A motion to have the RSL lobby the Australian Government to have the Kokoda Trail renamed as ‘The Kokoda Track’ was defeated at the RSL National Congress held in Dubbo on 14-15 September 2010 (National Congress Resolution 6.1.2 refers).
The RSL is to be congratulated for respecting the sovereign right of the National Government of Papua New Guinea to name its own geographical features (PNG Government Gazette No 88 of 12 October 1972, page 1362, column 2, Notice 1972/28 refers).
Colonel Donald Ramsay, a former Commanding Officer of the Pacific Islands Regiment in Papua New Guinea, wrote in Reveille (Vol 84, No 1 January-February 2011):
‘Re National Congress Resolution 6.1.2, many returned men obviously prefer Trail to Track, hence the resolution.
‘The Australian Infantry Battalion and the Pacific Islands Regiment were awarded ‘Kokoda Trail’ and are proudly shown on their colours.
‘When the Australian battle honours were gazetted in the early 1950s, if the senior generals, Rowell, Robertson and Berryman had wanted to call it a track they would have done so.’
The historic sign at McDonald’s Corner, the beginning of the trail in 1942 had ‘Kokoda Trail’ painted on it (see photograph on page 286 of the history of the 2/3rd Infantry Battalion titled ‘War Dance by Ken Clift – 1980).
The most comprehensive history of the trail by Stuart Hawthorne is titled ‘Kokoda Trail’.
The name ‘Kokoda Trail’ is the official name recognised by:
- The National Government of Papua New Guinea (which has sovereign ownership of the country)
- The RSL of Australia (which is the national representative body for ex-servicemen and women)
- The Australian War Memorial (which is the custodian of our military heritage)
- The official Battle Honours of all Australian units who fought in the Kokoda campaign
The name is not recognised by Australian Government officials in:
- The DFAT ‘Kokoda Initiative’ in PNG; and
- the Department of Veterans Affairs
Government officials in these organisations prefer to ignore PNGs sovereign right to name their own geographic features and use the politically correct term ‘Kokoda Track’.