Sunday, August 31, 2008

This Blog gets a high rating

I'm not usually one to beat my own chest, however, I received this email from Amy Liu at at the weekend rating this Blog very highly with an 8.2 score out of a possible 10.

I wouldn't have made it without the feedback and support from all you great people of Papua New Guinea and the world.

This is what Amy wrote: "Dear Malum Nalu,

"Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.2 score out of (10) in the Society/Culture category of

"This is quite an achievement!


"We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.

"After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its 8.2 score.

"We’ve also created score badges with your score prominently displayed.

"Simply visit your website’s summary page on"

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Amelia Earhart and Papua New Guinea

Amelia Earhart...put Lae and Papua New Guinea on the world map with her disappearance

This year marked the 71st anniversary of one of the greatest unsolved aviation mysteries of all time.

It intimately involves Papua New Guinea as Lae was her last port of call before she disappeared somewhere over the vast Pacific for the longest stretch of her around-the-world flight.

The mystery and a long fruitless search -costing many millions of US dollars - had begun.

The search for Amelia continues to this day, in the jungles of Papua New Guinea, and because of this interest I have created a blog called Amelia Earhart and Papua New Guinea

Have a look and I'd love to hear from you.


Salamaua and the Black Cat Trail

Hello to all of you out there, from all corners of the world, particularly those of you who have some connection with Papua New Guinea, in particular, Salamaua in the Morobe province.

I am part Salamaua, Morobe province, Papua New Guinea, as my mother comes from there.

Salamaua is a place with a lot of history from the days of the early Lutheran missionaries, the gold rush days of the 1920's and 1930's, and the dark days of World War 11.

In honour of Salamaua, I have created two new blogs, one on Salamaua and one on the infamous Black Cat Trail, which stretches from there to the gold fields of Wau and Bulolo.

I am starting these blogs with the intention of running my own tour company specialising in Salamaua and the Black Cat Trail in the very near future.

The Salamaua blog is and the Black Cat Trail blog is

Enjoy and get back to me if you have any feedback, want more information or have have some stories and pictures you want to share.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Marimari Lutheran Church Corporate Dinner


Hi everyone,

Just letting you all know that the Marimari Lutheran Church at Five-Mile, Port Moresby, will be holding a Corporate Dinner at the Grand Palace Restaurant on 25th October, 2008 , to raise funds for our new church building and we are seeking your support by way of purchasing tickets for the dinner.

Tickets are going for K200 per person or K2,000 for a table for 10.

Let me know the number of tickets you require and I can drop them off to you.

Please pass this message on to your other Lutheran colleagues or others you think can assist.

Your assistance would be very much appreciated.


Eileen Lloyd


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sogeri’s WW11 spots a favorite for many

McDonald’s Corner and Owers’ Corner

McDonald’s Corner and Owers’ Corner, further in from Sogeri, have always been a favorite place for many residents of Port Moresby.
They are famously known as the beginning of the Kokoda Trail and are visited by thousands of tourists, mainly Australians, every year.
Enjoying a cold beer after a hard couple of days on the Kokoda Trail has always been part of the routine for these trekkers.
Enjoying a family picnic at Owers’ Corner under the blue sky, white clouds, majestic mountains and lush, green environment is a moment to treasure.
McDonald’s and Owers’ Corners, for many years, have been a means of escaping from the sweltering heat and scorched landscape of Port Moresby.
While Moresby is dry as a bone for over six months of the year, these places, invariably, are moist and green and the mountain air cooler.
The mountains, foothills, forests, savannah woodland, rivers and streams have long captured the imagination of many.
It goes without saying that when one goes to McDonald’s and Owers’ corners, one returns to the city very much relaxed, and reinvigorated.
They are very much among the many jewels in PNG’s crown.

McDonald’s Corner

The beginning of the Kokoda Track

In July and August 1942 McDonald's Corner was recognised as the beginning of the Kokoda Track and there is now a memorial at the site as well as a sign announcing the beginning of the "Kokoda Trail".
Nearby was the village of Ilolo, and it was here in July 1942 that officers of the Australian and New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU), such as Lieutenant Herbert Kienzle and his medical officer, the elderly Captain Geoffrey Vernon, brought together the groups of native carriers who were needed to support the Australian advance into the mountains.
Ilolo is reached by a road that leaves Port Moresby and winds its way 40km up a steep hill, past the Rouna Falls and onto the high plateau which includes the Itiki Valley and the Sogeri River.
This area provides a slightly cooler climate and in 1942 was considered suitable for training of the units about to cross the mountains.
Later it became a retraining and rest area for units that had fought on the Track.
It was also the site of a number of military hospitals.
From Ilolo, Lieutenant Kienzle set out with his carriers to establish a series of staging camps along the Kokoda Track to support the troops of the 39th and later the 53rd Battalions.
Staging camps were established at approximately 16km intervals, which meant that the troops would take about eight days to cross the mountains to Kokoda.
Many of the troops who fought on the Kokoda Track have clear memories of Ilolo, and McDonald's Corner - a short distance beyond where they disembarked from their trucks before beginning the march.
The first unit over the mountains, B Company 39th Battalion, under Captain Sam Templeton, left Ilolo on July 7, 1942.
C Company of the Battalion began the trek on July 23.
The first company of the 53rd Battalion left Ilolo on August 11 and the first elements of the 2/14th Battalion began moving on 16 August.
Later an effort was made to push the road beyond Ilolo and a jeep track was constructed to Owers' Corner, but still the troops disembarked at McDonald's Corner.
The first company of the 2/33rd Battalion departed McDonald's Corner on September 10. Eventually, as the track was improved, more troops could be carried forward to Owers' Corner and thus McDonald's Corner lost some of its importance.
It is still regarded, however, as the beginning of the Kokoda Track.
Beyond Ilolo, the first staging camp at the end of a day's journey, was the village of Uberi.

