Field Guide to the Kokoda Track (Fourth Edition) by Bill James


The Kokoda legend lay dormant for six decades, during which the rampant New Guinean jungle reclaimed many of its historic sites. Now, after years of painstaking research, and with the aid of the fast-thinning ranks of both Australian and Japanese veterans, Bill James has uncovered these ‘lost battlefields’, plus more.

This book is intended to be an historical preparation for people who want to, or are actually planning to, walk the Kokoda Track. It can also be read as a ‘stand-alone’ story and will appeal to people who simply want to learn more about the history of Kokoda, and understand more about the legend that surrounds it.

The book includes many telling excerpts from the hand-written diaries and memoirs of the men who were actually there in the thick of battle, eyewitnesses to these extraordinary times. The aim of this book is not to write another analytical history of the campaign. While providing some historical background and personal perspectives, its main objective is to be a battlefield guide a companion to the history books.

It attempts to correctly identify and describe the localities of many of the 1942 43 battles, as well as other places of wartime significance encampments, supply dumps, aid posts, hospitals, etc. used by the Australians, from Port Moresby in the south to the Gona Sanananda Buna beaches in the north.

It also attempts to locate the path of the wartime Kokoda Track over the Owen Stanley Range, from Owers’ Corner (south) to the village of Kokoda (north of the range). Of the 96 kilometres that can be covered by current-day trekkers, approximately 10 of them are not part of the original track used during the campaign these more recent tracks were cut to access new village sites and gardens, leaving the old wartime track unused and overgrown.

Virtually all Australians who go on trekking tours to Kokoda have local Papuan guides, and many are accompanied by Australian trek leaders. However, the practical interpretation of historical information available to these guides is extremely limited. This carefully researched book is intended to fill this void. It is hoped this will make the trek a far richer experience.

For those wishing to fully understand the history of the Kokoda Track, the book will be of great interest. For those intending to undertake the gruelling trek, it is essential reading, and includes a waterproof trek map (540 mm x 408 mm 2-sided). The revised edition now includes the grave or memorial information for the fallen.

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