Back Track Kokoda Trek Leaders
Back Track Kokoda Trek Leaders Annual Meeting, 2014

Back Track Adventures employ professional trek leaders, ensuring a safe and informed holiday. Your trek leaders will explain the history at all the battle sites, give you an insight in to the culture of the people living in the villages and keep you well informed about each days objectives and most importantly, ensure that you all complete the trek safely.

They attend to the smooth day-to-day operation of the trek so you can relax and enjoy the holiday. They remember their first time over the Track and they know the challenges you will face. Our crew is dedicated to ensuring that you complete the challenge and enjoy the experience.

Our Trek Leaders are knowledgeable and passionate about the history of the Kokoda Campaign. They have detailed knowledge of the campaign, the tactics used by both the Japanese and the Australian forces and they also know the personal stories of many who fought and died along the Track. Our Leaders carry selected maps, historic photos and other pictorial reference material to assist your understanding at all the briefings during your trek.

When you trek the Kokoda Track with Back Track you will trek with a fantastic local PNG crew – your Head Guide, trekking crew and personal porters. The majority of your local trek crew come from Naduri Village half way along the Kokoda Track. You might meet their families when we stop overnight in their village during the trek. Click here to meet our local PNG crew and Personal Porters, including staff managing our Port Moresby Kokoda office..

Meet the Back Track Kokoda Trek Leaders

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Jim DrapesJim Drapes

Jim will take any opportunity to escape the Brisbane office and head in to the world’s wild places. For the last 30 years, Jim has led trekking groups to wild and remote places all over the globe. If not out trekking or on safari in Africa you’ll find Jim in the mountains of New Zealand pursuing his love for mountain climbing. Jim is a Back Track Director. His father served in the AIF in New Guinea in WW2.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Ray BakerRay Baker

Ray is equally at home leading groups in the mountains of Nepal, the jungles of Kokoda or the wilds of Africa. His energy, enthusiasm and zest for adventure are contagious. Ray has been acknowledged within the trekking Industry as one of the most highly experienced Nepal trekking guides and trek authorities in the world, having led over 50 treks in the Nepal Himalaya and having spent over 30 years researching trek routes. You will be in safe hands on your journey across the Kokoda Track with Ray’s knowledge and expertise. As a qualified personal trainer, Ray is available to discuss what training is required to maximise your outdoor adventure. Ray is a Back Track Director. His father served in the AIF in New Guinea in WW2.

Kokoda Track trek leader Brad WattsBrad Watts

Like all our Track guides, Brad has a passion for the history and people who live on the Kokoda Track. Having spent 11 years in the Army and serving on multiple operational deployments, he was impressed with the spirit and determination shown by everyday trekkers in walking the Track and the respect shown to fallen diggers! His motivation is to help all trekkers experience the Track and push themselves further to complete it..

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Damian CanigliaDamiano ‘Damo’ Caniglia

A passionate photographer and trekker, Damo just has that knack of ‘getting along’ with people, he’s an experienced leader and you’ll enjoy traveling with him. When not on the Kokoda Track or trekking in Nepal, you’ll find Damo riding his mountain bike or working at Paddy Palin in Brisbane. Many of Damo’s photographs are featured in this site. He is also leading Back Track’s Nepal Photography Tour.

Damain Snapedamien-snape-kokoda-trek-leader

Damian’s philosophy on life is health, fitness & fun. As an Air Traffic Controller, Damian works in a disciplined & structured environment and has damn good fun along the way. In his spare time he enjoys mountain biking the trails in NZ, savouring the bushwalks of Tassie & motorcycling along the winding roads of Brisbane’s hinterland. Damian is motivated and focused to assist trekkers in experiencing Kokoda & to learn from the experience and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Dan TonesDan Tones

Daniel was brought up on a dairy/cattle property in rural Queensland where he developed a keen appreciation of the bush and the outdoors. After 9 years service in the Australian Army Engineers, Dan is back ‘on the land’ at Kilcoy. He has a passion for military history. His uncle served in PNG with the 2/25Bn giving Dan a real connection with the Track. Dan loves to share his knowledge and passion for Kokoda history with our trekkers.

