Kokoda Trail Trek

Days
8
From
$2,995

Our Kokoda Trail Treks are led by a PNG trek leader and designed for groups who want to experience the physical challenge of the Kokoda Trail across the original wartime route.  

While our PNG trek leaders are masters of their environment and will get you safely across the trail they only have a superficial understanding of the Kokoda campaign strategy and battlefield tactics. 

They have been leading treks across the trail for more than 10 years and are well respected by the Koiari and Orokaiva clan leaders across the trail.

Each of our Kokoda Trail Trek group has a PNG medic trained in First Aid - they also carry two VHF radios and a SatPhone and have 24/7 back up from our base at Sogeri.

These treks are best suited for a bunch of mates on a budget who want to experience the physical challenge of the Kokoda Trail and the camaraderie that goes with it but who 

We require a minimum of eight (8) trekkers for these groups.

What's included

  • Meals
  • All transportation
  • All accommodation
  • All trek fees
  • Mosquito-proof tents

Dates & Availability for Kokoda Trail Trek

Date
Status Price  
26 May - 4 Jun 2018
Owers Corner to Kokoda
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645
9 Jun - 18 Jun 2018
Owers Corner to Kokoda
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645
7 Jul - 16 Jul 2018
Kokoda to Owers Corner
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645
16 Jul - 25 Jul 2018
Owers Corner to Kokoda
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645
21 Jul - 30 Jul 2018
Owers Corner to Kokoda
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645
16 Aug - 27 Aug 2018
Kokoda to Owers Corner
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645
3 Sep - 12 Sep 2018
Kokoda to Owers Corner
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645
30 Sep - 9 Oct 2018
Owers Corner to Kokoda
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645
1 Nov - 10 Nov 2018
Owers Corner to Kokoda
Taking Bookings $3,995 $3,595 $3,695 $2,895 $3,645

Load all dates

Photos from the Kokoda Trail Trek

FAQs about this trek

The VHF radio net along the Kokoda Trail has improved however there is only one channel and it is sometimes difficult to break into the chatter.  The system does not have a base station with a 24/7 listening watch which could be critical in an emergency.

Adventure Kokoda are equipped with satellite phones for use in emergencies.

Operators who do not have a satellite phone with an active account fall into the 'dodgy' category - unfortunately they exist and the only protection trekkers have is the old caveat emptor of 'Let the buyer beware'.

Trekking without a satellite phone in your group is classified as 'unnecessary risk'.

 

If you trek from Owers Corner to Kokoda via the wartime trail you follow the footsteps of our young Diggers as they advanced across the Owen Stanley Ranges to meet the Japanese 144th South Sea Islands Regiment.

If you trek from Kokoda to Owers Corner via the wartime trail you follow the route of the Australian withdrawal in the face of overwhelming Japanese odds back to the last line of defence on Imita Ridge.

There is no 'best' way to trek Kokoda. The experience is just as powerful in either direction (that is the opinion of Charlie Lynn who has trekked 61 times from Kokoda to Owers Corner and 29 times from Owers Corner to Kokoda).

The difference is the experience and knowledge of your trek leader.  If your trek leader has a detailed understanding of the history of the Kokoda campaign you will get maximum value from your trek.  If they don't you will be disappointed and will soon realise the savings you made from going 'cheap' are a false economy in more ways than one.

When planning to complete the journey along the Kokoda Trail the most common question we are asked is whether it is safe. 

The Kokoda Trail is a rugged and remote 130 kilometre jungle path across some of the most hazardous terrain most people will ever traverse. The trail itself can be quite dangerous with steep jungle clad mountains and swift-flowing rivers/creeks strewn with large rocky boulders.  Much of the area is inaccessible by helicopter.  Rivers and creeks can rise rapidly after heavy rain in the catchment area and can be dangerous to cross.

In order to minimise risk it is therefore essential to trek with a reputable trek operator.

If an emergency occurs it is vital that your trek leader be experienced and capable of handling the situation.  Ideally they should also be equipped with a satellite phone and VHF radio with a reliable back-to-base line of communication that maintains a 24/7 listening watch..

As a trekker you need to ensure you are protected with a personal Travel Insurance policy to cover your medical evacuation and treatment costs should you become sick or suffer a personal injury.  It is your responsibility to ensure the insurer you select will approve immediate air evacuation from the Kokoda Trail if the call is made by your trek leader.

You also need to ensure the operator you choose to trek with has suitable Public Liability Insurance protection.  If they don't have it don't even think about trekking with them.

You should not confuse Personal Travel Insurance (your responsibility) with Public Liability Insurance (trek operator's responsibility).

Adventure Kokoda only use trek guides and personal carriers from the Koiari and Orokaiva people who live along the trail. These are the sons of the famous 'fuzzy-wuzzy angels' who look after our trekkers just as their fathers looked after our diggers.

