OWNER/MANAGER & TOUR GUIDE | KOKODA TREKS & TOURS
35+ years of practical experience with off shore operations, including remote localities and developing countries, visiting Australian Military Heritage sites, leading tour groups, film documentary operations logistics, historical researchers and authors. Experiential depth of management listed below.
Additionally a proven ability to organise and operate group tours and activities to locations as above for special interest groups such as family members of those who served, associations, significant event commemorative tours, researchers and film makers.
Licensed Australian Travel Agent ( Kokoda Treks and Tours Pty Ltd & Frank Taylor’s Australian Military History Tours )
Frank Taylor, owner/manager, served 31 years in the Western Australia Police (Traffic, General Duties, Emergency Operations) Deputy Principal Police Academy ) retiring as an Inspector, and 38 years in the Australian Army Reserve (Armour, Infantry and Military Police) through all ranks retiring as a Captain and acting as Provost Marshall Western Region Australia. Experience gained in those services is applied to effective planning and safe operations of tour activities.
Frank Taylor has acted as a consultant for the following:
- Consultant and PNG facilitator for the Australian Army documentary film “The Bloody Track” (1992)
- Facilitated – including PNG Location Management - Chris Masters’ Kokoda Trail filming operations for his highly acclaimed 4 Corners production of "The Men Who Saved Australia" (1995)
- Initiated the concept and facilitated ( PNG Location Management and logistics ) the Electric Pictures award winning documentary film “Requiem for a Generation of Lost Souls” (1996)
- Facilitated ( PNG Location Management and military advisor ) the Kokoda Trail and PNG beach head filming of the 2 part documentary "Kokoda" ABC (2010)
- Planned and facilitated author Peter Brune's fact finding trek of Kokoda, Milne Bay and Gona/Buna/Sanananda for his best selling "A Bastard of a Place". (Acknowledged )
- Planned and facilitated author Peter Brune's Singapore/Malaysia/Thailand/Burma exploratory journey fact finding his latest book of The Fall of Singapore/Changi / and the Thai-Burma Railway – “Descent into Hell”. (Acknowledged )
- Facilitated and lead research treks of the Kokoda Trail for Paul Ham and his best selling book "Kokoda" and for Dr. Peter Williams’ for his book “The Kokoda campaign 1942 – Myth and Reality”. ( Both acknowledged )
- Consultative assistance given and acknowledged by author Phillip Bradley for his authoritative reference book “On Shaggy Ridge” and to Bill James’ ( as trek leader & provide research information ) for his “Field Guide to the Kokoda Trail”. ( Both acknowledged )
- Facilitated and lead research exploration and tour to Kokoda areas (North and South ), Oro Province beach battle areas and Oro Bay for US author James J Bradley for his forthcoming work.
- Facilitated and lead research exploration and tour to the Milne Bay battle areas in PNG for Australian military history author Timothy Gellel, fact gathering for his Australian Army Military History Unit funded forthcoming book on the 1942 battle in that area.
Consultant advice to groups and organisations including PNG’s Tourist Promotion Authority, National Cultural Committee and Oro Provincial Government of PNG; RSL ( Australia ) National Headquarters, Kochi-New Guinea Association ( Japan ); “Australia Remembers” Task Force Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs; Alamein Military Museum Egypt; Tobruk Tourism Authority Libya; Municipality of Gelibolu Turkey; International Heritage Section Department of the Environment Australia etc
Member of the Kokoda Trail Maintenance Advisory Committee and of the Kokoda Ethics & Advisory Committee which reported to the Australian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Kokoda. Founder committee member of the Papua New Guinea Travel Industry Association. He has travelled over the Kokoda Track some 140 plus times.
Committee member of the 16 Battalions’ Foundation and Vice President of the 28th Battalion ( The Swan Regiment ) Association - and life member of that Association.
In November 2015 elected at the inaugural President of the Kokoda Tour Operators Association. Retired from the position November 2017. Elected to the position as Advisor to KTOA Executive and voted life membership
Member of the newly formed Military Heritage Expert Advisory Group to the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery ( October 2017) .
And directly contributed to the planning and execution of the following :
Establishment of bronze plaque monuments at key locations along the Kokoda Trail, beach locations of Buna, Sanananda, Gona; memorials for RSL Australia, the American Legion, Australian services unit associations and private families; and ANZAC memorial plaque at Gelibolu Turkey.
Supervisor and project manager for fund raising, organisation and logistics to construct a monument to Brigadier Arnold Potts at Alolo Village on the Kokoda Track PNG with secured donated funds in April 2017.
