Departing Moresby

October 28, 2010

prop290.jpgIt was interesting to hear how many of the trekkers were afflicted by lucid dreams while on the track. Not just one or two but many. What was it in the woods that sparked the brain so? Or was it in the air? Or somewhere else? There are sections of the track that some porters fear to go. We spoke to some trekkers yesterday, the perfume of damp sod hanging off them, and voices shrill with the buzz of the experience. They told us they had missed out on Myola because their porters refused to go there. I am not appalled, but rather sympathetic with the porters. There is something strange and foreboding about the place. Even the clouds behave as if possessed, stabbing around the head of the valley as if challenging us. For a change even the dark brooding forests seem safer than these open places. I get why some locals would be superstitious about Myola. That night the boys kept a fire going right through. And we heard later some of the porters were spooked by the forests north of Brigade Hill and are keen to push through without a break.  We all find ourselves talking in terms of a spiritual experience. It is a spiritual place alright. Dark and light in juxtaposition. We hear angels singing as they walk with us (and some in the villages we walk through) and watch our step in forests darkly brooding. Read more

Port Moresby

October 26, 2010

porter290.jpgLitter. Overgrown verges. Dust. Couples sitting in the shade. Dripping humidity. Kids on hips. In shade of umbrellas. Decrepit vehicles. Blazing sun in a clear sky. Shop fronts with a focus on heavy security – a chicken burger joint looks like a bunker. Crowds of idle men standing around or sleeping. The Art Gallery and Museum is a tired, painted chipboard sort of place but if you can look past the presentation it is surprisingly educational and informative. Read more

The Worst Museum in the World

October 24, 2010

ford-tri-motor290.jpgThe museums around Ho Chi Minh City can be derelict but at least there is an appreciation of the role various artifacts have played in the history of the city. That is especially the case when you are talking military artifacts. Port Moresby boasts the worst kept collection of military paraphernalia I have seen. And worse, few if any, seem to place any value in its historical significance. Read more

The Lost Piper of Boroko

October 23, 2010

mask290.jpgWe carefully leave the taxi and as casually and as alert as we can be without indicating our concern we steer through the market stalls and try and avoid the crowd that is being incited by someone on a loud-hailer. All we can hear in the tirade is “Australia” and “rascal”. It is not a savoury combination and we are two white faces in a vast crowd that has the potential to be hostile. That is, we stand out like the proverbial canine reproductive organs. Read more

Taxi Driver – Papuan (Port Moresby)

October 21, 2010

cab.jpgWhere’re you boys goin’?
National Musuem
National or War Museum.
Ah, War museum actually.
Okay boys. War museum. At Gordon?
You boys been on Kokoda?
As a matter of fact yes.
When did you finish?
Wrapped up yesterday. Were up there for nine days.
It’s good you walked Kokoda. Australians and Papuans are brothers. Australians came to Papua and died for us. We are all brothers. Read more

Kokoda – The Day After

October 20, 2010

bomona290.jpgSitting around the pool the day after walking/flying out of Kokoda was a surreal and dislocative experience. Fraudulent even. Here we were sitting in comparative luxury, able to flop into a tepid pool if we felt too sticky. And yet we had some claim, we felt, to some ownership of the Track. After all we had worked very hard to cross it. Yesterday we felt a modicum of affinity to the soldiers of 1942. Today I felt that affinity dishonest. I wondered what a soldier of 1942 would really think of us. Cec Driscoll a veteran of the campaign who we met at Kokoda, expressed delight at the Australian youth walking the track. But what would the 1942 Cec Driscoll have thought? I picked up my pen and scribbled this first line, and then the second, seeking the voice of that 1942 Digger. Then the rest just happened. We all “own” the Track. So I called it “Our Kokoda”.

Our Kokoda

Who are you that disturbs this track?
Who plods, head down
Under weight of pack?
Who disturbs my rest, my sleep?

Read more

Kokoda D+10 Kokoda to Moresby

October 17, 2010

isurava290.jpgMelodious bird song gets our day started. Another tune and another bird I have never heard before.

The cloud hands heavy in the valley and for a few moments we are concerned about whether any flights will happen today. Then a couple of purple green peaks float into view and disappear again in the washed out morning light, a good sign the breeze is working for us and will clear this cloud out of the way soon enough. Breakfast is held after the usual fashion, we take some final photos, Lee calls “one minute” for the last time and we walk down to the airport in slow motion. Read more

Kokoda D+9 – on to Kokoda

October 15, 2010

butterfly.jpgWe are in something of a slow daze and tents are being set up in Kokoda at a rate that is the slowest I have seen for the whole trip. We swim through a humid wall and move slowly after coming out of the cool air of the mountains. But I am getting ahead of myself. Read more

Kokoda D+8 To Isurava

October 13, 2010

isurava.jpgThe surf fades and I sleep the sleep of a teenager. Helped by the fact that I think we have found the best patch of grass so far. We are all still having those lucid dreams. When I surface it is to the sound of the creek, and light has already steeped into the valley. I peek out and see the porters have gotten the fire going. Pete tells me it is 0545. We have a slower walk today but it is loaded with history. And it promises to be another hot one. The sun has yet to find its way down here and everything is covered in dew and the air around this frigid creek is quite cool. It will take a while to get these muscles unlocked. My knees are feeling it this morning after our steep descent yesterday and a planned nimble jump across boulders turns into a lumbering crawl. Read more

Kokoda D+7 To Eora Creek

October 12, 2010

pi_eora-creek.jpgDon’t take your malaria tablets before eating!  Not the salt tablets after all. Anyway, got the stomach purged in time to get breakfast in and staying down. Attempting any work up here on an empty stomach as I tried the other day would be a mistake. It was a mistake. Just prior to retiring last night I walked out of the campsite and back up the track 50 metres or so. The darkness inside this jungle was absolute. How the soldiers moved through here against each other defies imagination. I can’t see my hand in front of me let alone a track, or someone hiding in ambush. These days night vision goggles make working at night common place but in 1942 there was a Mark 1 Eyeball and that was about it. Read more

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