Our trek leaders are trained in emergency evacuation procedures and are qualified in emergency first aid.  They also carry satellite phones and VHF radios with direct links to our rear base at Sogeri for use in emergency situations.

Adventure Kokoda is one of the few trekking companies to complete a comprehensive risk assessment of the trek and has been able to secure public liability insurance protection for trekkers as a result.  The policy has a limit of A$10 million per claim. 

Our good relationship formed over the past 27 years with our guides, carriers and the people living along the trail ensures our trekkers have a safe passage.

Anybody can – and many do – walk in off the street, fill out an application, pay a small fee and become an authorised Kokoda tour operator.  There are no due diligence checks.  They do not have to have a registered company.  They do not need a Public Liability insurance policy.  They do not need satellite phones, VHF radios or medical kits - and if something bad happens they have no assets to reclaim.

Trekkers should therefore take note of the old Latin proverb of Caveat emptor which means ‘let the buyer beware’ – as it is applicable to the current management system put in place by the Australian Government.

PNG Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill recently initiated a review of the Kokoda Track Authority.  The current management system, put in place by the Australian Government during the period 2009-2012 has not worked.

Prior to the year 2000 the Kokoda Trail was only crossed by small numbers of hardy adventurers.

A rapid increase from 76 trekkers in 2001 to a peak of 5621 in 2008 transformed it into Papua New Guinea’s premier tourism attraction.

In 2003 the PNG Government established a ‘Kokoda Track (Special Purpose) Authority (the ‘KTA’) as a statutory government body of the Koiari and Kokoda Local-level Governments to manage the emerging Kokoda trekking industry and ensure local villages across the trail received shared benefits from it.  Unfortunately it has not worked out as it was envisaged.

In 2004 a PNG expatriate CEO was appointed to manage the KTA with a part-time secretarial assistant.  During the next four years trekker numbers increased 255% from 1584 in 2994 to 5621 in 2008.

In response to a public outcry over a threat to mine a large part of the Kokoda Trail in 2006 the Australian Government entered into a ‘joint’ agreement with the PNG Government to assist in developing a case for the Owen Stanley Ranges to be listed as a World Heritage site.  Responsibility was delegated to the Department of Environment in Canberra.

This led to a vertable army of taxpayer funded environmental officials, academics, contractors and consultants to 'assist' PNG manage the emerging Kokoda trekking industry.  For most it was their first trip to PNG.

In 2009 an Australian CEO was appointed to the KTA on an eye-watering salary package.  It was his first time in PNG and he did not trek across the Kokoda Trail until just prior to his departure in 2012.  He was supported by a 10-fold increase in staff and a multi-million dollar budget.

Despite this injection of resources annual trekker numbers declined by 44 per cent from 5621 in 2008 to 3156 in 2012!

A desktop study titled ‘Kokoda Track Authority Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015’ was developed over a long period of time.  It is instructive that not a single one of the five strategies or 33 key performance objectives contained in the plan were achieved.

The Australian CEO departed towards the end of 2012 without leaving a single management protocol in place for his PNG successor - no draft legislation; no management database; no campsite booking system; no integrity in the trek operator licensing system; no safeguards for the welfare of PNG guides and carriers; no audit system for campsite owners; no trail maintenance plan; no community development plan; etc. etc. etc.

The PNG management team were left with an unworkable model which has led to a call for a review by Prime Minister O'Neill.

They do not understand the Principles of Commemoration and know little about the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign.

Trekkers should be aware that they currently have no protection from the KTA.  There is no integrity in the licensing system.

 

The Kokoda Trail - Official Naming Rights 

A paper by Major Charlie Lynn OL
13 September 2011
 

  • Ownership of the naming rights for the Kokoda Trail is a keenly contested point of debate in Australia. 

  •  Do they belong to the nation which retains sovereign ownership of the land between Owers Corner and Kokoda i.e. Papua New Guinea?  

  • Or to the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the 10 Australian Battalions who were awarded the official battle honour ‘Kokoda Trail’?  

  • Or to the custodians of political correctness in the Australian Government who dislike the name ‘trail’ because it's not Australian?
     

Background

Over the past decade almost 40,000 Australians have trekked across the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea.  Most trekkers are motivated by the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign and this has led to a range of books and television stories on the subject.  It has also led to some extensive debate about the official name of the trail.

Contemporary debate over the name evolved after former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating kissed the ground at Kokoda on the 50th anniversary of the campaign in April 1992.  This was accompanied by much ‘talkback’ noise about ‘trail’ being an American term and ‘track’ being the language of the Australian bush (ignoring the fact that our bush is criss-crossed with fire-trails).  This suited Keating’s agenda for an Australian republic at the time.