Owers’ Corner

The end of the Jeep Track

Late in August 1942, Lieutenant Noel Owers, with a small survey party, was looking for an alternative route forward of Ilolo by which the troops on the Kokoda Track might more easily be supplied.
The jeep track only ever reached as far as the point which became known as Owers' Corner, and then gave way to a foot track which wound down a steep slope towards Uberi.
During the month of September 1942, two 25 pounder field guns of the 14th Australian Field Regiment were brought forward to Owers' Corner, where they were manhandled into firing positions.
This was the only allied Field Artillery used during the Kokoda Track campaign to support the out gunned and greatly out numbered Infantry.
This action assisted in halting the Japanese advance just 48km from Port Moresby; so began the Japanese retreat.
The terrain was almost impassable for Infantry let alone Artillery.
A third 25 pounder field gun was dismantled and manhandled to Peg 66 beyond Uberi.
The Regiment was assisted in reaching their firing position by a Platoon of the 2/1st Pioneer Battalion.
However, by then the Japanese had withdrawn beyond the range of the gun.
Following the action at Owers' Corner from to September 22-28, 1942, the Commander Royal Artillery 7th Division, Brigadier L.S. Barker despatched the following:
"The ejection of the enemy from Ioribaiwa Ridge indicates a turning point in the battle for Port Moresby. The success of our forces was due in no small part to the action of 53rd Field Battery, 14th Field Regiment in bringing fire to bear on the enemy position which they had every reason to consider was safe from artillery fire.
“The manner in which difficulties were overcome in bringing guns into action at Owers' Corner and later in taking guns forward to Uberi is another example of the aptness of the gunner motto, "UBIQUE".
“The accuracy of the fire brought down at extreme range indicates that the personnel who served the guns are maintaining that standard of efficiency which is recognised as inherent in gunner units.
“Special mention must be made of the early reconnaissance of the area and the accurate observation of fire by the Troop Commander, Captain J.P. Cullen who has been mention in despatches.
“The action of the unit in taking a gun to pieces to manhandle it up and down he steep hillsides of Uberi indicates that the Militia soldier is fully alive to the resourcefulness expected from gunners. The task of getting this gun forward was facilitated by the good work of 5 Platoon 2/1st Pioneer Battalion who improved and prepared the track.
“The CRA desires to congratulate the officers and men who took part in the actual action, on their fine achievement and that he feels confident of the good work which will be carried out in future by the 14th Field Regiment and wishes them every success in the campaign ahead.”
All units which participated in the Owen Stanley Campaign between McDonald's Corner and Kokoda, passed through Owers' Corner.
Later as the counter offensive was under way, on October 3, Generals MacArthur, Blamey, Herring and Kenney accompanied by the Minister for the Army, Mr F.M.Forde, visited Owers' Corner as the 16th Brigade began their move towards the objective, Kokoda.
General MacArthur told Brigadier J.E. Lloyd the commander, "Lloyd, by some act of God, your Brigade has been chosen for this job. The eyes of the Western world are upon you. I have every confidence in you and your men, good luck, don't stop."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Be Your Own Boss

My third book (Be Your Own Boss Vol. 1) is on the subject of self-employment.

It gives 18 reasons why I think students, school leavers, the unemployed and even those who have jobs now, need to think about working for themselves rather than selling their time and skills to others for a fortnightly salary.

Volume 2, which covers 15 more reasons, will follow shortly.

I wrote the book because I am convinced that the answer to the problem of unemployment in Papua New Guinea is not employment but self-employment.

I am also convinced that the opportunities for self-employment are just too many in this country.

Only lazy people hang around and feed on others with the excuse that they cannot find a job.

Those who are willing to work can live comfortably in this country, which is referred to as the ‘Land Of The Unexpected’, but I choose to call the ‘Land of Untold Opportunities’.

I believe that anything you touch in PNG, including our land, can turn into gold.

I am convinced that anybody can become rich in PNG, regardless of educational background.

In other words, you don't need a university degree to succeed in PNG.

If you can count 1, 2, and 3 and read A, B, C, that is more than enough for you to succeed.

