Recent News & Press Releases from the KTAThe Kokoda Track Authority is pleased to bring you the latest news from the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea. Check back regularly for updates!
Australian Veterans Honour the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ 70 Years On
Twelve Australian veterans and two Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels were at the Kokoda Station, November 2nd, to commemorate Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ Day and pay their respects to those who participated in the World War Two Kokoda Campaign.
The stifling heat and humidity did nothing to effect the dogged determination of the old heroes as they marched proudly onto the Kokoda Memorial Field, while crowds of locals and visitors gathered around to shout cheers of welcome and beat kundus’ for them.
Chief guests at the event were two Australian government ministers – the Australian Government Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and Defence Material Hon. Jason Clare, MP; and Australia Government Shadow Minister for Productivity, Population, Immigration and Citizenship, Hon. Scott Morrison, MP.
The highlights of the program were reflections by Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Dickson Hango and Australian World War Two veteran Leonard Griffiths who both spoke briefly of their experience during the Kokoda Campaign.
During the program a bugler from the Australian Army played the ‘Reveille’ as the Australian flag was symbolically raised at the original location it was once raised in triumph at the defeat of the Japanese back in November 3rd, 1942.
“We are tremendously honoured to have the veterans and a Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel return to Kokoda to commemorate Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ Day with us,” said James Enage, KTA CEO.
“This nationally recognised day is rooted in a turbulent time in our nation’s history that although terrible, has forged a friendship between Papua New Guinea and Australia that continues from strength-to-strength 70 years on.”
KTA would like to thank the Kokoda Station community, the Australian High Commission, the Kokoda Track Foundation, and the licensed Tour Operators and their Trekkers who were a part of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ Day event.
ABOVE: Kanimba dancers from Kokoda, Oro Province
ABOVE: Australian veterans march onto the Kokoda Memorial Field.
ABOVE: Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels' Dickson Hango and Francis Akati Simeni side-by-side
Australian WWII veteran Leonard Griffiths at the Kokoda Station Memorial Field.
Photo courtesy of Ken Pep.
Efogi Celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the Battle at Brigade Hill
The WWII Battle at Brigade Hill, Kokoda Campaign 70th Anniversary was celebrated at Efogi on Sunday the 9th and 10th of September.
Efogi is about two kilometres from Brigade Hill, which makes it the closest village to the second most intense battle that took place during the WWII Kokoda Campaign following the Battle at Isurava.
With the support of KTA, villagers treated themselves to soccer competitions, a choral night and much feasting, topped off with a greasy pole competition that delighted and amused not only the entire community but trekkers who spent the night there. People from surrounding villages like Launumu, Naduri and Kagi also participated in the celebrations.
“We are celebrating the WWII Battle at Brigade Hill by doing the things we enjoy in our own PNG way – sports, singing and feasting. We want to be the legacies our forefathers can be proud of for we understand the terrible things they endured and it is because of this we honour them with our happiness, our gratefulness and our coming together,” said Robert Batia, KTA Deputy Chairman.
The KTA team comprising of CEO James Enage, Chairman Ruben Maleva, Deputy Chairman Robert Batia and Livelihoods Officer Hollen Mado helped organise the event and also participated in the soccer competitions, where Hollen kicked the winning goal during the dying minutes of the game with his trusted trekker boot thus taking his team “Sisa”, which means ‘stubborn and annoying’ in the Koiari language, into the grand finals.
Isurava WWII 70th Anniversary Commemorations
Isurava came alive on Sunday, 26th of August, as members of the Isurava village community came together to remember the 70th Anniversary of the Battle at Isurava – one of the major battles of the World War Two Kokoda Campaign.
Isuravans’ marked the significant date by way of a huge feast and traditional singsings that united the whole village in remembrance and story-telling.
“The people of Isurava are proud of their history, however painful it was. When the older generation spoke of the destruction of land, life and property 70 years ago, and the resilience of the people who rebuilt their lives after the devastation of World War Two, everyone – especially the young people were moved and felt encouraged,” said KTA Chairman Ruben Maleva who was present at the event as an official guest.
KTA and the people of the Kokoda Track welcome all trekkers to come along to the next Kokoda Campaign 70th Anniversary event to be held at Efogi village on the 7th of September in commemoration of the Battle at Brigade Hill that took place on the 8th of September, 1942.
Kokoda Campaign 70th Anniversary Celebrations
The Sogeri National High School, in partnership with the Kokoda Track Authority, put on a spectacular Kokoda Campaign 70th Anniversary ‘Singsing’ show on Sunday, 29 July 2012. The school grounds burst with colourful and impressive traditional ‘bilas’ that many – by the end of the day – compared to the Goroka Show.
Special guest speakers were Australian High Commissioner His Excellency Ian Kemish and Papuan Infantry Battalion World War Two Veteran Ben Moide.
The annual Sogeri Singsing was of special significance this year as it commemorated the 70th Anniversary of the beginning of the World War Two Battle at Kokoda in 29 July 1942. War Veteran Ben Moide was one of the soldiers in the Papuan Infantry Battalion– a local militia made up of colonial settlers and natives – who were the first to fire shots at the approaching Japanese in Awala village and thus ignited the famous Kokoda Track battle.
During the ceremony KTA donated six copies of Ben Moide’s biography ‘Nameless Warriors’ to Sogeri National High School and other schools in the Sogeri area.
“Seeing our young people today celebrate their culture and remember the sacrfices of their elders is an honourable thing. I commend Sogeri National High School for the the time and effort they’ve put into the event,” said James Enage, KTA CEO.
Kokoda 70th Anniversary Program
Join us at Sogeri National High School, July 29th, 9am-3pm for the Battle of Kokoda Reflection and Sogeri Singsing.
A truly historical and cultural experience, free of charge to the public.
ANZAC Day Dawn Service
This years dawn service at Bomana War Cemetery was attended by thousands that came to pay their tributes at the moving annual ceremony.
This year was made all the more special with Veterans making the journey from Australia and the family of an Aboriginal soldier laid to rest at the Bomana Cemetery.
Private Frank Archibald’s family made the journey to perform a traditional ceremony at the Bomana Dawn Service to return his spirit home. They performed the ceremony for Private Archibald and 6 other aboriginals soldiers laid to rest here.
The visiting veterans were helicoptered in to a special service held at Isurava this year after the dawn service earlier that same day, which was attended by an estimated 300 people.
Brian Boon, KTA Safety Package Project Manager, was there for the occasion saying it was a very emotional ceremony attended by trekkers, locals and the veterans.
Guest House Certification Program
From May 17th to 24th 2012, Guy Chester from Eco Sustainability completed three training sessions in Efogi, Manari and Kokoda, in preparation for the 2013 launch of the KTA Guesthouse Certification program. A total of 57 guesthouse owners participated in the training. Hollen Mado, Livelihoods Officer, has reported a high rate of interest from guesthouse owners wanting to do the training again as they found it very useful.
“The guesthouse owners that attended have found it to be very beneficial in a practical sense and those that didn’t attend are very keen to attend the next lot of workshops as they’ve heard how well the first sessions went,” says Hollen.
The program consists of independent assessors certifying campsite, trekkers’ huts, guesthouses and lodges with a set of criteria to reinforce program integrity. The Guest House Certification program would see an independent assessor make initial assessment in September, 2012 to prepare guest house owners for the March, 2013 assessment that should involve all guest house owners along the Track.
