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Anthony Albanese is hiking the Kokoda Track. What is it?

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The pair will walk only part of the track, beginning in Kokoda and ending in the village of Isurava, where a dawn service will be held on ANZAC Day. Albanese is the first PM to walk Kokoda while in office.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape have begun a two-day hike of the Kokoda Track.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Papua New Guinea (PNG) Prime Minister James Marape have begun a two-day hike of the Kokoda Track.

The pair will walk only part of the track, beginning in Kokoda and ending in the village of Isurava, where a dawn service will be held on ANZAC Day. Albanese is the first PM to walk Kokoda while in office.

PNG’s Kokoda Track was the location of a famous World War II battle between Australian and Japanese forces in 1942.

Kokoda Track

In July 1942, Japanese forces landed on the northern coast of PNG, then an Australian territory.

They planned to use the Kokoda Track to travel towards the capital, Port Moresby.

There were concerns that a successful campaign by Japanese forces could accelerate plans for an invasion of mainland Australia.

The battle

The Japanese army initially succeeded against Australian forces, who were under-resourced and inexperienced in jungle warfare.

However, Australian forces were able to access greater supplies and artillery as the battle continued. This helped them push Japanese forces away from Port Moresby, leading them to withdraw from the track.

The Kokoda Track was the site of some of the most gruelling and difficult battles fought by Australians in WWII, with casualties due to sickness surpassing 4,000.

Albanese described the Kokoda battle as “stuff of legend”, saying it’s “something that every Australian should be proud of”.

Papua New Guinea relations

Albanese and Marape’s walk comes less than a week after the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Port Moresby for talks with his PNG counterpart. Wang held similar talks with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Canberra last month.

Albanese has held several meetings with Marape since coming to power, and signed a new security agreement with PNG in December. He told the ABC that Marape had confirmed Australia was still PNG’s “preferred security partner”, and that the relationship has “never been closer”.

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