I say this because I have met many successful people who have not been to school for one day in their lives.

Some cannot even sign their signatures to withdraw money from their accounts, yet they have thousands sitting in those accounts.

So, ‘Be Your Own Boss’ is my encouragement to Papua New Guineans.

BYOB will be followed by another exciting book to be titled ‘Becoming Your Own Boss: 7 Steps to Starting a Business from Scratch’.

This book provides a step-by-step guide to those who feel inspired by BYOB but have the question ‘How do I become my own boss?’ in their minds.

The crux of the book is how to start a business with no money.

I hope that these books will inspire more Papua New Guineans to become self-employed, and in the process become job-creators rather than job-seekers.

Job-creators become part of the solution to the high level of unemployment in the country, while job-seekers contribute to the problem.

Inflation in Papua New Guinea

Tiri Kuimbakul with one of his his latest books 'Young Money'.

One of the recent topics on my weekly "Young Money" radio program was on the subject of inflation in PNG. I divided my talk into five parts, based on the Bank of PNG's recent Monetary Policy Statement. The five parts of the talk were:

1. What is inflation?
2. Why has inflation risen?
3. What combative measures are being taken by the Central Bank and the government?
4. What are some of the likely repercussions on the economy and families?
5. What should people do?

I would like to summarise the main points of the talk for the benefit of my readers.

1. What is inflation?

Inflation is a word used to describe increases in the price of goods and services. It is usually driven by the market force of demand outstripping supply. Another expression economists usually use is that inflation is a situation of "too much money chasing too few goods", or excess demand and limited supply.

The Bank of PNG has reported that inflation increased by 3% in 2007 and 7.5% (more than doubled) up to March 2008. By the end of this year, prices are projected to rise by 9% (3 times what they were last year). Prices are expected to rise further by 7% in 2009 and 5% in 2010. So prices are expected to rise by 21% over the next 3 years.

2. Why has inflation risen?

There are several reasons for prices rising.

The first is the substantial increase in the world price for crude oil. Oil prices increased to US$140 per barrel in June 2008 (the highest on record) due mainly to increased demand from China and India as well as members of the Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) refusing to raise production.

Oil is what keeps the world economy rolling. It literally lubricates the economy. When it dries up, the economy finds it difficult operating.

The second is the rise in world food prices. Weather problems related to "global warming" characterised by long periods of drought or devastating rain and flooding are responsible for substantial reduction in food production. Food supply has fallen drastically but demand has remained and even risen.

Thirdly, PNG being an open and import-dependent economy has meant that inflation in countries which are our trading partners was "imported" into the local economy. This occurred because the local currency now fluctuates freely against other major currencies, particularly the American dollar, the Aussie dollar, the Euro and the Japanese yen. This compares with the period prior to 1994 when the country pursued a "hard kina" policy, under which the Central Bank maintained the value of the kina at a certain level against the major currencies. So part of the reason for inflation is attributed to the depreciation of the Kina against the Australian dollar (the Kina was weaker against the dollar, so importers in PNG needed more of the local currency to import goods from Australia).

The fourth factor at the back of rising prices was excess demand for goods and services generated by the high prices of our export commodities like gold, copper, coffee, timber, etc. The prices for such commodities saw significant increases, again on account of increasing demand from China and India. High prices for exports have translated into increase in money supply or excess liquidity in the banking system. This has in turn led to banks reducing interest rates on loans, which has triggered an increase in lending to individuals and the private sector. Basically what this has meant is that more money has been floating in the economy. More money available to the government, businesses and individuals, has led to more spending, meaning an increase in demand which has not been matched by supply both of imported and locally-produced goods.

A final reason for inflation which the Bank of PNG does not mention but which we know has become "systemic and systematic" as former Prime Minister Sir. Mekere Morauta has described it, is corruption and bribery. This disease has become so prevalent that the cost of bribery is now factored into the pricing of most of the goods and services in the country.

So, if you did not know what has caused prices to rise, there you have it.

3. What measures have been / can be taken to combat inflation?

There are usually two policy instruments available to the Central Bank and the government to reign in inflation or at least minimise its impact on the country. These are monetary policy and fiscal policy.

The Central Bank's main monetary policy instrument is the interest rate. In July the Bank announced that its interest rate for the Kina Facility Rate (KFR) would rise by 25 basis points to 6.25% for the first time since September 2005. The KFR is the rate at which the Central Bank lends to commercial banks.

The Bank also issues Central Bank Bills (CBBs) and Treasury Bills on behalf of the government through which it seeks to reduce the amount of cash floating in the system. These bills are debt instruments offered to banks and the general public at attractive interest rates. In that way some of the cash which would otherwise be floating in the economy is quarantined or kept out. As at 25th July 2008, the Central Bank has issued CBBs worth K4.0 billion.

In addition to the above, the Central Bank gets involved in the foreign exchange market. It buys or sells foreign currency (esp. the US dollar) depending on which way it desires the exchange rate to move. For instance, if the Bank wants to keep the Kina from falling or depreciating against the US dollar, it sells US dollars to banks.

