For us there was only one narrow route of advance over the densely jungle clad mountains, and this was the only route for the evacuation of our casualties. Before the war little was known of this track, which was considered impracticable for troops, but this narrow native path was to become historic as the Kokoda Trail, and to witness what was probably the last of long marches for any army. I quote from my diary:
‘Imagine an area approximately one hundred miles long; crumple and fold this into a series of ridges, rising higher and higher until seven thousand feet is reached, then declining again to three thousand feet; cover this thickly with jungle, short trees and tall trees tangled with great entwining savage vines; through the oppression of this density cut a little native track two or three feet wide, up the ridges, over the spurs, around gorges, and down across swiftly flowing mountain streams. Where the track clambers up the mountain sides, cut steps, big steps, little steps, steep steps, or clear the soil from the tree roots. Every few miles bring the track through a small patch of sunlit kunai grass or an old deserted native garden, and every seven or ten miles build a group of dilapidated grass huts as staging shelter, generally set in a foul, offensive clearing. Every now and then leave beside the track dumps of discarded, putrefying food, occasional dead bodies and human foulings. In the morning flicker the sunlight through the tall trees, after midday and throughout the night, pour water over the forest, so that the steps become broken and a continual yellow stream flows downwards, and the few level areas become pools of putrid mud. In the high ridges about Myola, drip this water day and night softly over the track and through a foetid forest, grotesque with moss and glowing phosphorescent fungi and flickering fireflies.
‘Such is the track which a prominent politician publicly described as being “almost impassable for motor vehicles”, and such is the route to be covered for ten days from Kokoda to Ilolo.’