Greg Eccleston

Kokoda 2023

Greg Eccleston Kokoda Challenge 2023

I am a suicide survivor.

Black Dog Institute is a cause close to my heart & since 2013, I have been a fundraiser & cheerleader for them. This has included 7 City to Surfs, 2 & a half Marathons & in 2021, the Larapinta Trail.

In November 2023, I am undertaking my biggest challenge yet. The famous Kokoda Track. All 149 kilometres of it.

This comes at a great time for me, because I am proud to say that my personal mental health has never been stronger. The physical challenge of ten days in the Papua New Guinea jungle will be sure to test me, but as a wise man said: a challenge isn't a challenge unless it's a challenge.

So, I am raising money for Black Dog Institute, whilst also honouring the Australian servicemen & locals who defended Kokoda.

Mental illness doesn’t discriminate – it affects 1 in 5 Australians every year with symptoms like depression & anxiety. The impact can be devastating, not only for those living with it, but for those around them.

That’s why I’m raising funds for the Black Dog Institute, to support crucial mental health research & support services that help Australians impacted by mental illness & suicide.

Please donate now. Thank you.

Love, Greg

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My Updates

Kokoda: completed

Sunday 19th Nov
  It was humid. It was steep. It was sobering.

  It was beautiful.

  It was also every bit as challenging as anticipated. Relentless. Very glad that I prepared well. Very satisfying to have completed it.

  And to be able to say - for the rest of my life - that I have trekked the Kokoda Track.

* Fund-raising for Black Dog Institute is still open, below. 😀 

Kokoda: complete

Sunday 19th Nov
Greg & Ezra - Kokoda: complete (17 November 2023)

Greg's Grand Raffle Draw (8 November)

Sunday 19th Nov

Don't Let Go

Saturday 4th Nov
The Skillion, Terrigal, Australia (4 November 2023)

29 October 2023 - Training trek

Sunday 29th Oct
27.73 kilometres... Most of it on sand or bush track. 37,656 steps. Okay, I may have overdone it today...

Greg's Giveaway Grand - 28 numbers remaining!

Saturday 28th Oct
Greg's Giveaway Grand - 28 numbers remaining! Drawn on 8 November!!

Welcome to the Humpback Highway

Wednesday 25th Oct
  Two of the things I am most anxious about (of the long list of things I am anxious about) are hills & consecutive days trekking. I don't think I am properly prepared for them. So, I am getting up early every day before I leave Terrigal (on Saturday 4/11) & heading up to The Skillion. Rain, hail or shine (it is raining tomorrow).

  Not so much for the distance, but for the mindset. And I am NOT a morning person! I am a bit down today. I have been receiving tremendous support from plenty of people (thank you!), but it still gets a bit lonely & scary. A big part of me just wants this adventure over & done with. It is also my late father Ken's birthday today - he would have been 92. He was never going to live that long (!) & he has been gone for 31 birthdays now, but it is still a bit of a melancholy day (as was the weather).

  Took a little detour after descending The Skillion & looking out to the choppy seas, I saw a juvenile Humpback Whale breaching. Even got a photo of it (you can see it on my page -- it's the small grey dot below the horizon to the right). I am even less of a spiritual person than I am a morning person, but seeing the whale cheered me up. Maybe it's a sign that I am on the right track. Maybe it's a reminder that I am doing a good thing & I should be proud (and excited).

  And I reckon Dad would approve.

Good boys get ice cream

Sunday 15th Oct
Training trek - Avoca Beach (15 October 2023)

Brave boys get lollipops

Thursday 12th Oct

Yep, on this corresponding Thursday afternoon on 9 November, I will be ensconced at the Holiday Inn Express, Port Moresby, preparing for that night's team dinner & the following day's short flight to Popondetta & the start of the Kokoda Track.

Am I ready? Nope.
Will I be ready in 4 weeks? I'll have to be.

My feelings have been that nothing I do will be enough to prepare for what is in store. Conversely, everything that I do will help.

With that in mind, my preparations have been going okay.  I have been hiking plenty of distance every week. My biggest concern is doing it day after day after day (et cetera). I am not really prepared for that.

And the mountains.  So much climbing. Sigh.

Had a good training trek last Sunday, revisiting the Jerusalem Bay Track with Maree (see pictures). Maree going back to the scene of her injury on 1 April. I am very proud of her. We also met our new friends-for-life Fiona & Iris, who joined us for the Trek. Overall rating = GREAT SUCCESS.

