The Kokoda Track was initially a series of interconnecting small trails used as a mail route to supply settlements around Kokoda. Further developed by military forces, it became a route that linked Ower's Corner, 40 kilometres north-east of Port Moresby, and the small village of Wairopi, on the northern side of the Owen Stanley mountain range. It was connected to the settlements of Buna, Gona and Sanananda on the north coast.
It was along this track, which crossed incredibly rugged and isolated terrain, that the Australian troops repelled the highly-trained Japanese invasion force. Under conditions of extreme hardship, Australian soldiers fought the Japanese first to keep them from reaching Port Moresby and then to push them back over the Owen Stanley Range to their north coast strongholds at Buna, Gona and Sanananda.
During the battle, one of the toughest actions of World War II, Papuan and New Guinean men were employed as carriers. They played a vital role, carrying supplies and evacuating the seriously wounded and sick troops to safety, sometimes under fire. Their compassion and care of the casualties earned them admiration and respect from the Australians, who dubbed the men the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. The friendship between the peoples of Australia and Papua New Guinea continues to this day.
The length of the Kokoda Track was not measured in distance, but in how many hours it took to traverse. Soldiers were challenged by steep, treacherous inclines, deep valleys, dense jungle, a debilitating climate and drenching rain that frequently turned the ground into quagmire.
The story of Kokoda is one of courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice. These qualities are declared on the Australian memorial erected at Isurava, the site of a major attack by the Japanese in the last days of August 1942, in which both sides suffered heavy casualties.
More than 600 Australians died, and more than 1000 were wounded in the four months of fighting in the vicinity of the Kokoda Track. Casualties due to sickness exceeded 4000. Those Australians who died on the Track are buried at the Bomana War Cemetery outside Port Moresby.
Before you download
Some documents are available as PDF files. You will need a PDF reader to view PDF files.
List of PDF readers
If you are unable to access a publication, please contact us to organise a suitable alternative format.
Links to another web site
Opens a pop-up window