When I concentrate on Australian Military history, most of my attention goes to WW1 where my grandfather served and Vietnam, where I saw active service. I don’t often concentrate on WW2. However, my father saw active service in the Pacific theatre when he was posted to several forward supply depots in Borneo and Moratai in preparation for Macarthur’s retaking of the Phillipines.
In 1942 The Australian population was feeling very threatened. The British garrison in Singapore had fallen, There was the fierce battle of the Coral Sea (fought entirely by naval vessels and ship borne aircraft) off the coast of Queensland and Darwin in the far north of Australia was being bombed regularly by the Japanese. At that time, New Guinea was an Australian administered territory and in July 1942, the Japanese army landed on the north coast at Buna and were beginning to travel south towards the capital, Port Moresby, along the Kokoda Track. People here, were fearing an invasion and a number of militia units were hurriedly sent to New Guinea to defend the country.Soon later, a number of Australian battalions were swiftly pulled back from the conflict in the Middle East and Africa to support this action.
The Kokoda Track is a single-file foot thoroughfare that runs 96 kilometres overland through the Owen Stanley Range. It runs from Owers’ Corner in Central Province, 50 kilometres east of Port Moresby, across rugged and isolated terrain which is only passable on foot, to the village of Kokoda in Oro Province. It reaches a height of 2,190 metres as it passes around the peak of Mount Bellamy. The track travels primarily through the land of the Mountain Koiari people.
In 2002, I joined a party of seven walkers who travelled from North to South down the track following the route of the Australian withdrawal as they fought running battles against a far superior force of Japanese troops. This walk coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Kokoda. Back then, I was younger and much more fit than I am now.It was the hardest walk that I have ever accomplished!
I recorded each day’s journey in my travel diary and produced a video of our walk. Technology changed since I first streamed it on my blog and for a long time it hasn’t worked. I have just found a way to get it going again. If you would like to see my story of this arduous walk and learn more about this famous military campaign, you can see my video at this link – Kokoda Track Video. The video is rather long (about an hour) but the track was very long too.