The legend behind the World War II Kokoda campaign is renowned in Australian military history. In July 1942, the Japanese Army landed in Papua New Guinea in an effort to capture Port Moresby. They entered via the Kokoda track over the Owen Stanley Range but the Australian Forces had been deployed and were ready for them. It was a bitter four month battle ending in November.
The initial Australian forces were barely battle ready having been called up as Reservists with minimal training and preparation. They were untested and untried, and underprepared for the seasoned Japanese forces. Their courage, endurance, mateship and sacrifice in resisting the Japanese is their badge of honour. There were fierce clashes and tactical withdrawals to stretch the Japaness supply lines and then, ferocious advancements to push the japanes forces back from whence they came. In military terms, it was classified jungle warfare given the strategic challenges due to the dense jungle conditions.
Why Is the Kokoda Trail Particularly Important to Australians?
It is such an important part of Australian history. It is believed that if the Japanese Army had taken the north coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG), there would have been nothing to stop them from invading Australia. Nearly 1,000 Australians made the ultimate sacrifice to make sure this didn’t happen.
Solidifying the relationship between PNG and Australia ever since, there is the legend of the fuzzy wuzzy angels. They are men who acted as guides/porters through the rugged terrain to help Australians secure positions along the track, and to heroically stretcher hundreds of wounded soldiers to safety and treatment despite the almost impossible terrain. Without them, there is a very high possibility that the campaign would not have been successful.
Who Treks the Kokoda Track?
Australians are very good at honouring the brave men and women who contributed to the war effort. As a sign of respect, hundreds of Australians walk the track each year. Their journey pays tribute to the sacrifices made by our soldiers to protect the freedom we enjoy today.
Many Aussies walk the track for various reasons but for some, it is to raise funds for their chosen charity. For some, it is a bonding exercise with friends and colleagues. Others make the trek to honour family members who fought in the campaign. Some groups do it just as a personal challenge.
Completing the track presents enormous mental and physical challenges. Walking the Kokoda track is seen as a badge of honour. With the correct preparation, safety and support you can conquer and overcome the 96km Kokoda Trail, just as our brave soldiers did back in 1942.
How Safe Is the Kokoda Trail?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions by people contemplating the journey. It is not a flat trek, it is rugged and a long way from any city or hospital. It is 96 kilometres of tough jungle terrain. It comes with risk and there can be no safety guarantees. Injuries are not common as long as people are well prepared and undertake a consistent training schedule prior to the trek. Injuries that tend to occur are limb sprains. With on-trek medical expertise, these can usually be managed so that trekkers complete the trail.
Can You Walk the Kokoda Track Without a Guide?
Trekking the Kokoda track without a guide is completely discouraged. It is a very physically and mentally demanding challenge. There is what’s called a “trekking season”. It begins at the start of June through to October. From the months of November through to March it is the monsoonal season and not advised to attempt the trek at this time. Experienced guides will tell you conditions change from one year to the next.
For reasons of safety and security as well as the experience of battle briefs from well informed historians, trekkers should choose their adventure company very carefully. A reputable adventure company should have a great deal of experience. They will have trekked the area many times and will be able to compare conditions from one year to the next. They will also have adequate medical staff on the trek with you should any problems arise.
Friendships with the local villages is also an imperative. These are remote, tough conditions where almost anything can happen; the right adventure company is your ticket to a safe and successful crossing and is able to resolve any situation that can and does occur.
What Vaccinations Are Required to Walk the Kokoda Track?
There are no vaccinations specifically required to walk the trek. Obviously the trekking area is in the jungle so it would be strongly advised to vaccinate against cholera, typhoid, Hepatitis A and B. Also make sure all tetanus injections are up to date. The best thing to do is see a specialist travel doctor to get the currently required medications.
So Should I Trek Kokoda?
Certainly one of the more challenging treks offered by adventure companies like Adventure Excellence. Our aim as an adventure provider company is to have all participants complete the 96 kilometre Kokoda challenge safely. In fact, we have the single best safety and completion record of any provider.
Adventure Excellence are true professionals when it comes to taking teams along the Kokoda trail. We can provide a whole package to make your Kokoda trek experience everything you had hoped for.
Visit our website to check out the details of our upcoming Kokoda Trek.
Below is a brief rundown of our Kokoda adventure:
- The duration of the event lasts 10 days
- On a challenge scale of 1 to 5, the Kokoda track is considered a 4.
- Accomodation on your first and last night in Port Moresby is provided
- International and domestic flights are also included
- You are responsible for bringing shoes/boots, shorts, underwear, socks, hiking poles, and personal medical items on the trek. Adventure Excellence provides all other equipment.
- People who have made the trek often say the Kokoda experience is the most rewarding challenge of their life.
- Why provide the history and knowledge of the significance of Kokoda to add even more significance to the experience.