‘McArches’ on Kokoda

The debate about any American connotation of the name  ‘Kokoda Trail’ is about to warm up with the construction of a set of ‘golden arches’ at the entrance to the trail/track at Kokoda.

Anzac trekkers coming of the trail/track were almost reaching for their wallets as they spied the Kokoda ‘McArches‘ looming in the mist towards the end of their fast-food deprivation across the Owen Stanley Ranges. They could almost hear the young Orokaiva cashier asking if they would like fries with their bully beef.

A bronze plaque on the ‘McArches’ is dedicated to Japan and Kokoda.  It talks erroneously about an Australian ‘retreat’ (which is not a phase of war) and describes how ‘six thousand Japanese fought bravely during their southerly advance’.

[Read more…]

Letter to Reveille re the Kokoda Trail

An Australian Battles Nomenclature Committee was established in 1947 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 Pacific Island Regiment. 

In 1972 the PNG Government gazetted the route from Owers Corner to Kokoda as the Kokoda Trail.

The Australian War Memorial adopted the name “Kokoda Trail’ for its Second World War galleries because of the official battle honours awarded in that name.

The author of the most definitive history of the Kokoda Trail (Stuart Hawthorne, The Kokoda Trail – A History’ Central Queensland University Press, 2003) 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’.

If advocates of a different name wish to have it changed they should prepare a submission in accordance with the protocols of the PNG Government and forward it to them for consideration – after all they are the owners of the land.  In the meantime the Australian Government and media should respect the deliberations of those who awarded the battle honour, Kokoda Trail, and the sovereign right of the PNG Government to name its own geographical features.

Charlie Lynn

One-trek wunder on ‘Wrong side of track’!

Another one-trek wunder has made a cheap crossing of the Kokoda Trail and taken a cheap shot at one of the living icons, Ovoru Indiki, to justify his article ‘A wrong side to this track’ in the Sunday Telegraph on 14 March 2010. He wrote:

’A day walk took us to Naduri village and an audience with Ovoru Ndike (spelt wrongly), who at 104 years old is reputed to be one of the last surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels – the men who carried supplies and wounded soldiers during the war.

’He is arranged on a wheelchair by his son Andy, who delivers an unimpressive speech that costs 10 kina a person for the privilege of deciphering. A 50-strong party from the Hawthorn AFL club later that day would have swelled the coffers’. [Read more…]

EXCRUCIATING,gruelling,torturous,gut-wrenching

by Sally McMillan – The Sunday Telegraph

EXCRUCIATING, gruelling, torturous, gut-wrenching …

Trekking the Kokoda Trail is all of the above – and more.

The cloying jungle seeps into you, radiating waves of body heat. The air is fetid, the dense canopy enveloping – at night ink-black.

[Read more…]

Military Heritage at risk on the Kokoda Trail

There is an urgent need for a re-assessment of Australia’s role in the protection of our military heritage along the Kokoda Trail.

The construction of conventional buildings at Owers Corner and steel wire rope swing bridges across creeks at significant battlesites is akin to desecration of the most significant symbol of our involvement in New Guinea during the Pacific War. [Read more…]

Wire bridges on Kokoda=Bureaucratic vandalism!

The Kokoda Track Authority has advised of a plan to construct permanent swing bridges with cables and metal thread with constructed anchor points capable of taking up to 8 – 10 persons at Eora Creek Crossing, (Dump 1) Eora Creek, Efogi River (between Naduri and Efogi 2), Elomi Creek (between Efogi 1 and Efogi 2), Ofi Creek and Goldie River.

I do not know where these ‘plans’ are coming from but I do know they are being done without any consultation at all with the paying customer i.e. the trekker.

The research we have conducted with a significant number of people who have trekked with Adventure Kokoda over the past 18 years indicates that they want the track left alone. They want to trek in the footsteps of our diggers as they did it. They do not want boardwalks and bridges. [Read more…]

Kokoda: Response & Recommendations

A post by Charlie Lynn:

I appreciate the work that has been done along the Kokoda Trail in regard to providing educational and health support for villagers. Whilst nobody can argue about meeting these important needs I have serious reservations about the process used in determining who should be responsible for the work; the priorities/partnerships associated with it; and the ongoing lack of effective management for trekking operations across the Kokoda Trail. [Read more…]

Australia to spend $12k on Kokoda refurbishment

ABC News: 23 June 2009

Australia will spend $12,000 to refurbish part of the Kokoda Track and build two memorials to Australian service in Papua New Guinea. [Read more…]

Kokoda: World Heritage or Military Heritage?

Kokoda is a powerful word. According to the Orokaiva ‘koko’ means place of skulls – ‘da’ is village. The combination of syllables conjures up thoughts of ‘ adventure’ – mystery – danger’  in the minds of sedentary beings.

And no wonder.  Orokaiva warriors fearlessly resisted incursions into the Yodda valley when gold was discovered in the late 19th Century.  Many early explorers and missionaries ended up in village cooking pots as they were stalked in the remote jungle-clad mountain ranges. [Read more…]

Kokoda: Track or Trail?

On 12 October 1972 the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ was proclaimed in the Government Gazette of Papua New Guinea. This proclamation has never been amended or rescinded so the official name of the track over the Owen Stanley Range between Owers Corner and Kokoda is ‘The Kokoda Trail’.

The custodian of Australia’s Military History, the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, revisited the debate in 2002 after some new-age historians argued it should be referred to as the ‘Kokoda Track’.  The official historian at the War Memorial concluded that the term ‘trail’ was favoured by a majority of veterans and because it appears on the battle honours of units who served in Papua in 1942. He concluded that the official designation for the track is ‘The Kokoda Trail’. [Read more…]