The debate suited those in the Australian commentariat who harboured a strong anti-American bias over their engagement in Iraq around the time of the 60th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign.  As most of the commentariat had never served in the regular armed forces they could be excused for not appreciating the esprit de corps associated with a battle honour.  This, however, does not excuse them for ambushing a name that doesn’t reflect their political bias.

‘Kokoda Track’ has since emerged as the politically correct term in Australia in spite of the fact that the battle honour ‘Kokoda Trail’ was awarded to the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the 10 Australian battalions who fought in the Kokoda campaign.  It is also in defiance of the Papua New Guinea government who gazetted the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ in 1972.

Australian Battles Nomenclature Committee

Immediately after the war against Japan the Australian Government established a Battles Nomenclature Committee to define the battles of the Pacific.

According to research conducted by Peter Provis[1] at the Australian War Memorial the committee conferred with official historians ‘including Dudley McCarthy.  He reported:

‘The Battles Nomenclature Committee used the ‘Battle of the Owen Stanley’s’ in a provisional list of battles, actions and engagements of the war in the South West Pacific Area produced in May 1947.  For the preparation of the final list, Warren Perry, Assistant Director, wrote that the geographic boundaries required further work with ‘very detailed research into the original day to day records of the various campaigns’.  The Committee may have deemed that the ‘Battle of the Owen Stanley’s covered a too broader area to describe the Kokoda campaign, suggesting that fighting occurred across the entire range. In June 1949 the provisional list of battles used ‘Kokoda Trail’.

‘The final report, completed and published in 1958, listed the ‘Kokoda Trail’ as the name of the battle, which included the actions Isurava, Ioribaiwa, Eora Creek-Templeton’s Crossing 11 and Oivi-Gorari as well as the following engagements: Kokoda-Deniki, Eora Creek-Templeton’s Crossing 1 and Efogi-Menari.’

Kokoda Trail Battle Honour

The Battle Honour ‘Kokoda Trail has been emblazoned on the colours of the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the 10 Australian battalions who fought in the Kokoda campaign for the past 57 years.

Battle Honours or colours symbolise the spirit of a regiment for they carry the names of battles that commemorate the gallant deeds performed from the time it was raised.  This association of Colours with heroic deeds means they are regarded with veneration.  In a sense, they are the epitome of the history of the regiment[2].

39th Battalion Regimental Flag with Battle Honours

The full history of a regiment is contained in written records, but these are not portable in a convenient form.  On the other hand the Colours, emblazoned with distinction for long and honourable service, are something in the nature of a silken history, the sight of which creates a feeling of pride in soldiers and ex-soldiers.[3]

This is a significance that commentators and bureaucrats who have never worn the uniform will never fully comprehend.

The Australian War Memorial (AWM)

The Australian War Memorial is the official custodian of our military history.  The Memorial has honoured the battle honour of the 10 Australian battalions by naming the Second World War Galleries ‘Kokoda Trail’.

According to the Memorial’s website the ‘Kokoda Trail Campaign’ was fought over ‘a path that linked Owers Corner, approximately 40 km north-east of Port Moresby, and the small village of Wairopi, on the northern side of the Owen Stanley mountain range. From Wairopi, a crossing point on the Kumusi River, the Trail was connected to the settlements of Buna, Gona and Sanananda on the north coast.  Its name was derived from the village of Kokoda that stood on the southern side of the main range and was the site of the only airfield between Port Moresby and the north coast[4].

For trekkers the Kokoda Trail lies between Owers Corner and Kokoda.

In response to the debate over the official name of the Kokoda Trail, Australian War Memorial historian, Garth Pratten surveyed the Memorial’s collection of published histories of all the major units involved in the Owen Stanley and Beachhead campaigns in 1997.  Pratten found that of the 28 published histories 19 used ‘Kokoda Trail and 9 used ‘Kokoda Track’ - a majority of 2:1 in favour of ‘Trail’.[5]

Pratten noted that ‘these histories were usually written, edited, or published by men who had participated in the campaign’.[6]

It is ironic that 75 years on we now have city-based academics, commentators and bureaucrats who have never worn the uniform deem themselves to be more of an authority on the issue than those who saw active service in the Kokoda campaign.

The Returned Services League of Australia (RSL)

The RSL is the largest ex-service representative body in Australia. They accepted ‘Kokoda Trail’ as the official title after the battle honour was awarded in 1958. 

A motion by the NSW Branch of the league to have the Kokoda Trail renamed ‘Kokoda Track’ was defeated at the RSL National Congress held in Dubbo on 14-15 September 2010.[7]

Australian Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)

The Australian Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Environment who have responsibility for the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea refuse to acknowledge the correct title of the battle honour ‘Kokoda Trail’ and the right of the PNG Government to name their own geographic features.

