Wayne Wetherall, Mick O'Malley, Nooxie, Wayne Fitcher and Russell Priest.

Leading the way: Torquay local named KTOA president

December 26, 2019 BY

Torquay’s Mick O’Malley has added a new job to his CV, with the Australian Kokoda Tours director recently announced as president of the Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA) for 2020.

The association is the organisation responsible for governing nearly 70 per cent of all Kokoda tour operators to ensure members are positively contributing to the local communities who live on the track.

The appointment of Mick as president means he will work with the Australian and Papua New Guinean governments while following trek operations to initiate benefits to local landowners and communities.

He will also honour the military values of the Kokoda Trail Campaign by championing ongoing respect and education about Kokoda’s ties to Australia. Mick said it was a privilege to be elected for the role by his fellow tour operators.

“I’m extremely appreciative to be named as the new KTOA president for next year,” he said.

“The KTOA represents Kokoda tour operators who lead trekking tours along the Kokoda Track, ensuring the long-term physical protection of the track; its fauna, flora, waterways, corridors and surrounding areas.

“KTOA also exists to keep the history of the Kokoda Campaign alive by encouraging the ongoing respect and education of the significant military heritage.

“Our members operate their treks to professional trekking guidelines that exceed the industry standard and the industry-driven Kokoda Track Code of Conduct. This superior level of the association ensures that the protection, safety, and overall experience of our trekkers is world-class.”

Mick has trekked Kokoda 67 times, having led the first commercial trek in 2006.

He said this number would only continue to soar as the soldier’s stories, local villagers, porters, guides and the jungle itself were his biggest motivators.

“Some of the highlights of regularly trekking Kokoda would be seeing the improvements to the lives of the local PNG communities through education, medical aid, solar power, and financial support,” he said.

“Seeing the new-found resilience, confidence and personal growth of our trekkers and the respect they gain from trekking Kokoda by being immersed in the story of the Australian campaign and soldiers is always so rewarding.”