$30 (plus postage)
9781921920202. 300 pages, with index, 84
black & white photos, 13 chapter maps. First
published by Central Queensland University Press 2003 (ISBN 1876780304).
This edition published by Boolarong Press 2011. 230mm x
Kokoda Trail is a remote jungle track in the old Australian Territory
of Papua where Aussie Diggers and Fuzzy Wuzzy angels battled against
Japanese invaders to save Australia in 1942. The Kokoda Trail campaign,
fought out over six months and two days on a narrow front in appalling
conditions has become an honoured part of our Australian
there is much more to the Kokoda Trail than this. Historian and
Stuart Hawthorne looks back 130 years over the Trail’s captivating
traces the explorers, gold seekers, missionaries and colonial officials
pushed this tiny footpad across unbelievably harsh country to set out a
fascinating account of the fortunes of this 96.4 kilometre track.
Did you know
a surveyor set out the route of the first Kokoda Trail before Kokoda
existed? Or why it’s the Kokoda Trail, not Track? Or who gave the
‘Golden Staircase’ its name?
years in the making, The Kokoda Trail: A
History provides the first complete account of this sinuous
that holds such an esteemed position in the Australian psyche. This
reveals for the first time there is another, larger, history of the
Trail which is every bit as compelling and intriguing as the grim war
fascinating insight into the turbulent history of the Trail,
comprehensively illustrated with early photographs and easily
sequential maps. Stuart Hawthorne displays a clear understanding based
on his personal knowledge and experience. A definitive resource and a
major contribution to the historical record.
—Brigadier Gordon Jones AM.
Extremely well researched … a very readable and engrossing account of
the most cherished of Australian icons.
Captain Greg Ison.
Hawthorne has woven a tale that was most definitely worth telling, and
he has done it well. The writing is crisp and clear … Obviously the
work of an experienced researcher, writer and historian with an
intimate and long-term knowledge of the subject. —Queensland
Parliamentary Library Review.
debate has occurred as to whether it should be called “Track” or
“Trail” and this book does not try to settle that issue although the
author freely uses both terms and does give the impression–at least to
this reviewer–that he favours “Track” but acknowledges that the PNG
Government has decided to officially use “Trail”.
members of the 39th Battalion, we tend to sometimes think that we
“pioneered” the Kokoda Track but that is very far from being
more than 130 years, attempts had been made to establish a route for a
road–albeit a pack horse or mule track–from Port Moresby to Yodda (a
name which pre-dates Kokoda) in order to service the gold mines which
existed in the area. This reviewer was very interested to read of the
problems with the “hairpin bend” near the Rouna Falls as he remembers a
vehicle in which he was travelling almost going over the edge as the
driver made the several backwards and forwards movements that were
initially necessary to negotiate the bend.
book gives a very interesting account of the efforts of these early
explorers who ranged from entrepreneurs to devout missionaries to
government surveyors. It tells the story of risks faced from cannibal
tribes and how eventually the tribesmen came to accept the invasion of
their territory as something they might be able to use to their
advantage. A regular mail service between Port Moresby and Yodda was
established during the 19th century and was operated usually by two
armed “police boys”, travelling on foot with the mail in pouches, and
recording quite amazing times for the journey. At the same time, mail
and supplies were brought by boat to the northern coast and manhandled
overland to the several mining areas and on occasions the complete
journey was made between the two coast lines.
The later chapters
deal with some of “our” history and what happened post war.
This is a very
from The Good Guts
( Newsletter of 39th Australian Infantry
Battalion (1941-43) Association), April 2011, No 170, p23.
This interesting and very detailed history of the Kokoda Trail from its
earliest beginnings covers ground which has not been available in most
other accounts which, in the main, concentrate on the famous 1942
battle by Australian soldiers against the invading Japanese. The
author, who spent much of his early life in Papua, is to be
congratulated on his meticulous research over a period of thirty years
– the result is a fascinating read for any ex-resident of PNG.
many maps included illustrate the determined attempts over the years to
find a land route over the intimidating heights of the Owen Stanley
Range, which still today separates Port Moresby from the rest of the
country. There are comprehensive descriptions of several attempted
crossings. These include Rev James Chalmers in 1879, William Armit from
the Melbourne Argus newspaper in 1883 shortly followed by George
Morrison of the Melbourne Age newspaper. It was an altercation
involving Morrison’s party that left a legacy for some years of a
hostile attitude to any other parties attempting to penetrate that
area. Explorations organised by the Administrator, Sir William
MacGregor, who scaled Mt Victoria, 4072 metres, in June 1889 and who
also crossed British New Guinea from north to south in 1896 via Mt
Scratchley, 3810 metres, are covered.
Porter in Una Voce
When the route of today’s Kokoda Trail was inaugurated as an overland
mail route in 1904, the Administrator, Francis Barton took along a
bottle of champagne to celebrate the occasion. Ceremonial toasting took
place in The Gap on 22nd December when Barton’s expedition, travelling
from Port Moresby, rendezvoused with another party under Resident
Magistrate Henry Griffin, who had climbed up from Kokoda.
Unfortunately, no one had remembered to bring the champagne flutes so
they had to make do with enamelled iron mugs.
is one of the fascinating anecdotes about the Kokoda Trail revealed in
Stuart Hawthorne’s new book The
Kokoda Trail: A History.
Kokoda Trail: A History is well-written and thoroughly
more than 100 fascinating historical photographs and detailed maps,
this volume gives us a new insight into the harsh early years of this
simple little footpad that has become one of the great symbols of the
Australian Anzac legend. And the book is no less intriguing for the
glimpse it affords readers into the little known era of Australia as a
David Myers, Central Queensland University.