This program is a mechanism driven by KTA and the Kokoda Initiative to upgrade and improve guest house services along the Track for the industry.
KTA will assist where possible to ensure that the program is successful and sustainable.
Livelihoods Officer, Hollen Mado, is currently preparing for the arrival of Dr Rob Gilfillen and his team later this month to deliver another key service development training to ward communities.
Dr Rob Gilfillen will be conducting basic massage therapy workshops for 20 selected villagers along the track.
Each ward has selected one male and one female representative to attend the workshop in Efogi being conducted from the 9th-14th May.
The training will be specifically for the basic massage techniques focusing on neck and shoulder and lower leg therapy.
Hopes are that this added service will create more eco-friendly jobs along the track and bring a new service to trekkers along the track.
Darwin Tourism Conference
The recent 2 day Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference 2012 took place in Darwin, Australia, 28-30 March.
The conference brought together leading professionals in Indigenous tourism from 16 different countries from throughout the Pacific Asia region.
The conference worked to develop a “Darwin Declaration on Indigenous Tourism” and was influenced by contributors to the industry from as far as the US, Nepal and the South Pacific.
Tourism leaders met, reviewed and endorsed principles that actively develop the mainstream approach to tourism activities in their regions.
These documents aim to be delivered to the Pacific Asia Travel Association and the UN World Tourism Organisation to assist with forming a guide for future actions for development for the industry worldwide.
KTA Chief Executive Officer, James Enage, and KTA Advisor, Rod Hillman, attended alongside PNG based tour operators Philip Batia, Muriel Gerari and Eileen Salewagen and TPA representative, Alice Kuaningi.
The inaugural conference also extended to a field trip program supported by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
As our participants are still homeward bound the next issue will provide a feature of the participants and their experience of the event.
One Journey, Many Stories
Tourism Promotion Authority Papua New Guinea (TPA) recently launched the trekking season in Sydney, Australia, to an audience of stakeholders from the tourism and trekking industries as well as Australian and PNG Government officials.
Coroner’s Report into the Death of Samantha Killen
Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the family and friends of Samantha Killen, who tragically passed away whilst on the Kokoda Track in 2009.
KTA was represented by Chairman, Reuben Maleva, CEO, James Enage and KTA Advisor, Rod Hillman.
The Kokoda Track received great publicity out of these events, highlighting the importance of the trekking industry to the economic value the track possesses for the Australian and PNG markets but also to the communities along the track that KTA disperses trekking fees back in to.
Chairman, Ruben Maleva, highlighted that the trekking industry had not only been a great boost to tourism in PNG but to the communities of Kokoda and Koiari. “They slowly seeing change as a result of trekking fees paid by tour operators to KTA and redistributed to communities along the track in the form Tourism Service Payments to the various wards.”
The event was used as a platform to also highlight the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Kokoda. Which will be commemorated through a series of village based events throughout the year and in a wider capacity by corporate entities such as Air Niugini.
The launch also showcased the Kokoda Initiative video “One Journey, Many Stories” that provides a great look into the people and various projects being carried out along the track.
This video is also available online through the following link http://youtu.be/7rqQYungPqs
A full investigation was conducted into Samantha’s death and a report recently furbished to KTA.
The Coroner’s Court of Victoria has completed the investigation into the death of Samantha Killen on the 17th April 2009.
The cause of death has been identified as “exercise acquired hyponatraermia”.
Recommendations have been made for KTA and Tour Operators to implement.
Need for KTA to “Provide information to participants as to the need to ensure appropriate hydration and acclimatisation”
“a period of acclimatisation should be undertaken before exercising in hot and humid conditions, especially if travelling from cold/temperate climates”
The KTA asks all Tour Operators to read the Coroner’s Report and make themselves familiar with the findings and recommendations.
Click here to download:
Kokoda Track Conservation Underway
KTA recently embarked on track conservation projects to preserve and improve deteriorated sections of the Kokoda Track for the upcoming trekking season.
KTA Chief Executive, James Enage said, “It will be a busy trekking season this year as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Kokoda, so this conservation work is important to ensure the Track is in great condition for trekkers and communities.
KTA Rangers will lead teams of skilled local communities to refill pitfalls, clear drainage and trees along the way.
Work will take place from Mt. Bellamy (Kokoda Gap) to Owers’ Corner, which affects
approximately 60% of the total Kokoda Track.
The track conservation work is part of the ongoing Safety Package program under the joint PNG-Australian Kokoda Initiative, implemented by the Kokoda Track Authority.
The launch of the official Trekking Season will take place in March with track conservation works scheduled to be completed end of February.
Kokoda License Conditions Review
Rueben Maleva, KTA Chairman, recently announced the publication of the reviewed licensing operations conditions for Tour Operators operating along the Kokoda Track Corridor.
The Kokoda Track is the single largest land-based tourist attraction in Papua New Guinea, attracting thousands of trekkers over the last decade alone.
With the tourism industry growing, KTA ensure industry standards are regularly reviewed and improved upon to ensure track communities and tour operators meet requirements to maintain a sustainable trekking industry and to provide operating guidelines to ensure a world class trekking experience and tour operator staff working conditions meet healthy and safety standards.
Key changes include stronger safety measures, improved working conditions for trekking staff and robust environmental conditions.
These amendments came about as a result of extensive consultations with stakeholders over the last three months, in time for the busy season ahead.
This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Kokoda and Tour Operators are anticipating numbers to increase as people make the pilgrimage in honour of the significant World War II commemoration.
Copies of the 2012 Commercial Operations License can be picked up from the Kokoda Track Authority office or on the KTA website www.kokodatrackauthority.org.
Expression of Interest: Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference Darwin
The call for expression of interest to attend the Pacific Asia Indigenous Tourism Conference being held in Darwin from 28th March to 1st April 2012 is now open.
The conference aims to bring together business entrepreneurs that promote cultural heritage and community based tourism.
Chosen candidates will attend the conference fully funded by the Australian Government, this includes travel and conference expenses.
For more information please click here to download the form.
Tour Operator Forum, Stakeholder Forum, Season and 70th Anniversary Launch
The Kokoda Track Trekking Season will be launched next month in conjunction with the Tour Operator and Stakeholder Forum in Sydney.
The forums are an opportunity for the KTA and Tour Operators to share information and provide updates on track management and conservation, Ranger reports, trekker numbers, landowner issues, safety package and livelihood activities.
Tour Operator attendance is important in maintaining good track management, building on the safe trekking experience and growing the trekking industry for PNG.
All feedback for consideration in the forum agenda are welcome, please submit to firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday March 9th.
Those attending Port Moresby Tour Operator Forum may bring two representatives.
Australian based Tour Operators will be required to register their attendance at the Sydney Forums by no later then Friday March 20th.
Tour Operator Forums:
Port Moresby | Lamana Hotel | 23rd March, 2012 | 8.30am – 3.00pm
Sydney | Rydges World Square| 26th March, 2012 | 12.00am – 4.00pm
Sydney | Rydges World Square | 27th March, 2012 | 8.30am – 4.00pm
Port Moresby | TBA | 22nd March, 2012 | 6.30pm – 9.00pm
Sydney | TBA | 29th March, 2012 | 6.30pm – 9.00pm
To register your attendance please contact Lilly Gabina at Kokoda Track Authority on 323 6165 or email email@example.com
Annual Management Trek
Chief Executive Officer, James Enage, Training Officer, Robert Batia and KTA Chairman, Reuben Maleva, will set off from Kokoda on the Annual Management Trek January 24th.
