The Kokoda Trekking Business
The Kokoda Trail is one of many jungles shrines littered with relics of desperate battles fought between Australian and Japanese soldiers in late 1942. It lay dormant in the minds of Australians for five decades until Paul Keating became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit the village that bears its name.
The Kokoda Trail is unique because there is no other known challenge in such a remote jungle environment with such a compelling story – an experience that allows modern day trekkers to conquer their own adversity as the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign unfolds.
Kokoda, like Gallipoli, is a wartime pilgrimage where heroic stories of courage, mateship, sacrifice, endurance, initiative, egalitarianism and leadership are experienced in a way that has no equal in today’s civil society.
outcry over a threat to mine a large part of the Kokoda Trail in 2006 caused
the Australian Government to consult with the PNG Government to seek ways of
protecting such an iconic part of our military heritage.
The Department of Environment was delegated responsibility for assisting the PNG Government to develop a case for the Owen Stanley Ranges to receive a World Heritage Listing. The Department of Veterans Affairs as not involved in this process, probably because military heritage is not a factor in assessing nominations for a World Heritage listing. The development of a master interpretive plan to protect the military heritage of the Kokoda campaign has therefore not received the priority it deserves.
A ‘Joint’ Understanding
was signed with the PNG Government and Australian advisers were dispatched to assist
PNG to manage the emerging Kokoda trekking industry. Staff numbers in the
management authority increased significantly; numerous consultants were engaged;
and more than $50 million in aid money has been expended.
Despite this injection of support annual trekker numbers declined by 44 per cent from 5,621 to 3,156 during the period 2009 – 2012.
The establishment of The Kokoda Track (Special Purpose) Authority (KTA) as a statutory government body of the Koiari and Kokoda Local-level Governments in 2003 has not worked as envisaged. The KTA, through no fault of its own, is responsible to too many masters and does not have the expertise to meet the competing demands of all the relevant stakeholders.
Notwithstanding this there have been valuable lessons learned during this process and the numbers indicate that the Kokoda trekking industry is now financially sustainable. But more importantly it has the potential to become a model for the development of a world class wartime tourism industry for PNG.
This will require a collaborative effort in formulating a wartime tourism strategy between the two governments.
It will also require a new management model which reflects the essential relationships between governments, tour operators and local communities. The model should address special legislation, infrastructure development, cultural sensitivities, environmental protection, personal safety, corporate governance, marketing, promotion and local community development.
The current organisation needs to be rationalised. There has been a disconnect between the Kokoda Development Program and the Kokoda Initiative because they are responsible to different masters.
The Department of Veterans Affairs, which is responsible for the WW1 Remembrance Trail in France and Belgium does not have a role in what is effectively our WW11 Remembrance Trail between Owers Corner and Kokoda.
The Kokoda Track Authority was initially placed under the auspices of the Department of Local Level Government because there was no precedent for such an organisation. It currently seems to have responsibilities direct to the Department of Environment in Canberra; the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation; the National Museum; and PNG Tourism. These diverse responsibilities, together with the demands of trek operators, Provincial and Local Level Government officials and landowners, have placed it in an invidious position.
Over the past three years 10,000 trekkers have crossed the Kokoda Trail – an average of 3,333 per year. These trekkers would each invest around $5 000 on airfares, accommodation, meals, clothing, camping gear and on-trail expenses in order to complete their trek. These amounts to a total spend of $16.5 million per year. The annual GST dividend between the Australian and PNG governments is therefore in the region of $1.6 million.
The gross income for villagers (the on-trail spend) in 2015 is estimated to be:
- $600 000 in trek fees;
- $250 000 in campsite fees;
- $1.75 million in wages for guides and personal carriers;
- $1.3 million in income for village fruit, vegetables, sing-sings, billum bags, carved trekking poles;
- $500 000 in donated goods (boots, trekker clothing and gear based on an average of K300 per trekker). This is a ‘hidden benefit’ of the trekking industry as the greater majority of trekkers donate gear to their guides and carriers.
There is scope for this income to be significantly increased through the introduction of a community development levy; a significant site fee; a campsite audit system; a peak season trek operators’ license; training of villagers in the provision of goods and services for trekkers; and the provision of a business manager and chief ranger for the management authority.
The figures indicate that the Kokoda trekking industry is now financially sustainable.
Government should therefore limit its contribution to infrastructure development i.e. the development of a master plan for the interpretation of the military history of the Kokoda campaign; facilitation for funding of appropriate memorials at significant sites, the maintenance of the road to Owers Corner; the maintenance of airfields at Menari, Efogi, Kagi and Kokoda; and a VHF communications system along the trail.
1. Duty of Care
Because the Kokoda Trail is located in a rugged and remote jungle environment the Australian and PNG Governments have a shared ‘duty of care’to ensure safety issues relating to connecting roads and airfields are maintained; an effective communications system is operational; and there is an effective management authority in place.
The management authority has a ‘duty of care’ to ensure licensed trek operators have legitimate and adequate Public Liability Insurance policies; VHF radios and satellite phones for emergencies; and leaders with advanced First Aid qualifications. They must also verify that each of their trekkers has a Travel Insurance Policy which provides for emergency evacuation by helicopter from anywhere along the trail.
2. Licensing System
The current lack of due diligence in the licensing process for Kokoda trek operators means that anybody who applies for a license will be issued with one. There have been instances of unlicensed operators simply being issued with a license after they have been reported either because of intimidation or because it is the path of least resistance. There are no checks to verify if the applicant has a registered company; a Public Liability Insurance policy; communications equipment; training in advanced First Aid; or the means to protect the welfare of their guides and carriers.
There is no legislation to support a licensing system so conditions are easily and routinely ignored.
The current system favours opportunistic trek operators who ‘cherry-pick’ peak season periods and do nothing to build their business at other times.
Consideration should therefore be given to imposing a 100 per cent peak season loading on trek permits for trek operators who apply for less than 100 trek permits per trekking season. This will provide them with an incentive to market their treks outside peak periods and therefore spread opportunities for the employment of local guides, carriers and campsite owners to non-peak periods.
Such a loading would increase the income stream for the management authority during these periods.
Campsites should be a unique feature of the Kokoda
experience. They should be built from
bush material and should contain adequate and hygienic ablution blocks
including latrines with privacy screens.
They should also contain a kitchen and dining area for individual trek
groups, sleeping huts for guides and carriers, a haus drai for both trekkers and guides and a sufficient amount of
Ideally they should be segregated from villages so they do not impose on their day-to-day routine – particularly the Sabbath. They should not be ‘grouped’ with other sites as individual trek groups develop and cherish their own integrity as part of their Kokoda experience. ‘Grouped’ campsites also increase the size of the scar on the local environment.
There has been no order in the development of campsites along the trail over the past decade. Landowners carved out sites at random then found there was not enough business to sustain them. Many have since been abandoned and are slowly being reclaimed by the jungle.
Campsites should be strategically located to meet the demands of peak trekking periods. There is scope for landowners to operate their sites as micro business enterprises. In addition to standard kitchen/dining huts, guide/carrier accommodation, male/female ablutions blocks and toilets there should be level sites for tents. Tents could be provided by the management authority for each site on a repayment basis. Campsite fees could be increased by $5 per night per trekker. This increment would be withheld by the management authority until the tents were paid for then the landowner would get the full benefit of the increased fee.
Tent would be stored by the landowner and erected when the management authority advised them of the number required and the dates according to their booking system. Campsite fees owing by the trekkers would be pre-paid to the management authority and deposited directly into each landowner’s bank account.
The concept of ‘trekkers huts’ should be discounted. Trekkers prefer to have their own private space after a day’s trekking and the most effective means of achieving this is with individual mosquito proof tents.
This concept would allow for heavier duty tents to be used for trekkers accommodation as they would not have to be carried by each group. It would also leave a smaller footprint on the trail as fewer carriers would be required. The money saved by trek operators as a result of not having to purchase, maintain and store tents would benefit landowners who would receive increased campsite fees.
Such a system would be dependent on an efficient campsite booking system being implemented.
4. Welfare of PNG Guides and Carriers
The neglect of the welfare of PNG guides and carriers needs to be addressed. Many are overloaded, underfed, ill-equipped and poorly paid. How do we know? Because they speak with our guides and carriers on the trail during our treks!
Their welfare has been ignored by management officials for too long. In 2009 the Australian KTA CEO declared that the maximum weight for local carriers would be 25 kg. This is a weight he would not have been capable of carrying as far as the first ridge on the trail!
Our recommendation that the limit be reduced to the 20 kg limit imposed by the Kiaps under the colonial regime has been ignored. It has since been reduced to 22.5 kg but this is still too heavy and will have detrimental long-term impacts on their hips, knees and ankles.
There is considerable scope for an improvement in the working conditions for guides and carriers.
Weight limits are too easily bypassed by rogue operators and should be replaced with a proportionate number of guides per trekker. It should be mandatory for trek operators to establish bank accounts for guides and carriers and to pay them on the day they finish their trek – or place them on full pay until they are paid! Trek guides and carriers should be provided with a trek uniform comprising a cap, shirt, shorts and poncho as well as an individual sleeping bag and mat. Rangers should conduct check-point audits to ensure they are not overloaded and that they are properly clothed, fed, equipped and paid on-time. All they have to do is ask them!
‘My personal carrier, Paul Duri, was an “angel” in every sense of the word – kind, pure and beautiful and a gift from God. When I was sick Paul washed my clothes, he dried my backpack and filled my water bladder and helped me out in many ways over and beyond his job description. I never asked him to do these things he just insisted on helping.’
Consideration should be given to developing an accreditation system for guides and carriers to enhance their status because they are, without question, PNGs best ambassadors.
The lack of a strategy for training key stakeholders has been the major flaw in the development of the Kokoda trekking industry. KTA Board members were selected as a result of the positions they held in Provincial and Local Level government rather than as a result of their professional qualifications. There was no strategy to develop their understanding of the legal responsibilities of Directors. The executive staff of the KTA were never trained in the basics of management – none had any previous business experience. Campsite owner were never trained how to meet the basic needs of their clientele. Villagers were never trained in the basics of value-adding to the Kokoda trekking industry.
Effective raining requires a long-term commitment at every level of the Kokoda trekking industry if sustainable outcomes are to be achieved.
1. Trek Fees
Trek fees for Kokoda should be sufficient to cover the cost of a functional management organisation.
The current trek fee of $150 per trekker will raise $500 000 per year based on the average number of trekkers over the past three years. This would be more than adequate to cover the cost of the office, staff and rangers necessary for the revised management functions at a more appropriate location such as the former Koiari Holdings property at 14-mile.
The Australian and/or PNG governments should fund three essential positions i.e. a Chief Executive Officer, a Commercial Business Manager and aField Manager. The remainder of the positions in the management authority should be funded by trek fees.
Community Development and Trail Maintenance levies should be introduced and paid in advance as part of the Online Booking System process.