With less than a month to go, it is now very real. I had a series of vaccinations today. Diptheria, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Typhoid & I think I am forgetting one. My arm is sore...

But I got a lollipop (see picture). Because I am a brave boy.

Simply The Best

Tuesday 3rd Oct
 As detailed in a previous post "Inspired by Legends", in July I had the honour of meeting Penrith NRL player Scott Sorensen, whose match-worn signed Indigenous Jersey I intend to wear on Kokoda Track, from start to finish. We discussed my fundraising work for Black Dog Institute (among other things) & Scott kindly endorsed the cause. This weekend, I met him again.

 It was Grand Final day & my beloved Penrith Panthers were playing in the big game (again). I was spending the weekend in Hotel accommodation in Sydney, as a bit of a mini-holiday. I put on my #11 signed Indigenous Jersey (for just the second time) & made my way to the Sydney Olympic Stadium. I watched the incredible comeback 26-24 victory, as Penrith won their fifth ever Premiership, including the past 3 in a row. I was a bit emotional to witness the history being created by the team that I have passionately followed for over four decades. I hung around the fence for the team's lap-of-honour (something that hadn't happened the past few years). 
 As the victorious Panthers players passed by, I saw my new best buddy Scott Sorensen & called out to him. He recognised me straight away (!) & suggested we get a photo. Despite my phone being on the wrong mode, years of selfie practice paid off, as I managed to work quickly & take the fantastic attached photo. Scott wished me the best for my upcoming trek. I was staggered that in the middle of an NRL Grand Final lap-of-honour, one of the winning players was wishing *me* the best.

 Not only is 3-time Premiership-winning player Scott Sorensen a champion footballer, I reckon that he is the nicest bloke on the planet.

 Even though my fellow trekkers undoubtedly will not share the extremes of my passion for footy, I hope that this experience will somehow inspire all of us, and help push me up the hills, when things are getting tough on Kokoda; as they no doubt will.

 It is now just over a month until I depart. I admit that despite my training being more or less on schedule, I am getting more and more nervous. Doubts about whether I can do this are there, always. I am old, I am not fit enough, I HATE HILLS...

 But a small part of me is maybe - just maybe - starting to actually look forward to this adventure.

City2Surf #24 - back to where it started

Tuesday 15th Aug
My fund-raising adventure for Black Dog Institute began exactly ten years ago, in 2013, with Sydney's City2Surf "fun run". Back then, I was in a dark personal space & one day, I started looking for motivation to drag myself up. I found their charity fundraising team application online.
I had run the C2S fifteen times between the ages of 11 & 25 (1977-1991) & it holds a special place in my heart. In 2013, Black Dog Institute gave me a reason to make a comeback.
The following year, I ran "Two and a Half Marathons" for BDI & I have been with them ever since.
Even in 2020-21, when the C2S wasn't held, I was involved with the Larapinta Trek.
All of these things have gotten me to where I am now.
I didn't publicise or fundraise for the City2Surf this year, as my primary focus is Kokoda, however I still trained hard & proudly wore the Black Dog colours as part of their team. Indeed I was the "face" of their recruitment campaign this year. I half expected to be recognised on the way to Bondi! ("Look, Daddy, there's that depression guy!!").
Happy to report that I finished City2Surf number twenty-four in pretty good shape. Mentally & physically. I will never again challenge my best time (67:20 in 2014), however I was a few minutes faster than last year. And still faster than 16-year-old me!

It occurs to me that by giving me the reason to run for their cause, Black Dog Institute's work into Mental Health has helped me more than I could ever help them. Thank you.

And now my training switches aim to walking. And trekking. And visas and vaccinations. And mud. And hills. Lots and lots of hills...

Inspired by Legends

Saturday 22nd Jul
 When I first signed up to trek Kokoda, I always had it in mind that I wanted to wear a Penrith Panthers jersey on the Track. As detailed in a previous post "Warami", in May I paid $786 to purchase Scott Sorensen’s Match-Worn Signed Indigenous Jersey, from the team’s victory over Brisbane Broncos. Today, I met the man himself.