According to the DVA website[8] ‘the Australian official historian of the Papua New Guinea campaign, Mr Dudley McCarthy, studied this issue more than any other historian.  He corresponded with and spoke to many Kokoda veterans, and the fact that he chose 'Track' carriers considerable authority’[9].

If this is true then why do unit histories of the battalions who fought in the Kokoda campaign refer to the Kokoda Trail on a ratio of 2:1?

And why did McCarthy take poetic license to caption the map he used on page 114 of his official history ‘Kokoda Track’ when the name on the map clearly identifies the route as ‘Kokoda Trail’?

Dudley McCarthy was a most credible historian however there were many others such as Osmar White and Raymond Paull who had a different view.

The Department of Veterans Affairs believe that McCarthy ‘was certainly influenced by veterans, including senior officers such as Brigadier JE Lloyd, 16th Brigade Commander, who said 'we on the track referred to it as the Track not trail[10]'.

They are obviously unaware that Lieutenant-General Sir Sydney Rowell, former Commander of New Guinea Force during the Kokoda campaign, refers to ‘Kokoda Trail’ in his forward to Raymond Paull’s book, Retreat from Kokoda in 1953[11].  Major General ‘Tubby’ Allan, Commander of the 7th Division and Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Honner, Commanding Officer of the 39th Battalion at Isurava also refer to ‘Kokoda Trail’.

Captain Bert Kienzle, a plantation owner from Kokoda who trekked across the trail more than any other soldier before, during and after the campaign also has a different view to Brigadier Lloyd. In an address to 40 members of the 39th Battalion on the Kokoda plateau in 1972 Kienzle referred to the track Vs trail debate[12]:

‘We, who fought and saved this nation, PNG, from defeat by a ruthless and determined enemy knew it as the Kokoda Trail not track. . . so I appeal to you and all of those who helped us defend this great country to revere and keep naming it the Kokoda Trail in memory of those great men who fought over it.  Lest we forget.’

Departmental officials will go to extraordinary lengths to justify their refusal to accept the official title of the Battle Honour. They have advised that:

‘On 6 March 2008, at a joint press conference in Port Moresby with the then Prime Minister, The Hon Kevin Rudd MP, and the PNG Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, the word ‘Track’ was used nine times and there was not mention of the word ‘Trail’. Both Prime Ministers and the reporters asking questions all used the word ‘Track’.

‘In the Australians at War Film Archive, there are 614 references to Kokoda Track and 462 references to Kokoda Trail by the veterans interviewed.’

This could hardly be classified as ‘qualitative’ research and indicates that they have far too much time on their hands!

The Department is obviously not averse to using sleight-of-hand ‘amendments’ to their own references to support their opposition to the name ‘Kokoda Trail’.  Spot the difference below:

 

Department of Veterans Affairs Website[13]
 

Department of Veterans Affairs
letter to  Charlie Lynn date 23 February 2011

‘There has been a considerable debate about whether the difficult path that crossed the Owen Stanley Range should be called the "Kokoda Trail" or the "Kokoda Track". Both "Trail" and "Track" have been in common use since the war. "Trail" is probably of American origin but has been used in many Australian history books and was adopted by the Australian Army as an official "Battle Honour". "Track" is from the language of the Australian bush. It is commonly used by veterans, and is used in the volumes of Australia's official history. Both terms are correct, but "Trail" appears to be used more widely.’

‘There has been a considerable debate about whether the difficult path that crossed the Owen Stanley Range should be called the "Kokoda Trail" or the "Kokoda Track". Both "Trail" and "Track" have been in common use since the war. "Trail" is probably of American origin but has been used in many Australian history books and was adopted by the Australian Army as an official "Battle Honour". "Track" is from the language of the Australian bush. It is commonly used by veterans, and is used in the volumes of Australia's official history. Both terms are correct, but "Track" appears to be used more widely.’


What a difference a simple word transition can make!

Papua New Guinea

Although the Kokoda Trail is situated within the geographic borders of the sovereign nation of Papua New Guinea their views on the official name have been ignored by Australian academics and armchair historians. Indeed there is no known record of their views ever being canvassed.

Papua New Guinea Geographical Place Names Committee

During the establishment of self-government in PNG in 1972, PNG government officials from the Department of Lands decided to examine the name of the mail route between Owers Corner and Kokoda with a view to formalising an official name for it.  They determined that the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ would be proclaimed.  One can assume they would have been influenced by the name of the Battle Honour which had been awarded to their Papuan Infantry Battalion in 1958.

Chief Minister Michael Somare assumed office on 23 June 1972 when the nation achieved self-government as part of the process to independence in 1975.  Somare accepted the recommendation of the Place Names Committee and the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ was gazetted four months later on 12 October 1972 (PNG Government Gazette No. 88 of 12 October 1972, page 1362, column 2. Notice 1972/28 of the PNG Place Names Committee refers).