These are instruments the Bank will use in an effort to contain inflation.

The government will need to control expenditure in order to keep prices down. This requires a lot of discipline and control, because there is pressure on the government to spend on projects that were promised during the 2007 General Elections.

I can foresee hidden battles being fought between politicians and bureaucrats, with politicians wanting to spend money to satisfy their voters and the bureaucrats doing as much as they can to keep a tight control on expenditure because they want to manage the economy and contain prices.

The government has millions in trust accounts already, and now it is talking of another supplementary budget because income has exceeded expectations! It will take a lot of guts and political will to control expenditure, otherwise huge spending will inject more cash into the economy and inflation will rise beyond the Central Bank's projects. The implications are dire should that happen.

4. What are some of the likely repercussions?

Inflation will reduce the "purchasing power" of our income. Whereas we could buy so many things with a certain amount of money, now we will buy only a little. We may seem to have a lot of money but what that money can buy will be much less. I know people can identify with this already. Just yesterday my wife complained spending K50 for so little. Such complaining will become the order of the day as we go into the rest of the year and the next couple of years.

Most people will find it very hard maintaining their living standards, and those living in poverty will be driven even further. This can lead to an increase in social and law and order problems as people strive to make ends meet. Problems such as prostitution are most likely to increase. And as people buy cheaper and low quality food, their health will suffer.

I can foresee employers and employees fighting it out, with the former demanding pay rises and the latter refusing. Our MPs, who are already well-paid, have been calling for pay rises because they reckon they cannot meet the expenses related to their "high" lifestyles. If they are feeling the pinch and are complaining, wait until the workers rise up!

Development will be stalled as the government comes under pressure to control spending. Many projects will be delayed or postponed, some indefinitely. A lot of frustration will ensue, with MPs being branded liars.

I also see corruption increasing as people steal from the public purse or asking for bribes in order to maintain their "artificial" lifestyles.

I do not want to be a "prophet of doom", but the above are some of the repercussions of high prices in the country I can foresee.

5. What can families and individuals do?

My encouragement to our people is that we all need to control expenses and live "below" our means. This may be a hard thing for people to do, but there is no other way to survive in a high-price situation.

People need to distinguish between "needs" and "wants", for instance, and stick to the "needs". They also need to know the difference between "assets" and "liabilities" and avoid buying "liabilities".

Papua New Guineans need to stop drinking alcohol, smoking, chewing betel nuts and gambling. People don't realise that they spend hundreds per year on these items and activities which neither add to their health nor their wealth. In my seminars I refer to spendings on these items as "money down the drain". Parents (and especially fathers) cannot afford to drink or gamble these days.

For people who have cars, it is probably time to walk more than driving. It’s cheaper and healthier to walk to town or to work than to drive wherever this is appropriate. Some people might find it inappropriate walking but others may find it to their advantage to walk.

I would also encourage people to make better use of their free time to earn extra money to supplement their incomes and maintain their living standards. People in town must use their backyards to grow some food. I know a lot of people do this, and I encourage them to continue doing so. Many mothers sell ice blocks, peanuts, ice cream etc while the fathers go to work. They need to do this even more, but at the same time control their spending.

For people in rural areas, this is an opportune time to produce more local food stuff. As store goods rise in prices, people in towns will turn more to locally-grown food. People who have land and are willing to work can cash-in on this opportunity.

People in rural areas need to stop bothering their wantoks in towns with constant demands for financial support. Town people are feeling the full impact of inflation, with prices in both stores and markets going up. What they do not need now is more pressure from relatives.

About the author: Kuimbakul, 42, is from Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands and graduated with an honours degree in economics from University of Papua New Guinea in 1988.Kuimbakul has worked as an economist with the Department of Agriculture & Livestock (1989-1990); assistant Export Manager with Coffee International Limited (1991-1992); economist and general manager of Industry Affairs Division, Coffee Industry Corporation (1993-1999); export Manager with Kongo Coffee Limited (2000); and freelance consultant (2001-2008)He currently manages coffee marketing projects, advises community development associations, does church work, writes and publishes books, conducts seminars, and speaks to students and young people when he gets the opportunity. He blogs on

David Billings replies to the Amelia Earhart story

David Billings crossing a river in East New Britain in his undaunted search for the plane.Picture by

Australian David Billings replies to the Amelia Earhart story below (scroll down one story):


Now that I have some time, I can comment on your writing.

Whoever your "good sources" were, it is time to tell them to give you "correct" quotes, not incorrect fables made up without knowledge of the subject matter.

I take it that you have read my website and I can see that you have partially digested the information contained in the story of the Earhart Project in East New Britain. Your blog has also appeared on my computer and it contains errors which if you had studied the story intently would not have been made. For instance, you have distances and directions completely wrong.