 All-time Penrith Panthers legend Royce Simmons was kind enough to set up a meeting, so on a chilly Friday winter's morning, I made the drive to the foot of the mountains, in shorts & a T-shirt, to meet the man whose jersey I will be proudly wearing in Papua New Guinea in November.

 The jersey itself was back at home in Terrigal (!), however it made sense to be wearing the colours of Black Dog Institute instead, the real reason that I am undergoing the challenge.

 We met at Café Royce, at The Royce Apartments, on 1 Royce Way, Penrith.

 Royce Simmons was Penrith's first-ever player to represent the Australian Kangaroos, in 1986, and a hero of our first-ever Grand Final victory in 1991. Although I have met him many times over the years, I am always a bit in awe to be in his presence. Apart from his sporting achievements, in 2022 he established "Royce’s Big Walk" (a registered charity foundation), which has already raised millions of dollars for Dementia research.

 Scott Sorensen played in both of Penrith's Premiership triumphs in 2021 & 2022, including scoring a try in last year's Grand Final win over Parramatta. Soon after, Scott made his International debut for the New Zealand Kiwis. He is a very good, tough player. It is fair to say I was a little nervous to be meeting him.

 I am happy to say that they both could not have been any nicer.

 We chatted about Kokoda, of course. Royce has completed the track himself, in 2018. And he was happy to scare me with how hard it is going to be! #funfact Both Royce & Scott have played Rugby League in Papua New Guinea. Royce for the Kangaroos in 1986 & Scott in the first NRL Trial match in the country, for Cronulla Sharks in 2020.

 Both men were extremely gracious towards me. A surprising outcome for me was when I was asked about why I am involved with Black Dog, and I told my story about surviving suicide. It reminded me of the reason I am taking this challenge on. I want to send the message that depression is awful but you CAN come out the other side.

 For the requisite photos, Royce & Scott signed a Black Dog singlet for me, I gave Scott a Black Dog T-shirt kindly donated by the charity (thanks Becky!). A friendly young café worker took the photos & soon after, we shook hands & we went on our separate ways. Scott to a Panthers team meeting, Royce to probably being stopped for a chat by every person in Penrith, and me to the carpark of Penrith Stadium (via Krispy Kreme) to look at my phone & excitedly share my new photos with friends & family.

 These men are legends for more than just being very good at playing football. It is true that Royce is my all-time sporting hero. And Scott Sorensen is now my new favourite current player! I am so grateful to them for giving this footy fan some of their time. And another chance to tell my story about why I am doing Kokoda.

Royce Simmons, Greg Eccleston & Scott Sorensen

Saturday 22nd Jul
Inspired by Legends

New gear, new (financial) year

Thursday 29th Jun
Exciting day for Greg today, as I reaped the rewards of an astute footy bet on the weekend (thank you Jack W. of Canberra) to buy some much-needed new gear for Kokoda. Including a schmick sleeping bag (man's gotta sleep), hydration bladder (man's gotta drink) & emergency blanket (ya never know).
It could be an exciting day for YOU too, as here is a never-to-be-repeated chance to claim a big TAX DEDUCTION. That's right, donate to my cause for Black Dog Institute before midnight Friday & you can claim it all back almost immediately from Mr Taxman.
What are you waiting for?! Donate here:


Tuesday 30th May
Anybody who has known me for more than 5 minutes probably knows that I am passionate about the footy team Penrith Panthers. I have been thinking about what I am going to wear on Kokoda (yes I have) & I decided a while ago that I want to represent my team. Rugby League is huge in PNG & I believe that the Panthers have been very popular up there since long before they became the NRL's greatest team.

Last week, the Panthers wore specially designed jerseys in the Indigenous Round clash vs the Brisbane Broncos & then auctioned off the jerseys worn by the players. I decided I wanted one.

Today, the "#11. Scott Sorensen Match-Worn Signed Indigenous Jersey" arrived @ my front door & I am one very pleased Panthers supporter.

My 'Kokoda uniform' is surprisingly tight & I didn't realise that I have developed an NRL player's physique some time in the past 57 years. The jersey has gone back in its box for now, but I am predicting that many photos of me on the Kokoda Track will feature me wearing this gem, with #11 & "Warami" printed on the back.

Warami = a Dharug word meaning ‘good to see you’. Yeah it is.

