75th Kokoda Reenactment
7 July 1942, was a historic day for the 39th Australian
Infantry Battalion. B Company under the command of Captain Sam Templeton
set off from Ilola. The image on this page was captured by the Box
Brownie camera of P.J. McDonald. The site now named McDonald’s Corner.
B Company had been ordered to traverse the Owen Stanley
Range -destination? Kokoda Station. The compliment was made up of 5
officers and 125 other ranks. Their mission was to be the vanguard of
the Battalion as intelligence suggested that a Japanese landing was
Accompanying Sam Templeton and his men was Bert
Kienzle, a long time resident of Papua and an ‘old hand’ of the
Territory. Kienzle was a member of the Australian New Guinea
Administration Unit (ANGAU) and responsible for organising the native
carriers, affectionately known as the "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”.
Attached to B Company was a medical orderly, Corporal Jack Wilkinson.
kept a diary detailing the arduous march across the Kokoda Track that
he and the B Company men made. It is through this detailed account that
we are able to know where the men camped each night and the route that
Join us on this truly once in a lifetime opportunity
as we literally walk in the footsteps of the first Australian soldiers
to contact the Japanese at Kokoda. We plan on wearing replica uniforms
right down to the boots, carry reproduction pay books and dogs tags
along with camping at the same locations and even eating similar rations
(not all Bulli Beef and Biscuits!).
As we follow in the
footsteps 75 years later, the story of the Kokoda Campaign will be
brought to life by historian and trek leader David Howell. David’s
master story telling combined with you the participant wearing the same
clothing and equipment as the 39th did will certainly add a new
dimension to trekking Kokoda.
As you make your way over the Track
you will open reproduction letters (taken from the originals) sent from
the troops and received by the troops. You will wear ‘dog tags’ and
carry with you a replica pay book in the name of one of the soldiers who
made the journey 75 years ago. Both items are yours to keep and will
enable you to have a greater understanding of what our troops went
The reproduction uniforms and equipment have been
sourced from specialist manufactures and are exact reproductions of the
originals. They will come in your size and be sent to you prior to the
trip. This will include your pack, water bottle, sleeping equipment,
boots etc. All you need to bring with you is a bucket load of Aussie
spirit as we undertake the ultimate pilgrimage to remember those who
fought and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our nation in 1942.
Day 01, 6 July- Arrive Port Moresby and transfer to hotel. Pre-expedition and history presentation by David Howell and briefing by your trek manager.
Day 02, 7 July- Tour of Bomana War Cemetery, drive to McDonald’s Corner. We will be introduced to our expert guides and porter team, who we will be our carriers for the duration of the journey. They will set up camp, carry our food, tents and safety equipment and ensure we have a safe and enjoyable crossing of the Kokoda Track.
We will then start trekking in the footsteps of B Company the 39th Battalion, from McDonald’s Corner to Owers’ Corner and across the Goldie River. We will then make our way to Uberi. The diary entry of Jack Wilkinson reads: ‘Uncle Sam and Bert Keinzle in the lead. I brought up the rear and made the trip in better condition than a lot of others. Left 0800 hours arrived Uberi 1730 hours.’ (B,L,D).
Day 03, 8 July- Up and over the first major climb-Imitia Ridge. Multiple crossings of Ua-Ule Creek and another climb up to Ioribaiwa Ridge, furthest most point of Japanese advance. It will be a real test in the leather boots and a stomach full of 1942 rations. Jack Wilkinson recorded:
‘Made Ioribaiwa. Had carriers for our packs and just as well. Felt the trip more than the first day. To long hills to Climb. Missed out on tea as I was with the last of the troops. Had a job to get some of them to make it. Uncle Sam came back and helped me about half way up the last hill. Was carrying four rifles and three packs had doubts about making it myself’. (B,L,D).
