Grim wartime route to reopen (Borneo)

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THE notorious Sandakan track, where more than 1000 Australian and British prisoners of war died during World War II, will be opened to the public as a war tourism site to rival the Kokoda Trail.

Lost behind impenetrable jungle in Borneo for the past 60 years, the 250km Sandakan death march track has been rediscovered through painstaking detective work.

The track was the scene of one of the darkest episodes of World War II.

Of 2438 Australian and British PoWs held at Sandakan after Japan captured Singapore, only six managed to escape and all of them were Australian.

Those who did not die of disease, starvation or maltreatment were executed, either at the Sandakan camp or on the long march to Ranau in Borneo's rugged interior.

Historian Lynette Silver has spent 14 years uncovering the route and a section will be opened to the public through organised trekking expeditions.

''My hope is that the Sandakan track will become as much a part of the nation's ethos as the Kokoda Trail and Gallipoli,'' Ms Silver said.

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