Little Beach, far away in time

Sunday 28th May
 Considering I have lived on the Central Coast for over ten years, there is a lot of it I am not familiar with. However, lately, when somebody tells me about a good walking location, I am more inclined to seek it out. Today's poorly researched & unplanned Sunday afternoon destination was Little Beach in Bouddi National Park (which had me singing "Echo Beach, far away in time, Little Beach, far away in time...").

 After a short drive, I found myself at the start of a walking track & headed off. Almost immediately, I was at an intersection, with one signpost pointing the way to Little Beach. Naturally, I headed off in the other direction. And I am glad that I did. The track which was indicated as ending at a clifftop continued down an unposted track, which gave me wonderful views of & then took me right down to MacMasters Beach. Another Coast location I had never visited before.

 Walking away from the beach through some local streets & paths, after exactly an hour, I found myself back at my starting point & immediately headed off again. This time, with just a couple of detours included, I went to the lovely spot which is Little Beach. One thing I am finding about hiking alone is that I seek out other humans. I said hello to almost every person I passed & indeed had some lovely short interactions with some kind souls. Not being out of phone coverage, I also spent a lot of time sending selfies & updates to a handful of friends & family (if you are reading this, sorry for annoying you!). Which tells me that I am not quite ready to be disconnected from society just yet.

 As we passed on the path, one woman said to me "You must be Greg", to which I replied "How did you know?" (either I am more locally famous than I realised or maybe the shirt I was wearing was a giveaway).

 Continuing south & uphill from Little Beach, soon after I took 'Third Point Trail'. A less-trodden path, which took me out to a lonely clifftop, way above the spectacular Pacific Ocean, with the only sign of civilisation being a lone sailing boat below. Oh, and the yellow sign stating that the cliffs were unstable.

 I had had a pretty good workout, the shadows were lengthening, so this time I changed direction and headed back from whence I came. Along the way to the car, I decided that I will organise another training trek with whomever of my fellow NSW Kokoda trekkers want to join me, so I will be back here to walk the entire route on 1 July. Which, much like my departure for PNG on 9 November, is not that far away in time...

Strickland State Forest - Back In Time

Saturday 13th May
 Strickland State Forest is about a 35-minute drive from Terrigal & is the site of the first Australian government forest nursery (1886-1890). I had seen a photo of an old-fashioned suspension bridge there & having a bit of a fascination with bridges, needing to get more bush-walking training done, & without having done much other research, I decided that I wanted to go back in time & see it for myself. Was I successful? Read on for more suspense...

 When I hear the name Strickland, I think of the mean Deputy Principal from the "Back to the Future" films ("Slackers!"). Oh, and the film series ends when a train goes over an unbuilt bridge & back to the future (spoilers!). "Back in Time" is a theme song from the film. So, Strickland/bridge/time; there's the link.

 I arrived at the Forest carpark @ 2:27 p.m. I really should have left earlier, especially as winter approaches. Not a good use of time. I checked the map & set off, firstly through the Arboretum. Crossed the suspension bridge not long after (photo on the fundraising page). I have long had a love-hate relationship with bridges. I love looking at them, hate crossing or climbing them. But this one was lovely. Soon after, met a black labrador puppy "Guinness", who reminded me of my mascot (Darren's puppy Dilkara). Appropriately, I was wearing my Walk the Black Dog cap. Another photo taken, which I texted to Lynne & Darren; although it didn't send (no coverage).

 My last bushwalk had been six weeks earlier, when a group of us did the Jerusalem Bay Track. I should be training more (I have been a SLACKER!), although truth be told, seeing my new friend Maree that day slipping & suffering what turned out to be a broken leg has left me both a little timid & guilty. And I don't have a hiking buddy. Wasn't going to walk a lot of kilmometres today (it was too late for that), however it was probably good psychological training. Also, it was nice to be walking in actual nature again. I haven't done much of it.

 My best training for Kokoda has probably been the trek I did on the Larapinta Trail in the N.T. - two years ago this week (also for Black Dog Institute). That was five days hiking, including climbing Mount Sonder & I got through it fine, as did my boots. No injuries, no falls. Fitness held up okay. Important to note though that, unlike PNG, that entire week was DRY (apart from one memorable fording of a gorge; we nearly lost Caitlin!).

 Crossing little Narara Creek, I stood on a mossy rock with all my weight & my foot slipped. I managed to 'surf' it out & landed upright in the creek with no damage done (my right boot getting properly wet for the first time ever). It was a reminder however that nature is sneaky. If you ever get complacent, it will get you. A TIMELY reminder.