Location, reporting and recovery of remains of Australian and United States servicemen from Papua New Guinea locations. Assisted in the search for Dutch serviceman’s remains on the Thai Burma Railway – exhumations pending
The introduction of Australian relevant historical material and captioning for display in overseas public settings - including museums and schools- such as the Gaba Tepe Museum, Eceabat High Schools ( Gallipoli ), the Alamein Military Museum Egypt and in Tobruk, Libya, Grass Roots Museum ( Kochi Japan ), Gelibolu ANZAC Museum ( Turkey ), Ranau and Sandakan Sabah ( Borneo )
Village community benefit works in the Owen Stanley Mountains, Finisterre Mountains, Buna-Gona-Sanananda and other remote localities in Papua New Guinea; “Weaving for Women” support group Sangklaburi, Thailand
In February 2016 organised and operated a tour along the Thai Burma Railway in Myanmar from the war time rail junction at Thanbyuzayat to the Thailand border at Three Pagodas Pass. Advised that this was the first formal tour group permitted along that route for some 50 years due to the Myanmar Government imposing a “Forbidden Zone” restriction. Permission was granted after some 14 years work for approval.
Planned and operated – with appropriate research and reconnaissance – Australian military heritage tours to Borneo ( Sandakan PW Death March, Labuan Landings etc ); Greece and Crete, Gallipoli, Thailand and Burma; Malaysia and Singapore; Western Front ( France and Belgium ); Kokoda Campaign ( Kokoda Track and Gona, Buna, Sanananda) and Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea; and Libya (Tobruk) and (el Alamein) Egypt.
Invited guest speaker to the University of Liverpool United Kingdom June 2017 to speak on searching and finding PoW Camps on Borneo for the Far East POW Association.
Numerous public speaking engagements including Legacy, Rotary, various clubs and associations.
TOUR GUIDE | KOKODA TREKS & TOURS
Australia Day Honours and Awards 2018:
- Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia (General Division)
For service to the preservation of military history
Author of a range of military history publications including:
- 'Fromelles to Nauroy: 31st Battalion AIF 1916-1919' 2013.
- 'Gallipoli to Tripoli: 10th Light Horse Regiment 1914-1919'(co-author with Ian Gill), 2011.
- 'Leane's Battalion: 48th Battalion AIF 1916-1919', 2009.
- 'For King and Cobbers: 51st Battalion AIF 1916-1919', 2007.
- 'The 52nd Battalion; AIF 1916-1919', 2005.
- 'The Westralian Battalion: 44th Battalion AIF 1916-1919', 2004.
- 'Blue & White Diamond: 28th Battalion AIF 1915-1919', 2002.
- 'Fix Bayonets: 51st Battalion AIF 1916-1919', 2000.
Tour guide, Kokoda Treks and Tours; Frank Taylor's Australian Military History Tours,
Current Vice-President and Armourer, West Australian Kyudo Association
Western Front Accreditations:
- Tour guide for The Other Anzac Day Tour, 2008. Organisation: Military History Tours, Sydney NSW.
- Tour guide for The Remembrance Day Tour, 2008. Organisation: Military History Tours, Sydney NSW.
Other Projects in Military History:
- Author of The Borehole Bulletin, The journal of the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion. A quarterly publication. A voluntary position held for over ten years.
- Author of numerous articles for The West Australian newspaper in their Anzac Day and Remembrance Day supplements over the last seven years.
- Free research service offered to members of the general public, in search of information regarding their ancestor’s service in WWI. Conducted for over ten years.
- Free relic and photographic displays and lectures for local libraries and elderly organisations.
- Type-setter for the following books: Fremantle to France and Bloody Angle, Bullecourt and Beyond.
TOUR GUIDE | KOKODA TREKS & TOURS
Born: Gympie, Queensland, Australia. 17 July 1948.
- Education :- Primary education at Wolvi State School.
- Secondary education at Gympie State High School.
- Graduated from Queensland Institute of Technology, 1976 (Civil Engineering Design). Part time.
- Graduated from Darling Downs Institute of Technology, 1976 (Civil Engineering Construction). By correspondence.
- Graduated with Diplomea of Gemmology from Gemmological Association of Australia, 1978.
- Employment :- 10 years working for Queensland Main Roads Department on road design and construction (1969 - 1979).
- 10 years operating my own gem mining, cutting and wholesale business (1979 - 1989).
- 3 years working as a consultant on gem projects in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos (1990 - 1994).
- 18 years as Manager of the Commonwealth War Cemeteries in Thailand (1995 - 2013) working part time.
- 2½ years as Project Manager of Hellfire Pass Project (1996 - 1998).
- 2001-3 designed and built my own internationally recognised museum in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.
- 11 years since furthering my research into prisoners of war of the Japanese.
- Military Service :- 6 years in Australian Army Reserve (1969 – 76). Three years in infantry and three years in engineers. Rank – Corporal.
