Day 3: Deniki to Templeton’s Crossing
Continue climbing towards village of Isurava which was established after the war. Trek along the side of the ridge to the Isurava Memorial which was officially opened by Prime Ministers’ John Howard and Sir Michael Somare on the 60th anniversary of the battle in August 2002.
This battle for Isurava has been described as the ‘battle that saved Australia’ – visit the area where Private Bruce Kingsbury was posthumously awarded only Victoria Cross of the Kokoda campaign and the first to be awarded on Australian territory. Inspect the memorial with its four granite pillars engraved with the words: Courage, Sacrifice, Mateship, Endurance.
Continue trekking towards Alola village which is the junction with the track to the eastern side of the range defended by the 53rd and 2/16th Battalions. Follow track down to Lala Creek then climb back to the top of the ridge. Continue via Tumunawa Creek and Mavi Dari Creek to the major Japanese defensive position overlooking Eora Creek. Continue down to the creek crossing then climb to the abandoned village site. This was the scene of chaos and tragedy after the fall of Isurava and Abuari as wounded Australians were sent limping and crawling up the track whilst their mates fought a series of desperate delaying defensive battles to give them time. Some were given morphine and left behind to fight to the finish.
During the Australian advance this was the last major battle on the Kokoda Trail – it took the Australian’s four days to fight their way through the position.
Commence an enduring climb up Vabula Ridge along the route where the Australians fought a series of desperate delaying defensive battles after the fall of Isurava. Trek down Vabula Ridge towards Templeton’s Crossing. This is the junction of the wartime trail used by the 39th Battalion during their advance over the Kokoda Trail and the later track towards an army supply dump at Crossing 1 over Eora Creek. The area that takes one day to trek through took the Australians 13 days to fight through during the Templeton’s Crossing campaign. A force of Japanese had been left to fight to the death in this area. They were so desperate they cannibalised both Australian and their own soldiers who had been killed. It was one of the most desperate and gruesome actions during the Kokoda campaign. This is the boundary between the Orokaiva of Northern Province and the Koiari of Central Province.