Kokoda Track

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The Kokoda Track was the setting for a famous event in Australian history, one that still resonates in the national consciousness today.

The Battle of Kokoda was a four-month struggle, which began with the Japanese landing in Papua in July 1942.

Forced to repel a Japanese invasion force, the Australians fought in appalling conditions during this time.

The Japanese objective was to capture Port Moresby, the main Australian base in New Guinea, by an overland strike across the Owen Stanley Range. The most direct way across these rugged mountains was by a jungle pathway known as the Kokoda Track.

More than 600 Australians were killed and some 1680 wounded during perhaps the most significant battle fought by Australians in World War II.

Each year thousands of tourists make the pilgrimage to Kokoda, to follow in the footsteps of the soldiers who fought along the track more than 60 years ago. Much of the Kokoda track (from Owers’ Corner to Kokoda station) is still along the wartime tracks.

The track starts (or ends) at Owers Corner in Central Province, 50 kilometres east of Port Moresby, and then crosses 96 kilometers of rugged and isolated terrain, which is only passable on foot, to the village of Kokoda in Oro Province. It reaches a height of 2,190 metres (7,185 ft) as it passes around the peak of Mount Bellamy.

Hot, humid days with intensely cold nights, torrential rainfall and the risk of endemic tropical diseases such as malaria make it a challenge to walk the track. Despite the challenge posed, it is a popular hike that takes between four and twelve days (depending on fitness). Locals have been known to hike the route in one to three days.

To ensure the Kokoda Corridor environment and Kokoda trekking experience is valued, protected and conserved for its intrinsic and historic value and for the appreciation and benefit of future generations, a Papua New Guinea Special Purpose Authority was formed; The Kokoda Track Authority (KTA).

KTA is commissioned to work with tourism providers to develop and maintain the tourism industry in the Kokoda Track corridor, assist track communities to secure a sustainable future, oversee and regulate the conduct of tour operators to ensure the sustainable management of the Kokoda Track and respect for local culture, consult with landowners and Local-level Governments and work closely with the Kokoda Development Program to deliver community development programs.

Track management incorporates not only the management of the physical track itself but also management of issues surrounding the use of the area by all parties interested in the Kokoda Track.

The radio communications network performs a critical function in KTA’s role and a well-structured maintenance program is essential to ensure the continued reliable performance of the network and radios throughout the region. The villages and tourism operators rely heavily on the radio network.

The KTA recently awarded the ‘Maintenance Of Kokoda Track Radios’ contract to CartGiS (Melbourne, Australia).

CartGisis is a leading mapping and consultancy company providing cartographic, GIS and map services to the Public Sector, Publishers and all sizes of business. CartGiS also specialises in Emergency Management and radio communications consultancy and system design.

CartGiS selected AA Radio Services as their partner for the delivery of this contract based on their long-standing successful working relationship across various successful projects over many years.

Chris Stevens, Director of CartGiS commented on why they chose AA Radio.

“CartGiS has had a long-standing relationship with AA Radio Services. Although CartGiS provides independent radio communications consultancy, it felt that AA Radio could provide the highest level of service to best compliment the reputation that CartGiS has built within the industry.”

The ‘Maintenance of Kokoda Track radios’ contract was for the provision of upgrades, reprogramming and maintenance to the entire Kokoda Track Radio Network of repeaters and terminals.

A couple of the key enhancements to the network was to reprogram each radio in the field with a unique ANI number to identify callers and monitor traffic and the implementation of a transmit time out function to prevent the locking up of the system.

In the field training was held for KTA rangers and a half-day training session for KTA staff in Port Moresby was also undertaken along with the repeater (Base Station) equipment service, diplexer alignment and complete system health check.

The trek challenges your physical and mental endurance and a great deal of preparation went into planning for the trek that covered more than the standard 96 kilometers due to the visitation of the villages.

AA Radio Technician, Michael Karpavicius repaired the radio equipment that had not been working for 6 months, the local elder made a speech in front of all 50 members of Isurava Village thanking him for enabling them to talk to other local villages and the KTA office in Port Moresby. They offered Michael a Billoom; a woven basket made out of nylon rope.

Chris Stevens adds, “CartGiS was extremely impressed with AA Radio and their technical team. The high level logistical planning was done with (AA Radio’s Service Manager) Jason Clemow, which was handled with the utmost detail and flexibility for having to deal within the Papua New Guinea environment. Jason was also able to provide on the ground support to the PNG tech from the Melbourne office. AA Radio provided Michael Karpavicius as the technician to undertake the contract in PNG. Michael was up to the task both physically and professionally. Having personally visited a couple of the sites with Michael, I was able to observe his skills and attention to details in the field first hand. AA Radio provided the highest respect the PNG locals during the contract as well as all professional parties encountered. CartGiS will be extremely happy to work with AA Radio on such projects in the future.”

Brian Boon, Safety Manager KTA added “On behalf of the CEO of KTA, I would like to pass on our appreciation for the excellent work that Michael completed while he was up here.

His sound technical knowledge and expertise was evident through all the remedial works he completed to our village radios along the Kokoda Track, as well as recommendations he made for rehabilitation.

He was not fazed by the many issues he faced while he was here, and remained in high spirits during his stay. His fitness enabled him to complete the arduous Kokoda Track – which many would not have been capable of.

KTA can now be content that our radios are working to their best capacity!”

November 26, 2012 5:30 am Published by

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