 Arriving back at the starting point, I checked my watch, the map, & calculated whether I could walk the other trail I wanted to do. Problem is, the gates close at 5 p.m. & the sun was getting low. What if I got locked in?! I decided to chance it, although I increased my pace. The track became a little steep. There weren't many people still around & it occurred to me that if I did have a fall, out of mobile coverage, I would probably be alone in the dark forest overnight. Back to nature & back in time indeed.

 In the forest silence, thoughts started forming in my head about how hard this was & how unprepared I am for Kokoda. Before they took hold however, I arrived at the picnic spot I had seen on the map. It wasn't dark yet, the gates hadn't closed, I hadn't fallen & I felt fine. I decided to walk down the road to my car, rather than back down the track. Safer & more direct. And if I fell, someone would find me. Twenty minutes later, I was at the carpark & I saw Guinness the puppy again (and her humans)! I opened a zero-alcohol beer I had in my backpack & then drove back up the road, noting with a smile that I had half-an-hour to spare before the sun disappeared & the gates closed.

 It wasn't the longest trek (6.46 kms) or hardest trek (173 metres ascent), not by a long way, & will probably make minimal difference to my fitness. But I reckon that today was another step (actually 9,898 steps) on the way to being mentally prepared for Kokoda. Good for me. I didn't even get locked in. You might say that I got back in time...

Six Months

Tuesday 9th May
A lot can happen in six months. According to the song, Tim Finn once spent that long in a leaky boat. "Nothing to it" he sung @ the end. For me, I am hoping that the next six months includes somehow developing a lot of extra fitness.
Six months from today, I will be flying in to Port Moresby (side note: Country #75!) & my Kokoda adventure officially begins.
To celebrate the milestone, I went for a training run starting with the Ash Street hill, up to the Scenic Highway, right near where I live. All I will say is that I HATE THAT HILL.
Tickets are selling in my "Grand" Raffle. Only 66 numbers remaining! If you would like one or more ($20 each), just pick a number & drop me a message. Nothing to it.

Kokoda: Fitzsimons & Awaba Street Hill

Tuesday 2nd May

Of all that has been written about the Kokoda Track, probably the most widely-read is "Kokoda" by Peter Fitzsimons. An on-the-ground account of the fighting in WWII, the book's tone is imbued with realism, fed by the fact that the author took on walking the length of the Track himself, immediately prior to writing it.

I have been a correspondent with Mr Fitzsimons for many years, without having ever met, and when my copy of "Kokoda" arrived recently, I inquired of him whether I might be able to have it signed, as well as pick his brain as to what I might expect on my own upcoming trip. Peter kindly invited me to meet with him at his local café in Sydney.

If you don't know, Peter Fitzsimons is a former Rugby Union international ('Wallaby'), and now represents Australia as one of its most prolific biographers & chroniclers of history. A prominent media personality, he has also been a long-serving chair of the Australian Republic Movement. I was a touch nervous about finally meeting him.

I entered the café & spotted Peter immediately, typing away at a laptop in the corner. We shook hands & he invited me to sit. After thoughtfully personalising my book (photo of the inscription is on the Blog page), as well as two others ("Gallipoli" & "Gotta Love This Country!"), he launched into a re-telling of his own experiences on Kokoda.

Beginning with "I don't want to scare you, Greg", then like the acclaimed raconteur that he is, he told me stories that indeed frightened the crap out of me. He also touched upon how it is impossible for us to imagine what it was like for the brave men who made Kokoda famous, in order to defend Australia. And many of them never made it home.

Much of the conversation shall stay between us, suffice to say that the time flew by. One message that stood out above all else for me was: "DON'T UNDERESTIMATE KOKODA".

I had no intention of doing so, but it seems important to remember. That & being even more scared than before of what I have signed up for! I am immensely grateful to Mr Fitzsimons for his great generosity in sharing his time & knowledge with me. After a tough couple of weeks personally, it has placed a little spark back underneath me.

Another takeaway was that Kokoda is UP MOUNTAINS & DOWN HILLS. It is rarely flat. Peter had asked me if there were hills where I lived and I replied "Terrigal is nothing but hills". Well, that and the Beach. I failed to mention that even after running over 3000 kilometres in the past ten years, I still bloody *hate* going up hills. Peter had mentioned a particularly steep hill local to where we were. So, I looked up the place he was talking about. After all, I had my running gear in the boot of the car...