2. Campsite Fees
The current campsite fee of $10 for trekkers and $2.50 for PNG guides could be increased by 50 per cent for those who meet the standards established by the management authority. This would potentially increase their combined income by up to $125 000 a year. This could be further increased with the establishment and accreditation of a proper campsite booking system.
3. Campsite Audits
There is an urgent need for a ‘Campsite Audit System’ to ensure local landowners receive the full amount due to them. Such an audit has been recommended many times in recent years but has not been implemented. As a result local campsite owners are being effectively short-changed by unscrupulous trek operators. It is relatively easy task for Rangers to gather the details of payments from each trek group at each campsite and report the figures back to the KTA but for some inexplicable reason the KTA will not adopt such a system.
4. Campsite Register
There needs to be a Campsite Register provided to every campsite owner along the Kokoda Trail. The Campsite Register would be photographed by the KTMA Rangers as part of their Campsite Audit process and submitted to the management authority at the end of each calendar month.
The Campsite Register should include:
- Trek No (as per Trek Permit)
- Direction of Trek (Kokoda to Owers or Owers to Kokoda)
- No of Trekkers
- No of Trek Guides/PortersTotal campsite fees paid
- Total payment for food provided by campsite owner/village
Operators would be required to pay all guesthouse and campsite fees prior to moving on from that location.
The ultimate objective would be to pay all campsite fees in advance according to respective trek itineraries. These should be deposited into the bank accounts of campsite owners immediate after the trek operator reports that all facilities and services were provided (clean toilets, discreet ablution facilities, dining facilities, haus drai, firewood, accommodation for guides and trekkers, etc.).
1. Community Development Levy
It is not possible to have community development without community consultation and community involvement. The most effective means of achieving this is through the conduct of annual village based workshops with facilitators experienced in local language and culture. This will ensure a continuous review of objectives, partnerships and commitments.
This important area has been ignored by Australian government officials since they assumed control of the industry in 2009 despite much advice to the contrary.
|Over the past decade some of the wealthiest and most influential people in Australia have trekked Kokoda. Many of these would have been willing to leave a substantial footprint behind through the support of community development initiatives in education, health, agriculture and village learning centres if they had been approached to do so. Unfortunately this did not happen because the management authority does not have a database or a system for recording basic contact information.|
The multi-million kina ‘village livelihoods’ program initiated out of Canberra, without any consultation with the PNG Department of Community Development, tour operators or landowners has not generated a single toea in income or produced a single vegetable from the ground in spite of its stated aim ‘to increase the capacity of Kokoda Track communities to develop skills and generate income from the tourism industry by adding value to the trekking experience’. Most of the achievements to date are clothed in ‘political Aid speak’ such as ‘capacity building’, ‘mentoring programs’, ‘gender equity’, improving ‘quality of life’ in communities, etc. None are measureable against key performance objectives in a Melanesian environment.
There is a need for an independent philanthropic entity with an empathetic understanding of the needs of local communities along the trail and with proven expertise in the delivery of sustainable community development partnerships.
The organisation would be responsible for:
- fundraising in Australia and PNG;
- the conduct of annual village workshops in the Koiari and Orokaiva areas along the trail to determine local development needs; and
- the co-ordination of community projects in the areas of education, health, agriculture and community learning.
- A Community Development Levy of $50 per trekker, for example, would provide an annual income of $165 000to directly support village projects along the trail based on the average number of trekkers over the past three years.
The benefits from the levy, combined with targeted fundraising campaigns, would allay many of the concerns of local landowners who currently regard themselves as mere spectators to the Kokoda trekking industry.
Network Kokoda (PNG) has the governance and the capacity to develop, manage and monitor philanthropic community development programs along the trail.
|Network Kokoda was established as a Not for Profit company with a $50 000 donation from Adventure Kokoda in 2010. The company has since raised $150 000 for agricultural programs along the Kokoda Trail and currently employs one full-time agricultural field officer to manage approved projects. The raison d’être of Network Kokoda is to honour the legacy of Australian and PNG veterans, including the wartime carriers, through the support of community development initiatives relating to education, health, agriculture and community learning. Network Kokoda has two separate Boards – one in Australia and one in PNG. The purpose of the Australian Board, chaired by Brigadier Philip McNamara (former head of the Australian Army Special Forces; former CEO of the NSW State Emergency Services; and a former officer in the Pacific Islands Regiment) is to raise funds to support PNG community development initiatives. PNG projects are managed through our PNG Board which includes Dame Carol Kidu and Marianna Ellingson as Directors. Network Kokoda (PNG) is in the process of engaging a PNG CEO who will be co-located with the CPL Group (who have kindly offered to provide office, transport and warehousing support for our agricultural projects). Network Kokoda (PNG) currently has seven village agricultural projects operating on the Sogeri Plateau and has built three Community Learning Development Centres – one at Abuari and two at Kokoda. A major Agricultural Leaning Centre at Sogeri is nearing completion. Network Kokoda projects are based on Dame Carol Kidu’s concept of ‘Community Learning Development Centres’.|
A brief on our Network Kokoda agricultural projects on the Sogeri Plateau is attached as Appendix 1. The website can be accessed at www.networkkokoda.org
2. Trail Maintenance Levy
There has been considerable environmental degradation of the trail since trekker numbers increased substantially in 2006. There was a flurry of activity after the Australian government assumed control of the trail in 2008. Australian ‘volunteers’ were flown into locations along the trail to do work local villagers had been doing for generations at significant cost to the taxpayer. Very little follow up maintenance has been completed since they left around five years ago.
The resources of trek operators, who have a vested interest in the safety/maintenance of the trail, were ignored in this process.
The solution to the challenge of trail maintenance is relatively simple and could be solved with a ‘trail maintenance levy’ of $50 per trekker. This would generate an income of $165 000 for payment to villagers involved in trek maintenance each year.
The trail could be divided into the following sections:
- Section 1: Owers Corner to Ofi Creek;
- Section 2: Ofi Creek to Menari;
- Section 3: Menari to Kagi;
- Section 4: Kagi to Lake Myola
- Section 5: Lake Myola to Eora Creek
- Section 6: Eora Creek to Isurava Memorial; and
- Section 7: Isurava Memorial to Kokoda
An average of $24 000 would be available for allocation to each section. This could be used to employ local guides and carriers during the off-trekking season and therefore extend their opportunities for employment.
Trek operators could be invited to provide trail reports at the end of each trek to the field manager/chief ranger. They could also report on the standard of work carried out by trail maintenance crews and make recommendations as appropriate.
The following trail maintenance tasks would be included in the annual maintenance plan:
- Build and maintain ‘traditional’ bridges across all creeks and rivers. These could be modelled on the bridge recently been built across Eora Creek. They should be at least one metre wide with handrails on both sides and bound with natural fibres;
- Lay corduroy paths along the Nauro swamp area and other similar sections;
- Maintain steps (golden staircase style) on steep sections of the trail; and
- Cut a couple of parallel tracks (north-south and south-north) where there is serious erosion between the Kokoda Gap and Eora Creek the southern slopes of Imita and Ioribaiwa ridges and the Nauro swamp area – this will allow degraded areas to regenerate. The direction of each parallel track would be controlled by Rangers.
3. Significant Site Levy
There is considerable angst amongst landowners of significant sites along the trail because they are missing out on a large share of benefits from the Kokoda trekking industry due to the lack of any accounting/banking system to support them.
The management authority could assist by collecting the fees in advance and paying them directly into the landowner’s personal bank account. This would require the management authority to identify each significant site and each landowner – then assist each one to establish a bank account.
Significant sites include Owers Corner, Imita Ridge, Ioribaiwa Ridge, Brigade Hill, Lake Myola, Templeton’s Crossing, Eora Creek, Abuari Waterfall, Isurava battlesite, Deniki and Kokoda. These could also include local museums at Efogi and Isurava to provide them with an incentive to display and maintain weapons, ordnance and gear they have recovered as well as wartime aircraft wrecks.
A $5 Significant Site Levy (the price of a cappuccino in Sydney) would raise $175 000 (i.e. $15 000 for each landowner) based on 2014 trekking numbers.
Significant site landowners would be required to maintain the site in a clean and safe condition.
4. Charity Levy
Australian charities have used the Kokoda Trail to raise significant amounts of funds for various causes. Whilst these are well intentioned there is little evidence of such funding contributing to worthy causes in PNG – even after trek participants witness the needs of villagers along the trail!
One professional charity, the Kokoda Challenge, hijacked the idea of having an annual team endurance event to raise funds for educational and health scholarships and diverted the profits to develop a ‘Camp Kokoda’ on the Gold Coast for Australian youth. The ‘Kokoda Challenge’ has since ‘diverted’ more than $2.5 million from the intended recipients in PNG to young Australians who already have an abundance of support programs in this area. The Kokoda Challenge website details ‘where the money goes’ at http://kokodachallenge.com/where-does-the-money-go
I have attached a speech I made in the NSW Parliament on the background to the Kokoda Challenge as Appendix 2.
A ‘Charity Levy’ of $1,250 per trekker for one-off charitable treks and $2,500 per trekker for professional charities such as the ‘Kokoda Challenge would ensure that villagers along the trail would receive shared benefits from this side industry.
along the trail are currently denied the opportunity to obtain added value from
trek groups because trek operators have never been consulted to see what
services their clients would pay for and the villagers have never been trained
to meet trekkers needs.
Trek operators were excluded from the initial ‘Village Livelihoods Study’ group in 2009 by the Australian Government. Indeed the study group did not include a trek operator or anybody with PNG business experience yet their purpose was to ‘develop a concept for a pilot-scale rural micro-business scheme along the Track corridor’. This is probably why the project has been such a demonstrable failure.
The following ancillary income opportunities are yet to be realised:
- Owers Corner
This area has the capacity to earn considerable income because it is located on an accessible road from Port Moresby which is experiencing rapid economic growth. This had been negated because of our patronising dealings with local landowners and our lack of historical awareness. As a result the campsite built with AusAID funds has never been used and the area has nothing to attract visitors. The opportunity to develop a traditional village with a coffee shop; an arts and crafts centre; a welcome ‘sing-sing’ area; an audio-visual centre which tells the story of the Kokoda campaign and escorted day treks down to the Goldie River or Imita Ridge is yet to be realised. See paragraph 6 b 2 below.
- Brewed Coffee
PNG coffee is the best in the world. Despite this there is not a single facility along the trail that offers a hot cup of brewed coffee. This is in spite of significant amounts of Aid/NGO funded ‘capacity building’ programs along the trail. If trekkers brought just two cups of coffee a day at K5 each they could increase village ancillary earnings by up to K300 000 per trekking season! If they offered a hot scone or biscuit the income potential would increase by 100 percent.