This annual trek is an important activity that gives the management team an opportunity to meet face to face with all ward communities along the track and update them on important upcoming projects and get their feedback on ongoing projects.
Awareness consultation sessions will be conducted along the way to ensure the communities understand how this year’s programs will affect them.
Tour Operator License Requirements
There are 83 registered tour operators currently licensed with Kokoda Track Authority.
It is important to note the KTA is unable to issue licenses to companies that don’t adhere to compliance measures with the Investment Promotion Authority.
Please ensure you have your IPA registration and reporting up to date as KTA will not issue licenses or renew licenses to Tour Operators that have their company or business certificate outdated.
Pre-Departure Information Package
Through the Safety Package program under the “Kokoda Initiative”, KTA is developing a pre departure information kit to assist trekkers in preparation for their journey on the Kokoda Track.
The kit will complement current KTA material and aims to ensure trekkers get the most out of their experience at the same time as understanding and appreciating cultural, natural and historic values.
Some of the pre departure information included addresses some of the issues raised at recent tour operator forums.
ways trekkers can prepare themselves to respect the rules and code of conduct while on the Track
- cultural sensitivity when engaging with communities along the Track
- health and safety guidelines
- KTA commercial license conditions
- roles of porters and guides
This information will be accessible online to interested trekkers through the KTA website as well as available in hard copy at the KTA office.
Anzac Day Preparations
The Traditional Gunfire Breakfast at the Australian High Commission following the dawn service at Bomana War Cemetery will be by ticket entry only.
All interested tour operators and trekking parties must make sure they obtain tickets before the day. Some tickets will be available from the KTA office.
Please contact Sylvia at 323 6165 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book tickets.
Track Maintenance Funds
Track maintenance ward funds have been increased for the year 2012 from K2,000 to K3,000.
Please contact Michael at KTA on 323 6165 or email email@example.com for more information.
SUBSIDISED FIRST AID TRAINING
KOKODA TRACK PORTERS AND GUIDES
The Kokoda Track Authority, through the Kokoda Track Safety
Package, is offering the following discounted First Aid training to Porters and
Guides who are employed by KTA licensed tour operators.
EMERGENCY/BASIC FIRST AID
K80 P/PERSON – 3 DAY COURSE (Usually K345 for course and lunches)
Training locations: Port Moresby (St. Johns Headquarters) and Kokoda (Kokoda Hospital)
POM: Course 1: 7 to 9 Feb
Course 2: 14 to 16 Feb
Kokoda: Course 1: 6 to 8 Mar
Certificate – subject to satisfactory completion of the course, participants will be awarded a Certificate for “Emergency First Aid”.
WILDERNESS/REMOTE FIRST AID
Porters or guides must have successfully completed the Emergency/basic First Aid course before they may attend this course.
K150 P/PERSON – 3 DAY COURSE (Usually K945 for course and lunches)
Training locations: Port Moresby (Lamana Hotel) and Kokoda (Kokoda Hospital)
POM: Course 1: 27 to 29 Feb
Course 2: 5 to 7 Mar
Kokoda: Course 1: 19 to 23 Mar
Course 2: 26 to 28 Mar
Certificate – subject to satisfactory completion of the courses, participants will be awarded a Certificate for “Provide First Aid in a Remote Situation”.
Catering – Lunches and morning/afternoon teas, will be provided
Please contact Lily Gabina on 323 6165 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Track Permits Online
The system is now live, allowing all Tour Operators to purchase track permits online.
This convenient system was showcased at the Tour Operator Forums in October and was well received by all.
Once the new year and the trekking season gets underway we are expecting to see this system being made use of more regularly as it will be the most convenient way of securing permits, saving Tour Operators time and money.
Hawks Tackle Kokoda Track
AFL Team, Hawthorn Hawks Recently Walked the Kokoda Track Bringing Footy Culture to Local Communities
Arriving at Owers’ Corner late Friday afternoon, the Hawthorn Hawks were looking forward to the showers and meals awaiting them at Crowne Plaza Hotel after completing the famous Kokoda Track in 4 days and 2 hours.
Speaking to Mitchell Hallaghan, who was picked up by the Hawks in the 2010 player draft for the AFL, 2010 NAB AFL Draft, the track was testing even for a team of well-trained football players.
“It was pretty hard, not what we expected, but it was more mentally hard than physically hard.”
In the team’s fourth visit to PNG, the trekking team comprised coaches, players, corporate partners, administrative staff and other team representatives.
They travelled in two teams along the track. The administrative/corporate team taking seven days to complete the track travelled ahead of the players who enjoyed overnighting in villages along the way, providing the children with footballs and having a kick around.
“They (children) were over joyed, we didn’t know if they’d know much about how to kick an AFL footy but they had natural skills and just got into it,” said Hallaghan.
Arranged by trekking company Executive Excellence and with trekking permits from Kokoda Track Authority, the teams were able to continue their team tradition well supported.
With different experiences to be had by the two parties walking the track, the players were to carry all their own gear and had to perform tasks along the way which was the basis for their team building exercise.
This trek is completed by new recruits into the team, a form of introduction to the Hawthorn team that model their team culture on the four pillars of Kokoda - courage, mateship, sacrifice and endurance.
“We had to do tasks along the way; re-enact injured soldiers, carry sand bags weighing as much as equipment soldiers would’ve had to carry during the war, it was pretty tough but it’s a huge part of team building,” said Dean Cheney, Hawks defender.
“It was pretty emotional when we reached the four pillars, which being a big part of our team culture, and that were pretty special, a bit of man love when we’d reached the end.”
Mitchell Hallaghan said, “The porters were great though, so helpful. When we’d reached our camp every night they’d have everything ready for us, they were great.”
Weighing themselves in at the end, some had lost up to 10 kilos. Considering part of their fitness routine works on building muscle and putting on healthy weight, the task itself is a big ask for the players.
“With the footy season upon us, I don’t think we’ll be doing it again anytime soon, but definitely a great experience,”
In Their Footsteps - Fuzzy Wuzzy Day 2011
In 2009 the Papua New Guinea Government enacted a National Day to recognize the heroic assistance provided by PNG Nationals during World War II to the Australian diggers, known as Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Days.
The idea arose out of a trek in which the former, Tourism Minister, Hon. Charles Abel, and Kokoda Track Authority Chief Executive Officer, James Enage, walked the Kokoda Track in August, 2009.
Whilst on the trek they saw a need to pay tribute to Papua New Guineans that also contributed significantly in World War II and put their lives on the line for us to have the lives we have today.
The Kokoda Battle was fought for four months along that track in 1942, in which the Japanese army planned to capture Port Moresby through the Kokoda Track, this took them over the Owen Stanley Range.
Allied troops drove the Japanese soldiers out of the Kokoda valley towards the end of October, 1942 and raised the Australian Flag on the 3rd of November 1942 in Kokoda Valley.
