The road from Moresby to Sogeri was built from 1923 to 1942. It was
narrow and unsealed but gave the supply vehicles access close to the
Kokoda trail. From Sogeri to Owers' corner however the road was poor
part of it being constructed with logs.
The Sogeri area home to the Koairi People, was important in 1942 for
it's supply depots, medical bases and troop rest camps. One Australian
hospital ran 2 kilometres along the Sogeri road and had 1,200 beds it
handled 10,000 patients in 4 months during the height of the campaign.
The centre for the Papuan infantry battalion and the Royal Papuan
Constabulary, was 2 kilometres to the north of Sogeri. Beyond this was
an army saw mill. At Owers' corner the Salvation Army centre provided
tea and biscuits to the troops and Papuan carriers.
From Owers' corner the Australian soldiers caught a glimpse for the
first time of the daunting Owen Stanley Range; across which the Japanese
forces advanced, only halted when they reached Ioribaiwa.
The Japanese attack on Port Moresby in May 1942 was repulsed at the
battle of the Coral Sea, a month later the navy was severely damaged at
the battle of midway. These events prompted another approach to Moresby
and on 22 July, 2,000 Japanese were landed near Gona with the aim of
crossing the Owen Stanley Range via the tortuous Kokoda trail (track).
During the next week 80 Australians and Papuans fought delaying actions,
culminating in a battle at Kokoda village. The Japanese force rose to
10,000 whilst advancing along the Kokoda trail. They were constantly
delayed by defensive action particularly at Isurava and Brigade Hill.
However, by mid September the Australians (reduced from 3,000 to 300
men) were forced back to Imita Ridge, 42km from Moresby. The Japanese
were then ordered to withdraw as their 5,000 remaining men and supplies
were totally exhausted, and their army at Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands)
was on the defensive against the Americans. On 23 September the
Australians, now 2,600 strong, moved northwards to recover the trail.
Encountering major opposition only at Templeton's and Eora Creek. Kokoda
was entered unopposed on 2 November. The Japanese rearguard was
destroyed near Gorari, 5,000 Japanese survived and joined 4,000 fresh
troops around Gona and Buna. Australian and American forces captured
these strongholds by January 1943, incurring heavy casualties on both
The Papuan carriers played an important role in the defence of the
Kokoda trail, they transported Australian casualties and supplies.
Their loyalty will be remembered forever.