- Bread Ovens
After a couple of days on the trail trekkers develop a craving for fresh bread and toast. In the early 1990s the campsite at Myola operated an oven which baked bread and heated water for the shower. They served toast with long-life butter and jam in the morning. This was the most anticipated service by trekkers who paid an additional K10. Unfortunately it has not operated for the past 10 years due to a vexatious land dispute, however the demand exists – and trekkers will willingly pay for it. A couple of villages were issued with drum ovens from the KTA in 2007 and NGOs provided cooking classes. Unfortunately they never trained the villagers in basic business principles so when the ‘free’ flour was exhausted they stopped baking bread. Villagers had assumed trek operators would carry in the flour they needed for the bread and they would simply bake it. The NGOs had not consulted with trek operators in regard to this ‘capacity building’ initiative and not a single toea has been realised as a result.
- Trekkers Laundry
One of the onerous tasks for trekkers is the washing and drying of dirty/sweaty clothing at the end of each day. Most trekkers would gladly pay K10 to have their clothes washed each night, dried in a local hut and delivered back to their tent next morning. Potential earnings of up to K200 000 per trekking season could be realised with this initiative.
- ‘Sing-Sings’ – Re-enactments
Over the past 25 years I have witnessed some spectacular local ‘sing-sings’ and re-enactments of wartime carriers. Trekkers gladly pay up to K20 each for such occasions but the idea of a consistent co-ordinated plan has obviously not been part of any Aid funded ‘capacity building’ programs.
- Village Bilums
Trekkers rarely purchase a bilum along the trail because they are no different to those they see in Port Moresby. Traditional string bags made from twisted bark fibre with the name of the villages and ‘Kokoda Trail screened onto them would fetch a premium price. Most trekkers would purchase at least one and many would take the opportunity to purchase a complete set.
- Hot Showers
Trekkers gladly pay K5 for a hot shower at Bombers Campsite. They used to do the same at Lake Myola until it was put out of action by a vexatious land claim that the Australian CEO refused to address at great cost to the local landowners. Campsite owners could easily be assisted in building a hot-shower facility as a means of providing a sought after service for trekkers and earning additional income as a result.
- Warehousing Facilities
There are no logistic support facilities along the trail for trek operators. As a result they are required to charter an aircraft to deliver supplies for the second half of their respective treks. This is an expensive option and subject to the vagaries of aircraft availability and weather. There is an opportunity for a warehouse to be established in either Menari or Efogi villages to store food and equipment on behalf of trek operators who could rent secure storage space. Such a facility could be combined with a village store to service local community needs. Consideration could later be given to the establishment of a Supa V Stoa franchise which would provide villagers with a wider range of grocery and pharmaceutical goods and access to e-banking and Digicel services.
- Recharge Facilities
Generators or solar panels with battery storage and inverters should be considered an essential item for delivering shared benefits for villagers along the trail. They also present an opportunity for obtaining additional income as trekkers invariably have a need to recharge batteries for cameras, satellite phones and VHF radios. They would be more than willing to pay for such a service.
- Kokoda Plateau
The Kokoda plateau has great potential as a major wartime tourism hub because of its airfield and its proximity to the Isurava memorial. The plateau lends itself to the establishment of a Military Historical Precinct and an Orokaiva Cultural Centre The proclamation of ‘Kokoda Day’ by the PNG Government on 3rd November would provide a focus for a national marketing campaign and become a source of national pride throughout the country.
The above initiatives provide an excellent opportunity for additional income but none are available at the present time so trekkers return home with unspent money. The foregone ancillary earning opportunities for local villagers indicates that trek operators and trekkers who have to put their hands in their own pockets are more aware of the opportunities to generate additional for income for villagers than Government Aid/NGO bodies that exist by putting their hands in the taxpayers pocket with no personal accountability for success or failure.
There is now an urgent need for the Kokoda trekking industry to be rationalised and managed as a commercial enterprise with a clear division of responsibility between:
- Government which should provide infrastructure support (road to Owers Corner; airfields at Menari, Efogi, Kagi, Kokoda; VHF communications; and interpretative memorials);
- a management authority to provide operational management of the trekking industry; and
- philanthropic entity to manage community development along the trail.
The Board of Directors should include a representative from the Office of Tourism Arts and Culture; the Oro and Provincial Governments; and professionals with expertise in business, law, accounting and military history.
An Advisory Council should include representatives from the Koiari and Kokoda Local Level Governments, Ward Chairmen from each sector along the trail; the Port Moresby RSL; and a trek operator’s representative.
The operational management structure should comprise the following functions:
- Offices management to operate the website, database and online booking system and routine office functions to support the administration of the authority.
- Financial management responsible for all financial transactions and the provision of financial reports to the CEO and the Board of Directors.
- Field management to protect the wartime historical and environmental values of the Kokoda Trail and manage rangers, liaise with landowners, manage checkpoints, conduct campsite audits and supervise track safety/maintenance.
- Community Development responsible for the conduct of village workshops; the development of an integrated community development strategy; community development partnerships; and liaison with Government aid agencies and philanthropic organisations.
The management system should be supported by legislation and a licensing system which reflects local cultural traditions and provides a level playing field for all trek or tour operators. It should have a professional website linked to a database and an online booking system. The financial management functions should be managed by a commercial business manager who operates at ‘arm’s length’ to avoid intimidation from vested interests.
A suggested brief for a professional website is attached as Appendix 3.
The rapid increase in trekker numbers from 2004 overwhelmed the management system which has been unable to cope with the diverse range of demands placed on it. A strategy to manage expectations of subsistence villagers in accordance with established principles of integrated community development policies was never implemented. Effective training systems for each component of the trekking industry were never developed.
As a result the economic potential of the emerging trekking industry has not been realised and the welfare of guides, carriers and campsite owners has been ignored. Aid funded initiatives have not been effective due to a lack of coordination/consultation with key stakeholders
The current management system is now beyond dysfunctional. There is an urgent need for a new strategy to be developed and implemented for the Kokoda trekking industry to realise its potential.
The potential of a wartime tourism industry is currently limited by an effective strategy supported by an appropriate organisational structure.
If we procrastinate and allow such sacred land to be lost to other emerging economic opportunities in PNG (mining, forestry, farming) subsequent generations will never forgive us.
If we allow the system to continue as it has over the past decade the only growth industry will be conflict management. But if we use the lessons we have learned since the 50th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign that put ‘Kokoda’ back on the radar we will be only limited by the imagination of current and future generations who seek to walk in their footsteps.
“With the economic boom attracting increasing numbers of visitors to Port Moresby, Owers Corner has an opportunity to be the most visited tourist attraction for the nation’s capital because of its historical significance.”
The 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign will be commemorated in 2017. It will be the last significant anniversary with surviving veterans who are now in their early 90s. It will be the last hurrah for a significant commitment to the Kokoda campaign by the Australian Government.
The following opportunities are available as a 75th anniversary initiative:
- Develop a Master Interpretative Plan to honour the military heritage of the Kokoda campaign;
- Develop a Military Historical – Koiari Cultural Centre at Owers Corner
- Develop a ‘Historical Military and Cultural Precinct’ on the Kokoda Plateau
Owers Corner is at the end of an all-weather road approximately 40 km from Port Moresby. It commands a majestic view of the Owen Stanley Rangers at the point our veterans stepped onto the trail.
With the economic boom attracting increasing numbers of visitors to Port Moresby, Owers Corner has an opportunity to be the most visited tourist attraction for the nation’s capital because of its historical significance.
A replica village featuring Koiari tree-houses; a coffee shop; an arts and crafts shop; a ceremonial welcome area; A building with a diorama and audio visual presentation of the Kokoda campaign (see http://www.gettysburgdiorama.com).
The replica village would assist in the development of a ‘day-trekking’ industry with short guided treks down to the Goldie River and/or up to Imita Ridge and back. The initiative would also lead to increased economic activity for other local markets on the Sogeri Plateau.
The Kokoda plateau has the potential to be the second most popular tourist destination in PNG after Owers Corner and certainly the most visited in Oro Province – particularly if ‘Kokoda Day’ is proclaimed on 3rd November in accordance with my original submission (copy attached) – unfortunately it was changed to ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Day’ which has no marketing resonance in Australia.
The Kokoda plateau should be accorded its proper place as a military historical – precinct. It represents the only time in Australian history where Australian troops were attacked by a hostile foreign aggressor at a place on Australian mandated territory. Over the following three months Australian and PNG soldiers and wartime carriers absorbed the horror of pitched battles back to the last line of defence for Port Moresby, then rallied and drove them back. On 3rd November 1942 they raised the Australian flag on the same Kokoda plateau they had been driven from on 29 July 1942.
Kokoda is currently an anti-climax for trekkers – particularly after they have visited the Isurava Memorial – because there is nothing there that captures the spirit of what it represents.
A ‘Historical Military – Orokaiva Cultural Precinct’ on the Kokoda Plateau would extend the tourist potential of the area to the wider Australian population who are not physically capable of completing the arduous trek but would like to be able to visit such a spiritual place and pay their respects. It would also be a gateway to further historical developments in the Buna-Gona area.
An earlier proposal to proclaim the 3rd November as Kokoda Day was amended by the National Executive Council to ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angel Day’. Unfortunately this amendment defeated the purpose of the original proposal and ‘Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angel Day’ has failed to resonate.
Consideration should be given to adopting the original proposal attached as Appendix 3.
Ownership of the naming rights for the Kokoda Trail is a keenly contested point of debate in Australia.
belong to the nation which retains sovereign ownership of the land between
Owers Corner and Kokoda i.e. Papua New Guinea?
Or the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the 10 Australian Battalions who were awarded the battle honour ‘Kokoda Trail’?
Or the custodians of political correctness amongst the Australian commentariat who dislike the name ‘trail’ because of its American connotation?
The Kokoda Trail is the name of the Battle Honour awarded to the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the 10 Australian battalions who fought in the Kokoda campaign by the Australian Battles Nomenclature Committee in 1958. ‘Kokoda Trail’ was officially gazetted by the PNG Government in 1972 as a result of a recommendation by a Place Names Committee to identify the geographical features in the emerging nation.
The official name ‘Kokoda Trail’ should therefore be incorporated into the name of the management authority and in all commemorative services conducted in PNG.
A paper on the official name of the Kokoda Trail is attached as Appendix 4.
The most relevant guide to the potential of a wartime tourism industry in PNG is the continued growth in Australians making the pilgrimage to Gallipoli.
Each year up to 9,000 Australians visit the Dawn Service at Anzac Cove. Thousands more visit it at other times of the year. It is now becoming a pilgrimage for more than a million Turkish people also visiting Gallipoli each year.
In just two years’ time (2017) Australia and Papua New Guinea will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign. This will be a historic occasion because it will be the ‘last parade’ for surviving veterans.
Two of the key objectives we wished to achieve when we proposed the establishment of a management authority for the Kokoda Trail in 2002 were:
- to establish ‘Kokoda’ as a model for a wartime tourism industry in PNG; and
- to ensure villagers along the trail received shared benefits from the emerging Kokoda trekking industry.