Deanne Ashford

Deanne enjoys the physical challenge of trekking and the buzz of being away from it all. After being an Army Officer for a number of years, she left to pursue a career in fitness, eventually switching to study medicine. Deanne has a keen interest in the history of the Kokoda Track and enjoys the challenge it holds. She is passionate about encouraging others to learn and explore all aspects of life.

Gareth Ward

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Gareth WardEver since being found floating down the Sepik river in an old Arnotts’ biscuit tin as a baby, Gareth has had an affinity with the outdoors. Sharing knowledge and experiences of both natural and human histories are his passion. The campaigns fought by Australians in PNG, its’ peoples,fauna and flora are a special interest for Gareth and he finds it humbly rewarding to safely guide trekkers through it all and to find their own connection. Gareth had an uncle who fought in the New Guinea campaign during WW2. When not lying in mountain creeks, Gareth works as a registered nurse with a focus in wilderness first aid.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Ian ArnoldIan Arnold

Whether it’s the Kokoda Track, the mountains of Nepal, the summit of Kilimanjaro or the wilds of Bass Strait on a Sydney to Hobart yatch race, Ian is at home in the great outdoors. He will make you feel the same. If you live in Sydney, you can chat with Ian (Manager) at Trek & Travel, Sydney’s leading outdoor gear & equipment retailer – Kent Street in the City.

Trek Leader Jason BanksJason Banks

Jason is passionate about keeping fit and healthy whether it is for competing in obstacle courses, Kokoda Gold Coast challenge or walking the Kokoda Track. After his first trek, inspired by the campaign history, the mateship with the trek crew, the friendliness of the local people, and all things Kokoda, Jason loves to now share these same experiences with you. Like all our Leaders, he knows what a privilege it is to complete the Kokoda Track. He’s keen to help others achieve this remarkable privilege in a safe and caring environment. As a successful leader in the workplace, Jason is committed to provide his trekkers with an inspiring, memorable and uplifting experience.

Jason Elmer Kokoda Track trek leaderJason Elmer

As a Senior Sergeant with the Tasmanian Police force and as a former member of the Police Search and Rescue Squad, Jason’s been fortunate in being able to spend a lot of time in Tassie’s beautiful great outdoors, skiing, trekking, abseiling and caving. Having trekked all the famous Tasmanian treks and spending most free time camping and fishing, leading treks along the Kokoda Track is just an extension of his life’s work. “Having played sport all my life, I am a big believer in team work and all working together to achieve a goal”. Jason’s philosophy on team work fits perfectly into Back Track’s goal of ensuring all trekkers complete the Track safely and happily. You’ll be safe, well informed and enjoy trekking with Jason.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Jo MacaioneJo Macaione

Jo brings significant leadership and motivation skills and talent to the trekking environment from her role as business manager for a large Medical Practice. She is a very fit and accomplished trekker with significant Kokoda experience and is confident and relaxed in any outdoor environment. She has brought to her role as a Kokoda leader a heartfelt passion about the historical aspects of the Kokoda campaign and the local people who live along the Track. A popular leader you’ll enjoy trekking with her.

john-shea-kokoda-track-trek-leaderJohn Shea

Growing up in rural Australia, John developed a passion for the outdoors and enjoys the straight forward manner of life on the Track. Spending a number of summers in Colorado working in outdoor pursuits with youth he appreciates the greater connection people develop in themselves, others and the environment through experiences that immerse you in nature. John believes that the Kokoda Track is “nature on steroids.’ John guides on the basis that the knowledge his trekkers gain of our Aussie heritage, their personal insights to themselves and the memories created by the shared experience of a small Team will shape our lives long after we have returned home.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Jo MacaioneKathy Worth

Now Kathy has sold her business and the children are all grown up she has the extra time between her sporting and family commitments to be able to enjoy trekking the world. She is a firm believer in team efforts as a real means of assisting people to achieve their personal goals. Having always been a team player she knows how to set the foundations for an enjoyable and safe trek. She has trekked in Africa, South America, Nepal and PNG and is committed to the belief that Kokoda Campaign history and its true significance to all Australians and the lessons to be learnt from the Kokoda Story should never be forgotten.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Martin MciverMartin McIver

Martins leadership qualities have been admired by many. One trekker recently commented on his leadership abilities as ‘awesome’, and many others have described him as one of life’s ‘gentleman’, a description we most heartily endorse. Martin’s positive approach to life in general and his friendly nature make him a popular Kokoda leader. His knowledge of the Track and its history is superb. If you have the opportunity to trek with Martin, it will be an uplifting and enjoyable experience.

