Reported Attack and Rape by Cannibals on the Kokoda Trail – Really!

Matthew Iovane, of Shoreditch, East London, met restaurant hostess Michelle Clemens last year while he was visiting her native Los Angeles.

The adventure holiday regulars agreed to meet in Sydney, Australia, and then fly to Papua New Guinea together.

They planned to tackle the arduous Kokoda Trail, a 60-mile hike through one of the last great unexplored wildernesses on Earth.[i]

On Wednesday, 6 January, Mr Iovane called Sogeri Lodge from the Port Moresby airport to book transport and accommodation for one night for him and Ms Clemens. They had sourced the contact details for Sogeri Lodge from their Lonely Planet book on Papua New Guinea.

The Lonely Planet contains the following warning in regard to trekking across the Kokoda Trail:

‘The Kokoda Track is not PNG’s most difficult trek but it’s no walk in the park.  You must be pretty fit and, if in doubt, aid to do it in nine days, not six.  Be sure to use local guides and carriers and never walk with less than four people. If there is an accident two can get help and one can stay with the injured. Most trekking companies carry a satellite phone or a two-way radio.  If you don’t have one and there’s a problem, no-one will hear the screams.  Most villages have radios but it could be a long walk to the nearest one. Conflicts among traditional landowners have led to the track’s closure in the past, but in recent years the situation has been fairly calm. Still, it’s worth keeping an ear open.

‘When to Trek
‘It could rain at anytime of the year, but between November and February it will rain, and most companies don’t operate because it is too dangerous and uncomfortable.

‘Guides and Carriers
‘If you’re trekking independently, don’t do it without a good guide.’
(more…)

Network Kokoda helps to make ‘PNG Hep B Free’

Alice LeeOur Kokoda networks have been engaged to help Dr Alice Lee achieve her goal of making ‘PNG Hep B Free’.

Chronic hepatitis B, the world’s second most potent carcinogen, is a life-long illness and prevalent throughout PNG. Hepatitis B is chronic if it has been in the body for more than six months. It occurs when the body cannot get rid of the virus, so it stays inside the body and can eventually lead to severe liver disease and liver cancer if left untreated. Chronic hepatitis B usually has no symptoms and that is why it is so dangerous.

A/Professor Dr Lee, MBBS (Hons), FRACP, PhD (University of Sydney) is a human dynamo. She is a Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist; Senior Staff Specialist, Concord Repatriation General Hospital; Head Gastroenterology, Macquarie University Hospital; VMO, The Canterbury hospital; Co-founder and Director: Hepatitis B free (non for profit charity to improve health outcomes to disadvantaged communities); President: Korean Australian Medical Association; Chair: Korean Health Committee; and Vice President: World Korean Medical Organisation

With generous support from Sue Huntley of Huntley Clinical Research Services they have formed a group with the primary aim of improving health delivery to Oro Province in PNG, up skilling the local health care workers through education and sourcing of ongoing training tools. They also plane to explore ways to improve nutrition and reduce preventable parasite infestation, i.e. worms. (more…)

Government desecration of Kokoda battlesite condemned

Charlie Lynn Kokoda WebThe recent desecration of a significant wartime site along the Kokoda Trail by the Australian Government is a blatant act of historical vandalism.

The site I refer to is an abandoned mortar position adjacent to Lake Myola about halfway across the trail. I found the position approximately 10 years ago whilst I was investigating this particular area with a local landowner. It was off the side of a remote track that was used by local hunters. It was part of an ammunition storage system that supported the mortar baseplates out on the lakebed of what is called Little Myola. The mortars would have been positioned to support the Australian hospital and logistic support bases on Big Myola.

The position comprised a large ammunition storage pit and a large quantity of mortars, M36 grenades, clips of .303 ammunition, detonators and fuses. Lying around the area were rotted army boots and a couple of rusted shovels. The ammunition was stacked in rows beside the pit and covered in moss that had gathered over the past 60 years. This gave the position a haunting appearance in what is known as the moss forest. I reported the discovery to the PNG Kokoda Track Authority but at that stage it was operated by an expatriate manager and a part-time secretary and there was little interest in the preservation of historically significant sites along the Kokoda Trail.

It was not until a public outcry over the threat to mine a large part of the trail in 2006 that the Australian Government finally took more than a token interest in the area. Unfortunately, the Howard Government miscalculated and allocated responsibility for the preservation of the Kokoda Trail to the Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, most probably because the Heritage Division was responsible for the List of Overseas Places of Historic Significance to Australia. The status of Heritage’ has since been dropped from what is now the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Arts has recently been added to the Minister’s responsibilities but does not yet rate a mention in its acronym.

Since 2008 Kokoda has been used as a subterfuge for the department to pursue an environmental agenda in PNG. Its guise was to embed staff in the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation to assist PNG to develop a submission  for a World Heritage listing of the Owen Stanley Ranges including the Kokoda Trail. A joint agreement with an emphasis on global warming was signed with considerable fanfare. Terms relating to military heritage did not rate a mention. One can only speculate how ‘joint’ the agreement was in the framing process. Highly paid Canberra envirocrats with tax exempt salaries and generous allowances were dispatched to advise and assist the PNG Government to save the Kokoda Trail. For most of those involved, it was their first trip to PNG and the trail quickly became a lucrative honey-pot for a coterie of anointed consultants. They came; saw; held talk-fests; produced five-point plans; and left with a wallet full of booty. (more…)

Wire bridges on Kokoda=Bureaucratic vandalism!

The Kokoda Track Authority has advised of a plan to construct permanent swing bridges with cables and metal thread with constructed anchor points capable of taking up to 8 – 10 persons at Eora Creek Crossing, (Dump 1) Eora Creek, Efogi River (between Naduri and Efogi 2), Elomi Creek (between Efogi 1 and Efogi 2), Ofi Creek and Goldie River.

I do not know where these ‘plans’ are coming from but I do know they are being done without any consultation at all with the paying customer i.e. the trekker.

The research we have conducted with a significant number of people who have trekked with Adventure Kokoda over the past 18 years indicates that they want the track left alone. They want to trek in the footsteps of our diggers as they did it. They do not want boardwalks and bridges. (more…)

The Kokoda Trekker

Kokoda trekkers are the basic building block of Papua New Guinea’s most popular tourist destination. They are also the most neglected.

Any business, industry or service provider who dared treat their customers with as much contempt as the Kokoda trekker receives would be placed in the hands of a commercial undertaker in a very short period of time. (more…)