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 Tide Turns


At the end of September 1942 the Japanese retreated from their southernmost point of advance, just 40 kilometres from Port Moresby...

November 1942. Eora Creek. The first crossing of Eora Creek on a section of the Kokoda trail from Myola. A narrow footbridge made of logs (left) spans the creek, as water tumbles over rocks in a waterfall (centre). [AWM P02424_100]
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The reason for the retreat was that Guadalcanal was going badly for them and Imperial Headquarters in Tokyo deemed it wise not to stick their neck out too far in Papua until the Guadalcanal problem was resolved. They did not however abandon hope of making another attack on Port Moresby in the future, so they only retreated as far as the Templeton's Crossing - Eora region. There the Australians attacked and defeated them in October 1942. The Japanese fell back to Oivi-Gorari but in November were again defeated, this time decisively. The remnant of the Nankai Shitai now had no choice but to retreat to Sanananda to try to hold their base.

Video Still of Eora Creek

From Kokoda the track follows the gorge of Eora Creek.

Teaching Aid Thumbnail

Teaching and Learning Activities for the Classroom

Esma's Story

Studio wedding portrait of NX59611 Lieutenant (Lt) Herbert Arthur Warne and his bride Esma (nee Myers) on their wedding day. Lt Warne served in the 2/33 Battalion and was killed in action at Myola Ridge on 14 October 1942 during the Australian advance to Eora village. [AWM P05703.001]

Studio wedding portrait of NX59611 Lieutenant (Lt) Herbert Arthur Warne and his bride Esma (nee Myers) on their wedding day. [AWM P05703.001] ... Enlarge

This is a formal wedding portrait taken on the day of the wedding of Lieutenant Herbert Warne and Esma Myers. They had met before Herbert first went overseas with the army, to the Middle East. On his return they were married and they moved to their new home at 9 Francis Street, Richmond, a suburb of Sydney.

Within a few weeks Herbert's battalion, the 2/33rd, was once again sent into battle and on 14 October 1942 he was killed in action on the Kokoda track during the Australian advance to Eora village. He is buried at Bomana Cemetery near Port Moresby.

Imagine that you are Esma. Look closely at the photograph and decide what kind of person you are. You were 22 years old when the photograph was taken and now you are nearly 90. Writing as if you are Esma, tell her story in one page. Where was she born and what did she do before she met Herbert? Was it a happy marriage? Were they rich or poor? How did she cope when he went off to the war? Did she ever go to see his grave? Did she keep a memento of her short time with Herbert? What happened to her after the war? Did she re marry? Does she have children, grand children, or even great grand children about your age? Does she still think of Herbert sometimes?