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The Cowey - Selman Kokoda Scholarship is available each year to Year 11 students who are enrolled in a high school or secondary college within the Shire of Yarra Ranges. The scholarship provides the opportunity for students to join a Kokoda trek, with Getaway Trekking Pty Ltd, at no cost to themselves other than their personal medications, spending money and gifts for the Papua New Guinea locals. The successful students will be assisted with training prior to the trek.

The award is the initiative of the 39th Infantry Battalion (1941-43) Association Inc., the Mount Evelyn, Monbulk and Lilydale RSL sub-branches and Getaway Trekking Pty Ltd.

The Competition

This competition, first held in 2022, is named after two Yarra Ranges’ residents, Jim Cowey and Geoff Selman who served with the 39th Infantry Battalion in Papua New Guinea.

The purpose of the competition is to encourage young people to research and understand the sacrifice by so many ordinary people, like residents from the Shire of Yarra Ranges and Papua New Guinea, made in WW2 to keep our nations free. Students will also learn something of Australia’s military history.

The Diggers

James Cowey MC was born in 1890. In WW1 he served in Egypt, Gallipoli and across the Western Front. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry near Hamel on 18th/19th September 1918 in Northern France. He re-enlisted for WW2 and served as a Staff Sergeant with the 39th Battalion. A resident of The Patch, we believe Jim is the only enlisted man to actively serve at both the Gallipoli Landing and crucial 2nd Battle of Kokoda. Jim passed away in 1968. Further detail of Jim Coweys’ life and service can be accessed here.

Harold Geoffrey (“Geoff”) Selman was born in 1921 and served as a Private in the 39th Battalion. A resident of Lilydale, he was Killed in Action at Gona on 14th December 1942. Geoff is buried in Bomana War Cemetery, Port Moresby and remembered on the cenotaph in Lilydale.



James CoweyJames Cowey

Harold SelmanHarold Selman


2022 Competition

The inaugural winner of the scholarship was Cameron Liligan from Cire Community School in Mount Evelyn. Cameron trekked the Kokoda Trail in April 2023. Cameron’s story can be accessed here.


The winner of the 2023 scholarship is Zephaniah (Zeph) Kunst of Mount Evelyn Christian School. Zephanaih will trek the Kokoda Trail in April 2024. Stories of his preparation and trek will be published on this site in due course.

Kokoda Trek Details

The trek takes 10 days (8 days of trekking) and covers 96km of difficult country. A reasonable level of physical fitness is required, along with mental endurance and determination. Airfares, accommodation costs, travel insurance, trek costs and equipment (boots, clothes, passport, if necessary) will be covered. Personal spending money, snacks, personal medications and small gifts for the local Papua New Guinea people (e.g. nail polish and lipstick for the girls and small, light toys for the boys) are to be met by the successful candidate.

Details of the trek and the Kokoda Trail may be found at https://getawaytrekking.com.au/

How To Apply

Students in Year 11 in 2024 wishing to apply for the scholarship should download and read the application details document. When submitting your application, ensure all documents are provided to your high school or college. You can complete an entry using any medium desired (e.g. PowerPoint, art, poetry or essay of up to 600 words), answering two questions in relation to the Kokoda and Northern Beaches Campaign:
  1. What was the importance of the Kokoda Campaign in the Battle for Australia?
  2. Why would you like to trek the Kokoda Trail?
Entries are to be submitted to the candidate’s school/college, with each participating school/college submitting up to two short-listed entries to Monbulk RSL sub-branch (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) by the 22nd March 2024, together with the candidate’s Parental permission and a confidential reference from the school / college Principal.


Financial supporters and sponsors are necessary for the scholarship to continue. Interested businesses are actively sort to support the long-term viability of the program. Pledges can be made to Matthew Crymble (President Mount Evelyn RSL - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), Bill Dobson (President Lilydale RSL) or Craig Vandenberg (Secretary Monbulk RSL - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). All funds are held and managed by the Mount Evelyn RSL sub-branch. Donations and sponsorships may be tax deductible.


References, to assist students research the Kokoda and Northern Beaches campaign, can be accessed here.

Scholarship Sponsors and Supporters

The Scholarship Committee of Management would like to acknowledge and thank our sponsors and supporters for their generous support. Without this support, the scholarship would not be possible.

YRC logo     The scholarship is supported by Yarra Ranges Council with funding provided via the 2020 Grants for Community program.
BB logo    

Community Bank Mount Evelyn
2/35-39 Wray Crescent Mt Evelyn VIC 3796
David Watt, Manager: 9737 1833

Community Bank Mount Evelyn : Bendigo Bank

LM logo    

33 Hutchinson Street, Lilydale 3140


PC logo    

Best coffee in Mount Evelyn!!
3/55 Wray Crescent, Mount Evelyn


Bendigo Bank logo    


Community Bank Wandin-Seville
386 Warburton Highway, Wandin North VIC 3139
Jackie Butler, Manager: 5964 4595

Community Bank Wandin-Seville | Bendigo Bank

 OT logo     Specialists in preparing outdoor equipment for all kinds of expeditions.
7 Amsted Road, Bayswater 3153
Mitchell Pratt 1300 279 959
 Monbulk Bowling Club logo    

Monbulk Bowling Club
Bowls, Bar and Bistro
11 Moores Road, Monbulk 3793

 Healesville RSL logo      

Healesville RSL
Bistro open every day - lunch and dinner
275 – 279 Maroondah Highway, Healesville 3777
Phone: (03) 5962 5017

 Upper Yarra RSL logo      

Upper Yarra RSL
Open for Lunch and Dinner 7 days
119 Settlement Road, Yarra Junction
Phone: (03) 5967 1771

Gardeners Run logo    
Chirnside Park Country Club
Family Style Restaurant
68 Kingswood Drive, Chirnside Park
Phone: (03) 9726 7788
Gardiners Run Golf Course
130-132 Victoria Rd, Lilydale

Professionals logo    
Professionals Real Estate
Croydon: (03) 9725 0000 / Lilydale: (03) 9735 3367
Mooroolbark: (03) 9726 8888 / Mount Evelyn: (03) 9736 3999
Yarra Valley: (03) 5967 1800


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