A WOMAN has hiked the same distance as the Kokoda Track without leaving Bendigo to raise money for veterans and families who run into trouble.
Teresa Jackson could not trek the 96-kilometre trail in modern-day Papua New Guinea, and not just because international borders were closed due to coronavirus.
"I have chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia so I would not have been able to do the Kododa trek at the moment," she said.
"I'm working on my recovery but it would have been too steep and hilly. It would just be too physically demanding for me.
"Around Lake Weeroona you only have to dodge the dogs. And there was that whole social distancing thing with COVID as well."
Ms Jackson became a regular sight at the 2.1-kilometre track around Lake Weeroona over the past month or so as she took on her replacement for Kokoda in small increments.
She was raising funds for Bravery Trust, which provides veterans and their families with immediate support in times of need.
"We have a very large veteran community here in Bendigo," Ms Jackson said.
A number of her family members have served in the armed forces and Ms Jackson herself has volunteered in veteran support for about seven years.
She has sent a number of veterans to Bravery Trust.
"We've had people who were homeless, or their marriage had broken down. That's very common in our veteran community," she said.
"The Bravery Trust has also helped people with therapy programs that were not funded by the Department of Veterans' Affairs - things like art therapy."
Ms Jackson is one of 400 people nationwide who started this year's 30 day challenge.
Six hundred Australians were killed and 1600 were injured in a seven month campaign along the Kokoda Track in 1943. Many people from Papua New Guinea and Japan also lost their lives along the trail.
The successful Australian operation marching from south to north of what is now Papua New Guinea was a key point in stopping the Japanese advance through the south Pacific.
It was characterised by desperate and vicious fighting along the only viable route through mountainous terrain.
To learn more about Bravery Trust or to seek their support visit www.braverytrust.org.au