The name ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel’ derived from a poem titled ‘The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels” written by Sapper H.E. Bert Beros, an Australian soldier. Sapper H ‘Bert’ Beros serviced in both World War I and World War II. He wrote this poem at 4am on the Kokoda Track after having been on stand-to. It may never have been printed but for the fact that an officer sent a copy home to his mother. She was so impressed that she had it published in the Brisbane Courier Mail.
It was later published in a book ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels and other verses’ in 1944.
“Many a mother in Australia
When the busy day is done,
Sends a prayer to the Almighty
For the keeping of her son,
Asking that an angel guide him
And bring him safely back –
Now we see those prayers are answered
On the Owen Stanley Track…
…Not a move to hurt the carried,
As they treat him like a Saint,
It’s a picture worth recording,
That an Artist’s yet to paint.
Many a lad will see his Mother,
And the Husbands, Weans and Wives,
Just because the Fuzzy Wuzzy
Carried them to save their lives.
From mortar bombs and machine gun fire,
Or a chance surprise attack,
To safely and the care of Doctors,
At the bottom of the track.
May The mothers in Australia,
When they offer up a prayer,
Mentioned those impromptu Angels,
With the Fuzzy Wuzzy hair.”
There were some 50,000 Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels recruited throughout Papua New Guinea who worked in places such as Milne Bay, Rabaul and the Kokoda Track and are well remembered for their selfless acts of courage and sacrifice.
The conditions were very difficult as they used the Kokoda Track to carry wounded soldiers to medical assistance.
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels were most famously immortalized in images leading the blind and carrying the wounded on stretchers to safety.
Today they are honoured in paintings, statues, with medals and now celebrated on Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day.
The Kokoda Track Authority and local communities will celebrate Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day at Kokoda Station on the 3 November 2011. Cultural performances and presentations will highlight the occasion at the site where the Australian flag was raised after battling the Japanese across the track in 1942.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Sports Day at Efogi
As part of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day celebration a sports festival was held in Efogi from 25 - 31 July. Teams from villages throughout the Mount Koiari region gathered to compete in sports activities as well as hold public meetings and celebrations.
Men and women's soccer and volleyball, and men's touch football games were played by representatives from Manari, Efogi, Kagi, Naduri, Launumu, Envilogo and Boridi villages. Mumu (earth oven) feasts and a greasy pole competition (won by Naduri villages) were held on the last day of the celebrations.
The KTA wish to express its sincere gratitude to the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Government of PNG for funding and supporting this program. Communities along the Kokoda Track and the KTA will further celebrate the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day on the 3 November 2011.
The final workshops for Ward Development and Business Training were completed at Efogi in the last week of July.
Participants completed community project proposals including airport and road upgrades, new classrooms and portable saw mills. Business projects focused on guesthouses, trade stalls and group catering. Participants will now work together with the Ward Development Committee to further develop the proposals and seek funding from the local level governments and donor organisations.
Community Clean up at Kokoda Airstrip
The airstrip at Kokoda has been freshly cut and cleaned thanks to Grace Eroro and her family who took the initiative in Juen which encouraged over a hundred community members to volunteer in the clean up.
The community used grass knives to clear the area while KTA Ranger Donald Siga organised a lawn mower to assist with work. Kokoda community member Grace Eroro said this initiative was about partnership efforts and local people taking ownership. KTA through the KOkoda Initiative Safety Package, will be delivering a tractor and slasher in July/August to assist with continued maintenance of the airstrip.
Conservation work re-routed to old wartime track
Conservation work on the Kokoda Track is underway with the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA), as part of works to improve safety along the track through the joint PNG-Australian government Kokoda Initiative.
Erosion and steep drop offs have been assessed by the KTA operations team and Rangers, along with local landowners and New South Wales track construction expert Barry Lewis.
KTA Chief Executive James Enage said the problematic section at Ioribaiwa is some 280 metres long and includes the last steep section up to Ioribaiwa ridge. “The plan is to make this section safe and return this section of track to an authentic jungle experience. The new section of track follows a route proposed by landowners and passes through Japanese defensive positions from 1942, and in some areas picks up on the old war-time track,” he said.
The new alignment allows the track slope to be on average less than 10 per cent which reduces the potential for erosion and ensures a safer path for trekkers. Short lengths of fencing made from bush material will be placed to ensure trekkers do not damage the Japanese defensive positions.
Eleven community workers from Ioribaiwa are involved in completing works to a high standard and ahead of schedule. Other short sections of track south of Ioribaiwa will be worked on in the coming weeks, where slippery slopes and roots place trekkers and other track users dangerously close to the steep slopes off the track edge. Work will move to Ofi Creek at the end of the month to address the steep and dangerous approaches to the creek from the north side.
Ward Development Committee Training
This month Ward Councillors and Ward Development Committee members will receive training in micro-finance, governance and transparency training as part of the joint PNGAustralian government Kokoda Initiative Livelihoods Project implemented by the Kokoda Track Authority.
The training is the first of its kind in this area, and aims to ensure effective use of KTA tourism services payments and other funding sources (such as loans for community micro-business ventures).
The first training will held at Kokoda, 9 May 2011 followed by workshops in Efogi and Sogeri.
Kokoda numbers on track for 2011 season
The Kokoda trekking season was officially launched in Sydney on the 12 April 2011 with high expectations for the 2011 season. Forward bookings are looking strong and recent research has shown that people’s experiences along the track are overwhelmingly positive.
Independent research prepared for the joint PNG- Australian Government Kokoda Initiative which surveyed 200 people who had trekked Kokoda, revealed that the majority of trekkers felt that the track experience exceeded their expectations.
Major tour operators are reporting strong forward bookings particularly for ANZAC day and the months of May and June. Major Australian wholesaler, Gap Adventures has also recently recognised the potential and added Kokoda to their product offering.
Vera Huntink, sales and marketing manager for Papua New Guinea Tourism and Promotion Authority in Australia and New Zealand says that visitation numbers has been buoyed by the improving operations along the track and increasing positive word of mouth.
“Over the last two years significant work has gone into raising standards along the track, encouraging community engagement and giving back to communities. This has improved trekker safety and experiences along the track,” said Vera.
“Research shows that word of mouth has the biggest impact on trekker numbers, so when trekkers are having good experiences and the news is positive, this translates directly to increased bookings,” she added.
Major improvements along the track have been undertaken by the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) which has been supported since 2008 by a joint initiative between the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments to protect the Kokoda Track and surrounding region.
The KTA ensures that all tour operators along Kokoda obtain a licence and all trekkers pay trekking fees. A voluntary code of conduct has been agreed by operators and a new licensing system set up in 2010 helps to ensure professional standards are met.
Working in partnership with the PNG-Australia Kokoda Initiative, led by the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation and Australian Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, the KTA has contributed to improving health, education, transport and livelihoods for local communities along the track.
In the past two years the KTA has delivered over $185,000 in cash and supplies to the Kokoda Track Communities as a direct dividend of the collection of trekking fees.
With these measures in place, everyone who treks Kokoda can be confident that they will be directly contributing to local communities, giving even more personal meaning and depth to the trekking experience.
Kokoda is physically and mentally challenging, and preparation is key to a successful experience.
The KTA has also made investments into improving the information available to trekkers preparing for the track. In May last year the KTA launched a website to provide an objective and factual resource with reliable and up to date information for trekkers, potential trekkers and their families. A pre –departure safety kit funded through the PNG and Australian Government’s Kokoda Track Safety Package is also expected to be released this year.
