The beginning of the Kokoda Track
In July and August 1942 McDonald's Corner was recognised
as the beginning of the Kokoda Track and there is now a memorial
at the site as well as a sign announcing the beginning of
the "Kokoda Trail". Nearby was the village of Ilolo, and it
was here in July 1942 that officers of the Australian and
New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU), such as Lieutenant
Herbert Kienzle and his medical officer, the elderly Captain
Geoffrey Vernon, brought together the groups of native carriers
who were needed to support the Australian advance into the
Ilolo is reached by a road that leaves Port Moresby and
winds its way 40 kilometres up a steep hill, past the Rouna
Falls and onto the high plateau which includes the Itiki Valley
and the Sogeri River. This area provides a slightly cooler
climate and in 1942 was considered suitable for training of
the units about to cross the mountains. Later it became a
retraining and rest area for units that had fought on the
Track. It was also the site of a number of military hospitals.
From Ilolo Lieutenant Kienzle set out with his carriers to
establish a series of staging camps along the Kokoda Track
to support the troops of the 39th and later the 53rd Battalions.
Staging camps were established at approximately 16 kilometre
intervals, which meant that the troops would take about eight
days to cross the mountains to Kokoda.
Many of the troops who fought on the Kokoda Track have clear
memories of Ilolo, and McDonald's Corner - a short distance
beyond where they disembarked from their trucks before beginning
the march. The first unit over the mountains, B Company 39th
Battalion, under Captain Sam Templeton, left Ilolo on 7 July
1942. C Company of the Battalion began the trek on 23 July.
The first company of the 53rd Battalion left Ilolo on 11 August
and the first elements of the 2/14th Battalion began moving
on 16 August.
Later an effort was made to push the road beyond Ilolo and
a jeep track was constructed to Owers' Corner, but still the
troops disembarked at McDonald's Corner. The first company
of the 2/33rd Battalion departed McDonald's Corner on 10 September.
Eventually, as the track was improved, more troops could be
carried forward to Owers' Corner and thus McDonald's Corner
lost some of its importance. It is still regarded however
as the beginning of the Kokoda Track. Beyond Ilolo the first
staging camp at the end of a day's journey was the village