Wartime tourism in Papua New Guinea

Seventy years after the war in the Pacific the Kokoda Trail has become a gateway for a wartime tourism industry in Papua New Guinea.

Over the past decade 30,000 Australians from all walks of life have taken up the challenge of trekking across the arduous trail that connects remote mountain villages between the north and south coast of the island nation.  Their reasons for trekking are varied. Most have an interest in the wartime history of the Kokoda campaign, some want to experience the rawness of village cultures and the pristine jungle environment while others do it simply ‘because it’s there’!

Whatever the reason the journey dispels many of the myths of travel to Papua New Guinea and opens eyes to opportunities for adventure travel within the land of the last adventure.  Over the years various writers have tried to caption the essence of the ‘PNG experience’. It has been referred to as the ‘land of a thousand cultures’ with a ‘Parliament  of a thousand tribes’. Others refer to it as the ‘land of the unexpected’. [Read more…]

Tracking Kokoda by Professor Hank Nelson

30  November 2009

Interest in making the pilgrimage might be tapering off, but that gives us an opportunity to understand Kokoda in more complex ways, writes Professor Hank Nelson [Read more…]

Kokoda code on Track

The following article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 2 September, 2009:

The Government of Papua New Guinea will crack down on rogue tour operators on the Kokoda Track who are not paying taxes or taking proper safety percautions. [Read more…]

Military Heritage at risk on the Kokoda Trail

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

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

Kokoda: Stop the bloody rot on the bloody track!

A recent proposal to mine part of the Kokoda Trail caused a public outcry that resulted in the Australian government entering into a ‘Joint Understanding’ with the PNG Government to protect the track and its environs from possible mining or logging activity.  Among the objectives is an agreement is to assist the PNG Government in undertaking a feasibility study for a possible World Heritage nomination. [Read more…]

Kokoda: World Heritage or Military Heritage?

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

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

The Kokoda Trail Villager

First impressions of Koiari and Orokaiva villages along the Kokoda Trail give little hint of the complex relationships that exist within. The simple life of building, gardening, cooking, nurturing, teaching and healing is underpinned by the complexities of clan relationships and the influence of missionary pastors, traditional lululais’ and  sorcerers.

Elders maintain their distance and examine trekkers with furrowed brows and quiet curiosity as they arrive, collapse, rest, hand out a few balloons, ask a few shallow questions, shake hands, and wave goodbye.  Most elders speak Motu, some speak Tok Pisin, but their English is often poor or non-existent.  This limits their communication to friendly smiles and a wave of the hand.  But mostly they just look. [Read more…]

Charlie’s ‘angel’s Survive K-Trail

Article in PNG Post Courier by Barney Orere

Port Moresby Grammar School grade 12 students, Alfreda Nakue and Margaret Aitsi, have a different view of the Kokoda Trail from what history teaches them. Having walked the track recently, both girls say their real life experience of the track has given history a different dimension where they can relate more meaningfully. [Read more…]

Order in the House!

Extract from NSW Legislative Council Hansard and Papers Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Sydney Drive-By Shootings

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police, Minister for Lands, and Minister for Rural Affairs. Is he aware that Port Moresby is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in our region? Is he also aware that the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has a longstanding travel alert on its website warning Australians of the dangers they face when travelling to Port Moresby? Is the Minister aware of recent media reports that there have been 80 drive-by shootings in Sydney this year? Is he also aware there have been no drive-by shootings in Port Moresby in that time? What action is the Minister taking or has taken to ensure that the Papua New Guinea National Government does not publish a travel alert for Sydney to warn Papua New Guinea citizens of the dangers they face in any planned visit to our once peaceful city? [Read more…]

Lets not forget the villagers along Kokoda?

A post by Sandy Lawson

In 2006, because tourist numbers on the Kokoda Track were rising rapidly, I outlined (on invitation) a proposal to animate community development. Based on local agriculture, it recognised that for tourism to be sustainable and welcome, it must engage the interest of the villagers along the historic trail. It must give them power as custodians of their land to explore new ways of using their land by carefully exploiting opportunities offered by a growing tourist industry. They must reap a real benefit. [Read more…]