Suitable only for Masochists and Israeli Paratroopers

Stretching between the villages of Salamaua and Wau in the island Nation of Papua New Guinea is a long-forgotten second world war track called “The Black Cat Track”.

It has it all…dangerous river crossings, swamps, cliffs, precarious rock-ledges, venomous snakes, and leeches that will suck the blood from your veins after the malaria carrying mosquito’s have finished with you…

The Lonely Planet guidebook describes the Black Cat Track as “suitable only for masochists and Israeli Paratroopers”.

This region of Papua New Guinea has some of the most spectacular jungle scenery on the planet and is the habitat of the country’s national emblem, the superbly beautiful Bird of Paradise.

I had to postpone a trek along the Black Cat Track a few years back due to civil unrest in the region, something it has been prone to from time-to-time, but I have been anxious to undertake this adventure and revisit a country Janet-Planet (Mrs Landy) and I lived in as newly weds many years ago…

Grey's Peak

And whilst I have not given up on my desire to climb amongst the world’s highest peaks in the Himalayas, the earthquake and tragic devastation it caused to Nepal and its people earlier this year has added a layer of complexity to that ambition!

But crikey, I need to “feed the rat” with adventure and an opportunity has arisen to join a trek along the Black Cat Track in May 2016 with a group of  Papua New Guinean Nationals – “Legends” as they are rightly referred to and ably led by Aidan Grimes.

Co-incidentally, it will be almost 10-years to the day that I walked the Kokoda Track with Aidan, a veteran of 100 traverses of the Kokoda Track; a track that is synonymous with Papua New Guinea and the battles fought by our brave and courageous “diggers” during World War Two.

It will make a change to the Australian Outback and snow covered mountain peaks…

What an adventure, hey!

So strap on your backpack and get your hiking boots out…there is plenty of training to be done…

Baz – The Landy

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No Ordinary Moments; No Ordinary People; No Ordinary Lives

There are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives…

No matter who you are, where you are, or what you are doing…

 This photograph was captured in the village of Menari, in the jungles of Papua New Guinea with myself and a truly remarkable man.

He was one of the “fuzzy-wuzzy angels” who helped Australian and American troops in the fierce jungle battles along the Kokoda Track and other places along the Papuan Coast during the second world war.

 We have much to thank them for…

 

The Jungles of Papua New Guinea (The Kokoda Track)

Isurava Village, situated along the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

I am making plans to head back into the Papuan New Guinean jungle in April next year to walk the Black Cat Track.

I tried to get there a couple of years ago, but civil unrest in the area prevented it. So plans have been made once again, and will provide a great lead in for some climbing in Nepal later in the year!

 This area has some of the most pristine jungle in the world…

 Photo: Baz, The Landy

No Ordinary Moments; No Ordinary People; No Ordinary Lives

There are no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives; no matter who you are, where you are, or what you are doing…

 I just thought I would put this out there today!

 And talking about no ordinary people, this is a photo of me with a village elder from the village of Menari, in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

He is one of only a few remaining “fuzzy-wuzzy angels” who helped Australian and American troops in the fierce jungle battles along the Kokoda Track and other places along the Papuan Coast during the second world war.

 We have much to thank them for…

 Yes, no ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives!

Ps: And remember, if all else fails – just stay out of control and see what develops…!

Courage, Endurance, Mateship, and Sacrifice.

Kokoda

An anniversary passed a couple of days ago marking 70 years since a defining moment in Australian history, the Kokoda Track campaign in the jungle of Papua New Guinea.

Starting on July 21, 1942 and lasting until 16 November of the same year it was more than a battle to save Port Moresby, and possibly Australia from a Japanese invasion, this was a time where the attributes of mateship truly shone through like a beacon to lead and guide future generations of Australians.

It is hard to stand at the monument at Isurava, which looks down to Kokoda and not be moved. The fighting here was intense, and it was in this very place that Private Bruce Kingsbury committed an act of bravery and valour that ultimately led to his own life being lost, and for which he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest Military Award.

Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice

A few years ago I stood at the very rock where Private Kingsbury fell, the scene was serene, and it was hard to imagine the heavy fighting that resonated from this hillside, the sound of Bren guns rattling, of Japanese mountain guns being fired over the ridge from nearby Deniki, not knowing where the shells would fall, or whose life they would next claim.

The story of the 39th Battalion is legendary, and the enormity of the task they faced has only in recent years started to be truly understood. Increasingly Australian’s are making the pilgrimage to Kokoda, walking the track in recognition of the suffering and sacrifice these men made, to pay homage where a family member fell, a father, an uncle.

Often mocked by the regular Australian forces, the 39th were essentially the equivalent of a Citizens Military Force. They faced an elite Japanese fighting force, the Sasebo, in the initial stages of the battle, but what they may have lacked in military prowess, if anything, was certainly overcome by the qualities of, mateship, courage, and endurance.

In 2006 I was fortunate to walk the track with a good mate, and a group of like-minded people and led by a man passionate about telling the story of the 39th.  Adopted by Australia, but of Irish descent, Aidan Grimes is an infectious person, with a typical Irish humour, who believes that the Australian quality of mateship is one of our country’s greatest assets.

Aidan Grimes

Aidan has walked the track more times than he can remember, and has spent countless hours talking to those involved in the campaign. He relayed their stories as we progressed along the 96 kilometre track to Owers Corner.

There wasn’t one dry eye to be seen as Aidan sang Danny Boy at the very spot that Stan Bissett cradled his mortally wounded brother, Lieutenant Harold ‘Butch’ Bissett, in his arms before he silently slipped away.

And we should never forget the sacrifices that were made by our good friends. Our Wantoks, legends of the Kokoda Track, the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, the Papuan New Guineans who carried supplies and our wounded, often making the ultimate sacrifice at the hands of an unyielding foe.

Standing at the top of the final hill after six days along the Track, we looked back over the ranges and I swear we could hear that distinctive Aussie drawl, the sound of mates helping their mates, our memory of them will live on forever…Lest We Forget.