The Kokoda Trekker

Kokoda trekkers are the basic building block of Papua New Guinea’s most popular tourist destination. They are also the most neglected.

Any business, industry or service provider who dared treat their customers with as much contempt as the Kokoda trekker receives would be placed in the hands of a commercial undertaker in a very short period of time. (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. (more…)

Renee Kennedy’s Kokoda Story

Hi, my name is Renee Kennedy and I have recently conquered The Kokoda Trail.

Why would a mother of two and physically unfit choose to walk The Kokoda Trail? Well, it all began on 31st August 2005 when my daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia at the age of 17 months old. I was devastated, I blamed myself as I suffered with depression throughout my pregnancy and after she was born my depression didn’t improve.

I honestly feel now that there is always a positive in a negative situation and my daughter and I now have a bond that we never had before. This feeling of always looking on the bright side and finding a positive was reinforced in me when I was walking The Kokoda Trail.

I decided to fundraise for The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, as they are helping save my daughter’s life, but I didn’t know how or where or when. Shortly after being discharged from hospital I was watching Getaway, they were doing a story on The Kokoda Trail by the end of it I knew how I was going to fundraise!

On the 7th August 2006 I flew out to Port Moresby and the next day I was on a bus to Ower’s Corner and my adventure was about to begin. I was very nervous because I suddenly thought I wasn’t fit enough, what if my children needed me, what if Hannah relapses, there were a lot of what if’s running around my head. I wasn’t going quit before I even started and the children world wide needed me to finish, as all the money I was raising was going to the Medical and Research Centre at Westmead. (more…)

Kokoda – a neglected jungle shrine

‘Infantryman’s calvary where the pain of effort, the biting sweat, the hunger the cheerless shivering nights were made dim by exhaustion’s merciful drug. Surely no war was fought under worse conditions than these. Surely no war has demanded more of a man in fortitude. Even Gallipoli or Crete or the desert.’

Osmar White Wartime
journalist, writing from the track in 1942

Article by Charlie Lynn

When I first trekked Kokoda with a local guide in March 1991 I was struck by the fact that there was no information on the location of places such as Brigade Hill, Butcher’s Ridge, Templeton’s Crossing, Eora Creek, Imita Ridge, Kokoda Gap. Isurava, Deniki, Kokoda, etc. Ever since I was a small boy I could remember thousands of veterans marching behind battle honours emblazoned with these names. I therefore expected to find these places and be able to navigate around the positions with some sort of information booklet or guide.

I expected to see the remnants of the steps up the infamous ‘golden staircase’; to feel the pain of climbing ‘Jap’s Ladder’; to wonder how our diggers felt in their weapon pits on the forward slopes of Butcher’s Ridge as they waited to meet thousands of fanatical Japanese soldiers; to follow the footsteps of Private Bruce Kingsbury as he led a counter attack against the Japs at Isurava; to stand on the ground defended by Charlie McCallum as he stood bravely between the Japs and his men to protect their escape.

I wanted to see where Captain Butch Bissett was machine gunned; where Ben Buckler led his fateful patrol; where Captain Claude Nye and Captain Brett (Lefty) Langridge led their fateful charge at Brigade Hill; where Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Honner held his famous parade at Menari with ‘Those Ragged Bloody Heroes’ of the 39th Battalion; where Corporal John Metson and Sergeant Lindsay Bear crawled on all fours along the track refusing all offers for help because they had mates ‘a lot worse off than us’!

I hoped to meet ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’ who saved hundreds of diggers by carrying them across some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet and say ‘thank you’ to their families in the villages.

Unfortunately I was to be bitterly disappointed because there was not a single signpost, monument or memorial along the entire track apart from a few plaques placed by regimental associations and a small plinth erected by a Japanese soldier at Launumu – the forming up place for the Japanese attack against the Australians on Butcher’s Ridge and Brigade Hill on 6 September 1942.

I was further disadvantaged by the fact that my PNG guide knew nothing about the war history of the campaign and there were no maps or signs to assist in identifying important sections of the track or any of the battle-sites.

I was also struck by the fact that we had neglected those who sacrificed so much for us in Papua New Guinea – the legendary ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’. I learned that none have been issued with a medal for their service and some claim to have never been paid. When I asked one of the elders about the war on the track he explained that they had lived in peace for generations then one day the Australians and the Japanese came, had a big fight in their backyards, caused a lot of damage in their villages, then went away! Our efforts to correct this shameful neglect has been unsuccessful to date however we have been heartned to receive the support of the RSL of Australia – and we will persevere! (more…)