ICOM Radios keeping communications open on the Kokoda Track.

th pix11TE (PNG) Ltd has recently completed a major project for The Kokoda Track Authority maintaining communications for the full length of the track with the outside world.

Know as one of the world's most spectacular and challenging treks, the Kokoda Track traverses the rugged Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea. Each year thousands of trekkers brave the mountainous terrain, meet with the Koiari and Orokaiva people living a traditional lifestyle, explore the dense rainforests and follow the footsteps of Australian soldiers who were guided by Papua New Guinea's Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels during Second World War.

th pix12These communications are a lifeblood to the villagers along the track, enabling them to communicate not only with Port Moresby and Popendetta, but also to other villages along the track.

Families can keep in contact and share news and events, and the emergency services become accessible from the remoteness of the track. The Icom radios also serve to support the more than 3000 trekkers who come to walk this almost insurmountable track.

The PNG environment is harsh on any equipment and ongoing maintenance is required for any electrical equipment to operate continually over the time.

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The original communication network was installed by TE PNG over 8 years ago as part of an Australia Aid project. With the harsh environmental conditions found up here taking its toll, continuous funding is need to maintain the network. The jungle is constantly claiming back its rightful place with vines encroaching on the antennas and rust and mould on the equipment.

Careful planning was required for the logistics to ensure the project was carried out with optimal results. Two teams were flown in to Kagi airstrip and dropped off . Each team then worked their way outwards through the various villages. Each team consisted of a Technician with an apprentice as TE(PNG) is committed to continually up skilling its workforce and making sure that its fully equipped workshop has the skills needed to service its ever growing customer base. Supported by 4 local porters to assist in carrying the required equipment along muddy, slippery and very steep jungle paths, the intrepid travellers lugged solar panels, 25kg batteries, antennas and a whole lot of other spares that they would need up to these remote villages.

kagiairstripAt each location the team conducted extensive maintenance on the systems, ensuring that all equipment was in good working order. Rusted items were recorded for replacement, and in some cases vegetation was removed from around the equipment. Each site was then fully documented with asset lists, serial numbers and photos taken of each individual setup. Basic training was also conducted to ensure correct radio etiquette is used at all times and the sites are kept free of vegetation, solar panels cleaned and radios protected from the elements as much as possible.

The following photos show a pictorial story of the project.

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