The Australian Army veteran who actually examined the wreckage of the airframe cannot recall the tail section of the aircraft, ie: he cannot remember the tail section being on the aircraft wreckage and this would fit with an aircraft going through trees as the tail sections usually get stripped off the main body of an aircraft in that situation. Two B-24 Liberators I have been to are in exactly that state -"without the tail fins and tailplane". One was at 10,500 feet in the Finnesterres and the other outside of Lae.

The repair tag was not pulled off one of the engines, it was pulled off the engine mount tubing (as written) but this is a common mistake people make so you are not alone.

Marvello River. Well, there is no such animal, I believe you got that from the USA Today story which was published on 14th August 2001 by Gregg Zoroya. The river is the Mevelo River which has its' source as the rainforests on the south side of the Bainings Mountains. It is quite a long river. I have not been to the Mevelo twelve times, it is actually 11 times and it costs a small fortune to get there.

The reason we did not use a helicopter this last time was caused by two problems, initially and a third developed after. The first problem was that even after accepting the charter, five weeks in advance, Niugini Helicopters let the pilot go on tour leave without his replacement arriving. Now, you would be familiar with the "back to back" rule which operates all over Papua New Guinea in Mining Camps, in Aviation Companies etc, etc; but yet, the rule seemingly does not apply to Niugini Helicopters and we were basically abandoned as customers by their devil may care attitude and I believe they need striking off the PNG Tourism "good books" as punishment. I will NEVER use them again. On top of that, one of their staff stole our portable generator out of their "secure" shed which had been left behind after 2006 with their permission. "Yes, it will be completely safe here", their Base Manager said.

For the second problem, after doing the logistics, paying them in advance and paying for airfares and booking leave for the team, organising fill-ins for peoples duties here in Oz, etc, etc, they did the dirty on us and even when I rescheduled the whole thing they then had prior work in Kimbe, so they said. When we eventually got to Kokopo, their helicopter and pilot was there and the helicopter was in the shed when we left. Work that one out. As I say, they need striking off the PNG Tourism books.

The third problem with them was that it took three weeks to get my money back from their office in Kimbe and when I did get it back I was AUD400 short. They are a thoroughly disreputable company, in my opinion. I have known the Managing Director, Dick Grouse for 21 years (from Pacific Helicopters in Goroka) and I have used them three times in the past after Islands Helicopters quit the scene and yet they shat on us as paying customers. Grouse has not communicated with me at all despite me sending mail to his private email address.

Yes, we travelled by boat, from Kokopo to Wide Bay and return.

Camping in the jungle can be considered fun, believe me. We always have a good time. There are no phones, no TV and the river water is crystal clear. We have only ever seen three snakes, two of them not known to the local people so they are probably new species. There are other new species in there also. There is a rusty coloured frog with a long nose and little black claws at the end of its' digits. I puzzled over this for some time but the only food that I could see for the frog were fresh water crab eggs buried in the sand where the frog lived. There were thousands of tiny crabs in the area. The frog lives in an extinct volcano in a black marble tunnel which winds its' way down from the caldera to the river below, the tunnel ending in a waterfall about 100 feet high. There is also a flying mammal akin to a Sugar Glider but the one in ENB has no tail.

Yes, we have been to places where no one has been before. The local people in the area never did enter the rainforest until after 1951. If you have read "Hostages to Freedom, the Fall of Rabaul", by Peter Stone, you will know why.

Indeed, the scenery has changed in the fourteen years that I have been going into that area. This is mainly because the loggers have been in there and ruined the place. They have stripped the ridges and left an awful mess. It is criminal what they have done. In the fourteen years the topography of the place has changed, new creeks, new valleys and landslips are the result. This has quite possibly resulted in the Electra being buried.

There was no boat ride to Port Moresby, our chariot was an Air Niugini F100 P2-ANC, and it took one hour and twenty-five minutes, where you got the boat ride to Port Moresby from I have no idea.... possibly off the back of a cornflake packet ?

When I first went there in 1994, the Aid Post had nothing on the shelves at all, not one single band-aid, no antibiotics, no wound dressings. There was a small fridge but no electricity and all that was in the fridge was the man's kai (away from the ants) and one tube of sunburn cream....... I left him my bag of medical stuff and it was the first he had seen in years.

This last time, the last afternoon and into the evening I and my daughter spent dressing the sores on the legs of the kids caused by them scratching sand-fly bites. Their legs were in a terrible state with open sores supporating and infected. I lost count of the kids we patched up. There was a baby of about four or five months with a burn on the middle of the back. The last patient at around 7:00pm was a little girl with an infected cut on the bottom of her left foot. The cut was full of dirt which had to be washed out before being bandaged. I treated her and a few other kids by torchlight.

