IN TRAINING: John Pullen, Toni McCauley, John Henderson, Kylie Hunt, Terri Henderson, Brad Tyack, Sandra Van Der Westhis and Michelle May. Photo: ANDREW MURRAY

Lazy weekends are a thing of the past for a group of Orange bushwalkers working towards tackling the Kokoda Track.

The diverse bunch has just ramped up its training regime from monthly to weekly group walks.

While the physical challenge was never going to scare trainer Terri Henderson away from the July expedition, she said the weekend workouts are about everyone in the group realising their body’s potential.


“It’s mainly about building confidence,” she said.

“Everyone knowing that when it gets down to the nitty-gritty we can do it. The hard part is getting everyone believing it.”

Ms Henderson agreed to walk the gruelling 96-kilometre trail after her father John Henderson flagged the idea.

Mr Henderson’s other daughter, Toni, decided she’d get involved too.

Gym water cooler catch-ups saw Ms Henderson direct eight of her clients to the Adventurer Kokoda website, where they each signed the waiver for the 10-day guided trek.

The crew’s youngest member is 32 years old, while Mr Henderson – at 73 – is the most senior of the group.

Mr Henderson grew up in Papua New Guinea’s capital where The Battle of Port Moresby took place in WWII.

Once a member of the Australian airforce, Mr Henderson’s pilgrimage to Kokoda is personal beyond sharing it with his daughters.

“With his age and his mechanical heart valve he had thought the trek might now be out of reach,” said Ms Henderson.

“But he’s just had the final clearance from his doctors.”

The youngest adventuring Henderson is overcoming obstacles too.

“My baby sister was battling with her weight when we started but through the training she has now lost 20 kilograms. She’s had her ups and downs but she’s on track to reach her target before we set off,” Ms Henderson said.

The group learnt its first lesson in adapting to new environments when their home training turf was scorched in the Mount Canobolas fires.

Now the hills near Borenore Public School are providing opportunities to increase fitness and learn the intricacies of their new backpacks.

Learning to walk in wet shoes is another concept they’re coming to terms with, which could mean emptying water bottles onto sneakers in coming weeks.

“We’ve been told you can’t take too many socks,” said Ms Henderson.