Kokoda's Golden Staircase re-discovered

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by Antipodean Andy, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Kokoda's Golden Staircase 'rediscovered' | NEWS.com.au

    THE gruelling "Golden Staircase" climbed by Aussie diggers on Papua New Guinea's Kokoda Track during World War II has been rediscovered, a group of researchers has claimed.

    Australian soldiers trudged up and down the muddy, metre-wide trail of man-made steps to face decisive battles at Imita Ridge, where they'd been ordered to repel the Japanese or die trying.

    NSW Liberal MP and Kokoda enthusiast Charlie Lynn said he and a team of PNG locals made the discovery with the aid of global positioning satellite technology, World War II survey maps and local knowledge.

    Time has destroyed the 2000 wooden steps that presented exhausted soldiers with a final obstacle before heading into what commanders had ordered would be a do-or-die battle at Imita Ridge.

    But Mr Lynn said he was convinced the site had been found, with several weapons pits found in the overgrown jungle, indicating a large body of men would have been present at the site.

    "This is a very significant find,'' Mr Lynn said.

    "The staircase was the last stand for the Aussies, where they prepared to fight to the death and when you see the terrain, it's just incredible stuff.''

    He said local knowledge passed down to his PNG guides supported his claim that the staircase site had been rediscovered.

    The lay of the land, and readings taken from the World War II maps, together with GPS readings, also backed the claim, he said.

    Similar claims

    Kokoda Track historian Soc Kienzle - whose father Bert helped organise and maintain the lifeline provided by the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels - said he'd heard similar claims before.

    "There's been all sorts of varying claims, about varying tracks, I will check this out with my maps,'' he said.

    "But I welcome anything Charlie does to reopen the original war trail.''

    Mr Kienzle said the staircase was a brutal part of the Kokoda legend.

    ''... each step became dug out from hundreds of thousands of boots going in there, so you had a pond of water held back by sticks,'' he said.

    "If you were to fall there was a good chance you got a good stake, holding the step together, up the backside.''

    Mr Kienzle said army engineers built the staircase on a razor-back saddle on the south side of Imita Ridge, after Uberi village at the Owers Corner end of the 96km track.

    "Imita Ridge was the last battle they were not allowed to retreat from. After Imita there are no more ridges and no more defensive positions, so they were told to fight and die there, but luckily they didn't have to,'' he said.

    While there was fighting at the ridge, the Australians found the Japanese troops sick, starving and no match for them.

    But the September 1942 order by Major General Sam "Tubby'' Allen to fight to the death galvanised the stories of the diggers' courage at Kokoda.

    Not knowing what they would face, the Australians marched forward along the punishing staircase that rose 365 metres in the first 5km, before dropping steeply, and rising sharply again near the ridge.
  2. Kyt

    Kyt Άρης

  3. spidge

    spidge Active Member

    During the wet season...............unbelievable!
  4. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    If you ever falter and think you can't make it, just think of these blokes toiling uphill in the mud. Inspirational.
  5. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    bllody hell fire. I've done things like that in derbyshire and hated every minute of it on a well metalled surface on a sunny day. I would be horrified to be presented with such a thing in those conditions.
  6. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair New Member

    Hi All,

    I'm hoping to walk Kokoda at some stage. (There's a group going in May that I know.)

    A number of chaps I know have done it and said that it was brutal but inspirational. Certain tour groups have required historical reading before the trek, so the significance of the place is fully appreciated.


  7. Antipodean Andy

    Antipodean Andy New Member

    Yes, I will do it one day as well. More time on the bike methinks.
  8. Nostalgair

    Nostalgair New Member

    Yes Andy,

    Most operators also send you a training schedule to achieve the required level of fitness prior to attempting the trek. Another point my mates have said is that you're almost continually wet. If it's not rain, it's perspiration or crossing rivers.

    One can only imagine what it was like for real with the constant threat of combat as well.


  9. digger

    digger Guest

    There's an excellent description of the "Golden Stairway" in Vol5 pages 194-195 of the Official History of Australia in WW2 written by the historian of the 2/14th AIB and can be accessed by this link:

    Official Histories


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