A few words of advice for you..... Just because you belong to the Media do not expect people to jump up at your beck and call and respond to you immediately and don't expect them to outlay all their knowledge to you just because you write for a newspaper. I am a very reasonable person, I have great interest in Papua New Guinea and I would like to improve Papua New Guinea by what I do. I have already spent twelve years in the country both at Goroka (Pacific Helicopter bilong Kela) and at PX in “Mosbi". Migat planti pren bilong mi istap long Mosbi. You would know what a find of this magnitude would mean for PNG, it would bring notoriety for PNG, for East New Britain and it would bring Tourism to an area of the world devastated by Matupit and Vulcan. Matupit was still blowing out huge clouds of ash while we were at Kokopo. My objective is just that, plus I would like to improve the lot of the people in the coastal area who have nothing. There is no Government assistance down there except for a DPI post at Milim and an Aid Post but miles away.

So there you have it. Please correct the mistakes that you have made in your writings. If you live in Mosbi, maybe we can meet and discuss the project at leisure as I will possibly be up there again "shottly".

For the Project to succeed now, we have to concentrate on obtaining funding for a Magnetometer Survey. That is a big call and the funds required increase year by year but I do now believe after what we have seen this last time that the Magnetometer is the way forward.

A favour to ask of you: Who was the "American" contact who said "Bull”?


David Billings.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An old oak tree in the USA and its relevance to Papua New Guinea


I was thumbing through an old National Geographic magazine last night and came upon an interesting story about a tree in the city of Austin, the capital of the American state, Texas, in the USA.

The tree, a 500 year old oak, is called the Treaty Oak because as local legend has it, the founder of the city of Austin, Stephen Austin, signed a treaty with local Indian tribes in the 1830's that eventually led to the creation of the city of Austin. Because of its historical significance, the area around the tree is reserved as a special site and is also protected by law such that anyone who disturbs the tree can be arrested and imprisoned.

One idiot, Paul Cullen, did disturb the tree in 1989. Over the period of a few weeks, he poured a powerful hardwood herbicide over the tree roots and bragged about his vandalizing exploits to friends.

When the tree's attendants noticed that the tree was dying they called in experts who did tests and discovered that the tree was indeed at death's door. It was amazing to read what happened next ...

The news created national headlines and caused cries of outrage from the residents of Austin. A $10,000 reward was put up by the Dupont Chemical - the manufacturers of the tree herbicide - for anyone who could identify the culprit responsible for the poisoning. Fortunately, Paul Cullen's friends told the police of his deeds and the man was arrested - his friends did not claim the reward out of embarrassment that they knew what he'd done but did not say anything to the authorities. Paul Cullen was subsequently sentenced to 9 years imprisonment for his actions.

But, what about the tree? Well, the experts, whose services were paid for by a 'blank cheque' written out by a Texas billionaire industrialist, Ross Perot, dug out and replaced the soil around the tree's roots. Then they used charcoal to try and soak up the poison from the tree's bark. They then set up a fairly sophisticated misting system around the tree to spray the tree with spring water - all in a concerted effort to revive the grand old oak tree.

The residents of Austin did their bit too. They turned out in force for their beloved tree and kept a daily vigil beside their ailing tree. Some residents placed 'Get Well' cards around the base of the tree while other's said prayers for the trees recovery and some were even thoughtful enough to bring cans of Chicken Soup for the tree!

The tree managed to survive but a substantial part of it did not. It stands rather lopsided now, not as straight and true as before. In 1997, the tree produced its first crop of acorns since the attack and this news garnered national attention as well because it was the first real
sign that the tree was healthy enough to reproduce. The residents of Austin again visited their tree and offered their congratulations by patting the tree's old gnarly bark.

Just imagine, all this fuss for a tree? A vandal desecrates a sacred tree. He is later brought to justice and the whole community rallies to restore the sacred tree. Wonderful community effort isn't it?

Wouldn't it be nice if we had the same sort of reverence and devotion for our sacred sites like the old but very much forgotten 'Old Parliament House'?

The search for Amelia Earhart continues 71 years on

This is the search area in the jungles of East New Britain.Picture by
The Electra is in there somewhere, according to David Billings.Picture by

David Billings crossing a river in East New Britain in his undaunted search for the plane.Picture by

12th time unlucky for Australian searcher in the jungles of East New Britain

Four hundred miles northeast of Port Moresby, in the wilds of East New Britain island, is an American aircraft.

It lies on the jungle floor covered with overgrowth and it fell here many decades ago.

Discovered during WWII by an Australian Army patrol, the plane is well hidden from the air and may be near-impossible to see from the ground.

It is an enigma — and reportedly the plane of Amelia Earhart.

Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared over the central Pacific on July 2, 1937, flying east along the Huon Gulf coast on their way to Howland Island, 4600 kilometres (2858 miles) to the north.

This year marked the 71st anniversary of one of the greatest unsolved aviation mysteries of all time.

It intimately involves Papua New Guinea as Lae was her last port of call before she disappeared somewhere over the vast Pacific for the longest stretch of her around-the-world flight.

The mystery and a long fruitless search -costing many millions of US dollars - had begun.

Yet that area on Howland Island is well over 2,000 miles from here.

So how could this plane on East New Britain be Earhart’s?