In a breathtaking display of patronising arrogance bureaucrats in the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs recently advised that 'the notice included in the PNG Government Gazette of 12 October 1972 was a declaration of the Australian Administration of Papua and New Guinea and not a declaration of the PNG Government!'[14].  They conveniently ignored the fact that the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ has been on the PNG Government statute books since they obtained independence 40 years ago!

Another patronising historian went further when he declared ‘this was a bureaucratic decision, made under the Australian administration, and therefore doesn’t necessarily reflect the view of the people of PNG’[15].  No references were listed to support his fallacy.

Papua New Guinea Publications

The ‘view of the people of PNG’ is reflected in their own publications.

The Encyclopaedia of Papua and New Guinea compiled by Peter Ryan in 1972 refers to the ‘Kokoda Trail’.  Ryan served with intelligence behind enemy lines in New Guinea during the war.  He was decorated with a Military Medal and mentioned in despatches.  Ryan was later a Director of Melbourne University Press.  His book, ‘Fear Drive My Feet’ has been described as ‘the finest Australian memoir of the war’[16].

Wartime journalist, Osmar White, reported directly from the Kokoda Trail in 1942.  Books on his experiences in PNG include Green Armour, Parliament of a Thousand Tribes and Time Now Time Before.  These books, along with the ‘Handbook of Papua New Guinea’; ‘Port Moresby, Yesterday and Today’; and ‘Papua New Guinea’ were all published well before the PNG Government gazetted the name ‘Kokoda Trail’.

Professor John Dademo Waiko, a former Member of the PNG National Parliament, academic and respected historian published a ‘Short History of Papua New Guinea in 1993. Professor Waiko is from Oro Province which contains a large section of the Kokoda Trail.

PNG publications which refer to the ‘Kokoda Trail’ include:

  • Handbook of Papua New Guinea published in 1954’[17].
  • Parliament of a Thousand Tribes. Osmar White. Heinmann: London. 1963. P.125
  • Port Moresby: Yesterday and Today. Ian Stuart. Pacific Publications. 1970. P. 362
  • Papua New Guinea. Peter Hastings. Angus and Robertson. 1971. P. 53
  • Encyclopaedia of Papua and New Guinea. Peter Ryan. Melbourne University Press. 1972. P. 147
  • PNG Fact Book. Jackson Rannells and Elesallah Matatier. 1990[18]
  • A Short History of Papua New Guinea. Professor John Dademo Waiko. Oxford University Press. 1993. P271
  • Sogeri: The School that helped shape a nation. Lance Taylor. Research Publications. 2002. P337

PNG military history books relating the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles which also refer to the ‘Kokoda Trail’ include:

  • Green Shadows: A War History of the Papuan Infantry Battalion. G.M.Byrnes. 1989. P. 12
  • The New Guinea Volunteer Rifles 1939-1943 – A History. Ian Downs. Pacific Press. 1999. P. 164
  • To Find a Path. The Life and Times of the Royal Pacific Islands Regiment. James Sinclair. Boolarong Publications. 1990. P. 143
  • The Architect of Kokoda: Bert Kienzle – the Man who made the Kokoda Trail. Robyn Kienzle. Hachette Australia. 2011. P.311

Stuart Hawthorne, author of the most definitive history of the Kokoda Trail[19] (a 30 year research project) recently wrote on the Australian War Memorial blog:

‘Exploration and development of the early parts of the overland route near Port Moresby began about 130 years ago. In this light, the campaign constitutes a very small part of the track’s history (about a third of one percent) yet the importance ascribed to the WW2 period often assumes a considerably high significance.  Of course the Kokoda campaign is very important in Australia on many levels but notwithstanding this, I often wonder whether the presumption that our Australian perspective displaces all others and borders on the arrogant’.

These publications span a 70 year period and make a mockery of the statement that the decision of the PNG Government Place Names Committee ‘doesn’t necessarily reflect the view of the people of PNG’.

Official Maps

The Royal Australian Survey Corps published a series of 1:100 000 topographical maps in 1974 (Port Moresby – Efogi – Kokoda). The source data for the maps were wartime aerial photographs, sketch maps and survey patrols.  The maps identify the original mail route across the Owen Stanley Ranges which are clearly marked ‘Kokoda Trail’.

The PNG National Mapping Bureau published a ‘Longitudinal Cross Section of the Kokoda Trail’ in 1991.  The map was derived from the Department of Works and Supply, Drawing Number A1/100897 dated May 1982 with field verification by 8 Field Survey Squadron in June 1991 and May 1992.

The PNG Department of Lands and Physical Planning produced a 1:200 000 ‘Kokoda Trail Area Map’ of Oro and Central Provinces.