Over the years a range of well known personalities have proven that trekking Kokoda is something that all Australians can aspire to. Politicians including Kevin Rudd, Joe Hockey and Bronwyn Bishop, beauties like Caroline Pemberton (Miss Australian 2007) and the amazing Kurt Fernly who completed the 96Km trek without the use of his legs, have all conquered the trek.
Vera Huntink says that there is potential for significant growth in tourist numbers to PNG not only with more trekkers heading to Kokoda but also by promoting the other attractive tourism products around the country.
“Improvements to the Kokoda Track are certainly translating to growing numbers along the track but we are also focused on raising awareness about the other niche segments including world-class diving, surfing, bird watching and fascinating cultural experiences,” she said.
Major Australian wholesalers are also recognising the potential of Papua New Guinea’s diverse product, with Adventure World and Coral Seas now packaging cultural tours to PNG’s highlands and Madang and Wild Earth Expeditions covering Mount Hagen, Sepik River and Kimbe Bay.
Access to the country is also greatly improved with Qantas Link introducing flights to Papua New Guinea late last year which provides better same day connection times from Port Moresby to popular tourism sites throughout the country.
KTA appoints new Chief Executive
The Management Committee of the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) announced today the appointment of Mr. James Enage as its Chief Executive effective as of 7th February. “We are pleased to announce Mr. Enage’s appointment as he is a local man with a deep understanding of the Kokoda Track, its people, the trekking industry and Government processes.” said the Acting Chairman of the KTA, Mr. Ruben Maleva.
Mr. Enage has been the Chairman of the KTA for the past 2 years and brings a wealth of experience and understanding to the position. He has previously held positions such as KDP Health Program Manager, Policy analyst with Dept. Prime Minister and NEC, and the Human Resource Manager with Central Provincial Administration. He also holds various honorary positions such as the Chairman of the Kokoda Track Sports Development Program and the President of the Dobbo Warriors Rugby League club.
The KTA’s Management Committee will now seek a landowner representative from the Koiari people to represent their interests. Mr. Enage will convene a series of meetings to elect the KTA Koiari landowner representative.
Mr. Ruben Maleva will act as the KTA Chairman until a Management Committee meeting in May where the Committee will elect a new Chairman.
“This is an important day for the KTA where a local man takes on the most senior role within the organisation and we thank the Australian and PNG Governments for their support through the Kokoda Initiative over the past three years” said Mr. Maleva. The current expatriate Chief Executive, Mr. Rod Hillman, will work closely with Mr. Enage throughout the rest of 2011.
Kokoda Rangers at Booderee National Park
Rangers from the Booderee National Park have hosted a group of their counterparts from Papua New Guinea for a 10 day training programme aimed at sharing park management, visitor management and track maintenance learning’s with Kokoda rangers.
The initiative, promoted by the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) with the support of the Australian Government, aims to provide the rangers with further expertise, which will assist them in protecting and maintaining the significant historic, cultural and environmental values of the Kokoda Track.
Rod Hilman the CEO of the KTA says that the exchange is invaluable to Papua New Guinea. “With exchanges such as these rangers from the Kokoda Track pick up valuable expertise in track and visitor management, general operations and gain a better understanding of working within a protected area. This allows Kokoda rangers to continually improve the safety and trekking experience along the track for trekkers and local communities,” stated KTA’s CEO.
The concept of Park Rangers is new in PNG. Through this placement, the KTA wants to expose Kokoda Rangers to the breadth of work that an Australian Ranger engages in, including visitor management, pest, plant and animal control; track maintenance and general park operations. The aim is to provide them with an opportunity to acquire parks maintenance and visitor management skills.
Booderee National Park provides the perfect scenario to learn about community involvement in protected area management. The park is jointly managed between Parks Australia and the local Indigenous community, under the administration of the Parks Australia Division of the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC).
DSEWPaC has supported the KTA throughout this project as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to assisting the Government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) to protect the Kokoda Track through the Kokoda Initiative.
The placements will contribute towards the Kokoda Initiative goal under the Second Joint Understanding between PNG and Australia on the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region of “a safe and well-managed Kokoda Track, which honours its wartime historical significance and protects and promotes its special values.”
Kokoda Track Communities repair Madilogo Rd
Communities from four Wards on the Kokoda Track have pooled money together to repair Madilogo Road, as part of the Kokoda Track Authority’s tourism services payments program.
The four Wards have chosen to contribute K2,500 each, out of the K10,000 payments they each received towards providing food and manpower to fix the road. Work will start in December with communities nominating youths to repair the road by hand.
Koiairi LLG President, Ogi David said, “This is a really good initiative from our communities and we appeal for more support to help us with this work.
“Madilogo Road is the quickest transport corridor for villages both on and off the Track – it’s the fastest way for people to get into town.
“At the moment the road is nearly impassable so upgrading this road is important not just for the village people but could also provide access for trekkers who may need to use this road as an alternative route.
“Tourism services payments are empowering the people to make decisions about what they want in their village and their Wards,” he said.
KTA Chairman, James Enage, said the tourism services payments were a direct benefit from trekking fees.
“We are working with the Local Level Government to ensure a coordinated and effective delivery of funds.
“The Madilogo Road is a great example of what this money can be used for. Communities have also expressed interest in using these funds to repair community halls and to start agriculture projects and training programs to further community skills.”
A total of K160,000 of tourism services payments will be distributed to 14 Wards across the Kokoda Track this year.
Kokoda Track Tourism Industry Grants
Tourism associations and organizations that can provide beneficial projects to the trekking industry along the Kokoda Track now have the opportunity to nominate for small cash grants as part of the PNG Government’s commitment to the Kokoda Initiative.
PNG Government funding for the program, through the Department of Environment and Conservation and delivered by the Kokoda Track Authority will total K40,000.
Kokoda Track Authority Chairman James Enage said he was excited to be part of such a program which will have wide reaching benefits for the trekking industry and communities in the region.
“There is a lot of potential to deliver new and improved tourism services and tourism training to the Track region.
“We are looking forward to the innovative projects which the tourism industry grant can support.
“Associations and organizations could receive up to K10,000 which would help them to setup and implement these programs,” Mr Enage said.
Activities eligible for the grants include; the introduction of innovative tourism services, tourism training programs, pilot projects and minor setup costs for organizations and associations.
To find out about the application process or for further information, contact the Kokoda Track Authority; email@example.com or 323 6165.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day
Papua New Guinea celebrated its inaugural Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day on the 3rd of November amidst the backdrop of Kokoda station’s breathtaking Owen Stanley Mountains. In a gust of flamboyant color and festivity the event was marked by reverent appreciation for the 50,000 Papua New Guineans who helped Australian diggers during the Second World War.
Celebrated PNG style with 43 sports teams, 16 singsing groups, 14 string bands and 4 choirs the day was attended by 2,000 thousand local people who came from as far away as the Morobe and the Central provinces and a dozen Australian trekkers from two trekking companies (Backtrack Adventures and Adventure Kokoda).
The Guests of Honor for the day were the six recipients of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Commemorative Medallion comprising of one original Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel and wives and descendants of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. Medallions were presented by the Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, HE Ian Kemish. Other special guests of honor included Soc Kienzle, the son of Captain Bert Kienzle, who presented an inspiring speech in Motu and displayed the original Australian flag his father raised on the 3 November in 1942.
