Courage     Endurance     Mateship     Sacrifice

These words are carved into four black granite pillars that form the Isavuru Memorial to Australian and Papua New Guineans who served and died on the Kokoda Track in 1942. The words represent the qualities of those who gave so much in the Second World War.

They also reflect the personal stories of fathers and sons  (and at times, mothers and sisters) from The Armidale School, which on five occasions has organised an expedition to walk the famous trail. Combining personal challenge and respect for service, TAS first organised an expedition in 1997 to mark the centenary of the school’s Cadet Unit, and it was completed by 32 cadets. The trek has been repeated a number of times since, the last time in 2017.

Accompanied by local guides, each day’s outing starts with a briefing about the withdrawal and attack of Australian troops, and at certain points, a closer examination of the positions taken by the Australians and the Japanese during conflict. Along the way, tribute is paid to those who had lost their lives; as part of their preparation, each TAS student has to research a soldier who served.

While the significance of the expedition as commemoration to those who served and sacrificed has remained, it has also evolved to include the TAS family more broadly and it has become particularly popular with parents and their sons or daughters.The Kokoda expedition has stood the test of time at TAS because boys and girls still crave great adventure today as much as they ever have.