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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  • 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

Helen McCallum

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

“And our convalescent patients used to help us with the care of the wards as far as the sweeping and the watering and we used to rely on them to help us with a number of things, because our staff was fairly short and if they had a friend who was not very well, they would sit beside him, and give him his drinks, and hold his cigarette for him and things like that. They were very courageous, they were very bright and humorous, they were very supportive of each other, they were very supportive of us and we all got on very well and there was a lot of fun and games and, you know, sort of casual talk up and down the wards. It was a wonderful atmosphere and I had a great admiration for those men. They were, they were so brave, they put up with the discomforts and they actually put on weight while they were in hospital. Our meals mightn't be very good, but away from the tensions of fighting conditions and getting regular meals they would actually put on weight. We had one patent who was very, very thin and the men called him the ‘greyhound pup’. And they were going to win all sorts of races the ‘greyhound pup’ and they said after a while, ‘Sis you'll have to cut down on his food, he's putting on too much weight.’”

All Kokoda Veterans' Accounts

  • Kokoda Veteran Lawrence Downes
  • Kokoda Veteran Colin Richardson
  • Kokoda Nurse Helen McCallum
  • Kokoda Veteran Gordon Bailey
  • Kokoda Veteran Eric Williams
  • Kokoda Veteran Arthur Gould
  • Kokoda Veteran Paul Cullen