the kokoda trail a history

Exploring “The Kokoda Trail: A History” by Stuart Hawthorne 2003 – Australia and PNG History


The Kokoda Trail, a remote jungle track in the old Australian Territory of Papua, holds a captivating past that resonates with the indomitable spirit of Aussie diggers and the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels who battled desperately against the Japanese invaders in 1942. In this article, we delve into the pages of “The Kokoda Trail: A History” by Stuart Hawthorne, a historian and adventurer who looks back 130 years to provide a comprehensive account of this significant chapter in Australian history.

A Stuart Hawthorne Perspective

Stuart Hawthorne, the author of this remarkable book, is not just a historian; he is an adventurer who brings a unique perspective to the history of the Kokoda Trail. With a softcover edition released in 2003, bearing the ISBN 1876780304, Hawthorne takes readers on a journey through time, exploring the roots of the trail in the old Australian Territory of Papua.

The Historical Context – The Kokoda Trail

To truly understand the significance of the Kokoda Trail, one must appreciate the historical context. The book meticulously traces the explorers, missionaries, and colonial officials who played pivotal roles in pushing through the uncharted and unbelievably harsh country to set out the route of the first Kokoda Trail before it even officially existed.

The Trail’s Development

Hawthorne’s work sheds light on the development of the Kokoda Trail, illustrating how it became a remote jungle track in the Australian Territory of Papua. The author vividly describes the unbelievably harsh country the trail traverses, painting a picture of the challenging conditions faced by those who fought over its 96.4-kilometre expanse.

The Kokoda Campaign of 1942

The book unfolds like a gripping war narrative, recounting the grim years of 1942 when the Kokoda Trail became the battleground for Australian forces against the Japanese invaders. It meticulously details the battles fought over six months and two days on a narrow front in appalling conditions, highlighting the resilience and bravery of Aussie diggers.

Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels

One of the most touching aspects covered in the book is the role of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels. These local Papua New Guinean carriers provided invaluable support to the Australian troops, often at great personal risk. Stuart Hawthorne pays tribute to these unsung heroes, revealing how they became an honoured part of Australian heritage.

Legacy and Heritage

“The Kokoda Trail: A History” not only provides a comprehensive account of the wartime events but also explores the enduring legacy of the trail. It has become more than just a route; it is a symbol of Australia’s tenacity and determination. The book positions the Kokoda Trail as a vital part of the Australian psyche, a cherished heritage that continues to hold a significant position in the nation’s collective memory.

Exploration and Surveying

The author delves into the fascinating process of exploration and surveying that went into establishing the Kokoda Trail. Thirty years in the making, the book reveals the meticulous planning and effort that went into positioning this sinuous little footpath that holds a crucial place in Australian history.

Gold Seekers and Settlers

Beyond the wartime narrative, Hawthorne’s book explores the broader history of the Kokoda Trail. It unravels the stories of gold seekers and settlers who, in the pursuit of riches, traversed the challenging terrain long before the trail gained its wartime fame.


In conclusion, “The Kokoda Trail: A History” by Stuart Hawthorne is a must-read for anyone seeking to grasp the depth and significance of this remote jungle track. The softcover edition, published in 2003 with the ISBN 1876780304, provides a comprehensive and compelling account of the Kokoda Trail’s complete history. Hawthorne’s narrative is as compelling and intriguing as the trail itself, making this book an essential addition to the library of those intrigued by Australia’s wartime and pioneering past. Whether you are planning to trek the Kokoda Trail or simply want to explore the rich history of this iconic Australian landmark, this book is a valuable resource that brings the trail’s captivating past to life.


Q: What is the book “The Kokoda Trail: A History” about?

A: The book “The Kokoda Trail: A History” by Stuart Hawthorne looks back 130 years to the territory of Papua where Aussie diggers and fuzzy wuzzy angels battled desperately across unbelievably harsh country.

Q: Can you provide a brief description of the book?

A: The book “The Kokoda Trail: A History” provides the first complete history of the Kokoda Trail, which is every bit as much more than a wartime story.

Q: What is the ISBN of the book?

A: The ISBN of the book is 1876780304.

Q: Where does the Kokoda Trail located?

A: The Kokoda Trail is a remote jungle track situated in Papua New Guinea.

Q: What is the significance of the Kokoda Trail in history?

A: The Kokoda Trail is significant as the path that the Australian troops defended during World War II against the Japanese forces, and it holds great historical value for both Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Q: Does the book cover the role of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels?

A: Yes, the book extensively covers the role of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels who battled desperately alongside the Aussie soldiers on the Kokoda Trail.

Q: Are there any rare books that cover the history of the Kokoda Trail?

A: The book is considered to be one of the rare books that comprehensively covers the history of the Kokoda Trail and its significance in Australian and Papua New Guinean history.

Q: Who authored the book?

A: The book is authored by Stuart Hawthorne.

Q: What historical events are covered in the book?

A: The book delves into the historical events surrounding the colonial officials who pushed this tiny territory of Papua to the forefront of Australian press during World War II.

Q: Are there any maps included in the book?

A: Yes, the book includes maps that provide detailed insights into the Kokoda Trail and its surroundings, enhancing the reader’s understanding of the historical landscapes.

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