Papua New Guinea has the potential to be a world class adventure-tourism destination but it has to address negative perceptions in regard to safety and reliability – particularly after the ‘Black Cat Track’ murders. This will require a focused investment in national marketing and support for the development of niche adventures such as wartime pilgrimages, eco-trekking, white-water rafting, caving, bird-watching, diving, surfing, fishing and culture.
People who participate in these niche adventure activities are generally more aware of the sensitivities of culture and environment and do not expect 5-star accommodation and service. They are also more tolerant of ‘surprises’ that are often experienced in the ‘land of the unexpected’.
Recent interest in wartime tourism indicates that it has great potential as a niche industry for PNG tourism. This is evident by the rapid increase in the number of trekkers since the 50th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign in 1992.
‘Kokoda’ is almost the complete adventure experience for Australian baby-boomers and young adventurers. It requires physical stamina and mental tenacity. The wartime history evokes strong emotions. The unconditional care and support of local PNG guides and villagers is humbling. The environment is rugged, remote and pristine.
Many trekkers have invited their PNG guides to Australia to meet families and friends after they return. Many more are willing to contribute to agricultural, health and education initiatives to assist local villages as demonstrated in the attached report.
Beyond Kokoda are wartime adventures in Rabaul, Milne Bay, Buna, Gona, Salamaua, Nadzab, Lae, Finchafen, the Finisterre Ranges, Death Valley, Shaggy Ridge, Madang and Wewak. These are not only different battlesites – they are inhabited by different cultures with different traditions that create an adventurous smorgasbord. The 75th anniversary period from 2017 – 2020 will lead to increased numbers of Australians visiting these locations if PNG Tourism develops a wartime tourism strategy to develop and market these significant locations.
Wartime tourism is not restricted to trekkers. It has the capacity for wartime cruises to Port Moresby, Milne Bay, Lae, Madang, Wewak, Aitape, Manus, Rabaul, Bougainville and the Solomon’s. Imagine an Anzac Dawn Service at Owers Corner; a showcase of PNG culture along Ela Beach; a ‘Beating-of-the-Retreat’ at Bomana War Cemetery followed by a 7-day Pacific War Cruise to each of the significant coastal/island battlesites.
The most important challenge for PNG is to develop a sustainable model that can be applied to each area. The development of the Kokoda trekking industry provides a timely opportunity for a case study as the basis for developing such a model for wartime tourism PNG National Wartime Tourism Corporation
A PNG National Wartime Tourism Corporation (NWTC) established under the Companies Act would provide a national framework for such an industry. It could operate as a business entity under the auspices of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) supported by a PNG Military Heritage Act.
The Kokoda Trail Management Authority model could be a precursor to the establishment of special business units owned by local communities being developed to manage each particular area – the Kokoda Trail, Black Cat Track, Shaggy Ridge, Buna-Gona-Sanananda, Lark Force, etc.
The NWTC should be run as a business with profits returned for local community development. Participating government from Australia, the United States and Japan could be invited to develop, fund and maintain interpretative memorials for each area of military historical significance. They would also contribute specialist personnel familiar with Melanesian culture and the necessary infrastructure to support access to such sites as the demand for pilgrimages develops.
The long-term benefits of wartime tourism extend far beyond the tourism industry. These include the protection of our wartime heritage; a sustainable source of income for local landowners and an empathetic gateway for a better understanding of our cultural differences.
The Australian Government should consider rationalising responsibility for the Kokoda Trail and the broader Owen Stanley Ranges between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Environment. Both agencies should work through the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby
The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) should be the lead agency for the Kokoda Trail and other significant areas of interest to our future generations. This is not a radical realignment as DVA is the lead agency responsible for Gallipoli and the recent development of a Remembrance Trail on the Western Front in France and Belgium.
The DVA website advises that the Remembrance Trail was developed:
‘To inform and guide visitors of all ages, levels of fitness, and amounts of travel time. Visitors can view key locations at which Australians fought, and visit high quality interpretive centres that present Australian material, while also visiting related sites of Australian interest.
‘The interpretive materials assume no prior knowledge of military history and are available in a mix of traditional and digital media formats. The Australian Remembrance Trail and associated materials provide ample opportunity for contemplative reflection.’
If DVA can develop such an interpretive trail for WW1 on the Western Front in Europe could it not develop a similar WW2 interpretive trail along the Kokoda Trail in PNG?
The Department of Environment should be the lead agency for the Owen Stanley World Heritage Working Group and should work in close collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs; the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation; the PNG Office of Tourism, Arts and Culture and associated bodies.
Proposed Management Structure for a PNG Wartime History Corporation
A review of the growth of wartime tourism in Gallipoli and the Western Front indicates that the future of the Kokoda trekking industry is assured. In the first instance the growth of the industry will depend on the professionalism of the management structure; the development of a master plan reflecting the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign as a model; a free enterprise system for the income generators for the industry i.e. trek and tour operators who invest their own capital in research, marketing, sales, operations and logistics; and a community development plan to ensure villagers receive shared benefits from the industry.
A revised Kokoda Trail management body would be an effective model for other areas of military historical significance.
Wartime tourism is unique because it unites people who were once divided. It provides an avenue for the establishment of empathetic relationships between trekkers and tourists of various nationalities and subsistence villagers who are the guardians of sites sacred to Australia, the United States and Japan.
The potential of the Kokoda trekking industry and the benefits that will accrue to local villagers along the trail is currently limited by the lack of a professional management authority supported by appropriate legislation.
The potential of a wartime tourism industry is limited by an effective strategy supported by an appropriate organisational structure.
The following recommendations are considered necessary to allow the Kokoda trekking industry and wartime tourism to achieve its potential:
- Disband the Kokoda Track (Special Purpose) Authority.
- Rationalise the Kokoda Development Program and the Kokoda Initiative under the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- Establish the Kokoda Trail Management Authority as a business entity under the auspices of the Independent Public Business Corporation (IPBC) as a precursor to the establishment of a National Wartime Tourism Corporation.
- Appoint a Board of Directors which includes the Secretary of the Office of Tourism, Arts and Culture, the Secretaries of the Oro and Central Provincial governments; a corporate executive; a senior lawyer; a senior accountant; and a qualified military historian.
- Appoint a Kokoda Trail Advisory Council with representation from the Koiari and Kokoda Local Level Governments; Ward Chairmen from each sector along the trail; the Port Moresby RSL; and a trek operator’s representative.
- Develop legislation to support the Kokoda Trail Management Authority – a Military Heritage Act.
- Develop a master plan to protect and interpret the military history of the Kokoda campaign.
- Develop a plan to establish a military historical-cultural precinct centre at Owers Corner and Kokoda to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign.
Hon Charlie Lynn OL
10 September 2015
- Network Kokoda Brief
- NSW Parliament Speech re the Kokoda Challenge
- Brief for Management Authority Website
- Proposal for Kokoda Day
- Official Naming Rights for The Kokoda Trail
- PNG CV: the Hon Charlie Lynn OL
Appendix 1 to Kokoda Trail Management:
The Way Ahead dated 10 September 2015
|Network Kokoda Brief|
Network Kokoda was established as a not-for-profit company by The Hon Charlie Lynn OL to honour the legacy of our Kokoda veterans and the PNG wartime carriers. Charlie is a Vietnam veteran and has led more than 77 treks across the Kokoda Trail over the past 25 years. During this time he has lobbied the Australian Government to protect the wartime integrity of the Kokoda Trail and to seek official recognition for the legendary ‘fuzzy-wuzzy angels’. He was recently invested as an Officer of Logohu by the PNG Government in their 2015 New Year’s Honours list ‘for service to the development of bilateral relations between Australia and Papua New Guinea and especially in the development of the Kokoda Trail and its honoured place in the history of both countries.’
Brigadier Philip McNamara OAM CSC ESM is Chairman of the Network Kokoda Board. Phil had a distinguished army career where he served for 35 years. During this time he saw service in Vietnam with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. He later served in the SAS and as a commando before his promotion as Commander of Australia’s Special Forces where he was responsible for the Defence Force Counter-terrorist support to the Sydney Olympics. Phil also served with the Pacific Islands Regiment in Papua New Guinea and is fluent in ‘Tok Pisin’.
Dame Carol Kidu DBE was first elected to Parliament in Papua New Guinea in 1997 where she served for 15 years. Between 2002 and 2012, she was the only woman in the 109 member Papua New Guinea Parliament. She was the Minister for Community Development and has been described as a “visionary reformer” in a country without a welfare system. Dame Carol has championed integrated community development policies with a special focus on social justice for marginalised groups. Carol’s international appointments have included membership of the James Cook University’s international advisory board of the Cairns Institute and the independent Global Commission on HIV and the Law. She was also Pacific Person of the Year in 2007, the same year she received the International Woman of Courage Award from the US Secretary of State. She is also a knight in the French National Order of the Legion of Honour.
The Network Kokoda Boards of Directors in Australia comprises former Kokoda trekkers who have dedicated themselves to our mission of honouring the spirit of Kokoda.
Network Kokoda has been approved as a Developing Country Relief Fund by the Australian Government (Reference: www.comlaw.gov.au/Details/C2015G00222).
Kokoda initially engaged the services of Mr Sandy Lawson BSc (Agric) as a
consultant to engage local community leaders in the Sogeri area and report on a
proposal to develop Agricultural Learning Development Centres in the area. Mr
Lawson has more than 25 years’ experience in agriculture in PNG and is fluent
in both Motu and Tok Pisin.
As a result of Mr Lawson’s recommendation Network Kokoda engaged a young graduate of the Popondetta Agricultural College, Mr Oggie Erehe as a Field Manager. Mr Erehe was born in Kokoda and has a diploma in Tropical Agriculture from the University of Natural Resources and Environment in Popondetta. Network Kokoda are funding his ongoing studies to allow him to obtain his degree in Tropical Agriculture through the University of Technology in Lae.
The most challenging task in the development of village learning centres is to encourage local people, clans and communities to work together. The initial phase involves much discussion, many meetings, trust, mutual obligation, partnerships and a path to local ownership.
We believe agriculture is the most effective gateway to community development along the Kokoda Trail. We therefore aim to change the subsistence mindset of villagers to one of business entrepreneurship. PNG farmers and subsistence villagers are currently unable to meet the demand for fresh produce in Port Moresby. Large quantities are currently shipped in from Australia on a daily basis. We have been advised by local supermarket owners that they will buy as much fresh produce as villagers along the trail can produce.
The Sogeri National High School and Iarowari High School on the Sogeri Plateau, approximately 25 km from Port Moresby, have a combined total of 1200 boarding students. Many of these come from villagers along the trail and their daily diet comprised a biscuit each for breakfast, a biscuit each for lunch and a serve of rice and tinned fish for dinner.
After inspecting the schools almost non-existent catering facilities in 2012 we proposed that Network Kokoda establish a partnership with both schools to firstly improve the nutrition of their students and to introduce them to the commercial opportunities in agriculture. The schools agreed to make land available and provide on-site accommodation for our Network Kokoda Field Manager, Mr Oggie Erehe. Network Kokoda agreed to build seed nurseries, provide seed and fertiliser, technical supervision and labour support utilising Adventure Kokoda trek guides and carriers.
