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Published June 9th 2015
Essential training for those ready to tackle Kokoda
The Kokoda Track in PNG is a famous 96km walking track inspired by a series of military events involving Australians in 1942. The significance and hardship of the Kokoda Battle has attracted many Australian visitors and trekkers over the years as they reflect on the battle while walking in the footsteps of the Australian soldiers before them.
The Kokoda Track has very few comparisons, with gradients, obstacles and weather that combine to create a truly fierce and memorable trekking experience. Almost 5,000 Australians each year walk the Kokoda Track and to assist them in preparation for this physical experience, I have compiled a list of the top 7 walking tracks around Adelaide that best resemble parts of the Kokoda Track.
To get a true feel as to the PNG walking environment which is often wet and humid, and sometimes involves early morning walks in the dark, I recommend that consideration be given to walking either during or after rain, and/or with a headtorch, with a focus on attempting to maintain your balance in these conditions.
While Chapmans Track is wide, it is often difficult to find an easy line to walk, particularly when the ground is moist. This track provides a great opportunity to learn walking up and down hills with and without trekking poles.
Situated within the Black Hill Conservation Park, this little known and rarely used track is particularly challenging in damp conditions. The track is best accessed from Montacute Road via Orchard-Eagle-Falcon where a left turn at a junction will lead you across a small creek before starting the steep climb.
Some fallen branches and large rain-created crevices create obstacles which require extended balancing on a single foot while the obstacle is passed. In a unique way, Boobook Track resembles parts of Kokoda where large tree roots create obstacles that need thinking about before passing.
Part of the Heysen Trail, this 2km descent is sure to test the length of toenails within the walking boots, and sure to result in several slips during damp periods. The steepness of the gradient with minimal spots for grip force the toes to clench within the boots, with almost guaranteed sore toes by the end of the descent.
By contrast, the return climb back to the top of the hill near the junction at Montacute Road gives the calves a tremendous workout. The only comfort in this ascent is provided by the exceptional views of the Montacute Valley and Sixth Creek, a feeling which is often mimicked by the vistas on the Kokoda Track.
Short yet steep, Gandy's Gully Track is a combination of fire and single trails, often laden with rocks and stones which make a gigantic obstacle course. Early mornings often see fog in the gully, which when combined with moisture adds to the excitement of climbing up and down this particular climb.
Gandy's Gully track is at the end of Gandy's Gully Road in Stonyfell. Walk around the gate, past the shooting range before veering slightly left on some single trail. After another 0.5km, a single trail heads off to the right, across a small creek and up the side of the hill to the top of the Burnside Quarry.
Nestled behind the small green shed on Waterfall Gully Road is Gate 5 of the Mt Osmond Reserve. Over the last few years, the mountain bikers have created tracks down the two (dry) creek ravines that produce what is arguably one of Adelaide's toughest walking climbs.
Walking up the creek ravine, the sweat appears while the feet work hard to find secure footings. At the top it is possible to walk around near the golf course and find the 2nd creek ravine, which provides an equally challenging and slippery descent even at times of dry weather.
This steep and foot-holed track is best accessed from Chambers Gully. About 1km after the gated entrance in to the lower entrance of Cleland Conservation Park the track reaches a cross road, where you take a right turn and head immediately up the hill to Long Ridge.
This track contains many foot holes, no doubt created by walkers as they have sought to ascend or descend during slippery conditions. These footholes are similar to many that are experienced on Kokoda, and will provide you with good training in how to take short steps in to defined spots.
The final track is one of my favourites, and is also one of the toughest. Nicknamed the Stobie Track, the track runs from the bottom of Chambers Gully to the Long Ridge lookout following the old Stobie Poles that once went that way. Access to the track is available about 200m from the Chambers Gully car park on the southern side immediately as you cross the small creek on a gravel road.
Starting the ascent, this track commences in a small wood of trees, before getting gradually steeper. About a third of the way to the top, you walk over an old stobie pole, and at the two-thirds mark you intersect with Chambers Hike. Keep heading up the hill, as it gradually gets steeper and passes another fallen stobie pole, before finally reaching the Long Ridge Lookout.
The above 7 walks will assist in the physical efforts to complete the Kokoda Track, and if done repetitively or as part of a longer walk, they will help to prepare the body for the 8-9 day Kokoda Track.
An excellent article!Although too old now to tackle these tough/steep walks,it just goes to show what is available for bushwalkers in the hills near the city.We are indeed fortunate that there are so many tracks to traverse amongst beautiful scenery.
What a great - and creative - idea for an article, Steve! My partner walked Kokoda last year, and found a few challenging (though rather 'off the map') tracks around Melbourne - which helped when we trained to walk the Inca Trail this year. Good on you for your achievement.
Great suggestions steve and thanks for using photos of free spirit adventures Trekkers taken on one of our Kokoda trips. If anyone would like to join us for free training walks feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org