Captions: 1. The author (centre) with colleagues Sampson Bonai (left) and Vii Killar at the start of the
In July 2003, I became arguably the first
Leech and snake-infested jungle, moss -covered rocks and fallen tree stumps, precarious cliff crossings, and numerous river crossings make the Black Cat one of the toughest tracks in PNG and the world.
It is recommended only for the very-fit and experienced trekker.
Some Australian soldiers have described the Black Cat as the hardest walk they’d ever done.
The Lonely Planet guidebook quotes a local expat as saying the Black cat is “suitable only for masochists and Israeli paratroopers”.
After five days of torture through leech-infested country, slippery logs and rocks, as well as numerous other obstacles straight out of a commando-training manual, we descended into kunai country and were rewarded with our first glimpse of Wau.
“Wau! Wow!” went through my mind as I glimpsed down on this famous gold mining township.
I wrote articles for local and international newspapers, magazines and websites – being then employed by the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority - and it has been greatly because of this exposure that the Black Cat has developed into a tourism icon over the last five years.
To this day I still dream of conquering another WW11 icon, the Bulldog Trail, which stretches between Wau and the Gulf province.
Last year, I again visited Wau and Bulolo, and certainly could feel the song in the air as we drove up the scenic
The discovery of gold at Edie Creek above Wau in 1926 sparked off a gold rush of massive proportions which led to the exploitation of the rich deposits of the Bulolo-Watut river system by large-scale mechanised mining.
The Bulolo region was at the time one of the largest gold fields in the world.
A total of seven dredges scoured the valley floor, dredging thousands of tones of high grade gold-bearing ore.
“This is God’s country,” remarks MMJV public relations manager Simon Anakapu.
And I couldn’t agree more!
Last Saturday, whilst in the office, my colleague and Wau-Bulolo veteran Yehiura Hriewazi told me that trouble had erupted in Wau.
The news broke my heart as places like Wau, neighbouring Bulolo, Watut, Aseki and Menyamya are very special to me.
Violence erupted in Wau last Friday and Saturday, leaving two people dead, several injured, houses and property destroyed, and forcing the temporary shutdown of the
Prof Halvaksz was in PNG in 1996, 1998, 2000-2002, and again in 2005, working on his paper about the affects that colonialism has had on Biangai development aspirations.
It is a fascinating paper which touches on many things, including the infamous ‘Kaisenik Killings’ of 1926-1927, and could I not sleep for want of reading it on Monday night.
Widely reported and a common feature in miners’ monologues, the ‘Kaisenik Killings’ remain a significant event for contemporary figures in and around Wau and feature centrally in discussions with Biangai about the arrivals of whites.
It was quite ironic, and a frightening sense of déjà vu, that Kaisenik was burned to the ground by rampaging Watut tribesmen last Saturday.
“The history of Wau township in Morobe province,
“In recent years, Wau has declined, and the Biangai communities reflect on this decline in ways that manipulate both the early colonial discourses and their own.
“In this paper I examine the gold rush, how early prospectors conceptualised the colonial project, and what Wau’s subsequent decline has meant to the Biangai who now pursue new mining opportunities.
“I trace these events and perspectives through historical and present-day discourses.”
Reading Prof Halvaksz’s paper gave me a whole new insight into the Biangai people and the history of Wau and the gold rush days.
He recommended quite a few papers about the Watut and Biangai by John Burton, who used to work for
My prayer, after reading all these, was that peace could reign once more in Wau so that outsiders like me can take our families there to enjoy its unmatched beauty.