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Presenter diary: David Reyne's Kokoda track

Friday, October 14, 2005

Kokoda: day 1

Nervous start to the day — I could not sleep for the life of me. I have known for some time now that I was assigned to cover the Kokoda Track. But in reality the only preparation I have done is about four weekends' worth of bush walking. In other words — not enough.

So it came as a humbling shock when I discovered some of my brand new trek buddies had been preparing for a year. I could not sleep for the one million ways my mind was conjuring up my demise.

But it was too late to turn back now. The wheels were in motion. While it only looks like a matter of moments on screen, it took us until 4pm to actually start walking the track. The majority of the first day was spent filming the village of Kokoda and organising the team of porters we were going to require to assist us over the next 12 days.

Our crew consists of four people — the cameraman, the sound recordist, the producer and, of course, myself. However, to shoot the Kokoda we required a team of 12 porters to carry all our equipment. When you're filming in such harsh conditions you have to anticipate every pitfall. So we needed to have spares of everything — spare camera, spare lenses, a generator to charge batteries, enough tapes to cover 12 days of continuous shooting, wet weather gear, tools, spare mics, a truck load of AA batteries, gaff tape, tripods — and that's not even mentioning our clothes.

So, suffice to say a shoot like this is no easy show to get on the road. But, as I said, by 4pm on day one we got rolling. And then … it started to rain.

We knew that it would eventually happen, but right off the bat like that was, well, typical. What can go wrong will go wrong. And wrong it went. Because while none of this was featured in our story (the camera had to be stored for protection) night fell and the heavens had no mercy. We all arrived at our first camp site in the dark — we were soaking, there were no tents set up, we had no idea where any of our clothing or equipment was (our team of porters had ducked for cover at the first drop of rain) and few of us had any torches because we had become separated from our gear. It is unfortunate this never got filmed because it was ludicrous pandemonium at its best.

This was only night one. If every night was going to be like this, we were in deep trouble. And so after assembling my tent in the torrent of rain, I found myself coiled up inside a tent built for a child, sweating like buggery and unable to relieve myself for fear of getting drenched and caked in mud and then traipsing said mud back into my cramped steamingly confined toddler's play tent.

Night one — no sleep. Eleven nights to go. Ohhhhh dear…

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