The event was funded by the PNG Government, through the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation as part of the Kokoda Initiative.
A Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day celebration will be held in Efogi on Tuesday 9th November with a sports program and flag raising ceremony.
To watch the celebrations at Kokoda, check out video report by ABC Papua New Guinea Correspondent Liam Fox: www.abc.net.au/news/video/2010/11/03/3056448.htm
Tour Operator Forums in Port Moresby and Brisbane
Licensed tour operators left their walking boots behind to attend the annual Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) Tour Operator Forum at the Hideaway Hotel today.
KTA Chairman James Enage said, “This season has seen growth in trekker numbers from the challenges of last year. Introducing Tour Operator licenses, improving infrastructure through the Safety Package and improving training for porters and guides has built confidence in trekkers and they have started to return.”
This year, the KTA has introduced the Tour Operators Licensing System, completed track conservation work and worked with Track communities to deliver the Livelihoods Pilot projects.
Since July this year, 62 tour operators have registered their business of which 83 guides and porters have taken part in KTA’s First Aid Training.
KTA acknowledged the financial support of both the PNG and Australian government through the Kokoda Initiative to progress important activities on the Track.
Through the joint PNG-Australia Kokoda Initiative the KTA has delivered the safety program, which has upgraded roads, bridges and airstrips.
“We worked with communities to prevent river flooding in Kokoda – to build this wall in time 352 tonnes of rock was moved by hand,” said Mr. Enage.
The forum presented programs for next year including KTA Board and Ward Development Committee Training in financial administration, review of toilets on the Track, a broader Livelihoods program and a small grants system to Kokoda Track tourism associations that support the industry.
Jack Deia, No Roads Expedition, Country Manager said, “This is a time when we local tour operators engage with international tour operators.
“This is where we express our view, share ideas and learn from each other so that we can provide a good service to those that come to our country.”
Heroes of the Medallion
Of all the World War II images photographed during the Papua New Guinea war campaign, only one stands out as a touching reminder of a war that, although tore apart the world, brought together two men and ultimately two nations.
It is the image of Raphael Oimbari in a confident yet measured stride, an unfaltering steady look of concern, his right hand linked and grasping ever so carefully the left arm of Private George ‘Dick’ Whittington of the Royal Australian 2/10th Infantry Battalion who wears a blindfold, barefoot, a walking stick in his right hand poised inches above a well worn dirt track leading through thick kunai grass, their shadows merged backwards in a right diagonal, walking in unison in what must have been a glaring hot afternoon sun.
Photographed by New Zealand-born photojournalist George Silk – Australia’s second official World War II photographer – the shot was perfect in an imperfect setting in Buna, Papua, 25 December 1942, as both men made their way to the Dobodura field hospital.
Tragically Private Whittington never got to see the photo published. He died the following year the picture was taken, a brave young man of just 23.
Like the hundreds of thousands of soldiers that died in war he will remain forever preserved within the borders of the photo and therefore he, as the Remembrance Ode proclaims “age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them”.
Raphael Oimbari and George Silk lived to see the picture celebrated as a Papua New Guinea World War II icon on many of the nation’s war memorials.
Silk passed away in 2004 and Oimbari a decade earlier in 1996. The three men connected to the picture sadly did not live to see the image become the main feature of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Commemorative Medallion nor realize how much they were regarded as national heroes, especially Raphael Oimbari the most recognised Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel.
Presented in a black leather chest-like box featuring the Australian Government Crest, the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Medallion is 38.75mm in diameter and manufactured from an alloy of bronze, aluminium and zinc. Designed and minted by the Royal Australian Mint the face of the medallion bears the image of the famous Oimbari-Whittington photo with the words Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Papua New Guinea Campaign raised as its border.
The Australian Government commissioned the Commemorative Medallion to recognise surviving Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, and their widows, in PNG who assisted the Australian forces during the Second World War. Many Australians, wounded and suffering terrible illnesses, owe their lives to these brave civilians who were recruited from nearby villages along the Kokoda and from plantations where they worked as indentured labourers some of whom came from as far away as Madang and Sepik.
On 28 April 2009 the former Australian Prime Minister, the Honourable Kevin Rudd MP, at a joint press conference with PNG Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, announced the commemorative medallion recognising the contribution during the Second World War of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.
The first medallion was presented by the Honorable Alan Griffin MP, the then Australian Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, to 87 year old Mr Wesley Akove of Kokoda Village, at a ceremony held at the Bomana War Cemetery on 23 July 2009 (PNG Remembrance Day) at the same time officially launching the Medallion in Papua New Guinea. To date, 30 medallions have been awarded to Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels.
The name ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ was immortalized in Bert Beros poem “The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”, published in 1944 in the book The fuzzy wuzzy angels and other verses by Sapper H.E. Bert Beros. The poem describes the almost divine admiration the author had for the dedication and care native carriers had in carrying and escorting wounded soldiers and supplies along the inhospitable Kokoda Track.
The inaugural Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day this 3 November was officially gazetted as a national day by the former Minister of Culture and Tourism Charles Abel, as it was the date when the Australian flag was raised again at Kokoda after the defeat of the Japanese forces in 1942.
The Kokoda Track Authority have, for the last 6 months, been planning and preparing celebrations for Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day to recognize and celebrate our national heroes.
Presentations of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Commemorative Medallions will occur at the event in Kokoda. Cultural performances and sports events will also be highlights not just at Kokoda but at Efogi as well.
Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day will be a special day for our country to celebrate our national heroes and recognise their assistance to allied forces during the darkest days of the Second World War.
Etched into medallions, memorial plaques and Remembrance Day publications the image of Raphael Oimbari and Private Whittington will continue to remind generations of Papua New Guineans and Australians of the sacrifice and courage it took to work together under the most difficult and trying of circumstances to forge bright new futures.
Celebrating our heroes on Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day
Across the country Papua New Guineans will be recognising and celebrating our heroes on the inaugural Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels Day on the 3 November 2010.
Gazetted by the National Executive Council as a national day, it is a special day of remembrance for the 10,000 Papua New Guineans, known as Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, who helped Australian Diggers during the Second World War.
PNG's Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, Hon Guma Wau, says the event will pay tribute to and remember the struggles and efforts of our Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels who served during the war.
“We want all generations to celebrate and recognise the efforts, compassion and care of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels,” he said.
Kokoda Track Authority Chairman, James Enage, said that remembrance events are being organised by the communities in Kokoda and Efogi.
“The guides and porters of the Kokoda Track who walk with overseas trekkers through rugged terrain are our own modern day angels and so activities like stretcher races and hill climbs have been organised as part of the celebrations,” he said.
Sports events, cultural performances and the Kokoda Track Authority Chairman’s Trek will follow official speeches and presentations at Kokoda.
“We will be walking the Track to meet with communities and commemorate the Angels who guided wounded soldiers.
Proud new Kokoda Rangers
Imagine having a job where you meet interesting people from different backgrounds, trek through pristine tropical rainforests, cross vibrant streams and rivers, and escape the stresses of city life.
Well these gentlemen have got this and much more. Meet the newly inducted Rangers of the Kokoda Track Authority: Landy Noel, Nuana Momoa, Elijah Peter, Donald Siga and Joe Duhube.
