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An early major battle on the Kokoda Trail occurred at Isurava village when 1,000 Australians and 50 Papuans stood against 6,000 advancing Japanese. The Japanese who had just captured Kokoda village, attacked Isurava from three directions; the high ground to the west, directly along the Kokoda Trail and at Abuari, 3 kilometres to the east on the other side of Eora creek (660 metres below the Kokoda Trail). The thin Australian line, held on all fronts despite continual attack between 26 to 30 august, 1942.

Australia's first Victoria Cross of the south-west Pacific was won here by Private Bruce Kingsbury on 29 August. Eventually the overwhelming Japanese numbers, especially in the west forced the Australians to withdraw towards Alolo. The battle of Isurava lost the Japanese four valuable days and a great number of casualties. Both these factors ultimately contributed to their retreat on the hills above Port Moresby.

Today Isurava village is a welcome stop for all those walking the trail.

Text Ross J. Bastiaan donated by WMC.


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