp area as we cross the Brown River where you may enjoy a midday swim. Climbing up the start of the Maguli Range, your historian will detail the frenzied withdrawal of the 21st Brigade and where the 2/27th Battalion (the lost Battalion) found supplies to survive before linking up with the rest of the Brigade. After climbing part way up the Maguli Range we will spend the night at New Nauro. (B, L, D)
Day 9 - New Nauro – Ua Ule Creek
Today we take on the rest of the mighty Maguli Range as we navigate our way through many false peaks before descending to Ofi Creek where we will have lunch. Our lunch spot was also the site of a very successful ambush by Australian soldiers and your historian will bring to life some of the personal stories of those who fought on both sides. After lunch we have one more climb to the top of Iroibaiwa Ridge, the furthest most point of the Japanese Advance. There is an option to make a side trip to view the Japanese trenches that are still spread along the ridge. A short decent leads us to the village of Iroibaiwa before we make our way to our campsite Ua Ule Creek. This is our final night on the Kokoda Track. (B, L, D)
Day 10 - Ua Ule – Port Moresby
First we will climb Imita Ridge passing through the campsite of Goodwater and on to the water crossing of the Goldie River. With the view of the archway (finish line) we make the last climb of the trek. Waiting at the top will be cold drinks along with a freshly packed lunch. After photos under the Owers’ Corner Archway, we drive to McDonald’s Corner and pay our respects to those who lost their life fighting in Papua New Guinea and are now buried in the Bomana War Cemetery. At Bomana you will visit many of the graves of the soldiers whom feature in the history talks your trek leader has spoken about during the trek. We will hold one final commemorative service before heading back to the hotel. Here you will have a chance to have a hot shower and enjoy a good night’s rest. In the evening your team of dedicated carriers will join you for a special farewell dinner. (B, L, D)
Day 11 - Depart Port Moresby
After breakfast, we will be transferred to the airport. (B)
All rates are in Australian dollars and are cash/cheque rates. Unless noted as a ‘Guaranteed Departure’, tours are based on a minimum number of passengers travelling. In the unlikely event of price increases from our suppliers, increased taxes or a reduction in the numbers of passengers travelling to below the minimum passenger numbers, McLachlan Tours reserves the right to pass on these increases in costs to passengers. This may occur with or without warning to the passengers. In the unlikely event that a tour fails to attract the minimum passenger numbers, the tour may be cancelled at the discretion of McLachlan Tours. McLachlan Tours may also cancel, at its discretion, any tour for operational or other reasons. If a tour is cancelled, monies already paid by passengers will be refunded or credited towards future travel. McLachlan Tours will not be responsible for any other travel arrangements affected by, or any additional costs imposed because of, our cancellation.