Anthony Albanese greeted at start of Kokoda Track walk


After a brief rest stop at Hoi Village, where Albanese threw a mini rugby league ball with local children, the walking party began a steep ascent in formidable humidity to the day’s final destination: the Deniki camp ground.

Marape, a keen golfer, completed the climb in white golf shoes with little trouble.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the start of the Kokoda Track.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the start of the Kokoda Track.Credit: Matthew Knott

Albanese received an energy boost along the way from his favourite sweet: a bag of liquorice Black Cats, which he shared with fellow walkers.

He posed for selfies along the trail with returning Australian hikers from Mudgee, Scone, Lithgow and Brisbane who were surprised to encounter the prime minister at the end of the journey.

The prime ministers arrived at the camp site at around 5pm, greeted by a welcome song from local women and spectacular views of the lush jungle mountains of PNG.

On Wednesday they will make the arduous climb to the war memorial at Isurava, where they will attend a dawn service on Thursday morning.

The prime ministers’ entourage  sets up camp in Deniki on Tuesday, April 23, 2024.

The prime ministers’ entourage sets up camp in Deniki on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. Credit: Matthew Knott

The Kokoda campaign, which lasted from July to November 1942, played a crucial role in preventing Japanese forces from isolating Australia from its allies.

An estimated 625 Australians were killed and more than 1600 were wounded along the track, which was part of Australian territory at the time.

Albanese said Australians would never forget the Papua New Guineans who fought alongside Australian troops in their “darkest hour” in 1942 as they beat back the invading Japanese forces.

“The prime minister, my dear friend James Marape and I will walk side by side, step by step, together,” Albanese said to applause at the start of the walk.

Marape and Albanese, with Oro Province Governor Gary Juffa, begin walking the Kokoda Track.

Marape and Albanese, with Oro Province Governor Gary Juffa, begin walking the Kokoda Track.Credit: Matthew Knott

“This symbolises the fact that Australia and Papua New Guinea’s future is together.”

Noting that “Oro” translated to “welcome” in English, Albanese thanked the locals for their “extraordinarily warm” welcome to Kokoda.

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“The Australian national anthem has never sounded better,” he told the PNG children who sang Advance Australia Fair for the leaders.

Marape, in turn, praised Albanese for becoming the first sitting prime minister to walk the track.

“We don’t take your visit for granted,” he said.



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