In February 1994, I was approached by an Australian former prisoner of war to clear the pathway into Hellfire Pass prior to a visit to the site by the then Australian Prime Minister Mr. Paul Keating. Soon after I was again approached by the same former PoW to erect the plaque commemorating the internment of the ashes of Lt Colonel 'Weary' Dunlop at Hellfire Pass on Anzac Day 1994. Having attended my first Anzac Day Dawn Service at Hellfire Pass I quickly appreciated the importance of the site and offered my services to the Australian Thai Chamber of Commerce to voluntarily maintain the short (400 metres) pathway into Hellfire Pass. This had previously been randomly maintained by members of the ATCC or Australian military personnel on exchange visits to Thailand. When funds became available to the ATCC I supervised the construction of a second concrete pathway leading to the northern end of Hellfire Pass.
Having become involved with Hellfire Pass I set out to learn more about the history of the railway by collecting books about the railway. Being self employed and having time at my disposal I then started to explore and map the abandoned railway and locate former PoW campsites. Locating and mapping all the accessible railway in Thailand and some in Burma took four and a half years. Over the years since I have located the majority of PoW campsites in Thailand and some in Burma.
To give visitors a better understanding of the work done in building the railway I, helped only by my wife and the occasional visitor, set out to clear a longer section of the railway northwards from Hellfire Pass. These four and a half kilometers, which took more than a year to clear, now form the walking trail part of the Hellfire Pass memorial.
In 1995 I was appointed manager of the Commonwealth War Cemeteries in Thailand. In this position I met many people searching for information about relatives who worked or died on the railway. To help these people I began a worldwide search for original PoW records of deaths on the railway. I still continue to search archives around the world as time and funds allow only now my search if for PoWs of all nationalities who worked on the railway.
Because many visitors to Kanchanaburi have the mistaken belief that members of their family slaved on the railway when in fact they were taken to other areas of Asia by the Japanese my research into the fate of prisoners of war has spread to all areas of Japanese occupation. These records now have information on more than 100,000 American, Australian, British and Dutch servicemen.
In 1996 I was appointed Project Manager to oversee the construction of the Hellfire Pass Memorial Interpretative Centre and permanent improvements to the previously cleared length of railway. During this time we cleared another four kilometers of abandoned railway northwards from Compressor Cutting but this section was subsequently not maintained by the Australia government and has now reverted back to jungle. The Australian Prime Minister, Mr. John Howard, opened the memorial on 24 April 1998.
In 1999 I began planning and designing a new museum to be located in Kanchanaburi to cater for the very large number of visitors who visited the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery and who were searching for information about a relative who worked and perhaps died on the railway. A second motive was to create a factual museum display to offer to the large number of tourists whose tour did not take them on to Hellfire Pass (approximately 95,000 of the 300,000 annual visitors to the war cemetery went on to Hellfire Pass). Construction of this privately funded museum began in 2001 and it opened in January 2003. A Thai business associate purchased the land specifically for me to build the museum and he and I funded the construction of the building. Myself and three friends then established and funded the company (TBRC Co. Ltd.) to develop the museum galleries and other facilities. The entire design of the museum was done by myself as was the construction of the building (using a Thai builder and his staff) and much of the installation of the museum displays.
At the time of opening limited funding meant that a number of gallery displays had to be deferred until funds became available. In 2005 the Dutch Embassy came forward and offered to fund the completion of several of these displays. This help plus several personal donations has allowed me to complete all of the original design elements of the museum. Because my exploration and research into the railway is ongoing further development of the Thailand-Burma Railway Centre is also ongoing.
An important part of the work that I have done over the years is to take former PoWs or their families back to their areas of work on the railway. Originally this was done voluntarily but has now become an important part of TBRC's operation. As time allows I also continue to search for particular areas of interest along the abandoned railway and uncover many wartime artifacts and stories.
In January 2010 my work researching the fate of all prisoners of war who worked on the Thailand-Burma Railway was formally recognised by the Dutch by my being honoured by the Dutch Queen. This was by my being appointed a Knight of the Order of Orange Nassau.
In the same year I began a more detailed mapping project of the entire accessible length of railway in Thailand. This involves clearing/walking the entire railway and recording all identifiable features (cuttings, embankment, bridges, etc) complete with GPS locations. This work continues as time permits.
On 27 January 2012 I was presented with the Order of Australia Medal in recognition of the work that I have done for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and assistance to former prisoners of war and their families.
In the Queen’s birthday honour list of 2013 I was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire. At the end of June 2013 I retired after eighteen years as manager of the war cemeteries in Thailand to allow me to commit more time to TBRC, the increasing number of families wishing to make pilgrimages along the railway and to the ongoing research into PoWs.
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Authentic Military Heritage Tours by fully qualified and field-experienced Guides
Over 30 years experience in tour operations and planning in remote areas, including Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Thailand, Burma, Egypt, Libya.
Management and staff who have in depth historical and geographic knowledge of areas toured and military historical sites and events, in PNG and other countries
Supervisors experienced in remote area and urban tour operations in PNG, Borneo, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Belgium, Greece, Crete, Thailand, Burma, Turkey, Egypt and Libya.
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