There are no known maps published by the PNG National Mapping Bureau which contain the name ‘Kokoda Track’.

Australian Military History Publications[20]

The following books include the unit histories of the three battalions (2/14th, 2/16th/2/27th) of the 21st Brigade who fought at Isurava, Brigade Hill and Imita Ridge – all refer to ‘Kokoda Trail’. Other distinguished historians including Professor David Horner, Colonel E.G. Keogh and Raymond Paull, refer to the ‘Kokoda Trail’ in the following publications:

  • Khaki and Green. Published for the Australian Military Forces by the Australian War Memorial in 1943[21] P.157
  • Jungle Warfare. Published for the Australian Military Forces by the Australian War Memorial in 1944[22] P. 70
  • Green Armour. Osmar White. Angus and Robertson. 1945. P. 187
  • The Coastwatchers by Eric Felt published in 1946[23].
  • The History of the 2/14th Battalion. W.B. Russell MA B.Ed. 1948
  • Blamey. John Hetherington. Cheshire Press. 1954. P174
  • Retreat from Kokoda by Raymond Paull published by William Heinemann. 1958. P. 314
  • A Thousand Men at War: The Story of the 2/16th Battalion. Malcolm Uren. Trojan Press. 1959. P. 119
  • The Brown and Blue Diamond at War: The Story of the 2/27th Battalion. John Burns MM. 2/27th Battalion Association. 1960. P. 105
  • The South West Pacific 1941-45. Colonel E.G. Keogh MBE ED[24]. 1965. P.169
  • Crisis of Command. David Horner. Australian National University Press. 1978.
  • War Dance: The Story of the 2/3rd Battalion. Ken Clift. P.M. Fowler. 1980. P. 286
  • New Guinea 1942-44. Timothy Hall. Methuen Australia. 1981. P.101
  • High Command. David Horner. Allen and Unwin. 1982. P. 549
  • Recollections of a Regimental Medical Officer. H. D. Steward. Melbourne University Press. 1983. P. 167
  • The First at War: The Story of the 2/1st Battalion. EC Givney. Macarthur Press. 1987. P. 261
  • The Odd Couple: Blamey and MacArthur at War. Jack Gallaway. University of Queensland Press. 1990. P.266
  • Blood and Iron: The Battle for Kokoda 1942. Lex McAulay. Hutchinson Australia. 1991. P. 23
  • A Young Man’s War: 37th/52nd Battalion. Ron Blair. 37/52 Battalion Association. 1992. P. 106
  • Forever Forward: The History of the 2/31st Battalion.  John Laffin. Australian Military History Publication. 1994. P.329
  • Damien Parer’s War. Neil McDonald. Thomas C. Lothian. 1994. P. 365
  • Salvos with the Forces. Lieutenant Colonel Walter Hull. The Salvation Army. 1995. P. 154
  • Inside the War Cabinet. David Horner. Allen and Unwin. 1996 P. 137
  • Blamey. David Horner. Allen and Unwin. 1998. P. 674
  • The Kokoda Trail: A History. Stuart Hawthorne. Central Queensland University Press. 2003
  • Kokoda Commander. Stuart Braga. Oxford University Press. 2004. P. 368
  • Strategic Command. David Horner. Allen and Unwin. 2005. P. 441
  • The Silent 7th: History of the 7th Australian Division. Mark Johnston. Allen and Unwin. 2005. P. 271
  • All the Bull’s Men: 2/2nd Commando Squadron. Cyril Ayris. 2/2 Commando Association. 2006. P. 384
  • Wartime: Kokoda Then and Now. Official Magazine of the Australian War Memorial. P. 11
  • Hell’s Battlefield: The Australians in New Guinea in WW2. Phillip Bradley. Allen and Unwin. 2012. P. 494
  • Kokoda Secret. Susan Ramage. Eora Press. 2014. P. 101
  • To Kokoda (Australian Army Campaign Series-14). Nicholas Anderson. Big Sky Publishing. 2014. P. 234

Kokoda Trail Signage

All signage between Owers Corner and Kokoda referred to ‘Kokoda Trail’ prior to the 60th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign in 2002.  The Department of Veterans Affairs, which refuses to recognise the battle honour or the PNG gazetted name, Kokoda Trail, built a significant memorial at the Isurava battlesite.  The historical value of the memorial was besmirched with their insistence that the politically correct name ‘Kokoda Track’ be inscribed into it.  The memorial was opened by Prime Ministers’ John Howard and Sir Michael Somare, on 26 August 2002.  The secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs who oversaw the project was later sacked by the Government over his handling of road constructions at Gallipoli.  He should have been sacked earlier over his arrogant management of the Isurava project which created issues that continue to fester 15 years later!