Awaba Street is well-known for being one of Sydney's steepest streets. So well-known, it has its own community event each year, a race called the "Balmoral Burn". I made my way there & got changed & checked out the surrounding area. It was Sydney Harbour at its picture-perfect Autumn day best, with lots of people out & about, and a lovely warm feeling in the air. I realised with some surprise that in the 57 years & 3 days since I was born in Sydney, I had never before been to Balmoral Beach. Setting off from the Rotunda, I clicked GO on my sports watch, & set off for a nice easy flat couple of kilometres along the shorefront, before then taking on the Awaba Street Hill.

I achieved my daily Floors Climbed goal just by looking up at it.

I struggled, panting, up the hill, and then coasted back down. One time. A tiny fraction of a taste of trekking up a mountain. It was another reminder that I am in no way ready for the challenges that lay ahead of me, in just over six short months. But days like today mean that I am just a bit more ready that I was before.



P.S. Thank you for reading. If you haven't donated yet, please consider doing so. My fund-raising has been slow recently and, after all, the cause of the fight for mental health is the reason why any of this is happening. Love to you.

Kokoda reading

Wednesday 19th Apr
"Kokoda" by Peter Fitzsimons & "The Digger of Kokoda" by Daniel Lane (biography of Reg Chard) just arrived...  Looks like I have some heavy reading to do!

P.S. Message me to buy a ticket in my 'Grand $ Raffle'

Jerusalem Bay Track Training Trek

Sunday 2nd Apr
April 1st 2023 dawned sunny & bright. I know this, because I was up before sunrise (for the 3rd Saturday in a month), on my way to meet six of my fellow Kokoda trekkers for our first group Training Trek.
The venue was "Jerusalem Bay Track", a 13.4 km, 5½ hour "Hard track" from Cowan to Brooklyn, finishing next to Hawkesbury River train station. The idea for this came from myself, as I had participated in this same walk on 23 February 2020, back in those innocent weeks just prior to Covid lockdowns, in what was preparation for the soon-to-be postponed Larapinta Trek. I had confidently predicted to our group this time that we'd finish in about 4 hours.
The participants had travelled from four directions; Myself (Central Coast), Matt (Blue Mountains), Amanda, Grant (both Canberra), Sophie, Danny & Maree (all Hunter region). We met @ Fassifern, Woy Woy, Hawkesbury River & Cowan train stations, before setting off as a group from Cowan [pictured].
It was bright & sunny, beneath a cloudless sky, as our intrepid trekkers set off without a care in the world. All of these things, however, were soon going to change.

Our first landmark goal was the "iconic" lone palm tree, on the shore of Jerusalem Bay, site of many a group photo. Before we made it there however, one of our party suffered an injury, damaging a knee when sliding down a slippery rock climb. After deciding that it didn't require immediate attention, we pressed on & soon after, gathered for the requisite group photos.
The track becomes difficult after this, with a lot of climbing up rocks. Tough if you are not an experienced bush-walker, even more so if you have an injured knee. At one point, the injured party (let's call her "Maree") wondered out loud "Whose idea was this?", to which I was going to reply with a joke, until I realised that the answer was, unequivocably "Me". So I shut up.
We pressed on. I remember from my previous journey along this track (*and my limited extra research) that at one point, the track meets with a service road, overlooking the freeway, turns northeast & the rest of the trip is a relatively easy flat walk all the way to our destination. My promises to Maree that the intersection was just "around the next bend" wore thin after a dozen bends or so. In my defence, that's how I remembered it.
In the meantime, the weather turned on us. Clear skies turned decidedly grey. I had diligently checked the weather forecasts & warned the team that rain was likely...  AFTER we were finished & comfortably ensconced at The Angler's Rest, warm & having lunch... As it happened, we still hadn't reached the turning point when it started pissing down.
Eventually, the trekkers at the front made it to the steel pegs in the rock wall, just before the T-intersection. Once up top, while waiting for group to reunite, I took a short detour to check out the view of the M1 Motorway from above, something I missed seeing in 2020. Whilst attempting to take a photo of the traffic negotiating the rain below, I walked straight into a spiderweb & soon found myself with a LARGE spider on the front of my shirt. Resisting the impulse to scream like a little girl, I was able to quietly persuade the spider to drop off onto the ground, apologised for destroying its lovely web and (after taking a photo), we both went on our damp way.
As I phoned the restaurant to ask them to (ahem) "hold our booking", Maree & her support crew soon caught up with us, and we 7 set off again for the remaining "easy" 8 kilometres or so to Brooklyn.
The rest of the trek passed mostly uneventfully, with the accompanying rain now just a steady drizzle. One dramatic moment occurred when one of the party discovered the aftermath of a bloody leech attack. They were a bit disappointed that they didn't actually see the leech in action; if only to show it to Sophie, who has a terrible fear of them. Nonetheless, the only damage done was a bloodstain to the attention-seeking victim's pants & white shirt (*currently soaking in 'NapiSan Crystal White', in the room next to me, as I type this).
We reunited for the final time, after the bottom of the final corrugated downhill road, at The Angler's Rest pub, about 2½ hours later than predicted. Maree walked in under her own steam, like the trooper that she is. Too late for lunch, we had a drink & then went our separate ways home, all in agreement that this was indeed a bonding experience, and excellent training - physically & mentally - for what awaits us in November on the Kokoda Track.


