Kokoda Trail History

When looking at the history of Kokoda, it is important to look back to the late 19th century. It was at this time period that European miners needed to establish a footpath to the Yodda Kokoda goldfields and so over time, they formed the Kokoda Track. At the turn of the 20th century the track fell into disarray until a series of battles between Australian and Japanese forces lead to the utilisation of the trail once more during World War II in what became known as the Kokoda Campaign.

The Kokoda history books state that on 21st of July, 1942 Japanese forces landed near Gona on the north coast of the island and attempted to advance south over the Owen Stanley Range in order to capture Port Moresby and in turn further isolate the Australian forces from their allies. Initially the Kokoda campaign got off to a rocky start for the Australian forces as they had to muster their efforts to push the Japanese back to Kokoda. At this point, after many weeks went by, the Australian forces had to fall back to Deniki after several failed attempts at recapturing Kokoda.

By the 14th of August Australian forces had withdrawn from the Owen Stanley Range back down the Kokoda Trail to Isurava. After an approximately 10 day period of no conflict, the Japanese forces continued to push the Allies further back down the trail. By mid September the Japanese forces were running low on supplies and were overextending themselves. The outlook of the Kokoda Campaign continued to worsen for the Australians as they were eventually forced back to Imita Ridge, placing them within eyesight of Port Moresby.

This marked the end of the Japanese assault as they could no longer manage to spread their forces any farther. As the Japanese fell back, the Australian forces pursued them all the way back across the Kokoda track. The Kokoda Campaign ultimately reached its end as the Australians recaptured the Kokoda beachhead by early December 1942, and eventually forced the Japanese out of Papua New Guinea.

After the war, the Kokoda Trail fell into disuse once more until a long distance runner by the name of John Landy ran the trail in a four day span with the assistance of carriers and guides in the 1950s. In 1964 Angus Henry crossed the trail in three and a quarter days with his two students. In more recent Kokoda history, the trail has become a popular destination, with the number of trekkers increasing exponentially with each passing year since the turn of the millennium.

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