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Cody heading to Kokoda with Ex-Services’ support

Cody heading to Kokoda with Ex-Services’ support

Cody Kelso is a young man in training.

The Kinross Wolaroi student loves sport; playing rugby, rugby league, and hockey but is now setting himself a new challenge.

Cody, along with James Sheahan student Thomas Dews, is embarking at the end of the month on what has become a gruelling right-of-passage for many Australians, the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

Cody and Tom were recently awarded $6000 each under the Orange Ex-Services Club’s Community Grants program for their Kokoda Youth Leadership Program pilgrimage to the location of one of Australia’s greatest military triumphs.

But with the footie season now in abeyance, Cody is now in training to take on some of the central west’s most gruelling trails to prepare for the mammoth hike.

“We’re planning on going on a few treks, like Federal Falls (Mount Canobolas). We’ll probably do that and a few others and a couple of treks in the Blue Mountains, I’m very excited” Cody explained.

For Cody, the trip though is more than just a physical challenge. It is also an opportunity to see first-hand the conditions faced by Australian soldiers in the height of the Pacific War.

“I’ve always had a bit of an interest in Australian war history,” he explained.

“My grandfather was a Minister with the Army and he went to Japan after the war to help bring back former Australian POW’s,” Cody added.

Cody’s interest in the most iconic of Australian battles began with a neighbour’s trip to the scene of the clash in the highlands of Papua New Guinea.

“One of our neighbours did it four or five years ago and, when he came back, he showed us a video of his trek,” 17-year-old Cody explained. “I’ll be the first of my family to make the trip,” he said proudly.

Cody believes that Kokoda’s enduring fascination for Australians as a scene of heroism is due to how important the battle was in protecting Australia from a potential Japanese invasion. “It’s so close to Australia. If we didn’t win that one, who knows what could have happened to our country?” Cody said.

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