Postscript: Maree has a suspected fractured left tibia. Confirming that she is a model of determination & stoicism. We all hope that she makes a full recovery & can take those qualities with her to inspire us further in Papua New Guinea.

Everything, Here, All At Once

Sunday 19th Mar
Am feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. I started a new (permanent) job this week. AND I am working as an Election Manager for next weekend's NSW State Election. I have two auditions to complete (both for TV shows). I am organising a training trek for some of my fellow Kokoda trekkers on 1 April. I have two other gigs coming up. Nobody is buying tickets in my raffle. And Black Dog Institute have asked me to tell my story as part of this year's City To Surf.
ALL of this is a GOOD THING (*except for the Raffle tickets).
However, some times, it feels like everything is happening not everywhere, but to me, here, all at once. It is actually at times like this that I feel most satisfied that I have given up drinking. Because getting drunk would be the easiest & most useless temporary solution & I don't do that anymore.
So I went for a run. In the heat. I still feel overwhelmed, I just am distracted by the fact that I now also feel out of breath, dehydrated & unfit. Am kidding, I feel better.
I have a couple of sayings to motivate myself regarding training: "It doesn't get easier, but you get better" & "Everything is better after a run".

It's true.


P.S. If you are reading this & you haven't bought a ticket in my $1000 raffle yet, why not?!

Kev's Kaper

Saturday 11th Mar
"Terrigal Trotters" are a well-known running group based in my home town, and as this week marks TEN YEARS since I started running again (in Terrigal), it seemed like the right time to get up (very) early & finally make my Terrigal Trotters début.
Appropriately, today's run was "Kev's Kaper". My dearly-departed brother-in-law Kevin was a member of the Trotters & he had sent me a map of "Kev's Kaper" way back in 2013, encouraging me to get involved. My Kevin didn't design the run himself, however he surely would have run it a few times & today I was (finally) taking up his encouragement. And honouring his memory.
Terrigal is hilly everywhere, but the Kevin who designed this course set out to find EVERY HILL IN TERRIGAL & run up it, some of them twice. I was easily at the back of the Trotters. Their headtorches disappearing in the distance in front of me, before the sun even came up. 
But I finished. Towards the end, I even went up & down The Skillion (pictured), something which I have never done before in my ten years of running in Terrigal.
I considered skipping it. My pace was bad enough already. Especially as I had added about half-a-km when I got lost in the dark earlier. However I asked myself what Kevin would tell me (I often ask Kevin's ghost for advice). He'd tell me to do it. My time doesn't matter. The fact that I went up The Skillion is what I'd remember. And MAN UP, GREG! So, I did. Very slowly...
So, a few milestones today: My earliest run ever (6:00 a.m.!) . The first time I have gotten lost on a group run (the people in front of me disappeared down some steps I didn't know were there). My second-slowest overall pace ever. And my first time running* up The Skillion (*not really running).
Didn't get to chat with any of the Trotters (I was too slow for them), except at the end, as I was panting & sucking on a watermelon on Terrigal beach, a man introduced himself to me. His name was Kevin, an original hardcore Trotter and yes, the sadistic bastard who designed "Kev's Kaper".
He didn't know my Kevin, but I told him why today's run was special to me. He seemed pleased to hear it. I told him that the Trotters might be too hardcore for me though, even with my ten years running experience (& me needing to train for Kokoda).
Kevin noticed my "Black Dog Institute" singlet & correctly guessed that is why I run. Kevin knows that running is not just about fitness, it can be healing for the soul.
I have a suspicion that this might not be the last time this year that I get up before 6:00 a.m. to punish myself around the hills of Terrigal.
It occurred to me, that in November, on the Kokoda Track, I might look back on today & think it was bloody easy.
And I reckon Kevin (my Kevin) would approve.