It wasn’t an easy process applying though, Ranger Joe had to walk from his village Abuari to Moresby and Ranger Elijah’s biggest concern was his lack of formal education but in the end it was his experience and the old adage of hard work and determination that has proven his capabilities.
“A Ranger is like the ‘was-man’ of the trek and makes sure that all trekkers carry a permit to walk. And it helps to be able to speak Koiari, Motu, Tok-pisin and English,” says Ranger Landy with a smile who’s walked the track more than 32 times on his patrols.
“He is a man-on-the-ground type of worker who has knowledge and skills to assist trekkers and walks the track to inspect the roads, bridges and guest house facilities along the way to see whether they’re up to standard,” explains Ranger Donald who patrols Ward 15 – Ward 16.
The longest patrols are Ranger Elijah’s who covers 20 to 30km in 9-10 days. But working closely with everyone in his community is what Ranger Elijah loves about his job especially his 3 year old daughter who is a constant motivator to him of how important it is to preserve the track so that when she grows up she can appreciate it and think of the work her father did in spite of his lack of formal education. He hopes that she will receive a full education and contribute to his legacy and that of Kokoda.
Ranger Joe is KTA’s youngest recruit and makes up for his youth through his profound knowledge of the trek’s history extending back to the pre-contact, early explorer, colonial and to the famed World War II days.
“In the past trekkers and locals were removing war relics along the trek and either taking them back as souvenirs or selling it. When I worked as a porter I would explain to trekkers and the locals that this was wrong since these things were what made the trek interesting. Now that I’m a Ranger I am able to carry out this awareness. I believe someday the Kokoda Track will become a World Heritage site or a National Park so I am determined to see it preserved,” says Ranger Joe.
For Ranger Nuana, becoming a Ranger holds sentimental value to him because he is the proud son of a Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel.
“I often wonder about the dangers my father faced and the feelings he had during WWII. He was barely out of his teens trying to understand a war fought on his land by strange men,” remarks Ranger Nuana.
His late father Momoa Monobe would be proud of his son’s achievement and that includes traveling to Australia with Ranger Landy to do work experience at Booderee National Park in NSW.
The rangers have many stories to share regarding the trek especially the legacy left behind by an ancestor. For instance Ranger Joe’s great-uncle Boiri Gurigo was a mail courier during the 1920’s and 1930’s and used the trek to carry mail on-foot from the Kokoda stations all the way to Popondetta.
Rangers Landy, Nuana, Elijah, Donald and Joe cut a striking figure in their brand new khaki uniforms and will be a force to be reckoned with. So should you include Kokoda Trek in your vacation plans you have nothing to worry about because you are in good hands. Equipped with their VHF radios, First Aid Training and tough stamina these Rangers will be there to ensure a safe and memorable trekking experience.
These proud new rangers will be reporting to the Kokoda Track Authority; and supporting the goals of the joint PNG-Australia, Kokoda Initiative, to provide a safe and well-managed Kokoda Track by improving the trekking experience and track facilities.
Owers’ Corner Road now “2WD Heaven”
The road through to Owers’ Corner is now accessible by two-wheel drive vehicles as part of the Kokoda Track Safety Package, a PNG and Australian government partnership to improve safety along the Track.
Community members and trekkers can now safely travel along the 16.3km road to the Owers’ Corner end of the Kokoda Track in all types of vehicles without difficulty.
Further work including applying gravel to ensure road conditions survive the heavy rain season will continue to be done by the contractors, Dekanai Constructions, with the entire upgrade expected to be completed before the end of the year.
Kokoda Track Authority Chairman, James Enage said, “Improving the access to and from Port Moresby benefits local communities living in this region and contributes to providing a safer trekking experience.”
Other activities under the Kokoda Safety Package include upgrades and maintenance to the Kokoda airstrips and terminal, subsidised first aid training for porters and guides, safer creek crossings, and repair to the concrete road leading up to the Kokoda Hospital.
Construction of rock-filled walls along two creeks south of Kokoda has been critical in minimising flooding into the lower Kokoda township. Teams of 55 men from the Kokoda area recently helped move 330 tonnes of rock by hand to build the 34 metre long walls which divert the high volume of water that flows through the creeks after very little rain.
The majority of the Kokoda Track Safety Package is being managed and implemented by the Kokoda Track Authority, with funds from the Australian Government.
Both the PNG and Australian governments are committed to continuing to work with local communities and the trekking industry to ensure that the Kokoda Track is as safe as possible, while recognising the risks inherent in this remote and rugged area.
Track maintenance to sidestep Brown River erosion
Track upgrading and maintenance work commenced at Brown River on the Kokoda Track on Sunday 25 July and was completed Friday 6 August. The work is being undertaken to address risks associated with erosion and potential bank collapse on sections of the Brown River.
The track works are being implemented by the KTA, who have engaged New Zealand track builder Tim Eden to supervise the works. Tim Eden, KTA Ranger fo rthe area Elijah Peters, KTA Operations Manager Chris Halstead, and local landowners assessed the site and marked out a suitable route for the realigned track, which will take the trekkers away from the river edge but will still provide safe views of the river.
Fourteen local workers from Manari and Madilogo have been recruited to undertake the track building work and will be on site with Tim for 13 days. In order to setup for the track works, 12 local people had to carry all the tools and food in across the ranges over two days from the closest vehicle access west of Madilogo.
Reports from the track indicate works are going ahead of schedule and to a high standard enabling the team to move on to the second problem area where they can utilise an old section of track likely to be the old war track. With realighment of tracks through forest areas there will be some initial vegetation disturbance apparent and over time the new track will integrate with the jungle walking experience.
Foreign Ministers Sign Second Joint Understanding
The Papua New Guinean (PNG) and Australian Governments signed a Second Joint Understanding to support sustainable development of the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track region, and protection of its special values.
Papua New Guinean Minister for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration, Sam Abal, and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Stephen Smith signed the agreement in Alotau, PNG on the 8 July 2010.
Papua New Guinean Minister for Environment and Conservation, Benny Allen and Australian Minister for Environment Protection and Heritage, Peter Garrett said the signing of the Second Joint Understanding marked the continuation of a joint Australian and Papua New Guinean Government commitment to work together to protect the Kokoda Track and surrounding region.
Ministers agreed that the Second Joint Understanding (2010-2015) on the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region, would provide the basis for the ongoing development and management of the Kokoda Track, including improved service delivery to communities along the track, further support to the Kokoda Track Authority's management of the track, and the promotion of the track as a world class tourist destination.
The second Joint Understanding will also improve the lives of local communities, by providing access to the potential economic benefits arising from the development of renewable resources including hydropower, water, forest carbon and tourism.
The second Joint Understanding 2010-15 builds on the achievements made by Papua New Guinea and Australia following the signing of the first Joint Understanding in 2008.
Through this second Joint Understanding the Governments of Australia and PNG have agreed to five key goals to continue the good work in the region:
1. A safe and well-managed Kokoda Track, which honours its wartime historical significance and protects and promotes it special values.
2. Enhanced quality of life for landowners and communities through improved delivery of basic services, income generation and community development opportunities.
3. The wise use and conservation of the catchment protection area, including the Kokoda Track and its natural and cultural resources and values.
4. Building national and international tourism potential of the Owen Stanley ranges and Kokoda Track Region, supported by a possible future World Heritage nomination.