The aim of the school projects is to engage the local community and encourage them to develop local gardens. Once they have established a reliable level of production we will then encourage them to form a local co-operative.
The next phase is to establish a central Agricultural Learning Centre where our Field Manager can conduct theoretical and practical courses for local men, women and students. Work on this project commenced in 2014 and will be completed in the third quarter of 2015.
We have established a ‘network’ of projects at the village level which we support. Adventure Kokoda operates along the trail from April to November each year and is therefore able to provide current feedback on the progress or lack thereof.
This report provides a summary of the network of projects we currently support.
Iarowari High School
Iarowari High School has four large land areas available for agriculture, a poultry house and two fish ponds. These had previously been abandoned because of the difficulty in preventing pilferage from the local community. Network Kokoda has agreed to provide fencing at a cost of K12,000 for each area to protect each area and to conduct workshops aimed at involving the local community in the development of the various projects.
The school currently has three qualified agriculture teachers responsible for teaching eight classes in grades 9 and 10. Their aim is to ‘instil in students the appropriate knowledge and skills in agriculture so they become competent, productive and self-reliant citizens’.
The immediate aim of our partnership with the Iarowari High School is to have a well-established farm capable of providing fresh vegetables for boarding students in 2014 and to assist in the provision of resources to help them achieve their aims in agriculture.
The Iarowari high School project is underway with land clearing and preparation. The agriculture department is actively involving the students in this development as it is part of their assessment and so within the next month most of the land preparation will be completed. With this school terms goal “self-reliance through agriculture “, the new headmaster has implemented the plan and the school is kick starting their project. We are stepping in with the agriculture department to have it in place in the best interest of the students learning. The next phase will be planting of a variety of annual crops. The other two projects that will also be considered for development include Poultry and Fishpond establishment.
Mr Oggie Erehe to supervise the establishment of market gardens and some workers to assist him. Both schools agreed to provide the land which we arranged to be fenced, ploughed, fertilised and planted. Mr Erehe now runs classes for students who work in the gardens as part of their commitment to the program.
The Headmaster of Iaowari High School, Mr Andrew Moava has since developed a corporate plan to have the school transformed into an agricultural college within five years. Network Kokoda will be a key partner in assisting with this transformation.
We met with the headmasters of both schools and advised we would build a seed nursery at each school and engage an agricultural field officer to provide seeds and technical advice to local schools, residents and village communities
Sogeri National High School
Network Kokoda Community Learning Centre
In 2014 Network Kokoda leased a hectare of land adjacent to the Sogeri Lodge to build an Agricultural Learning Centre comprising a classroom, a market garden, a cool room and accommodation.
The SALC will run agricultural classes for the local community and provide limited cool room warehousing facilities for local villagers. A Port Moresby supermarket chain will purchase the produce directly from the SALC.
The facility will also be used to run leadership programs and sewing/cooking classes.
Network Kokoda established its first partnership with the Sogeri National High School in 2011. The Headmaster, Mr Benny Rayappan, agreed to provide accommodation for the Network Kokoda Field Manager, Mr Oggie Erehe, and three hectares of land for a market garden.
The market garden has been operational for three years and provides fresh produce (pak choi (cabbage), wongbok, saladeer, carrots, peanuts, snake beans, dwarf beans and aubika) for more than 400 boarding students. It also acts as a showcase for the community who are also provided with fresh produce provided they agree to work in the garden on a voluntary basis.
A key objective of the project is to encourage students to study agriculture and create an awareness of the business and career opportunities in this field. Students are required to work in the garden one day per week.
Another objective is to provide an outreach program to assist villages on the Sogeri Plateau to develop their own gardens in partnership with Network Kokoda who provides a seed nursery, seedlings and technical assistance via the Chief Field Officer.
On 1 June 2015 Network Kokoda purchased a 20 foot split freezer/chiller container to store vegetables for local villagers on the Sogeri plateau.
On 11 June we hosted a visit by Dame Carol Kidu and representatives from the Port Moresby WeCare Foundation and social workers from the National Capital District Commission. WeCare provides support to vulnerable and marginalised women, children and youth in the settlement (slum) areas of Port Moresby. They support local Care Group Centres set up by a ‘Care Mother’ who has voluntarily offered to provide support for the most vulnerable members of her community. She then recruits volunteer assistants to help support activities within the Care Group.
WeCare is interested in the success of our Network Kokoda Community Learning Development Centre concept on the Sogeri Plateau.
An executive from CPL Group which owns the PNG Stop N Shop supermarket chain accompanied the visit. As a result of his inspection he has placed the following order with Network Kokoda with effect from the first week of August 2015:
|LOCAL PURCHASE REQUISITION||QUANTITY||PUCHASE PRICE BY CPL SUPERMARKETS|
|No||Description||Unit of Measure||MON||TUE||WED||THU||FRI||SAT||TOTAL (KG)||
Our Network Kokoda Field Manager is now liaising directly with local villagers on the Sogeri Plateau to meet the initial demand. We expect our container cool-room to be operational by the end of June.
Agricultural Outreach Program
The Sogeri and Iarowari High School market gardens now act as a ‘showcase’ to introduce local villagers to our outreach program.
As a result of the success of the program local villagers on the Sogeri Plateau approached Mr Erehe to provide assistance to their respective villages. We then developed an agreement that they must provide the land and local labour. This eliminates the possibility of land disputes and measures the benefits they receive against the amount of effort they put it. Network Kokoda provides a seed nursery, fertiliser and technical assistance.
Following is a recent extract from Mr Oggie Erehe’s report regarding the process he is
using to engage local communities: |
‘In general there are some individual farmers who are intensively carrying out family projects which are a way forward for some members of a community to take as an example. With the input of Network Kokoda, people are realising the importance of a sustainable, self-reliant livelihood based on an integrated agriculture farming system. ‘Our main focus within the next month is to monitor the progress of the actively involved community groups on how well they are performing; in this course they are able to identify their strengths and weaknesses, to understand the importance of decision making, know the different management practices involved and what risks are to be taken in order to be a successful farming community. ‘It will be a slow process over time and hence will be effective only with patience and commitment towards each community due to the fact that everyone has different views and opinions. The difference will be made by those who had taken ownership of the available resource they possess and are willing to exploit. ‘For communities such as Kailaki and Magere, they have set up their farming committee therefore we will be committing ourselves to assist them meet their objectives. We will be using them as examples toward the other communities. There will be a few recommendations for project assistance to the Network Kokoda management on behalf of necessary community groups’.
We now have five villages on the Sogeri Plateau operating market gardens under Mr Erehe’s supervision at Magere, Vesilogo, Ararodei, Kailaki and Doe.
Sogeri Community Projects
Bisiatabu Community School
|Bisiatabu is the location of the first Seventh Day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea. The community has a local school supported by Network Kokoda which has provided three water tanks and school supplies.|
Sogeri Health Centre
The Sogeri Health Centre is the major health facility on the Sogeri Plateau however the building is quite derelict and facilities are poor. Network Kokoda was asked to provide a water tank in 2013. Adventure Kokoda trekkers consolidate any surplus medical supplies they have at the end of each trek and donate them to the centre. This is their main source of such supplies.
Village Community Centres
Abuari village is located on the
Western side of the Eora Valley in Oro Province. Few trekkers visit the village
because of the rugged nature of the terrain and the distance from the village
of Alola which is located on the main trail.
The area is significant because the Australian 53rd Militia
Battalion and the 2/16th AIF Battalion fought to prevent the
Japanese advance from Kokoda.
Network Kokoda agreed to a request from villagers to assist them to build a Community Centre as they had received some sewing machines and cooking pots from AusAID but did not have an area to set them up.
Network Kokoda provided building materials, desks, chairs and dress-making material and flew them into Kokoda. The villagers then carried up the mountain and built the centre which was opened in April 2012. The villagers have since attached a house to the learning centre with funds received from Adventure Kokoda trek groups.
Efogi is the largest village about half-way across the Kokoda Trail. There are a number of orphans in the village who live with their relatives in the local clans however they are usually at the end of the food chain within the environment of a subsistence village.
|Adventure Kokoda provided financial assistance to the local community to build a campsite which now collects fees to assist the orphans with their everyday needs. We ask our trekkers to bring one or two items from a list we provide and we fly the consolidated consignment directly into the village for presentation when our trekkers arrive.|
For further information contact:
Appendix 2 to Kokoda Trail Management:
The Way Ahead dated 10 September 2015
SPEECH TO THE NSW PARLIAMENT RE THE KOKODA CHALLENGE
Speakers Lynn The Hon Charlie
Date April 2, 2012
The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN (Parliamentary Secretary) [10.36 p.m.]: The Kokoda Challenge was established by Doug Henderson as a result of an address I gave to the RSL and Services Clubs Association Annual Conference at Tweed Heads in 2004. Immediately after the address, Mr Henderson approached me and advised that prior to my address he had not known anything about Kokoda or Papua New Guinea and that he would like to help raise awareness of the issues I had highlighted. One of those issues was the lack of recognition given to the New Guinea wartime carriers. I advised Mr Henderson that we were in the process of establishing a foundation to support local villagers along the Kokoda Trail to honour the legacy of their fathers who provided support to our veterans in 1942. I also advised him of a Kokoda youth leadership program for young Australians that we were developing in partnership with the RSL services clubs.
I then shared an idea I had developed in regard to the conduct of a Kokoda Challenge based on the Oxfam Trailwalker concept. This was to be a fundraising event to support community development programs in Papua New Guinea. Mr Henderson advised that he was a member of the RSL and a retired businessman. He expressed a willingness to develop my Kokoda Challenge concept on the Gold Coast hinterland. Unfortunately, I was not savvy enough to protect the intellectual property of the concept in my early discussion with Mr Henderson, who went on to establish a Kokoda Challenge Association in Queensland. The first event was conducted in 2005 with the help of a local bushwalking club and was an immediate success. Unfortunately, funds raised from the event were not directed towards the Kokoda Track Foundation for philanthropic work in Papua New Guinea, as envisaged in my original concept. Mr Henderson instead developed a program he calls Kokoda Kids—a sort of hybrid program based on trekking along the Kokoda Trail.
Our company, Adventure Kokoda, was selected to lead the first group of Kokoda Kids across the trail. We had concerns about Mr Henderson’s insistence that he accompanied the group, and these concerns were realised on the second day when we had to organise an emergency helicopter evacuation for him. We also had concerns about the integrity of the selection process after one of the young participants advised our trek leader that her motivation for doing the trek was to prove that rich kids can do this sort of thing. After that experience we decided that we did not want to be associated with Mr Henderson or his Kokoda Kids program. Whilst he claims that his program is designed to identify young Australians at a crossroads in their life and provide support to help them reach their potential, the reality is quite different. He has since burned off two other trek operators and his Kokoda Kids initiative was recently described as more of a Doug Henderson cult than a personal development program.
