During the 50th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign, Prime Minister Paul Keating, kissed the ground at Kokoda and awakened Australians to the significance of the Kokoda campaign. His action generated much talkback noise about whether it was a trail or a track. The noise increased in as anti-American sentiment grew after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The voices eventually prevailed and on the 60th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign Prime Ministers’ John Howard and Sir Michael Somare opened the Isurava Memorial which had the word ‘Kokoda Track’ embedded into it. All signage between McDonald’s Corner and Kokoda referred to the ‘Kokoda Trail’ prior to this.
The 70th anniversary period offers an opportunity for a sober review of the debate.
The origin of the official name, ‘Kokoda Trail’, dates back to 1947 when an Australian Battles Nomenclature Committee was established to define the battles in the Pacific. Their final report in 1958 adopted ‘Kokoda Trail’ as the official Commonwealth battle honour which was awarded to 10 infantry battalions and the Papuan Infantry Regiment. [Read more…]