Trekking Kokoda – Read all about it!





Kokoda: The Way Ahead


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.


Proposed Joint Understanding for Commemoration of the Shared Wartime Heritage between PNG and Australia


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.

Papua New Guinea is the principal custodian of sites sacred to the wartime heritage of Australia, America and Japan. It therefore has the potential to be a world class wartime tourism destination for pilgrims from each of these countries. The emergence of Kokoda as PNGs most popular tourism destination since the 50th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign in 1992 is a key indicator of this potential.


Kokoda Trail World Heritage: Fact or Fallacy?

The review of the Kokoda Trail for a World Heritage listing by the late Mr Peter Hitchcock, Dr Jennifer Gabriel and Dr Matthew Leavesley has exposed the myth of its relevance to our shared wartime heritage associated with the Kokoda campaign. The authors of the 2nd Joint Understanding should be called upon to explain why they were not aware of the review – or why they chose to ignore it.

‘Kokoda Initiative’ – Reporting from a parallel universe to the Kokoda Trail!

The 2019 ‘Annual Review’ of the ‘Kokoda Initiative’ is largely irrelevant to the Kokoda trekking industry.

The review does not address the dysfunction of the management systems put in place by Kokoda Initiative officials since they assumed control of the Kokoda Trail 2009 and the lack of governance within their surrogate PNG organisation – the Kokoda Track Authority. This is evident in their failure to ever publish an audited financial report which is in breach of both Australian and PNG legal requirements.

The review also fails to address the issue of ‘commemoration’ which is evident in their ongoing refusal to engage an accredited Australian military heritage architect to develop a Master Heritage Interpretation Plan for the trail.

Our comments are included under each section.

2019 Annual Review Report Papua New Guinea–Australia Governance Partnership

Quality and Technical Assurance Group –  Final Report – September 2019Kokoda Initiative Partnership (KIP)


The Kokoda Initiative Partnership (KIP) is delivering a broad range of activities, on a small budget, in a logistically challenging environment, while adapting to political needs. Over recent years the program has focused to a large extent on direct delivery, including infrastructure projects, and the KIP team describe the program as having needed to be reactive to public diplomacy imperatives. The ability of KIP to act strategically has been constrained by weak capacity in the Kokoda Track Authority. Institutional relationships were weak between relevant GoPNG and private sector entities and little joint work took place. However, recent personnel changes within the Kokoda Track Authority have led to a sharp upturn in relationships, offering potential for greater partnership and joint planning to build institutional structures to support Kokoda in the long term.

It is disingenuous to blame the ‘weak capacity’ of the PNG Kokoda Track Authority for the failures of the Kokoda Initiative because it is due to their own failure along with Australian DEWHA/DSEWPC/DFAT officials to establish an effective management system for the Kokoda trekking industry when they assumed control of it in 2009.

The direct delivery of infrastructure projects into villages without prior consultation with local communities leads to attitudes of Aid dependency and is destined to fail in the longer term.

Establishing partnerships through the conduct of workshops in local communities is a time-consuming but necessary part of the process of transferring ownership to them. These partnerships must include a commitment to the training and development of teachers and health workers and the provision of adequate educational and medical supplies.

The failure of the Kokoda Initiative to conduct a single village workshop across the trail since 2009 is the primary reason for the ‘weak capacity’ they refer to.