Imita Ridge was reached by the ‘golden stairs’ which consisted of some 2,000 timber steps cut into the mountain side by the engineers.
It was an exhausting climb.
After leaving the Uberi track, it rose 400 metres in the first two kilometres, dropped some 500 metres and then rose about 700 metres in the last 2.5 kilometres.
Station 5 – The Australians’ final defensive position
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Imita Ridge was reached by the ‘golden stairs’ which consisted of some 2,000 timber steps cut into the mountain side by the engineers. It was an exhausting climb. After leaving the Uberi track, it rose 400 metres in the first two kilometres, dropped some 500 metres and then rose about 700 metres in the last 2.5 kilometres.
During 17 September 1942 Brigadier Ken Eather’s 25th Brigade at Ioribaiwa withdrew to Imita Ridge and its 3rd, 2/25th, 2/31st, 2/33rd and 2/1st Pioneer Battalions were deployed to meet the final Japanese attack.
It was this withdrawal which caused intense consternation at the Allied headquarters in Brisbane. Lieutenant-General Sydney Rowell in Port Moresby told the 7th Division commander, Major-General Arthur (Tubby) Allen, that any further withdrawal was out of the question: ‘Eather must fight at all costs’.
The Australians did not know that on 18 September the Japanese had been ordered to withdraw. Nevertheless, when the Australians began patrolling forward from Imita they struck Japanese defences, which were still in force on 25 September. On 28 September the Australians at Imita launched a major attack on the Japanese at Ioribaiwa, but found that the Japanese had abandoned the position. At last the Australians could begin their counter-offensive.
A small section of the thousands of steps in the Golden Stairs. All who climbed these had vivid memories of the ordeal, which was followed by the descent, which was just as rough. This photo was one of many taken by Chaplain Albert E. Moore of the Salvation Army, who set up relief canteens along the Track, providing battle weary troops with much-appreciated hot drinks and a welcome 'bikky'. (AWM P00525.055.004)
Soldiers and a native bearer climb the steep steps through the jungle leading to Nauro. Each step was battened at its edge by a rough log. These were sometimes broken and therefore treacherous, cradling mud and water from afternoon rains. In climbing the stairs, soldiers had to lift their leg over the log and put their foot down on the step behind in what was frequently a puddle of mud and water up to six inches deep. A reproduction of this iconic image is in the Walkway's Education Centre. (AWM 026837)
April 1944: Viewing north from the crest of the Imita Ridge following the 23 line section of the 18th Australian lines of communication signals, between Kokoda and Ilolo. (AWM 072001)
October 1942. Men leading pack horses and mules loaded with supplies down the precipitous curving track from the end of the road down into Uberi Valley over which troops and supplies were taken to Australian forward positions. In the foreground is a 25-pounder gun that is being man-hauled through the valley to Imita Ridge. (AWM 072023)
Crags of the steep and formidable Imita Ridge can be seen in the background of this painting (by the official war artist George Browning) set a few hundred yards from Uberi Signal Station. At the time of the Kokoda campaign, the village was used as a resting and messing point for troops on their way to their first camp at River 66, also used as a terminus of pack mule trains and the start of native carrier trains. (AWM ART23520)
Australian soldiers manhandle a 25-pounder field gun along a section of the Track towards Imita Ridge. The soldiers intended to drag the gun all the way to the top of the ridge from where it and other 25-pounders were hoped to be used on Japanese positions. As it turned out, this gun did not fire after leaving Owers' Corner, but the other field guns were to prove crucial, in conjunction with the high rate of dysentery among Japanese troops, in driving the enemy from Ioribaiwa. (AWM P02424.024)