Sign at McDonald's Corner: 1942

PNG Department of Lands Sign at Kokoda 1991

PNG Department of Lands Sign at Kokoda 1991

PNG Department of Lands Sign at Kokoda 1991

   PNG Department of Lands Sign at Kokoda 1993

PNG Department of Lands Sign at Owers Corner 2004

WW1 Remembrance Trail on the Western Front[25]

In 2009 the Department of Veterans Affairs was allocated $10 million to develop a Remembrance Trail on the Western Front in France and Belgium for the Centenary of Anzac commemoration period.

See http://www.dva.gov.au/commemorations-memorials-and-war-graves/memorials/australian-remembrance-trail-along-western-front

The use of the word ‘trail’ in this context creates an interesting paradox for both the Department and the commentariat.  There was not a whimper about the ‘Americanisation’ of our WW1 battlefields in France and Belgium.  Why did DVA use ‘trail ‘when they could have just as easily used ‘track’ to identify it as Australian?  And why did the commentariat not try to mobilise public opinion against that ‘American’ word that does not reflect their interpretation of the ‘language of the Australian bush’?

The decision makes a mockery of their refusal to acknowledge the official name of the Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea.

Conclusion

It is not surprising that there were so many variations amongst troops and war correspondents in the terms describing the track/trail/path/dala/front/road between Owers Corner and Kokoda because it didn’t have a name.  However the four books produced in the 1940s (Jungle Warfare, Khaki and Green, Green Armour, the Coastwatchers and History of the 2/14th Battalion) indicate that ‘Kokoda Trail was the adopted term well before the Battles Nomenclature Committee was established.  It is therefore easy to understand why the committee adopted the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ for the battle honour.

Subsequent to the awarding of the battle honour ‘Kokoda Trail’ more history books were produced on the Kokoda campaign in the lead-up to self-government in Papua New Guinea.  These include the Encyclopaedia of Papua and New Guinea, Blamey, Retreat from Kokoda, a Thousand Men at War, The Brown and Blue Diamond at War and South-West Pacific. All refer to the Kokoda Trail which would have influenced the deliberations of the Papua New Guinea Place Names Committee in choosing ‘Kokoda Trail’ as the official geographic name.

The name ‘Kokoda Trail’ is now officially recognised by:

  1. The Government of Papua New Guinea
  2. The RSL of Australia[26]
  3. The Australian War Memorial Second World War Galleries

It is not recognised by DVA or Department of Environment - post 1992 - who stubbornly refuse to accept the decision of the Australian Battles Nomenclature Committee or the traditional owners of the land, the Papua New Guinea Government.

Their decision to now use the politically correct term ‘Kokoda Track’ in preference to the official name ‘Kokoda Trail’ is a patronising breach of international protocol towards Papua New Guinea - our closest neighbour, former mandated territory, fellow Commonwealth member and wartime ally.

It is also highly discriminatory against them.  If it is OK for the Australian Government to use ‘trail’ in France and Belgium then surely it should be OK to use it in Papua New Guinea – after all they do own the land!

Recommendation

The Australian Government should now put up or shut up.  If they don’t like the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ they should:

  1. make a submission to the PNG Government to have them change their gazetted name ‘Kokoda Trail’ to Australia’s politically correct version;
  2. reconvene a Battles Nomenclature Committee to redefine the battle honour from ‘Kokoda Trail’ to ‘Kokoda Track’ or
  3. change the name of the WW1 ‘Remembrance Trail’ in France and Belgium to ‘Remembrance Track’ .

Until then they should respect the battle honour ‘Kokoda Trail’ and PNGs sovereign right to name their own geographic features.

Em Tasol

Charlie Lynn OL

[1] ‘Track’ or ‘Trail’? The Kokoda Debate. Peter Provis. Australian War Memorial. 27 July 2009

[2] Looking Forward Looking Back: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Army. Christopher Jobson. Big Sky Publishing. 2009. P 50

[3] Ibid P.50

[4] Australian War Memorial Website https://www.awm.gov.au/military-event/E291/

[5] Australian War Memorial – Blog Article – The Kokoda ‘Track or Trail’? Karl James. 27 July 2009. P 4

[6] Ibid. P. 4

[7] RSL National Congress Resolution 6.1.2 refers

[8] DVA website: http://kokoda.commemoration.gov.au/about-the-kokoda-track

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] Retreat from Kokoda. Raymond Paull. Heinemann Publishers. 1953. Forward P. xv

[12] The Architect of Kokoda. Robyn Kienzle. Hachette Australia. 2011 P

[13] Dept of Veterans Affairs Website: https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/kokoda

[14] Department of Veterans Affairs letter to Charlie Lyn (sic) dated 23 February 2011 advising why they would not use the official title ‘Kokoda Trail.