Training & fundraising begins!

Wednesday 22nd Feb
My first training bushwalk & my first donation are both completed. Only a few kilometres from home is Kincumba Mountain Reserve & I hiked there for just under 2 hours + 8 kilometres, making my way up to Colin Watters Lookout. A highlight was a huge Lace Monitor crossing my path & climbing a tree to stare at me whilst I took its photo. Home just in time for a Black Dog Institute team zoom call, where I "met" a lot of my fellow Kokoda trekkers for the first time.

Thank you to my Sponsors


Greg Eccleston


Helen Thomas

Well done, Lothar!


Steve Le Marquand

Well done Greg, top effort mate.



Brilliant work, Greg. You did yourself, the cause and that jumper proud! 😊 Well done!


Lynne Mei Baillie

Have a great trek! Looking forward to hearing the stories. X


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 88-89


Phillip Gould

Best wishes Greg


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 74-87


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 66-73


Liz T

“Great things are done when men and mountains meet.” - William Blake Good on you Greg! Go well.


Tim Gordon

Good on you Greg. Have an amazing trek!


Brad Allen

All the best on your journey Greg. You are no doubt an inspiration to many, and your tenacity and strength on this trek raising money for such an important and worthy cause is to be commended. I’m sure you’ll carry some of that triple premiership winning, never-give-up Panther spirit with you along the way!


Vonny Mullins

Amazing + inspirational guy making a true + lasting difference to many lives. May this journey be deeply profound, liberating, healing, joyous, and life changing for many. Thank you for who you are, and for digging deep to overcome more. Bless you.


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 59-65


Erin Gee

Good luck!


Dane Lohan

Go Panthers


Steve And Narelle Jones

Good luck for your Kokoda Trail trek. Well done to you for all your fund raising. x


Meg, Jules, Taika, Rui, Evie, Ollie And Goose

All the best neighbour! We'll all be cheering you on


David Rendell


Greg Eccleston

77 days to go


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 50-58


Roslyn Lang





Awesome cause Greg. You’re an inspiration


Lynne Mei Baillie

Good luck in the City to Surf Greggle!


Michael Budd

Break a leg!! From.the Budd family


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 44-49


Yvonne Eccleston

Happy & healthy travelling son.


Karen Cobban

Hi Greg, Good luck on your Kokoda adventure. Well done you doing this walk to raise money for the Black Dog Institute. I'll be thinking of you. Love, Karen xo🙂


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 39-43


Darren Preston

Have a blast greggles


Karen Bayly

You go for it, champ!


Lisa & Adam Gordon

Wishing you the best of luck for a great cause Greg! Looking forward to seeing the photos!


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 35-38


Leo Domigan

I am inspired by your determination Greg. Stay strong!


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 24-34


Andy Scotland




Adam Wechsler

Go Greg! 2023 the year to tackle Awaba St and Kokoda. Can't believe you've been to 74 countries before Balmoral Beach.


Jill Rogers And Cathleen Mcilmurray

Good Luck Greg, I know you will make the trek and tell a great story or two afterwards


Greg's Kokoda Grand Raffle 11-23


Time Out Adventures & Entertainment

All the best Greg we are cheering you on.


Greg's Kokoda Challenge Grand Raffle


Ryan And Sandra Lohan

Awesome job, keep going!


Natalie Murray

Run, Greg, run! (Actually, walking might be safer.) Walk, Greg, walk!


Mandy Dodds

Greg, you're an inspiration. It will be an unforgettable achievement. Regards Mandy


David & Vera Bonham


Chris & Dave

Good luck Greg


Greg Eccleston