New Kokoda Track site showcases historic WWII relics


May 28, 2020 - 305 views

Work to preserve and promote the Kokoda Track’s historical significance is continuing despite disruptions to the 2020 trekking season.

A secure viewing enclosure was recently completed to house remnants from World War II, which continue to be unearthed along the Track.

The collection will include last year’s discovery of one of the largest collections of Japanese World War II Type 94 75mm Mountain Gun shells.

It is one of the largest WWII-era collections of this type in the world, with 164 shells uncovered. The location of the site near the Kokoda Track will make it a ready-attraction for trekkers.

The collection also includes Australian and Japanese weapons and gear used in battle nearly 80 years ago. Landowners around Ioribaiwa village, Central Province, uncovered most of the remnants as they prepared gardens.
Local landowner Jack Avu uncovered the Type 94 shells, which were stacked in rows covered in hessian copra bags and a thin layer of soil.

“We are all very proud of the area’s rich history and it is great to see it put on display and preserved for many years to come,” he said. “I’m very happy the National Museum and Kokoda Initiative have helped Ioribaiwa by building this structure to protect the artefacts”.

Mr Avu also signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Land Use Agreement to manage the site in partnership with NMAG.

Part of this process included a commitment to the National Museum and Art Gallery ‘No Touch, No Dig’ policy, which provides guidance to communities, trek operators and tourists to stop the handling of WWII remnants found on the Track, digging or foraging for artefacts, and excessive exploration beyond established trails.

The work was supported by the Kokoda Initiative – a partnership between PNG and Australia to enhance the quality of life of communities living along

 
the Kokoda Track by keeping it open and well managed, and through environmental conservation and the protection of cultural values.
The National Museum and Art Gallery (NMAG), supported through the Kokoda Initiative, worked with local landowners to preserve the artefacts.

NMAG Director Dr Andrew Moutu said preserving military relics is a key part of their work, which encompasses the national museum, local community museums and enclosures for Kokoda Track weapons caches.
“This is a significant discovery and an important site for management and protection,” he said.

“Ioribaiwa Ridge witnessed some of the most intense fighting of the famous Kokoda Track Campaign of World War II and marked a turning point in the war fought in PNG. Planning included discussions with PNG Defence Force personnel and other experts on safe handling of unexploded ordinance and long-term curation, including potential disarmament,” said Dr Moutu

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Mike, 1 month ago
Very interesting