The Kokoda Track | Australians in World War II | The Pacific War

Exploring the site of the battle fought by Australians in World War II

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Special features

  • New Guineans on the Kokoda Track

    Sergeant Sanopa thumbnail

    The great majority of the 20,000 New Guineans who participated in the campaign did so as carriers of supplies for the Allies, though 800 men from the Papuan Infantry Battalion and the Royal Papuan Constabulary fought against the Japanese in 1942. more ...

  • Animated Battle Maps

    Animated Battle Maps thumbnail

    There were a number of key battles in the Papuan campaign. In the initial stages the Australians were forced to withdraw on numerous occasions, but as the tide turned they they were able to push the Japanese back to Gona and the coast. more ...

  • A Kokoda Timeline

    Kokoda Timeline thumbnail

    On July 7 1942 Australian troops (Maroubra Force) began operations along the Kokoda track. On July 21 Japanese forces landed near Buna and Gona on the north-east shore of Papua New Guinea. View an interactive timeline of the Kokoda campaign within the larger Pacific War. more ...

  • Track or Trail?

    Native bearers carrying wounded thumbnail

    Kokoda track or the Kokoda trail? The official name is the Kokoda trail, but this term is rarely used in Australia. Pre-war documents referred to it as the 'overland mail route' and the 'Buna road' . Locally it is now called the Kokoda dala or Kokoda road and 'Kokoda road' was sometimes used during the war. more ...

  • Why Port Moresby?

    Painting of Japanese bombing of Port Moresby thumbnail

    Port Moresby was important because any Allied attack north through New Guinea towards Rabaul required Port Moresby as a base. Similarly for any attack south towards Australia, the Japanese required Port Moresby. more ...

  • A Fighting Retreat

    Lieutenant Colonel William Taylor Owen thumb

    At the first of two engagements at Kokoda the Japanese defeated Lieutenant Colonel Owen's force and captured the airstrip from which they expected to receive supplies from Rabaul. The combined Papuan/Australian force fell back to Deniki. more ...

  • The Stand at Isurava

    Soldiers of 2/14th Infantry Battalion thumbnail

    In late August both the Australians and the Japanese were greatly reinforced and prepared for a decisive battle at Isurava. While the Japanese were victorious they failed to achieve their main objective - the total destruction of Maroubra Force. more ...

  • Retaking Kokoda

    Kokoda Plateau

    In the morning fog on 25 October 1942, while the two armies fought at Eora-Templeton's 25 km to the south, Winkle, having come from an Australian patrol base in the Yodda valley, crossed the Kokoda airstrip and entered Kokoda Government Station. more ...

  • The Decisive Moment

    Australian burial party thumbnail

    As a result of the decisive defeat suffered by the Japanese at Oivi-Gorari they abandoned their plan to take Port Moresby and turned their attention to holding their base at Buna-Gona. The Japanese cut through the surrounding Australian infantry and retreated to the coast. more ...

  • Casualties

    Casualties of war thumbnail

    Casualty statistics are not reliable in every category. Numbers for those killed in action are accurate but Australians evacuated sick during the campaign can only be estimated. The situation is much worse when assessing the losses of the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy. more ...

The Australian Veterans' Accounts

Kokoda Veterans' Video Interviews

  • Kokoda Veteran Lawrence Downes

    Lawrence Downes...

    ...of 39 Infantry Battalion, reflects on the fate of his friends during and after the Papuan campaign.

    “...The rest of them are gone. Those that didn't get killed there [at Kokoda] got killed up at Gona...”

    View video ...

  • Kokoda Veteran Colin Richardson

    Colin Richardson...

    ...a platoon commander of 3rd Infantry Battalion, gives an account of being wounded at the Battle of Buna-Gona.

    “...He said he thought I was dead but in any case he'd patch me up. He got out what cat gut he had and sewed me up...”

    View video ...

  • Kokoda Nurse Helen McCallum

    Helen MacCallum...

    ...tells of conditions at 2/9th Australian General Hospital in Port Moresby during the Kokoda track fighting.

    “...They were very courageous they were very bright and humorous, they were supportive of each other, they were very supportive of us...”

    View video ...

  • Kokoda Veteran Gordon Bailey

    Gordon Bailey...

    ...describes the reaction of the Australians in Port Moresby to the shooting down of a Japanese aircraft.

    “...Everybody roared when they went down, it sounded like we were at the Melbourne MCG on grand final day...”

    View video ...

  • Kokoda Veteran Eric Williams

    Eric Williams...

    ...of 2/16th Infantry Battalion, was subject to a bombardment of Japanese artillery on Ioribaiwa Ridge.

    “...this mountain gun was fired and exploded in this tree just above our head. And it killed the three blokes with their head on the tree...”

    View video ...

  • Kokoda Veteran Arthur Gould

    Arthur Gould...

    ...flew with 75 Squadron at Milne Bay. He tells of the capture of a Japanese pilot.

    “We shot down a Jap Val, a divebomber thing. He crash-landed on the beach, well away from us...”

    View video ...

  • Kokoda Veteran Paul Cullen

    Paul Cullen...

    ...commanded 2/1st Infantry Battalion during the Australian advance. He recalls witnessing hand-to-hand combat at Oivi-Gorari.

    “...we encircled the Japanese position, and with another battalion from 7th Division, we killed over three hundred...

    View video ...

Teaching Aid Thumbnail

Teaching and Learning Activities for the Classroom

The Australian Veterans' Accounts

Listen to these four Australian veteran stories and answer the following questions.

Kokoda Veteran Lawrence Downes
Lawrence Downes

In the first paragraph Lawrence said ‘So someone did some good.’ In the second paragraph he said ‘They just kept pushing them back in.’ What do you think he was thinking about as he said these things? Listen to Lawrence again and in at least thirty words for each sentence explain what you think he meant.

Kokoda Veteran Colin Richardson
Colin Richardson

The ‘doc’ that Colin mentioned in his last sentence was the same man who patched up his wound, thinking that Colin would not survive. Tell the same story, in about the same number of words that Colin uses, but as if you were the ‘doc’.

Kokoda Veteran Arthur Gould
Arthur Gould

Arthur tells a serious story in a light hearted way, as if it was a joke. Do you think he was wrong to do that? After answering this question rewrite the story using words that Arthur would have used if he wished to make the story appear to be a sad one. Write about the same number of words that Arthur used.

Kokoda Veteran Paul Cullen
Paul Cullen

Paul said that the Japanese soldier in the story was brave and gallant. In thirty words answer this question: Why do you think Paul had that reaction and do you suppose it was common for men on the Kokoda track to admire an enemy that they were trying to kill?