Trekkers crossing the Brown River on Day 5 of the Kokoda Trail |  <i>Rachael Davis</i>

Trekking Kokoda for HeartKids

The Kokoda Trail – what does it mean to you? What do you think of: World War II, a challenge, history, scenery, culture or the people?

For a group of 8 mates from MarketPlace Fresh tackling the Kokoda trail during September/October 2019, it was a personal challenge in more ways than one. Not only did they complete the trail, they dedicated their Challenge to raising over $52,000 for the worthy charity, HeartKids. 

HeartKids is the national charity dedicated to supporting kids, teens and adults afflicted by congenital heart disease. There is currently no known cure for congenital heart disease so HeartKids offers support and advocacy for these families’ needs and funds lifesaving research.

MarketPlace Fresh has been providing fresh seasonal produce to Melbourne for over 35 years. Two years ago, the organisation’s founder Stephen Fanous was looking for other ways to give back to the community and with a young family himself and hearing the stories of these incredible families it was only fitting he started supporting HeartKids. Since coming together, he has raised over $300,000 for this great charity.


Members of the group signed up for a range of reasons: personal connections, wanting to challenge themselves, the desire to learn more of Australian history and of course supporting HeartKids.

The group certainly agreed that the Kokoda Trail’s reputation of being a huge challenge is warranted, especially as they carried their own packs. Toward the end of the Challenge they also picked up the pace to finish in a remarkable 7.5 days. Ben Mountford, MarketPlace Fresh CFO, said the stunning PNG scenery and the warmth and amazing culture of the local people more than made up for the challenging pace.

The history of the Trail and the knowledge of the guides about the stories of the 16th Battalion and their efforts to support the Australian War effort certainly made this a memorable trip. The group carried a wreath on behalf of Epping RSL and also many hand crocheted poppies. At the War Cemetery in Port Moresby, they searched for one of the poppy maker’s relatives who had served in the 39th battalion. The team’s emotions ran high when, by chance, Stephen found the memorial plaque containing the name just as they were leaving the cemetery.

Ben encourages everyone to consider taking on this Challenge. Although he strongly recommends you undertake some training before you go, but the life changing experience makes it worthwhile. Ben says: “Give it a go”.

For more about HeartKids go to

Want to Trek the Kokoda Trail?

Join Heather Hawkins in August 2020 and experience Kokoda for yourself