Queanbeyan local Jason Huntly trekking Kokoda for charity

Jason Huntly will wish he was just carrying daughter Lily, 2, rather than the 18kg pack he will take on the Kokoda Track.
Jason Huntly will wish he was just carrying daughter Lily, 2, rather than the 18kg pack he will take on the Kokoda Track.

The Kokoda Track has become a pilgrimage for many patriotic Australians, much like attending a dawn service in Gallipoli.

Doing it once sounds strenuous enough, let alone back-to-back efforts.

But that’s what Queanbeyan local Jason Huntly is currently completing in the Papua New Guinean rainforest, and that’s after making his first attempt in June.

However for Mr Huntly the trek has taken on a much deeper significance than simply completing a physical feat.

Mr Huntly’s father Daniel was both diagnosed and defeated bowel cancer earlier this year.

Now Mr Huntly is completing Kokoda to raise awareness for the disease. He has set up a fundraising page and has so far collected $1450, all proceeds will go to Bowel Cancer Australia.

Jason Huntly spent 12 years in the Australian Army and feels a special connection to Kokoda where Australian diggers fought in 1942.

Jason Huntly spent 12 years in the Australian Army and feels a special connection to Kokoda where Australian diggers fought in 1942.

After spending 12 years in the Australian Army with the Signals Corps Mr Huntly was medically discharged earlier this year.

Mr Huntly is open about dealing with some mental health issues and said he experienced enormous benefits from completing Kokoda. He said not only did the trek highlight the benefits of having an active lifestyle and provide a sense of accomplishment, but it afforded him a new perspective.

“I suppose it put my mental health issues into perspective,” Mr Huntly said.

“Knowing what the diggers back in 1942 went through, comparative to my own experience, it just really put things into perspective for myself.

“It gave me a great appreciation of what they did.”

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda Track campaign and Mr Huntly said it was a very special time over there.

Having reached the rank of captain in the army, leading people is nothing new for Mr Huntly. His goal now is to become a trek leader to assist others in discovering the benefits of the journey and he hopes to dedicate future trips to other charities.

“I liked leading troops and I liked helping people,” Mr Huntly said.

“I like seeing how they deal with the hardships they might face along the track.

“They’re cold, they’re tired, they’re out of their comfort zones but what I really like is seeing how they cope with a stressful situation but then how they grow from that.”

It is a testament to the man to turn a difficult situation into a positive movement assisting others and that’s something Daniel Huntly said he was very proud of his son for.

“If he can save a few people from what I went through, and there are a lot worse off than I was, but if him creating awareness can get a few people tested that’s great,” he said.

“If somebody doesn’t do something like this then you don’t find out about it.

“If you’re over 50, or if there’s bowel cancer in your family, get tested.

“It could save your life.”