Another goal promoted by Mr Henderson was to support the Kokoda community and the descendants of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. There is no evidence of Mr Henderson’s Kokoda Challenge Association conducting any proper research to determine the needs of the Kokoda community or providing any sustainable contribution. A former volunteer estimates that the organisation allocates as little as 1 per cent of its funds to this objective. Mr Henderson’s association with Kokoda has proved to be a bonanza. His Kokoda Challenge Association has raised more than $1 million from the event and I have been advised it recently purchased a large property near Rathdowney in Queensland to establish a Camp Kokoda for his Kokoda Kids. Former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh pledged a further $1.3 million during the recent election campaign. It was a pledge she knew she would never have to keep but it was a clever ploy to lessen the impact of bad polls at the time through her association with something attached to Kokoda.
I have been advised that Mr Henderson is doing very well out of his Kokoda Challenge Association. He has a car, an office, a personal assistant and a credit card account that would make a credible auditor blush. I have a strong objection to people and organisations that use a wartime trail in a Third World country to raise funds for causes here in the land of plenty, no matter how well meaning they are. The squalor of settlements surrounding Port Moresby and the needs of remote villagers in a country where more than one million people live on less than $1 a day are evident to all who trek across the Kokoda Trail with their eyes open. I am obviously disappointed by my failure to protect the integrity of the concept in 2004 because this has allowed Mr Henderson to misappropriate it to satisfy his own ego rather than to meet the needs of the intended recipients in Papua New Guinea.
When Mr Henderson established his Kokoda Challenge website he acknowledged that the concept stemmed from my talk to the RSL and Services Clubs Association in 2004. I have since been airbrushed from the site and replaced with a statement that the Kokoda Challenge Association was formed by Doug Henderson and his wife, Anna—a shrewd but misleading half-truth. I acknowledge Mr Henderson’s political savvy in that he knows which buttons to push to get support from government, the community and volunteers. Terms such as “Kokoda”, “veterans”, “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”, “disadvantaged kids” et cetera are all emotional hot buttons that Henderson has shrewdly exploited to raise significant funds for projects that have nothing to do with Kokoda and deliver almost no benefits to villagers along the trail.
I hope that
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman is not duped by Mr Henderson’s clever
manipulation of the word “Kokoda” like his predecessor was. I urge
any donor to Mr Henderson’s Kokoda Kids program to request an independent audit
of all aspects of the program before committing any funds to it. I also urge
competitors in the Kokoda Challenge to demand that funds they raise be directed
towards sustainable community development projects for villagers along the
Appendix 3 to a paper on
The Kokoda Trekking
Industry: The Way Ahead dated 10 September 2015
Brief for Kokoda Trail Management Authority Website
If the KTMA is established to professionally manage the Kokoda Trail as a world class trekking destination the potential is enormous.
Some of Australia’s wealthiest and most influential people have trekked across the Kokoda Trail. Many of these people would be willing to contribute to the ongoing develop of villagers along the trail however there is no management mechanism for them to be identified. Effective management tools are based on a professional website, an effective database and a social media strategy. The absence of such is one of the greatest failures of the Rod Hillman era of management.
Professional management will enable campsite and battlesite owners to increase their income through a system of pre-payments into bank accounts and detailed audits of payments received from trek operators.
Realistic training programs can be developed to create financial opportunities for villagers to earn additional income through the establishment of a trekker laundry service, a coffee and scone service, the production of Kokoda Trail billum bags with village names, the sale of carved trekking poles, stalls selling tropical fruits, sing-sings, the construction of a hot shower facility at K5 each (see Bomber’s Campsite), etc. If each trekker spent K500 during their trek, and this is possible, the villagers would earn a combined income of almost K2 million per year.
The current ‘KTA marketing levy’ should be scrapped as marketing is not a function of the management authority. It should be replaced by a K100 ‘Community Development Levy’ which would raise K350,000 each trekking season for village community projects to be managed by Network Kokoda in partnership with the KTMA.
The Australian student discount for campsites must be scrapped. It is immoral to require local campsite owners to provide a 50 per cent subsidy for student trekkers who come from some of the wealthiest private schools in Australia. These students pay full price for their Air Niugini ticket. They pay full price for the accommodation in Port Moresby. Why should local villagers be required to provide a 50 per cent discount?
There is scope for an increase in peak season trek fees which would substantially increase income for the KTMA. Trek operators will require at least 12 month notice of any proposed changes to the current system to allow them to budget accordingly. They would also need to be reassured that any increase in fees was commensurate with an increase in management effectiveness.
Essential Management Tools
The essential tools for an effective management system are:
- A Head Office;
- a modern, relevant website;
- a comprehensive database management system;
- an Online Booking System;
- a social media strategy;
- a VHF communications system; and
- trained rangers.
- About Us
KTMA Board Members
- PNG Visitor Information
Papua New Guinea
Kioari Local Level Government Authority
Kokoda Local Level Government Authority
- The Kokoda Trail
- Community Development
- Licensed Trek Operators
Name of Company
Public Liability Insurance Policy Number
Code of Conduct
- Trekker Survey
a. Why did you trek? (Physical Challenge – Wartime History – Bucket List – Adventure – Culture – Environment)
b. Did your trek experience meet your expectations? (Yes – No – Comment)
c. Your Trek Operator (Name of Company – Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Comment)
d. Standard of meals provided by your trek operator (Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Comment)
e. Battlesite Briefings (Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Comment)
f. Campsites (Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Comment)
g. Toilets (Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Comment)
h. Showers (Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Comment)
i. The Trail (Safe – Unsafe – Comments)
j. Bridge Crossings (Safe – Unsafe – Comments)
k. Tents provided by your trek operator (Yes – No – Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Comment)
l. PNG Guides and Support Crew (Very Good – Good – Fair – Poor – Comment)
j. Please comment on any suggestions you have to improve the Kokoda trekking experience.
ONLINE APPLICATION FOR TREK PERMITS
The online Application for Trek Permits would be the basis of a comprehensive database management program. Trek Operators would be required to submit the following details via an Excel spreadsheet up to two weeks prior to their scheduled trek:
- Name of Trek Operator
- Public Liability Insurance Policy Details (Name of insurer, policy number, date of currency)
- Date of Trek
- Direction of Trek
- Trek Itinerary
- Trekker details:
- Travel Insurance (Company & Policy Number)
- Contact Phone Number
- Email address
- Emergency Contact Details (Name, phone, email)
Trek Permits would not be issued until all fields had been entered and all fees had been received.
The Excel spreadsheet would automatically update the KTMA database which would list each group, their respective trek itineraries and their campsite bookings.
Rangers would then audit respective trek groups by counting the number of trekkers and carriers as they pass through various trek groups. They can also identify if there have been any injuries and/or evacuations and report to the KTMA accordingly.
One week prior to the start of each scheduled trek the KTMA would credit campsite fees and significant site fees to the respective landowners bank accounts.
operators would then be issued with a receipt for their trek fees and a
confirmation of their booking for each campsite according to their respective
Appendix 4 to a paper on
The Kokoda Trekking
Industry: The Way Ahead dated 10 September 2015
A Proposal for the Proclamation of Kokoda Day to Honour the Service Papua and New Guinea Wartime Carriers
‘Kokoda Day’ could be a source of intense pride for all Papua New Guineans. It has the potential to emulate the commemorative status of Anzac Day in Australia. It will also provide a strong incentive for Australians to visit PNG for the commemoration and all it represents. But more importantly it provides a status of recognition for the Papua and New Guinea wartime carriers – the unsung heroes of the campaigns they supported throughout Papua and New Guinea.
Australia was unprepared for the war in the Pacific in 1942. Our faith in ‘great and powerful friends’ coming to our aid in the event of Japan entering the war was shattered with the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse near Singapore on 10 December 1941 and the secret deal struck by UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill and American President Franklin Roosevelt for American aid to be directed to the European theatre of operations at the expense of the South West Pacific.
The defence of Australia and its mandated territory of Papua and New Guinea was dependent on untrained militia forces and a small band of New Guinea Rifles as our experienced AIF units were returning from Europe to meet the new threat.
Resources were so scarce in New Guinea that young males were forcibly recruited to support the war effort. Many of these men from remote mountain villagers had no idea of the war and were conscripted against their will. They were told that men from Japan were the enemy. For many of these men other villagers living in remote tribal lands were also considered ‘enemy’. One can only imagine the fear and uncertainty they felt as they were forcibly marched away from their families and clans to fight in ‘our’ war against Japan.
It has been estimated that some 10,000 PNG nationals served as Carriers in support of the Australians during the Kokoda campaign in 1942. A further 42,000 are estimated to have been indentured to support Australian troops in the Milne Bay and the Buna/Gona campaigns. They were paid 10 shillings per month.
The issue of compensation remains a vexed issue more than 70 years after the war. While the Australian government paid some compensation for property damage to PNG nationals between 1944 and 1957 the wartime carriers were excluded from receiving any such benefits under the prevailing legislation. In 1980 they were also deemed to be ineligible for the PNG War Gratuity Scheme for ex-Servicemen.
And they were deemed to be ineligible for a medal. In the eyes of post-war bureaucrats they were both nameless and invisible.
For those who command a desk in far flung bureaucratic empires and academic institutions the care of a Papuan in a remote jungle is something they will never comprehend.
For those who have been carried to safety on a stretcher over inhospitable terrain the unconditional care of the bearers will never be forgotten.
Papuan Infantry Battalion soldiers were recruited into their army. They were issued with uniforms and weapons. They were decorated with campaign medals and marched proudly behind regimental colours on commemorative occasions such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. They were known as ‘green shadows’ because of their mastery of their jungle environment.
On the other hand Papua and New Guinea wartime carriers were indentured, often at gunpoint, to support a war they didn’t understand. They were never issued with a uniform and never enjoyed the esprit de corps of belonging to a unit. They were essentially native groups of nameless labourers.
Their job was to carry supplies forward to our troops. Carrying our wounded back on the return journey was not part of their job description.
But such is their nature of care that, when they came across a soldier who could go no further and who faced a certain, anonymous death on the side of a muddy, bloody track, they would stop, assemble a stretcher from bush materials, load him onto their shoulders and begin a journey that took up to two weeks to complete. When night fell and temperatures dropped they would lay on each side of their’ white stranger’ and try to keep him warm – sharing the few grams of rice they were rationed with him.
They were were poorly equipped, underfed, often overloaded and paid less than a subsistence wage. The spirit of their commitment was captured in a poem by one of their patients who owed his life to their care – Sapper Bert Beros.
Many of them lie in unmarked graves alongside jungle tracks far from their village homes. They have no grave, They have no spiritual home.
And to our great shame their service and sacrifice has never been officially recognized by successive Australian governments
This can be rectified by the PNG Government proclaiming a special day to commemorate their service and sacrifice – Kokoda Day.
Whilst Remembrance Day commemorates the service of Papua New Guinean soldier who served, and those who sacrificed their lives in action during the Pacific War and the Bougainville crisis, Kokoda Day would be dedicated to the service of the wartime carriers who were never issued with a uniform and never received a medal.