kokda-track-trek-leader-martin-websterMartin Webster

Martin continually challenges his mental and physical capabilities by trekking some of Tasmania’s most spectacular and toughest walks on a regular basis. His interest in Kokoda and the knowledge he has gained and continues to build upon since his first crossing, has resulted in his acquiring great skills and knowledge to share with fellow trekkers. Martin has recently discovered that his great uncle had fought along the Track which has added further meaning to both himself and his family. Martin firmly believes thattThe Kokoda campaign was fought by the bravest, now trekked by the able, but should be remembered by all..

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Matt BraggMat Bragg

Growing up in Rural NSW Matt developed a keen love for the bush and the great outdoors from a young age. Matt’s involvement in Army cadets and his families involvement in both the Great War and in New Guinea during in WWII really ignited his passion for the Australian Military and its history, in particular the Kokoda track campaign. Matt loves trekking throughout the Hawkesbury and Blue Mountains in NSW and the Tasmanian wildness and competes regularly in Triathlons and fitness events all over Australia. Matt is extremely keen to share his passion for the people, culture and the amazing story of Kokoda.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Megan DavidsonMegan Davidson

From her years as an officer in the army, Megs bring her leadership skills and her wide experience and love for the great outdoors into her role as a leader on the Kokoda Track and in South America. A great travel companion, she’ll show you how to make health and fitness part of your lifestyle.

Michelle McFadyenMichelle McFadyen

Michelle loves the idea of trekking the world for the rest of her life but settles for spending her annual leave leading Kokoda Treks and travelling abroad to see what challenges lie waiting for her. Michelle brings extensive leadership experience gained in her 10 years as CEO of various Local Governments to her role as trek leader. Michelle feels most at home in the outdoors and aside from her penchant for adventure travel, spends her spare time competing in triathlons in the beautiful surrounds of Coffs Harbour. Michelle is focused on providing the best experiences possible for trekkers on her watch.

sarah-rowe-kokoda-track-trek-leader Sarah Rowe

Sarah’s love for life and adventure has taken her all over the globe. With a skip in her step and ever cheerful smile on her face, Sarah will guide, inform, and help motivate you through your Kokoda experience and make it as special for you as it was for her first time. Sarah has a deep love for the people who live along the Track and is constantly working on learning more about their history and culture. She understands the importance of keeping the Kokoda story alive, those brave young men who sacrificed so much for our freedom. Sarah will be a guide and a great mate for all who are fortunate enough to trek with her. Sarah’s grandfather drove transport vehicles in New Guinea during WW2.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Steve FosterSteve Foster

Steve will find any excuse to get out on the Kokoda Track. His knowledge of the History of the Kokoda campaign is legendary and he just loves sharing his knowledge. He knows how difficult trekking the Kokoda Track is for many people and he will ensure that your experience is safe, enjoyable and the experience of a lifetime. Steve has lead treks in other parts of PNG including Shaggy Ridge and his understanding of the people and their lifestyle along the Track will add to your overall experience. Steve is a relaxed, confident and fun loving leader. If you happen to end up with Steve as your leader, you are in very good hands.

Kokoda Track trek leader Tom ChenTom Chen

Tom loves trekking, whether it is the Himalaya, Kilimanjaro or just the Blue Mountains closer to home. A designer of green homes in NSW, it comes as second nature to Tom to connect with people, cultures and the environment. e.g. our trekkers, the way of life of the New Guineans and the Kokoda Track itself. Tom believes walking the Track is a life changing experience. Tom considers it a privilege to pass on the legacy of our Aussie diggers as well as the spirit of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels to all Australians, whichever background we came from.

Back Track Kokoda trek leader Tony ClevaTony Cleva

From the rugged gorges of the Hawksbury region ofNSW to the wild panorama of Tasmania you’ll find Tony trekking and training groups in Outdoor Fitness and adventure. Tony has trekked Kokoda in both directions and has a solid knowledge of the history of the Kokoda campaign as well as a passion for the people and culture of New Guinea. An accomplished athlete he enjoys Adventure Racing and outdoor endurance events. As a professional trainer Tony specialises in getting the very best out of people and believes you don’t really know what you can achieve until you try.