Day 4: Isurava to Templeton’s Crossing via Alola
This is a day you will never forget.
We sound Reveille at 4.30 AM and lead you down to a sacred place where four granite pillars can be seen in the pre-dawn light - each engraved with a single word 'Courage', 'Mateship', 'Sacrifice', 'Endurance'. The meaning of each one will become apparent as your trek leader describes the scene where our young spartans crouched low in their weapon pits in the pre-dawn darkness on the 26th August 1942 as they prepared to meet a ferocious attack from the cover of the jungle by thousands of elite Japanese troops.
Your trek leader will take you through the battle which saw he first Victoria Cross on Australian territory posthumously awarded to Private Bruce Kingsbury. He will describe the actions which led to the 2/14th Battalion being the most decorated unit in the Australian Army in World War 11 as a result of their actions at Isurava.
At the conclusion of his briefing on the battle for Isurava he will then conduct a formal Dawn Service at the Memorial. This includes the singing of the Australian and PNG National Anthems by our PNG Support Crew; the sounding of the Last Post which signifies the setting of the sun on the lives of those killed in action; a recitation of the Ode of Remembrance; a minutes silence; the sounding of Reveille which signifies the birth of a new life in a new world.
We then move back up to the campsite for breakfast and prepare for the day ahead.
We cross Ololi Creek and continue to the wartime village site of Alola at 1470 m AMSL. From here we have extensive views across the valley to the area defended by the 53rd and 2/16th Battalions at Abuari. We cross Kaele-Dane Creek and enter the current village of Alola for morning tea.
We then trek down to La La Creek a 1260 m AMSL then climb to the Sabi Mail Exchange Point at 1,340m AMSL (Mail Exchange Points were used by carriers after the war to exchange mail bags being carried between Port Moresby and Kokoda and vice-versa). We continue to the crest of the ridge at 1,375m AMSL then up to Tumunava Ridge at 1,430m AMSL.
We then trek down the ridge to the junction of Eora and Agu Agu Creeks for lunch at 1,420m AMSL.
After lunch we move up to the old Eora Creek village site (formerly known as Iuoro) at 1,440m AMSL - this was the scene of utter chaos during the withdrawal. Wounded Diggers were forced to crawl up the track while their mates desperately tried to buy them time against the advancing Japanese. Those who couldn’t were given morphine and a gun!
Your trek leader will provide a detailed briefing on the wartime significance of the site and the desperate delaying defensive battles in early September 1942 and the major attack which cleared the Japanese off the feature in late October 1942.
Wartime briefing on the delaying defensive battles in September and the later four day Battle for Eora Creek in late October 1942.
We then climb towards the crest of Vabula Ridge where we inspect a fire support position with live mortars and grenades - then a delaying defensive position at 1,525m AMSL occupied by the 2/14th and 2/16th battalions on the night of 1-2 September 1942. Your trek leader will provide you with a detailed briefing on the significance of the position and the characteristics of the live mortars and grenades at the site.
We then continue our climb to the top of Vabula Ridge at 1,905m AMSL then trek down to Vagebau Creel at 1,895m, AMSL for afternoon tea before trekking down towards our campsite at Templeton’s Crossing at 1,760m AMSL via the Sako Creek tributaries.