Kokoda Day would not be a national holiday. It would be a day of commemoration which could include:
- a morning service in schools (thus providing an opportunity to educate Papua New Guinean students on the achievements and sacrifices of their forebears);
- a flag raising re-enactment at Kokoda; and
- a service at a traditional cenotaph in Port Moresby.
Why 3 November?
The Kokoda campaign began with a full scale attack on the Australian 39th Militia Battalion on 29 July 1942. The campaign lasted three months as the Australians were pushed back to the last line of defence on Imita Ridge. The Australians rallied at this point and pushed the Japanese back across the trail. Kokoda was recaptured on 2nd November 1942 and the Australian flag was raised at a service on the Kokoda plateau the following day.
The flag raising ceremony symbolised the turning of the tide in the Pacific War. It also symbolises the service and sacrifice made by wartime carriers in all campaigns throughout PNG.
This victory would not have been possible without the vital support of these carriers across the Kokoda Trail. In addition to their contribution to the war effort hundreds of Australian soldiers owe their lives to the selfless sacrifice of the carriers who guided and carried them to safety over inhospitable jungle terrain in the most adverse of circumstances.
Marketing Value of ‘Kokoda’
The term ‘Kokoda’ now has a resonance equal to ‘Anzac’ in marketing terms. The fact that more than 40 000 Australians have trekked across the trail over the past decade is testimony to this fact. There are many thousands more who would make a pilgrimage to Kokoda without having to trek because of the age and/or physical condition. All they need is the opportunity to plan and commit to it.
‘Kokoda Day’ will provide that opportunity.
Tourism Opportunities for Oro Province
A marketing package for Oro Province would be developed around a week of activities culminating in a ‘Raising of the Flag’ ceremony on the plateau on the 3rd of November each year.
Trek operators would schedule treks to arrive in Kokoda from Owers Corner on the night before the ceremony.
Short treks from Kokoda to Isurava, across to Abuari and back to Kokoda via the eastern side of the range could be organised for those who do not have time or the level of fitness to complete the entire Kokoda Trail. This would also include villages on the Eastern side of the range (Hagutawa, Kaele, Fela, Pelai and Kanandara) who currently receive no benefits from the Kokoda trekking industry.
Short tours can also be organised for the battlesites of Oivi-Goiari and the beachheads at Buna and Gona. Visitors could be given an opportunity to extend their stay at Tufi Resort.
Kokoda Day also provides an opportunity to showcase Orokaiva culture in regard to the staging of traditional dances, sing-sings together with markets for local arts and craft.
The afternoon of the ceremony could be devoted to a ‘Province of Origin’ rugby league match between Central and Oro Province in their own ‘blue’ and ‘maroon’ jerseys on the Kokoda plateau. This could be a joint promotion between PNG Tourism, Air Niugini, NRL/PNGNRL and tour operators.
PNG National Remembrance
Kokoda Day provides an opportunity for PNG to create their own national remembrance in accordance with Commonwealth tradition.
According to Sergeant Ben Moide MBE he and his men in the Papuan Infantry Battalion were ‘nameless warriors:
‘We fought but according to the bulk of the taubadas, we remained nameless; we were just the native scout or the Papuan guide to them. Still, to the gallant few who addressed us by name, I owe them my undying gratitude for treating us as mates. But the fact remains, without the help of all those nameless warriors and carriers who braved the sickness, rain, mud, hunger, despair and enemy of this campaign, all would surely have been lost.’
At the end of the war Sergeant Moide’s unit was awarded a battle honour; he and his fellow Papuan soldiers were issued with campaign medals; and they have their own Remembrance Park.
Their wartime carriers were never honoured in a similar way. They had no units, no uniforms, no battle honour, no repatriation and they have no spiritual home. Many lie in unmarked jungle graves in provinces far beyond their traditional village homes.
Young Papua New Guineans are becoming more conscious and increasingly proud of their wartime heritage. Thought should be given to the creation of a traditional cenotaph in the National capital – a spiritual tomb for those who never returned to their village. The form and location of such a significant national structure would be the subject of a separate resolution by the PNG Government.
A traditional cenotaph would be the focus for national commemoration in Port Moresby. It could be located in an area that allows for the future development of a Wartime Educational Centre and park to tell the PNG story. Education centres at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne and the one under construction at the Anzac Memorial in Sydney provide good models for what it possible.
Education is a key building block for national pride.
Wartime carriers were indentured from all over Papua and New Guinea to support the war effort along the Kokoda Trail, the Huon Peninsula, the Markham–Ramu Valley and Shaggy Ridge.
A Kokoda Day Flag Raising Service in each school on 3rd November supported by an appropriate educational package would be an important component in the further development of national pride in PNG.
The Australian army would have been defeated in the Kokoda campaign if they had not received vital logistic support from the New Guinea wartime carriers. Hundreds would have died of their wounds and tropical illnesses if they had not been carried off the trail.
These wartime carriers have never been officially recognised. The Australian government specifically excluded them from benefits under legislation for compensation of PNG nationals who served in the Defence Force. In 1980 they were also deemed to be ineligible for the PNG War Gratuity Scheme for ex-Servicemen.
The service of the wartime carriers and the sacrifices they made towards the allied victories in Papua New Guinea should be honoured and enshrined in a special day dedicated to their memory.
The most appropriate day is November 3 as the Australian flag would never have been raised on the Kokoda plateau if it had not been for their service.
‘Kokoda Day’ be proclaimed on 3rd
November each year to commemorate the service and sacrifice of the New Guinea
5 to the Kokoda Trekking Industry:
The Way Ahead dated 10 September 2015
Official Naming Rights for the Kokoda Trail
of the naming rights for the Kokoda Trail is a keenly contested point of debate
Do they belong to the nation which
retains sovereign ownership of the land between Owers Corner and Kokoda i.e.
Papua New Guinea?
Or the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the 10 Australian Battalions who were awarded the battle honour ‘Kokoda Trail’?
Or the custodians of political correctness amongst the Australian commentariat who dislike the name ‘trail’ because of its American connotation?
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
‘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 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.
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.
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.
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’.
Pratten noted that ‘these histories were usually written, edited, or published by men who had participated in the campaign’.
It is ironic that 70 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.
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
‘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’.
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‘.
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. 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:
‘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:
of Veterans Affairs Website||
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!‘ 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 condescending 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’ 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’
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 is a former Member of the PNG National Parliament, academic and respected historian who has 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’.
- 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
- 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 (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’.
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
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 P.157
- Jungle Warfare. Published for the Australian Military Forces by the Australian War Memorial in 1944 P. 70
- Green Armour. Osmar White. Angus and Robertson. 1945. P. 187
- The Coastwatchers by Eric Felt published in 1946.
- 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. 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!
WW1 Remembrance Trail on the Western Front
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.
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 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:
- The Government of Papua New Guinea
- The RSL of Australia
- The Australian War Memorial Second World War Galleries
It is not recognised by the Australian Government 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.
The decision of Australian government officials 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!
The Australian Government should now put up or shut up. If they don’t like the name ‘Kokoda Trail’ they should:
- make a submission to the PNG Government to have them change their gazetted name ‘Kokoda Trail’ to Australia’s politically correct version;
- reconvene a Battles Nomenclature Committee to redefine the battle honour from ‘Kokoda Trail’ to ‘Kokoda Track’ or
- 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.
5 to the Kokoda Trekking Industry:
The Way Ahead dated 10 September 2015
Charlie Lynn’s PNG Curriculum Vitae
Charlie Lynn’s commitment to PNG is broader than his involvement with the Kokoda Trail.
In 2003 Charlie developed and funded the establishment of The Kokoda Track Foundation which provides educational scholarships and health care support to villagers along the Kokoda Trail.
During the drought in PNG in 2004 he established a ‘PNG Drought Appeal’ in partnership with the National Australian Bank and the Returned Services League. The appeal raised K1 million which was used to purchase seeds for villagers in the highlands. Charlie accompanied the consignment to PNG which was then delivered by Australian Army helicopters.
Later in 2004 he undertook a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Study Tour to PNG to investigate access for seasonal work opportunities for PNG workers. This led to a submission to the Australian Senate on the issue.
In 2010 Charlie developed and funded the established Network Kokoda as a Not-For-Profit company that builds Community Development Centres in villagers along the Kokoda Trail and has introduced Agricultural Learning Centres at the Sogeri National High School and Iaowari High School. These centres are now providing fresh produce for approximately 1200 boarding students and the programs have been replicated in seven villages on the Sogeri Plateau.
In 2012 Charlie was invited by Mr Glenn Armstrong of Air Niugini to develop a program to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign. The program included the painting of a map of the Kokoda Trail on a new B767; the participation of singer/songwriter, John Williamson, in the official 70th Anniversary Dawn Service at Bomana War Cemetery; a concert hosted by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill at Parliament House; and the production of a documentary on Rabaul which is now screened on the Air Niugini inflight program.
For the past two years Charlie has hosted the PNG Independence Day Celebration in the NSW Parliament on behalf of Mr Sumasy Singin, Consul General in Sydney.
In 2014 he hosted a two day Centenary
Forum for the PNG Australia Association at Parliament House. Speakers included Senator The Hon Julie
Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs; Major-General Michael Jeffery AC, CVO,
MC; H.E. Charles Lepani, PNG High Commissioner to Australia; and Air Chief
Marshall Angus Houston AC, AFC.
In 2015 Charlie was inducted as an Officer of the Logohu by the PNG Government in their New Years’ Honours 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.
Following is a summary of positive publicity Charlie has generated for Papua New Guinea and the Kokoda Trail:
Following is a list of the national television stories Charlie has generated through his treks:
Television Shows promoting the Kokoda Trail
‘Angry Anderson Kokoda Challenge’
‘Getaway on Kokoda’
‘Sydney Swans on Kokoda’
‘Father Chris Riley’s Kids on Track’
|ABC Compass – Channel 2 ‘Cronulla to Kokoda’||http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Q48HEYWTZVU&list=PLCz7qUl9FFmqihaijuadJPoA8sJIU0D8q|
Following is a list of submissions, papers and blogs Charlie has produced and submitted in support of initiatives to ensure the wartime integrity of the Kokoda Trail is protected and Australia’s relationship with PNG is improved:
Following is a list of philanthropic programs Charlie has initiated and funded to support the people of PNG:
|Initiated a Joint PNG Drought Appeal with the RSL that raised K1 million in 1996||Travelled to PNG to assist in distributing food and seed to affected areas in army Blackhawk helicopters.|
and funded Network Kokoda||http://www.networkkokoda.org|
|Initiated Integrated Agricultural Project at Sogeri National High School||http://www.kokodatreks.com/docs/SogeriAgriculturalLearningProjectMarketGarden.pdf|
|Support educational programs along the Kokoda Trail||http://newsletter.kokodatreks.com/003-January_2007.html|
Nursery at the Sogeri National High School||http://www.kokodatreks.com/docs/SogeriAgriculturalLearningProjectSeedNurseryPics.pdf|
Community Learning Centre||http://www.kokodatreks.com/docs/AbuariCommunityDevelopmentCentre.pdf|
projects in the Sogeri community||http://www.kokodatreks.com/docs/AbuariCommunityDevelopmentCentre.pdf|
|Established Kokoda Bursary Program at Port Moresby Grammar School|
|Sponsoring a Port Moresby Grammar School Student through a Commerce Degree||http://www.kokodatreks.com/docs/MargaretAitsiDivineWordUniversityResultsto2012.pdf|
Following is a selection of testimonials acknowledging Charlie’s work in PNG and along the Kokoda Trail:
The Hon Arthur
Somare MP, PNG Minister for National Planning:
‘Dear Mr Lynn,|
I write to personally thank you for arranging to meet the members of the PNG Parliamentary Select Committee on the Pacific Economic Community in Sydney last week. We are very grateful for you hosting lunch for us at your beautiful parliament setting.
