The Kokoda Trail saw some of the bloodiest fighting to take place
during the Pacific Campaign of WWII. On 23 July 1942 the Japanese
landed at Buna on the north-east coast of Papua New Guinea and after
establishing a bridgehead pushed south across the Owen Stanley Ranges
towards Port Moresby. Some 15,000 Japanese troops overwhelmed the
inferior Australian forces, which retreated to Kokoda. In August
1942 the Japanese reached Kokoda, but an aerial bombardment by US
and Australian forces was inconclusive. The Australians were forced
to withdraw further, and on 10 September the Japanese took the Iorabaiwa
Ridge, only 40 miles from Port Moresby. The southern defences remained
intact and a Japanese assault was repulsed due to fierce resistance
from Australian troops and incessant fragmentary bombing by the
On 29 September US and Australian reinforcements arrived and launched
a massive counter-offensive. By the middle of October the Japanese
were cleared from Iorabaiwa Ridge by troops of Australia's 25th
Brigade and two weeks later they were pushed back beyond Kokoda
Airfield. Japanese troops resisted bravely; even in retreat, tactical
stands made to cover withdrawals were tenaciously maintained by
soldiers near starvation point.Several thousand Australian troops
were staged in Port Moresby, and an extra wharf was constructed
on Tatana Island to allow for the flow of logistics from ship to
shore. The causeway linking Tatana to the mainland can still be
seen, and a number of wrecks lie in the shallows around Hanuabada.
Roads were driven inland to five airfields and military camps set
in a defensive line around Port Moresby.Australian casualties on
the Kokoda Trail phase of the Papuan campaign up to 16 November
1942 were approximately 100 officers and 1600 men; 35 officers and
580 men were killed. For every man killed in battle another two
or three succumbed to sickness requiring hospital treatment. Malaria,
scrub typhus, skin diseases and sheer exhaustion took the main toll.
The Kokoda Trail is now a peaceful place to visit, tranquil villages
set along the route belie the savagery of the fighting 50 years
ago. At the same time, it is recognised as one of the hardest bush
walks anywhere in the world.
Moresby is also our base for trips along the Kokoda Trail. We offer
two options for this incredible trek. Firstly, for people with limited
time on their hands, a 4 day/3 night tour starts with an exciting
charter flight from Moresby to Miaola, where you will stay for 1
night. You will then trek along the Kokoda Trail, staying in Kagi
and Efogi Villages. From here you will fly back to Port Moresby.
Guides will explain some of the sites visited, and porters carry
all the group equipment. We recommend overnighting in village huts,
rather than in tents, as this eases the load required.
For the ultimate, try the entire trail! The trip is operated on
a ten night basis, with a two night rest stop at Maiola, about half
way along the track This high altitude valley is a peaceful retreat
from the hard walking you will have.
The guides and carriers we use on the trek are drawn from villages
along the trail. Their experience makes the trek more pleasant,
as you will have the opportunity to meet up with their families
and gain first-hand experience of life on the Kokoda Trail during
WWII. Our trip includes all your food, tents and equipment. Carriers
are provided to carry all the group equipment. If you do not wish
to carry your own back pack then a personal porter can be provided
at an additional cost. Please note that Kokoda Trail walks take
some time to organise. We ask that you give us at least 1 month's
notice of your desire to hike WWII's Ho Chi Minh Trail!
GUIDE & PORTER RATIOS
1 person: 1 guide, 1 porter; 2 people: 1 guide, 1 porter; 3 people:
1 guide, 2 porters; 4 people: 1 guide, 2 porters; 5 people: 1 guide,
2 porters; 6 people: 1 guide, 3 porters; 7 people: 1 guide, 3 porters;
8 people: 1 guide, 4 porters; 9 people: 1 guide, 4 porters; 10 people:
1 guide, 5 porters.
Please ask for more comprehensive details on these treks.