Australian David Billings, an aircraft engineer employed by Air Niugini, may have the answer, however, he refused to comment when contacted by me yesterday (Tuesday, August 19, 2008), except to say, “Malum,your ‘good sources’ are actually ‘bad sources’.

“No comment.”

After a dozen trips to the jungles of East New Britain over several years since 1994, it appears he has yet to locate what he believes to be Amelia Earhart's downed Lockheed Electra L-10 aircraft.

Billings has been dedicated in his resolve to locate the missing plane.

An American source, however, rebutted Billings: “Malum, that’s a lot of bull.

“What I hear is he (Billings) doesn’t want the news out that he couldn't find it - 12th time - and is afraid someone else will go find it.”

In April 1945, the 20-member patrol of the 11th Australian Infantry Battalion ‘D-Company’ is evading the Japanese while in the dense jungles of East New Britain.

Suddenly they come upon a wrecked aircraft — a two engine, twin tailed plane much like Earhart’s.

An old repair tag is pulled off one of the engines and the men moved on — fearful of falling into the hands of the Japanese.

The information on the tag is scribbled down on the edge of their map and then forgotten.

Forty-five years later at a veterans reunion, Don Angwin of that same Australian Patrol, talks about the aircraft that he and his patrol members found in the jungle.

He starts a search for the plane in 1993, and is joined the following year by David Billings of Air Nugini in Port Moresby.

Angwin died in 2001 but Billings continues the search, now living in Queensland, Australia.

The Marvello River Valley is steep and travelling is difficult — and only possible by foot.

Billings, now 68, has been to that valley nearly a dozen times.

Now he and the other members of the search team again had planned to be there this past July.

Yet, delays came and they didn’t get a helicopter as they had hoped.

Not willing to give up, Billing’s search team rescheduled for August.

Traveling by boat, Billing’s team arrived on East New Britain just two weeks ago.

Camping out in the jungle cannot be considered ‘fun’ as the myriads of snakes, volume of insects, and variety of animal life would fill a book on zoology.

With perhaps a few hundred metres of their starting point, Billing’s intrepid team began their assault.

There’s no Japanese military chasing them as there was for the patrol 60 plus years ago, yet the uphill trek does take its toll.

The Army patrol only found the aircraft because they were so far off-trail, trying to avoid capture or confrontation.

Up into the valley the search team climbs, but not without the resistance of the jungle growth.

Much of the scenery may have changed during the last half-century.

Several days in, means several out.

Even if located, the plane cannot easily be removed — if at all.

Few people — if any — have gone so far into this jungle, and for a week there’s been no sign, no call, and no message from Billing’s team.

It is as if the jungle has swallowed them up.

Then the lead member on the trek breaks through the foliage — Billings has returned.

The ride to Port Moresby from East New Britain must have been despairingly slow, but there is no report to the news media, and Billings has left Papua New Guinea for home in Australia.

It seems that twelve times in that jungle is not enough — there is no report of the plane.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Western Province has a lot to offer

WESTERN Province has a lot to offer in terms of tourism and it would no doubt be a potential tourist destination because of its unique cultures which it can expose to the rest of the world.
The Middle Fly District is made up of three Local level Governments comprising of Suki, Lake Murray and Balimo.
There are more than 27 villages along the river leading out from Balimo towards the Suki and Lake Murray area and this is where you get to find the real fun -loving character of the local people.
The view along the Aramure River going towards Awaba is about five hours by dinghy and is spectacularly beautiful for those who intend to go bird watching or going fishing.
The bird life will never stop to amaze tourists as you travel along this most-captivating river and find that there is more bird life than one could imagine.
Night hunting is a norm for the locals but can be a good experience for those who love excitement and adventure.
Balimo is renowned for its beauty in the abundance of wildlife and rich culture and the staging of the sixth Gogodala Canoe festival in May was no exception.
“We must look at development from a different perspective because it will bring development and other major benefits,” said Western Province Governor Dr Bob Danaya.
“The Middle Fly is far expanding and there is great potential in promoting tourism here in the province.”
The town is currently under construction to upgrade most of the facilities for the locals and as well as those intending to go for holiday or sightseeing.
Tourists or visitors can check into the Biyama family house where 10 rooms are available for rent if going in a group or as an individual.
The town area is very peaceful and there is a health centre, a few shops and a main market housed in the centre of the town.
Transportation on dinghy along the river can be arranged upon consultation with the district administration and the town committee, or otherwise, a walk around the town can take only half a day.
The Gogodala Canoe Festival is an enriching way to truly appreciate what these people have to offer in terms of natural wildlife and the culture.
This festival is held annually in April and those who are interested can collect more detailed information from the National Cultural Commission website.

Arona Valley

The beautiful Arona Valley of the Eastern Highlands was once mooted by the colonial administration as a potential capital for the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

That is no longer the case, Port Moresby having stolen the thunder, but the picturesque Arona play’s a pivotal role in PNG’s economy.

It’s here that PNG’s largest manmade lake – with water from the Ramu River – supplies electricity to the five Highlands provinces, Morobe and Madang.

