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.