[15] Kokoda Spirit. Patrick Lindsay. Hardie Grant Books. 2009. P. 243

[16] Peter Ryan’s Fear Drive My Feet remains Australia’s finest war memoir. The Australian. 27 June 2015

[17] Handbook of Papua and New Guinea. Sydney and Melbourne Publishing, 1954. P103

[18] PNG Fact Book. Jackson Rannells and Elesallah Matatier. Oxford University Press. 1990. P. 260

[19] Stuart Hawthorne, ‘The Kokoda Trail – A History’ Central Queensland University Press, 2003

[20] These books are from my own library - according to Australian War Memorial historian, Garth Pratten, there are many more.

[21] Khaki and Green. Halstead Press. Published in 1943. P157

[22] Jungle Warfare. Australian War Memorial Canberra. 1944 P.70

[23] The Coastwatchers by Eric Feldt. The Oxford University Press. P190

[24] Greyflower Productions 1965 P. 177

 

Meet the Trek Leaders

Major Charlie Lynn OL

In 2015 Charlie was inducted as an Officer of the Logohu by the Government of Papua New Guinea in their New Years Honours and Awards list 'for service to the bilateral relations between Papua New Guinea and Australia and especially in the development of the Kokoda Trail and its honoured place in the history of both nations' over the past 25 years.'  

Major Chad Sherrin MM

Chad is a decorated Vietnam veteran - he was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in action. Chad first joined the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8 RAR) as a tracking dog handler.  He was promoted through the ranks to Sergeant while serving with 8 RAR and served with the Battalion in Malaysia and South Vietnam.

Lieutenant Colonel Rowan Tracey LLB BA

Rowan is a pioneer of the Kokoda Trail.  He first trekked it 30 years ago when he served with the PNG Defence Force.  He is fluent in the local language 'Tok Pisin' . Rowan is a military historian and is acknowledged as the most eminent authority on the strategy and tactics of the Kokoda campaign.

Captain Reg Yates

Over the past 34 years Captain Reg Yates has explored most of the WW11 battlesites in PNG. He is fluent in Tok Pisin and is well respected by village elders along the Kokoda Trail.

 

Commodore Simon Hart CSC MSc MA

Simon joined the Australian Navy a Cadet Midshipmen in 1973 and carved out an outstanding career spanning 33 years.  He specialised in maritime surface ship operations and spent the majority of his career at sea.

Sergeant Rod Foster

Rod is currently serving as a Sergeant in the Royal Australian Artillery at Kapooka.  He has served in the Sinai Peninsula and Iraq and has a deep understanding of the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign.  He is also a competitive ultra-marathon athlete.

John Nalder

Prior to John joining Adventure Kokoda he used to wrestle crocodiles with Steve Irwin.  John is a qualified para-medic and expert bushman.  He has a deep emotional commitment to Kokoda and the veterans he has met over the years.  He is a keen student of the Kokoda campaign.

Peter Davis

Peter served in the Army Reserve for 7 years and has two grandfathers who served in both World Wars - one being a highly decorated soldier.  Peter recently graduated with a MPhil in Military History with the Australian Defence Force Academy and is now studying for his PhD.

Bernie Rowell

Bernie is a Kokoda tragic.  He first trekked with Kokoda to honour his father who served in New Guinea during the war.  He has since trekked it 43 times.  Bernie has transposed his success in business to his passion for leading treks across the Kokoda Trail. 

Dave Sherry

Dave began exploring Australia as soon as he was old enough to escape Sydney.  He was born in the city but his heart was in the bush.  There are few places in Australia that Dave hasn’t trekked on foot or explored in off-road vehicles.  He even took to the sea as a crew member on the Tall Ship HMAS Bounty during the Bicentenary in 1988.

 

Peter Morrison

Peter Morrison is an unassuming young Australian.  He first trekked with Adventure Kokoda almost a decade ago and developed a strong desire to learn more about the campaign and the people he met along the trail.  Peter is a professional boxer and former NSW welterweight  champion. 

 

Tracie Watson

Tracie is the General Manager and engine room of Adventure Kokoda - she is on-call 24/7 and will look after your every need and concern from the moment you book your trek until you arrive back in Australia.

Why Trek with Adventure Kokoda

Our primary goal is to lead you safely across the Kokoda Trail and ensure you have an unforgettable wartime historical and cultural experience.

Charlie has led more than 90 expeditions across the Kokoda Trail over the past 26 years.

He previously served in the Australian Army for 21 years. During this time he saw active service in Vietnam; was assigned to the joint Australian, New Zealand and British (ANZUK) Force in Singapore/ Malaysia from 1970-72, and as an exchange instructor in Airborne Logistics with the United States Army from 1977-78. He is a graduate of the Army Command and Staff College.

Why choose Adventure Kokoda?

Why is Kokoda so important?Dive into the History