It is, however, a paradox that electricity is “so near, yet so far away” and many of the surrounding villages are yet to be connected to the power supply.

That, together with land compensation matters, remains a contentious issue.

Those aside, the manmade lake is dubbed the travelers as the “Highlands Sea” and it’s now a common sight to see outboard motor dinghies zooming and dugout canoes being paddled across the hunting grounds of a bygone generation.

You could be forgiven for thinking that you were out on the deep blue ocean!

But then again, perhaps this can only happen in “The Land of the Unexpected”.

Fish, particularly tilapia, thrive in this inland sea – which was made in the late 1980s and early 1990s – providing a readily available source of protein and cash for hundreds of villagers on its shores.

In 1984 and 1985, whilst a student at the nearby national high school at Aiyura – another of the great Highlands valleys – I was fortunate enough to have done some memorable bushwalks through this area, so I can visualise Arona the way it was before flooding.

Along the shores, there are cattle grazing and bees hard at work in the hives, in scenes of pastoral poetry.

It’s a joy for weary Highlands Highway travelers to stop at the PNG Power township of Yonki and gaze across this scenic lake, garnished by pine trees, to a magnificent backdrop of mountains.

The Arona Valley is also one of the more lush, fertile and verdant areas of the Highlands.

Vegetables and fruit grown in abundance, supplemented by readily-available protein from the lake.

Hence, in this land of milk and honey, you have a very healthy-looking population.

Arona, like the rest of the Highlands, has coffee trees aplenty, providing a steady source of much-needed income for the people.

Nearby is Kassam Pass, which provides panoramic, awe-inspiring views of the Ramu Valley of Madang Province and the Markham Valley of Morobe Province.

Kainantu, the “Mile-High Gateway to the Highlands”, is about 30 minutes drive away, while the Eastern Highlands capital of Goroka is about an hour and 30 minutes drive.

Lae is about two hours and 30 minutes drive, likewise, Madang.

During a visit to the area, we took the back road from Kainantu and Aiyura, passing through forests, coffee trees, and rolling hills.

For me, an old boy of Aiyura, it was a sense of déjà vu.

After all those years, it was a pleasant experience to once again wander through Arona, and relive those long treks we use to take in our student days.

The lake, together with the pine trees and rolling hills, was as pretty as a picture in the afternoon sun and I made it a point to return another day for a picnic or Barbie.

Arona Valley once inspired the colonial administration to consider it as the potential capital of PNG.

You can see why with a visit to this part of “The Land of the Unexpected”.

Miss Morobe 2006

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kamaliki Vocational Training Centre wins praise

Kamaliki Vocational Training Centre outside Goroka, Eastern Highlands, has over the years won a reputation for the kind of courses that it teaches and the students that it produces.
The products included baby carriers, cookie trays, fruit bowls, laundry baskets, place mats, round baskets, round trays with handles, shopping baskets and trays.
Kamaliki is known for teaching students about downstream processing skills, appropriate technology and arts and crafts.
These skills are very relevant for rural areas as well as to help the students be self-employed or run their own small businesses.
Downstream processing includes honey, jam, marmalade, peanut butter.
Its appropriate technology students are taught how to make such items as drum ovens, mechanised coconut and tapioca scrapers, as well as many other useful items.
Kamaliki's craft shop - which is open tithe public seven days a week - sells canecraft which it buys from local weavers as well as other items produced by trainees of the centre.
The villagers, many of whom are illiterate, find it hard to get find a market for their quality products so they sell them to the Kamaliki Vocational Centre near Goroka.
The centre's stall at the 2006 PNG Coffee Festival in Goroka on May 4, 5and 6 was a major crowd-puller.
Kamaliki, in fact, won a consolation prize from the Small Business Development Corporation for being one of the outstanding small businesses at the festival.
According to instructor, Mrs. MariaNom, Kamaliki was giving a lot of hope to young school leavers.
The school is located about 10km out-side Goroka on the Lae/Madang side ofthe Highlands Highway.
Kamaliki has been actively involved in providing skills training for students from Eastern Highlands as well as other parts of Papua New Guinea.
The school provides eight courses, and every year, more applications are received but only 210 students are selected.
The students who are not selected are encouraged to take up short courses which the school offers.Kamaliki enrolls students with Grade 8,Grade 10 and Grade 12 qualifications with good passes in core subjects.
It runs two-year courses in motor vehicle mechanic, carpentry and joinery, plumbing, auto electrical, computing and business studies, metal fabricating, metal beating and spray painting, and advanced studies in agriculture.
Short courses are run in various skills trade areas to assist people enhance their skills.
The short courses are in motor mechanics, computing and business studies, home economics, carpentry and joinery, sewing machine and repair/maintenance, block laying, advanced skills in agriculture, animal husbandry, cash crops, technical skills, honey production, and farm management.
Further information can be obtained from the address as follows: Kamaliki Vocational Centre, P.O. Box107, Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea.Tel: (675) 7322336Fax: (675) 7322336.