Kokoda Track or Kokoda Trail?

 Most people, books and articles call the infamous track across the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea the ‘Kokoda Trail’. However, it is also often referred to as the ‘Kokoda Track’ and some are adamant that should be its official name.


We at Kokoda Trail Expeditions have chosen to use ‘Kokoda Trail’ in our company name because it reflects the official geographical name. However, when referring to the path through the jungle, we use both ‘trail’ and ‘track’.

Here is some background information that explains why there are two different names and why we have decided to use ‘Trail’.

Official Name – PNG Government:

Kokoda Trail’ is the official geographical name of the infamous 160-km track through the Owen Stanley Ranges in Papua New Guinea, as officially proclaimed by the sovereign nation of Papua New Guinea.

The naming is referenced in the PNG Government Gazette No. 88 dated 12 October 1972 (Notice 1972/28 of the PNG Place Names Committee).

 

Preferred Name – Australian War Memorial
‘Kokoda Trail’ is also the preferred name used by the Australian War Memorial because ‘trail’ is used more widely and is favoured by the majority of veterans.

Here is an extract from the Australian War Memorial website:

“There has been a considerable debate about whether the difficult path that crossed the Owen Stanley Range should be called the ‘Kokoda Trail’ or the ‘Kokoda Track’. Both ‘Trail’ and ‘Track’ have been in common use since the war.

Trail’ is probably of American origin but has been used in many Australian history books and was adopted by the Australian Army as an official ‘Battle Honour’.

‘Track’ is from the language of the Australian bush. It is commonly used by veterans, and is used in the volumes of Australia's official history.

Both terms are correct, but ‘Trail’ appears to be used more widely.”

 

Trail vs. Track Debate

Australians often refer to the track through the PNG jungle as the Kokoda track, particularly in speech and unofficial references. Some people have been urging an official name change to ‘Kokoda Track’, which they consider the more ‘Australian’ version. The Department of Veterans Affairs is also among those who favour Kokoda Track, along with some conservative sides of politics. However, the official battle honours that can be seen on unit flags flying on ANZAC Day say ‘The Kokoda Trail’.

Another distinction that could be made is to use ‘Kokoda Trail’ when referring to the military campaign of 1942 and to say ‘Kokoda track’ when talking about the actual path through the jungle.

We have decided to be guided by the official geographical name and use ‘Kokoda Trail’.

Related articles:

 

- The Kokoda Campaign – History of the Battle

 

- The Buna, Gona & Sanananda Campaigns – Battle History

 

 




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