Your tireless work over the years in promoting Papua New Guinea in Australia and the world is something we are very grateful for and will do everything possible to compliment your efforts in the future. I am pleased that the PNG Tourism Authority has been working closely with you on issues of interest concerning the Kokoda Trail and the promotion of tourism as a vibrant industry in PNG. I will shortly be bringing to the attention of the Ministry for Works the urgency to upgrade the road leading to Owers Corner in Sogeri area.
It is my hope that our meeting in Sydney has set the foundation for further enhancement of relations at a personal level between our two countries. I very much look forward to meeting you and your co-workers again when you next visit Port Moresby.
Yours sincerely, Arthur T. Somare MP
Peter Phillips, National President of the RSL |
‘Dear Charlie, I am pleased to advise that the National Executive of the RSL has endorsed the proposal to establish a master plan for development of a Kokoda Track Memorial Park. Thank you for taking the time to address our National Executive and for the personal effort you have put into promoting this concept. As we approach the 60th anniversary of the epic battles of the Kokoda Track, it is appropriate that we honour those who lost their lives there or served their country so valiantly. Yours sincerely. Major-General Peter Phillips AO MC”
Daniels MBE: Founder and Chairman of Port Moresby Grammar School
morning Mr Lynn
ago, we first met in the dining room of the Parliament of New South Wales
when you invited Dame Carol Kidu and myself to a dinner. The occasion then was about assisting Papua
New Guinea students, especially those from villages along the Kokoda track.
did I know then, how much Port Moresby Grammar School is now in your debt for
the support you have given the school.
other things, this support consists of:
four Adventure Kokoda
bursariesyour kindness in sponsoring
Margaret Aitsi and Alfreda Nakue on the trip of a lifetime to Australiaover 2500 books received
for the library and classroomsa plethora of stationery
suppliesmedical equipment and
suppliesa wide variety of sports
gearK3500 in cash for special
needs aspects in the schoolExposure of our students to
wonderful ordinary Australians who come to PNG….and reciprocally for
Aussies to see and bond with Papua New Guineans within the school
behalf of the Board of Directors of the School, please accept our sincere and
grateful thanks for that you have done and we hope this special bond between
POM Grammar and Kokoda will continue and strengthen.
Tessie Soi, PNG
Friends Foundation Inc|
‘Dear Charlie, ‘Thanks a million for the 2 computers dropped off at the office. I was in Babaka village, 3 hours drive from Pom. ‘ Staff advised me of your kind donation. ‘ My Admin Manager, Mr pana Sitapai will email you through email@example.com when the office downstairs is completed. ‘ Its great to hear that i can email you when i am in dire straits and i will also give you updates and how our programs are going. ‘ I can use someone else as a sounding board. which i hope you don’t mind. ‘ But thanks a million for helping me do my programs for our people. Tessie’
Mike Luff, Deputy Principal, Port Moresby Grammar
‘Hello Charlie, ‘Hope all is well down your way. Collected a good number of books the other evening with Chad & Ron Beattie’s Group! Our number of books and DVDs totals 1035. All brought forward in the past 12 months approx. A fabulous effort! This does not include pencils, pens and other drawing materials. ‘On the turn around side Port Moresby Grammar school has done the following: 6 cartons of reading books were delivered to Taurama Barracks Community School along with a heap of stationary;7 cartons of books were presented to Bavaroko Community School (our next door neighbour);1 carton was given to a small group called “We Care” in the Hohola settlement area. Mums teaching street kids to read; and 2 cartons were sent to Gaire community school on request. ‘ All of these are a result of culling as new books come into our library. Where there is a doubling up we give these away in the cartons. Some of your books we use as incentives and prizes to kids at Pom Grammar for good work. The culture of reading has been substantially enhanced since your program has started. Popular novels are being read throughout the school. The library staff are really doing a fine job. ‘ Friends Foundation gave us a wooden coin box and in the first fortnight we collected K250- for Tessie’s group. ‘ Our next quest is to build up the culling cartons again so that Sogeri Community school and Ioiari High school are provided with books. ‘ Nixon and the West Papuans are still at Gerehu. The six we have at Pom Grammar are still in school. Many of the other school kids have been “pushed out” or have simply given up – sorry to say. However, we will keep going with our little group. The West Papuan girls especially enjoy the hockey competition on a Sunday afternoon. ‘ Things are going very well at present and a big lot of thanks to you. ‘ We would like to see you at the school when you are next up this way – is that possible? ‘Regards, ‘Mike’
James Enage: Chairman, Kokoda Track Authority|
I wish to thank you, your lovely wife and the Adventure Kokoda Management for financially supporting the Kokoda Track Sports Development Program within this year, 2009.
I had acknowledged your contribution to this very special project in various appropriate forums and have informed the boys and people along the Kokoda Track about your support.
In relation to the outcome of the Program, preparations are now underway by four (4) Local Rugby League Clubs in Queensland who are keen to engage few boys from the Kokoda Track to play in the local Queensland Rugby League Competition next year, 2010. Hopefully, the various Rugby Club offers (Work, Match payments, Accommodation) for the boys should be made available towards the end of January and I will make the announcements in the middle or towards the end of February, 2010.
Also the Gold Coast Titans Junior Development Team Management are keen to recruit school boys from the Kokoda Track area next year to be part of the Gold Coast Titans Junior Development Team under Football Scholarships. We will announce this program shortly.
Since you have pioneered in supporting this program, I trust you will continue to support this program.
I look forward to continue working with you in this very special Project in the New Year.
James Enage Chairman
Two recent articles summarise Charlie’s feelings towards Kokoda and PNG as a result of his association with the country, its people and our wartime heritage:
|Wouldn’t it be great if . . .||http://www.kokodatreks.com/docs/2007NewsletterArticlereAustralianElectionCampaign.pdf|
|Straight shooter soldiers on . . .||http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/straight-shooter-soldiers-on-20130208-2e3kd.html|
 According to our official history of the war in the Pacific by Dudley McCarthy (Australia in the War 1939-1945, p116) the Australian New Guinea Army Unit (ANGAU) was authorised by the Australian government to provide for: ‘the conscription of whatever native labour might be required by the Services..’Rates of pay were to be determined and the Senior Military Officer or District Officer was empowered ‘to have the natives so employed to enter into a contract with the Australian Government.’
 According to wartime journalist, Osmar White: ‘ANGAU contrived a maximum mobilization and use of native labour. At the critical period, its method of conscription was even more arbitrary than German recruiting in the early days. In some villages every able-bodied male over the approximate age of sixteen years was rounded up, transported to the clearing centres, and thence drafted to whatever type of work had priority in the immediate emergency. Brutal disciplinary measures had often to be taken in the field; but when the first and worst crises of invasion were surmounted, ANGAU did what ti could to conserve the life and health of its native levies and to maintain the viability of native communities depleted of 40 or 50 per cent of their able-bodied men. Under military rule, the labourers’ health was more carefully considered and their diet in general better than under private employers before the war. ANGAU was fully aware of the value of native labour and co-operation to the Allied effort.
 A recent decision to issue a commemorative medallion to ‘surviving Fuzzy-Wuzzy Angels and the widows of surviving deceased Angels’ was a shameful attempt to deceive the public into believing the issue had been rectified. The difference between a ‘medal’ and a ‘medallion’ is that one is formally awarded for service to nation and the other is a ‘give-away’ with no formal status.
word Cenotaph means empty tomb, a sepulchral monument in honour of a person
whose body is elsewhere. The word is derived from the Greek Kenos – empty,
Taphos – a tomb, Kenotaphlion – Cenotaph. http://rslnsw.org.au/commemoration/memorials/the-cenotaph
 In Australia war memorials held a special significance, as they often represented “surrogate graves” for soldiers whose bodies were buried in overseas war cemeteries or could not be located. Usually erected in prominent civic areas such as town squares, parks, central intersections, or near public schools, these local monuments continue to be a focus for community Anzac Day services. https://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/war-memorials/
 Nameless Warriors – The Ben Moide Story. Lahui Ako. Sterling Publishers. 2012.
 ‘Track’ or ‘Trail’? The Kokoda Debate. Peter Provis. Australian War Memorial. 27 July 2009
 Looking Forward Looking Back: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Army. Christopher Jobson. Big Sky Publishing. 2009. P 50
 Ibid P.50
 Australian War Memorial – Blog Article – The Kokoda ‘Track or Trail’? Karl James. 27 July 2009. P 4
 Ibid. P. 4
 RSL National Congress Resolution 6.1.2 refers
 DVA website: http://kokoda.commemoration.gov.au/about-the-kokoda-track
 Retreat from Kokoda. Raymond Paull. Heinemann Publishers. 1953. Forward P. xv
 The Architect of Kokoda. Robyn Kienzle. Hachette Australia. 2011 P
 Department of Veterans Affairs letter to Charlie Lyn (sic) dated 23 February 2011 advising why they would not use the official title ‘Kokoda Trail.
 Kokoda Spirit. Patrick Lindsay. Hardie Grant Books. 2009. P. 243
 Peter Ryan’s Fear Drive My Feet remains Australia’s finest war memoir. The Australian. 27 June 2015
 Handbook of Papua and New Guinea. Sydney and Melbourne Publishing, 1954. P103
 PNG Fact Book. Jackson Rannells and Elesallah Matatier. Oxford University Press. 1990. P. 260
 Stuart Hawthorne, ‘The Kokoda Trail – A History’ Central Queensland University Press, 2003
 These books are from my own library – according to Australian War Memorial historian, Garth Pratten, there are many more.
 Khaki and Green. Halstead Press. Published in 1943. P157
 Jungle Warfare. Australian War Memorial Canberra. 1944 P.70
 The Coastwatchers by Eric Feldt. The Oxford University Press. P190
 Greyflower Productions 1965 P. 177
 Department of Veterans Affairs Website http://www.dva.gov.au/commemorations-memorials-and-war-graves/memorials/australian-remembrance-trail-along-western-front