5. Working with communities, landowners, industry and all levels of government to ensure that activities established under the Kokoda Initiative are sustained into the future.
“The Australian Government is committed to preserving the historic values of the Kokoda Track – a place of great significance to both Australians and Papua New Guineans,” Mr Garrett said.
“Through this initiative on the Owen Stanley Ranges, Brown River Catchment and Kokoda Track Region, which was established in 2007, we will continue to deliver practical improvements through a program of works that have already delivered very real on-ground results.
Mr Allen said the Papua New Guinean Government was pleased to commit new resources to maintain the excellent progress made under the first Joint Understanding and ensure activities are sustained into the future.
“The Kokoda Track and Owen Stanley Ranges represent a time when an important bond was formed between our people and the people of Australia during the Second World War. This is a bond that continues today.
“Through this second Joint Understanding we will be able to continue the important work on protection of the Brown River Catchment region, providing community access to the economic benefits associated with sustainable use of the water, power, forest carbon and tourism resources in the region. We will also work towards a possible nomination of the Owen Stanley Ranges for World Heritage Listing.”
KTA Chairman James Enage said, “This agreement is important for trekkers ensuring a safer and well managed Kokoda Track, whilst supporting local communities and protecting the important values of the Track and surrounding regions.
“As part of this Initiative, the Kokoda Track Authority works with local communities and tourism operators to improve safety, track facilities and trekking operations.”
In 2007 the Australian Government committed $14.9 million over four years to support the Kokoda Initiative. In 2010 the Australian Government announced an additional $4.9 million for the Kokoda Track Safety Package in response to immediate safety issues.
In 2010, the Papua New Guinean Government committed 5.5 million Kina to the Kokoda Initiative.
To read more about the Kokoda Initiative or view the Second Joint Understanding visit: www.environment.gov.au/heritage/international-projects/kokoda
Rangers on Work Experience in Australia
Kokoda Track Authority chairman James Enage and two Rangers, Landy Noel and Nuana (Nuxie) Momoa spent two weeks at Booderee National Park in Australia where they observed the maintenance and management of the local award-winning national park.
The trip was an opportunity for them to share their experiences and observe techniques that control soil erosion, how to count and protect endangered native animals and learn simple waste management methods.
Mr Enage said, “It was fascinating learning about the cultural and natural science aspect of national parks; learning about flora and fauna would add to the great trekking experience at Kokoda.
“The topography and visual of Booderee National was quite different but the principles of visitor safety and how health and sanitation is managed is just the same.”
The Park is jointly managed by the Wreck Bay Aboriginal community and Parks Australia and time was spent within the community to share experiences and explore livelihood opportunities that could be utilised within PNG.
As Ranger Momoa’s first time in Australia, he said, “We made great friendships with the Aboriginal communities and have learnt so much about their culture and how they engage in preserving land as a national park.”
Ranger Noel said, “We went out into the parks and cleared areas, constructed camp sites near caves and while we were conducting a marine survey we spotted nine whales; it was an experience I’ll never forget.”
The Rangers’ visit was part of the Australian Government’s $14.9 million Kokoda Initiative, designed to assist Papua New Guinea in protecting the Kokoda Track while improving the lives of Track communities.
This includes improved training for local rangers and guides, as well as opportunities for increased income generation and employment for the people that live along the Kokoda Track.
Research Project: Possible Hydration Related Illness in Trekkers on the Kokoda Track
In early 2010, a non-profit advisory group Adventure Medicine submitted a proposal to the Kokoda Track Authority for assistance to conduct important research on the Kokoda Track to examine the possibility of hydration related illness in trekkers.
This proposal was considered by the PNG and Australian Governments and was determined appropriate to be funded under the joint Kokoda Track Safety Package.
The Adventure Medicine research team conducted the study on the Kokoda Track from 16 to 19 April 2010.
To read more about the research findings click here to download the fact sheet or visit the Adventure Medicine website www.adventuremedicine.net.
Commercial Operations Licences Now In Force
In a strong show of support from Tour Operators the KTA has issued a total of 55 Commercial Operations Licenses to Kokoda Track Tour Operators. For a full listing visit Listing of Licenced Tour Operators.
Trek permits will only be issued to companies holding a valid licence.
Copies of the Commercial Operations Licence Handbook and Application Form are available by visiting Tour Operators Area.
Should you require further information or assistance completing the application form, please contact Lilly Gabina at:
Click here to email Lilly Gabina.
(675) 323 6165
Kokoda Match: Hawthorn Hawks and Sydney Swans
On May 30 Australian AFL team Hawthorn Hawks dedicated its match against the Sydney Swans at the MCG Melbourne to the Kokoda Track Foundation to raise funds for their Adopt An Angel program. Close to one thousand people attended the themed fundraising lunch with Patrick Lindsay, KTF Chairman, the keynote speaker. A ‘one-off’ jersey was worn during the match and twelve Kokoda Track veterans attended.
Good publicity was generated with the TPA funding a dance group who featured on the AFL footy show and gained the backpage of the Melbourne’s Herald Sun
The Adopt An Angel program provides scholarships and school resources to improve the education and opportunities for children living along the Kokoda Track. To support the initiative visit the KTF website www.kokodatrackfoundation.org
Kokoda Airstrip Upgrade
Kokoda airstrip is now in better condition and is better equipped than 90% of airstrips in PNG, since the Kokoda Track Authority carried out major maintenance works under the Kokoda Initiative Safety Program.
PNG Civil Aviation Authority, Manager - Airport Certification, Mr Paul Bryant who was on an inspection visit last week, said he was very impressed with the new look Kokoda airstrip.
“We got quite a surprise when we got there. Kokoda is looking very good with the grass well mown, new cone markers and wind socks etc. You have done a great job and should be congratulated”.
The runway has been mowed to 700 meters and the tall grass that almost covered the rest of the airstrip and apron area has been slashed.
In addition the two windsocks have been replaced, with the circle below them cleared to make the windsocks visible to pilots from the air, while a signal circle has been cleared with white painted rocks installed, and an unserviceability cross delivered.
As part of the major initiatives in the second phase of the Kokoda Track Authority’s Safety Package, a permanent terminal and aircraft parking apron area will be constructed on the north- east side of the strip and there are plans for the airstrip to be extended further.
The Papua New Guinea and Australian governments are working together to implement a range of safety projects along the track which includes the upgrading of the Owers’ Corner road, safety enhancements at airstrips and improvements to radio communications, safer creek crossings, assessments of health issues and subsidized first aid training.
Approximately $A4 million (K9 million) in funding has been allocated for these infrastructure and safety projects which stand to benefit the local communities.
Owers' Corner Road repairs
A local construction company, Dekenai Construction has been carrying out urgently needed upgrade work on the Owers' Corner Road. Work on this project started prior to the commencement of the Kokoda Track trekking season in April 2010. Dekenai Construction is supplying gravel and shaping the 16.2 km road from Depot to Owers' Corner.
The aim of the project is to upgrade the first 11.2kms as an all weather road.
This work is a key element of the recently announced “Kokoda Safety Package”, an initiative of the PNG and Australian governments.
Micro Business Opportunities for Remote Kokoda Track Communities
Business and agriculture workshops piloted by the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) are inspiring remote Kokoda Track communities to improve their sources of food and income.
Click here to download the full article.