Friday, September 13, 2013

Black Cat Track Update

Those of you who have been reading here for a while will know that I walked something called the Black Cat Track, Papua New Guinea in May this year with my Dad, Plumbing Boy & mate K.

This week, another group of trekkers, using a different trekking company to us started out on the Black Cat Track.  After setting up camp the first night in exactly the same place we did, they were attacked by 6 men resulting in the death of 2 porters.  The rest of the porters were injured (some had to be airlifted out for medical treatment) & some of the trekkers were also quite badly injured.  See here & here for news reports.

Dad has been interviewed on ABC local radio as has Dave owner of our trekking company who walked the track with us.  If you want to listen, copy the link & paste it into your browser (wont work if you just click on it).

Dad also made the local paper today.

It's all quite surreal & I can hardly believe it happened.  Although considering the general level of violence in the country, I suppose it's not that surprising.  One of the guides killed was our head porter.  From what I've heard it sounds as though he was possibly targeted due to the perception that he was making money from organizing the porters while others were not receiving this income & I guess all the politics surrounding choosing who gets the porter gig & who doesn't.

I have wondered what would have happened had it been our group that was attacked & just can't really imagine what we would have or could have done to achieve a different outcome.  It would take too long to explain why I think our Australian guide Reg may have been able to prevent the extent of the violence that occurred, but I do believe there may have been a chance.

My heart goes out to all our lovely porters & their families & while I will be relieved if the rest of them were not on this trek I still feel for the porters & families of the porters who were killed & injured.  

The locals we met were really warm & friendly.  I don't know if we were particularly welcomed as we were walking in my Grandfathers footsteps but it seemed to me that our porters & the other locals we met along the way were impressed? not quite the word, but pleased that we wanted to honor his memory & had that family connection.  If we had just been war buffs just wanting to know about the battles perhaps they wouldn't have been as accommodating.  I just don't know.

What I do know is this will certainly affect the tourism industry for PNG.  It is a beautiful country & has a lot to offer.  I think I would go back, but would be waiting a while until this all settles down.  And better regulation of the trekking industry by the PNG government would without a doubt help this situation; in my opinion. And here also Dave being interviewed on the Project, Wednesday night, first article.  Dad is in the footage a couple of times.


Cinders said...

Its all very awful - very sad to hear.

Memphis Steve said...

Wow, that is a really terrible thing! I'm just glad it didn't happen to you. That would have been awful.

AlleyCat said...

Cinders - yes it is :0(

Steve - thanks - I'm glad it didn't happen to me either. I wish it didn't happen to anyone :0(

Ute said...

Yet another reason never to leave the comfort of my own home.

AlleyCat said...