Kokoda Track

Women Rangers Break Barrier

However, despite this special role, the ranks of the Kokoda Track rangers have been historically male dominated.

This gender barrier has been shattered by four women with a common interest in preserving the history, culture and environment of the iconic trail.

Nido Inara, Stella Kanawi, Julie Fred and Tracey Havala are among a cadre of new rangers recruited by the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) through the Ranger Capacity Development Project. The project is supported by the Kokoda Initiative, which is a partnership between the Australian and PNG governments.

Kokoda Track a shared history

It will reflect on the legacy of World War II, and recall the shared history and celebrate the special bonds created between Papua New Guineans and Australians during the conflict.

These bonds are embodied in the iconic Kokoda Track, a monument to the friendship, courage, endurance and sacrifice that both countries demonstrated during World War II in defence of our shared values.

Kokoda projects open doors for locals

The projects, which include track maintenance, water security facilities and road maintenance, are supported by the PNG-Australia Partnership through the Kokoda Initiative.

Track maintenance works are overseen by the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) and will ensure the track continues to be safe for use by local communities and will be ready for when trekkers return.

Acting KTA CEO, Julius Wargirai, said despite the interrupted 2020 trekking season, the Kokoda Track will continue to be significant for Papua New Guineans and Australians.

Road repairs ensure Kokoda Track access for locals, tourists

The project engaged local people as traffic controllers and maintenance workers, providing employment at a time when the Kokoda Track is closed to tourists due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Helen Weana, a ward councillor in Hiri District, was one of the traffic controllers and said the repairs keep the road open, which has a major positive impact on communities in the region.

“Local villages benefit from improved access to markets and public services. This includes travel to health centres and schools in Sogeri and beyond,” said Weana.

Solar lights work wonders for 7yo

But ever since solar lights were installed in the family home of seven-year-old Norman Woito from Buna village, he now looks forward to studying with his mother after school.

Parents Wilfred and Liferty Woito said it used to be difficult to encourage the Buna elementary student to do his school work in the dark.

“He mostly complained about doing his homework because he could not see clearly with the torch lights, which only worked for a short time,” said Liferty.

Kokoda bridges ready for trekking season

Prior to the works being completed, communities were cut off by some of the worst flooding in many years that washed away bridges vital for the 91 communities along the Kokoda Track.

The bridges are also vital for the many trekkers along the Track, with 3,500 trekkers expected annually. Several hundred have already made their way safely along the 96km track and many more will soon follow.

After two weeks of hard work building log bridges, feedback from local rangers, village elders and trekkers reveals the bridges are providing safe crossings.

Kokoda Track reopened

The track was shut down by angry villagers along the track over issues of development and spin-off benefits.

For the last 2 weeks, Koiari villagers along the Kokoda Track have been camping at Depo village, the gateway of the track.

The track has been a tourism product for over 2 decades, attracting international and local tourists but villagers say there is nothing to show for.

Locals add there hasn’t been any improvement in their standard of living and health and education services are still lacking.

Business training for Kokoda guest house owners

The two-day sessions were funded by the Australian Government through the Kokoda Initiative and took place in three villages along the track; Isurava in Oro and Efogi and Manari in Central. 

The presentations were led by Heather Vanua, a business lecturer from the Pacific Adventist University, and covered identification of business opportunities, business planning, record keeping and cash flow. 

They should never be forgotten

Over the years, documentary films and short videos have been produced as a reminder of the hardships faced on the famous Kokoda Track during World War II.

But for the first time, a documentary allows a local perspective onto the big screens.

Fuzzy Wuzzy, Beyond the Legend is a documentary that looks at the history of the Kokoda Track from a Papua New Guinean perspective.

More importantly, this documentary focuses on the angels of the tracks – the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.

It allows viewers to see through the eyes of the only living survivor.

American author to walk PNG’s war trail

The Kapa Kapa Trail was used by American soldiers during World War II in 1942.

Campbell wrote the book Ghost Mountain Boys, which is about soldiers who marched over the 10,000-foot Owen Stanley Mountains to protect the right flank of the Australian army during the battle for New Guinea.

In 2006, Campbell followed the footsteps of the Ghost Mountain Boys and shot a documentary film in the process.

His fascination with PNG, which he has visited five times, and the war in the South Pacific, led him to the story of the Ghost Mountain Boys.