Kokoda: The Way Ahead

PART 1

The Kokoda Trekking Business

Background

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.

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

Preamble

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.

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KTA Strategic Plan: 2012-2015. FAIL

A KTA Strategic Plan: 2012-2015 was developed by Australian environmental officials in the seclusion of their Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) offices in Port Moresby in 2011.

The plan was put together without any consultation with military history specialists or local village communities.

As a result not a single one of the 5 strategies or 33 objectives was achieved!

It has since been quietly shelved and there has been no attempt to develop a replacement plan since it expired in 2015.

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What our trekkers think of their PNG guides and carriers

I cannot say enough kind words about them. Throughout the entire trek I felt supported and knew that I could turn to them for help at any time. They were always in the right spot at the right time. They were so encouraging and only wanted to see me succeed. They have so much patience, I never felt rushed or scared because I knew they’d be there to help. They would encourage me to walk at my own pace and take as many breaks as I needed to succeed. Without them I would not have gotten as far as I did. I enjoyed listening to their stories about their families and knowledge of the trek and country.’

All of the Adventure Kokoda team where extremely professional. The boys worked so hard to make sure we always felt safe in situations that could sometimes feel scary. Our shovel man Nelson was just incredible, always checking to make sure everyone was okay. It was amazing to witness a group of people work so hard and efficiently as a team to get all of us (the trekkers) across the finish line. 

Overall an amazing group of people and when they all sung their National anthem …chills and tears!! I miss them already.’

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SACRIFICE MADE BY AUSTRALIAN SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN

Speech to the Parliament of New South Wales by The Hon Charlie Lynn MLC on 4 May 2006

      Debate resumed from 2 May 2006.

The Hon. CHARLIE LYNN [4.32 p.m.]: The acknowledgment of traditional owners of the land seems to have been introduced around the time of the republican and reconciliation debates during the Keating Labor Government era. Left-wing academics, inner-city urban dwellers and doctors’ wives were among the comfortable middle-class voices calling for changes to our flag and our system of parliamentary democracy. They also wanted us to say sorry for historical wrongs over which we had no influence. As it turned out, the only thing that changed was the Government.

I would hope that these ideological warriors of the Left will come to understand that the wider Australian community will accept such changes to our systems, symbols and institutions only when they are treated as equals in the debate, not as a group of uneducated westies or rednecks. My view is that concentrating on so-called progressive issues for our indigenous people has done them more harm than good. The “feelgood” factor for the chattering classes in comfortable inner-city environments does not translate into worthwhile sustainable benefits for indigenous people in remote and isolated areas. It has taken the emergence of indigenous leaders such as Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine to get some balance back into the debate and to earn the respect of the wider community in the process.

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