Hellfire Pass Museum & Walking Trail


The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum is dedicated to those Australians and other Allied Prisoners of War and Asian labourers who suffered and died at Hellfire Pass and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region during the Second World War.

During the Second World War, thousands of forced local labourers and Allied Prisoners of War suffered and died constructing and maintaining the Burma-Thailand railway.
The Australian Government constructed the memorial in cooperation with the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand.

The museum explains to visitors the story of why and how the railway was built and attempts to convey the hardships and suffering endured by so many who were forced to work in extremely harsh conditions. The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum symbolises the importance of this site to the Australian people. After visiting the memorial museum and contemplation deck, visitors are encouraged to proceed to the walking trail.

In 2008, the new access to the Cutting was completed and the carefully designed pathway and stairs now winds down below the contemplation deck providing safe, easy access.

Maintaining the site with approximately 100,000 visitors per annum continues to be challenging for the Manager and staff.

Groups of men worked around the clock for 16-18 hours to complete excavation of the 17 metre deep and 110-m long cutting through solid limestone and quartz rock in only 12 weeks. Forced to work at night, Konyu Cutting was nicknamed “ Hellfire Pass ” because of the mixture of hammering noise, lighting from fires, oil fired bamboo torches and carbide lamps that created an eerie illumination that looked like the “Fires from Hell”. After the war in Oct 1945, the graves of 124 men were located in Kanyu No1 Cemetery, which is now occupied by grazing pasture.


Walking trail
The walking trail follows the alignment of the original Burma-Thailand railway from Hellfire Pass through to the Hintok Cutting. Small shelters and interpretative panels have been provided at various locations and toilets are available at the end of the walking trail.

Hellfire Pass or “Chong Khao Khart” as it is called in Thai, is located only 250 metres from the entrance to the Museum and is accessed by either the “Concrete Stairway Path” or the “Bamboo Path”. The latter is the recommended path to Hellfire Pass. It not only gives the visitor the opportunity to walk into the cutting the same way that the POWs went to work, but visitors also walk through a grove of large bamboo and look down from the lookouts above the entrance to the cutting. This view provides the most memorable views of Hellfire Pass and an understanding how it derived its name and the sacrifice made by the men who made it.

For the intrepid visitor there is a four kilometre Memorial Walking Trail, that has been cleared and is maintained and monitored daily to accommodate walkers to walk this now peaceful and serene old railway track. The Trail commences at Hellfire Pass Cutting, and incorporates a number of infamous features along the track, such as Compressor Cutting, Hintok Station, both the “Pack of Cards” and Three Tier Bridges, plus the panoramic view of Kwae Noi Look-out .

Tom Morris
The preservation and development of this historic site has resulted from the inspiration of Australian former Prisoner of War, Mr J G “Tom” Morris.

Mr Morris was among the thousands of Prisoners of War and Asian labourers who worked on the Burma-Thailand railway during the Second World War.
After enlisting aged 17 in 1941 Mr Morris served as a Corporal with 22 Brigade Headquarters before being captured in the fall of Singapore in 1942. Sent to Burma as part of ‘A’ Force, Mr Morris worked on the Burma-Thailand railway from the Thanbyuzayat end. In 1983, forty years after working on the railway, Mr Morris made a decision to return to Thailand in an attempt to locate the site of Konyu Cutting (Hellfire Pass). Mr Morris was not only successful in his endeavour to locate Hellfire Pass, by then almost consumed by the surrounding jungle, he was also inspired with the idea of preserving this significant site in memory of all those who suffered and died while constructing the Burma-Thailand railway. Mr Morris then approached the Australian Government regarding the possibility of having Hellfire Pass dedicated as an historic site.

In 1985, following Mr Morris’ proposal, the Australian Government allocated funding for improved access to Hellfire Pass and the construction of a memorial. The memorial was formally dedicated in 1987. Further funding was allocated in 1994 for the construction of the Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum and walking trail. The Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum was officially opened on 25 April 1998.


Visitor information : Museum open 9am - 4pm daily

Copyright text : Australian Government : Department of Veterans' Affairs & Hellfire Pass.com
Copyright photos : Postcards from the Hellfirepass Museum.