Kokoda challenge for Kimba girls

Source: Eyre Peninsula Tribune, SA

Kimba Area School students Keely Westhoff and Taya Lehmann are training in earnest to walk the Kokoda Trail in July.

The year 10 students agreed to take up the challenge following an inspiring visit to their school from Queensland's Tim Thompson in February. 

Mr Thompson, with support from the Salvation Army, offered to sponsor a student to walk the trail.

He has family connections within the SA region and has had a full, interesting and very successful life and wanted to contribution to the youth of the district.

Mr Thompson sponsored five students from Cleve and Cowell, also in SA, over the past two years to walk the trail and was pleased to offer the same opportunity to Kimba students.

He walked the trail for the first time when he was 58 and lost 40 kilos in order to complete the trail. 

Mr Thompson has tackled the trail several times since then. His retelling of the his accounts was an inspiration to students.

The Kokoda Trail is 96 kilometres in length and is the trail that our soldiers (many of them only 18 years old) walked to escape the Japanese in Papua New Guinea during the war. 

This trail has become a challenge for many Australians to walk and has been a life changing experience for most. Mr Thompson said the connections with the local people who act as porters for the walkers is part of the experience.

He pointed out the successful applicants would need to be very fit and suggested Caralue Bluff as a potential training option.

Keely and Taya have been regularly walking the track from Kimba to White’s Knob and return as part of their training regime and have also started fitness training at the gym.

As part of their application, the girls are required to contribute or seek local support for some of the funding and had to apply in writing and then undergo an interview with Mr Thompson and school principal Robyn Wohling.

Applicants also had to share why they wanted to walk the trail and to explain any connections their family may have had with the Second World War.

Kimba Area School students Keely Westhoff and Taya Lehmann.

Kimba Area School students Keely Westhoff and Taya Lehmann.