Day 04, 9 July- Leaving Ioribaiwa we will drop down to Ofi Creek and then up and over the Maguli Range to where the original village of Nauro was located in 1942. Jack Wilkinson wrote: ‘Made Nauro. A long day but not too bad. …Good camp and nice place. Bothered by native bees en route crawling all over us after the salt in sweat. No stings. ...General condition of troops good. Conference with Uncle Sam and decided to stay here for one day to give troops a spell’. (B,L,D).
Day 05, 10 July- Today we will stay at the original wartime campsite of Nauro. We will enjoy a swim, read reproduced original letters sent to the troops and take on fresh fruit and vegetables. Jack Wilkinson’s diary entry reads: ‘Nauro…Age 48. Has son in company and trying to keep up. Oldest man in Company-First World War also…Swimming and patching up blistered feet…Fresh fruit pawpaw... .’ (B,L,D).
Day 06, 11 July- Today we will leave wartime Nauro and make our way to Efogi. After a day of rest we will have the energy to climb up and over the ‘Wall” through the village of Menari and up Brigade Hill. Following the detailed entry of Jack’s diary: ‘Made Efogi…A long day but not too bad. Menari is a nice spot in between and we had lunch there. Troops in good shape. Day’s spell worked wonders’. (B,L,D).
Day 07, 12 July- Today you will hike Efogi to Kagi. Many of the carriers in our party are from Kagi Village. We will follow the old wartime mail route and walk along areas that many others treks simply bypass, on our quest to walk in the wartime footsteps of the 39th. Fortunate for us Jack Wilkinson kept his detailed diary. The entry for this time 75 years ago reads: ‘Made Kagi. Only a short walk but steep. Fairly high and cold. Peter Brewer here with carriers from Kokoda. Long talk about track ahead. Eric Turner arrived in later, en route Moresby. Told of his capture of Jap airman. Natives told him it was a Dim Dim so he went out with a billycan of tea and Kai. Got a hell of a shock when Jap pointed pistol at him…”(B,L,D).
Day 08, 13 July- Today we walk from Kagi to what was then known as Eora Crossing No. 2. Let’s hope that period looking set of boots stand up to the test of the Kokoda Track, as they did back in 1942! Jack Wilkinson’s diary reads: ‘To Eora Creek No 2. Long days over range. Rain forest and lawyer vines. Deep moss and slippery track. Rain and mist. Cold and dreary. Camp not too good. Building material short. Very little flat ground. Creek roaring loudly…’. (B,L,D).
Day 09, 14 July- Today we will continue on through Eora Creek and Isurava where the main memorial now stands. Back in 1942 these areas had not yet become hallowed ground however your Kokoda historian will bring to life all of the battles that were fought on the Kokoda Track as you make your journey across the Owen Stanley Range. Pick up the entry in Jack’s diary: ‘To flat below Deniki. Long Day but reasonable walking. Could see Kokoda from hilltop. Kienzle, Uncle Sam, Brewer to Kokoda first and sent back tents for troops. Much warmer in the hills. Troops in good form. Some bananas and kai…’. (B,L,D).
Day 10, 15 July- Today we finally reach our destination of Kokoda, after walking all the way from McDonald’s Corner in period uniforms and using period equipment. The last entry of the trek in Jack Wilkinson’s diary reads: ‘To Kokoda. Nice place. Glad to be here. Took over native hospital. Got some Pot Permang and made troops soak feet for an hour..’
Day 11, 16 July- Today we tour Kokoda Plateau and then move north along the same route that many of the B Company men first encountered the advancing Japanese. We will board our aircraft. Smelly and dishevelled in our khaki uniforms, a cold beer awaits back at the Holiday Inn. We have completed our walk over the Kokoda Track 75 years after the first troops of the 39th did. Tonight we will have a presentation dinner and hand out a special commemorative medallion in recognition of the recreation of this historic journey. (B,L,D).
Day 12, 17 July- Today we check out of our hotel and return to Australia. (B)
The above tour is a special one off commemorative trek walking in the footsteps of B Company the 39th Australian Infantry Battalion.