About the Kokoda Track: 1942 and Today
Seeing Kokoda the easy way
While many will be daunted, and rightly so, by the difficulties of walking the Kokoda track there is an easier way to see something of the arena of war in Papua in 1942...
A short flight away from Port Moresby is Popondetta on the north coast. From Popondetta the battlefields of Buna, Gona and Sanananda are less than 20 kilometres away by road. There is a hotel at Popondetta and basic accommodation right on the beach in the village of Sanananda.
Several hours drive to the west along the Popondetta-Kokoda road is the battlefield of Oivi-Gorari. This, the largest battle of the Kokoda period of the fighting, is not actually in the Owen Stanley Range but rather in the valley of the Mambare River. Proceeding along this road will also take the visitor past two other scenes of fighting in the early stages of the campaign at Awala and at the Kumusi River crossing. A half-hour drive further west from Oivi is the village of Kokoda. The airstrip here was the objective of two small but furious engagements in 1942 between the Australians and the Japanese. The airstrip is still in use and it is possible to fly direct from Port Moresby to Kokoda.
None of the places described so far require any hill climbing and all are accessible by vehicle - except sometimes in the wet season when the rivers flood. For the slightly more adventurous a six-hour walk, a steep climb up from Kokoda into the Owen Stanley Range, will take you to Deniki and to the iconic battlefield of Isurava. An overnight stay in tents or huts can be arranged at nearby Alola.