Kokoda Track: 75 years

2017 is the 75th anniversary of WW2 battles along Papua New Guinea’s Kokoda Track. As part of their Serial Reading programme, in Term Two the West Australian newspaper’s ED! supplement will be serialising my picture book Photographs in the Mud. 


The story set in 1942, explores Kokoda from two perspectives; through the eyes of an Australian soldier and also from a Japanese soldier’s point of view. The book was inspired by a story I heard during my 2002 trek from Kokoda airstrip across the Owen Stanley range to Ower’s Corner (near Port Moresby).  During one bloody battle, two soldiers locked in  combat, rolled down the steep mountainside away from the main battle. They found themselves alone and injured in a jungle ditch. This moment and the imagined aftermath became the core of my story with a theme of common humanity.

Although mostly fictitious, Photographs in the Mud was inspired by an incident experienced by Kokichi Nishimura, a soldier of the 2/144th Regiment of the Imperial Japanese Army. Mr Nishimura’s amazing life story, including his return to PNG to collect the bones of war dead, was later explored in Charles Happell’s The Bone Man of Kokoda.

My picture book, published in 2005 by Fremantle Press and illustrated by Brian Harrison-Lever, has been utilised as an international peace reference. It’s suitable for middle primary readers through to senior high school and is often used in visual literacy units. Teaching notes and more details, including photos of a much younger me, can be found on my website.


1 thought on “Kokoda Track: 75 years

  1. LiveLifeLearnMW

    Hi Dianne Hope you are well?

    This is a great blog post! I have shared it to my networks and to my Primary History FB group page.

    I will be in Albany next week 22-23 Feb. Full day of HASS workshops at Great Southern Grammar (22nd) for all teachers in the area, and half day at Woodbury Boston on the following day.

    Any chance you can send out this registration link to you teacher network in the Albany region? I still have a few spots left. https://www.ais.wa.edu.au/event/smart-hass-planning-p-6-inquiry-approach-albany

    I seem to recall you were doing some guest lecturing this semester? Perhaps we can catch up for a coffee or dinner (21st or 22nd) I fly back Thursday 23rd evening.

    Cheers Maree

    Maree Whiteley Curriculum Consultant – Humanities and Social Sciences [https://www.ais.wa.edu.au/system/files/page_related_files/2016/01/aiswa_l_colour_transparent.png]

    T (08)9441 1630 | M 0412 117 170 | Emwhiteley@ais.wa.edu.au 6/41 Walters Drive Osborne Park WA 6017 |www.ais.wa.edu.au Humanities and Global Education resource collection here Join me for PL conversations@mareewhiteley P Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail I acknowledge that this land that I live and work on is Whadjuk country and that the Whadjuk Noongar people are the traditional owners and custodians , who have a rich social, spiritual and historical connection to this country, which is as strong today, as it was in the past..

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