Black Cat Trek
Perhaps you have a family connection, perhaps you have trekked Kokoda and would like to discover another unique part of PNG that is full of beauty and wonder or simply would like to undertake a pilgrimage that immerses you in our proud wartime history. The backdrop of the beautiful, rugged and sometimes harsh terrain of the PNG jungle, the very ground upon which the events of 1943 took place, sets the scene for our master story tellers to bring the voices of our ancestors to life.
Kokoda Historical wants you to get excited about Australian history! We aim to bring to life the many number of ordinary people that became extraordinary heroes of our proud nation. We are talking about the soldiers, civilians and New Guineans that were embroiled in the Second World War in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. They are true Australian heroes that stood between tyranny and freedom and-we will remember them.
Our Black Cat Track Tour comprises a 12 day package (including 2 days travel to and from Papua New Guinea) with a 6 day trek from Wau to Salamaua and visits to Second World War battlefields en route, 2 days fishing/snorkeling at Salamaua and 2 days at Lae before flying home.
We tailor every trek to ensure where possible that we stay at the key locations on the battlefields. Our standard Black Cat trek is 12 days including travel time to and from PNG. This allows enough time to fully appreciate the history and to experience the unique culture of PNG. If you have a group booking of 6 or more people we can adjust the length and the departure/return dates to suit.
Our Black Cat pilgrimage will have you laughing, crying, leave you wet and muddy but safe & sound and with a lasting legacy of what it means to be an Australian.
The 2018 Black Cat Trek will run 30 October- 10 November 2018
Fly to Port Moresby, PNG and then to Nadzab, Morobe Province. Vehicle transfer from Nadzab to Wau. Wau was a major gold town during the late 1920’s and 1930’s and Wau’s airstrip was the busiest airport in the world in the early 1930’s. Trucks and even the gold dredges were cut up with oxy’ torches in Lae, loaded onto aircraft and then welded back together on arrival in Wau. Nowadays “Hidden Valley” goldmine operates at Edie Creek, on Mt Kaindi, above Wau. We stay at Wau Guesthouse for the night and are briefed on the trek to Salamaua.
Early breakfast and transfer by vehicle to the start point of the Wau-Salamaua Track near Kaisenik, indicating the location of the “True” Black Cat mine and also where Capt Sherlock’s Rifle Company fought at Wandumi to delay the Imperial Japanese Army’s surprise appearance from the secret “Jap Track”. We walk through rising kunai, gullies and scrub to the B-17 bomber, then continue climbing to the rainforest canopy and Donki Banis, (Donkey Fence; i.e. corral for mules or ponies) where we stop for lunch. We are now on the WWII Buisaval or Ballam’s Track, now referred to as the “Black Cat”. After lunch we continue walking to Charlie's Camp where we set up camp for the night.
The Buisaval track, or Ballam’s track was originally bench-cut for ponies carrying “cargo“ from Salamaua to the gold fields; expect it to be rough and partly overgrown! We reach Skin Dewai (Bark of Tree; i.e. bark-roof huts) where we stop for lunch. Skin Dewai was a village, with cattle; it is now a tiny hamlet. We will visit (with care) an old ammunition dump nearby, plus a plane wreck. After lunch we continue along the track which rises and falls with gullies to the probable WWII location of Haus Banana or Haus Copper and set up camp for the night.
Today we will negotiate five large creek beds and one older landslip. We will reach Guadagasal where we stop for lunch. After lunch we leave Guadagasal and walk down to a narrow saddle with the Bitoi River to our wet and the Buisaval River to our east. We continue past Saddle to Makoop hamlet for our night stop.
Checking for flood waters, we wade across the Bitoi River, crossing it several times and follow it to Mubo. WWII places will be pointed out, including Observation Hill, Mat Mat Hill, Vickers Ridge (not to be confused with Old Vickers battlefield by the Francisco River), the long-gone Mubo airstrip and the Glassim Place (i.e. Spyglass position or OP) on Lababia Ridge. We leave Mubo and follow the Bitoi River to its junction with WWII Kitchen Creek and Buigap Creek, where we continue climbing north following the Buigap creek line to WWII Goodview Junction and Tambu Saddle. We then climb northeast and walk over Mt Tambu, “The Forbidden Mountain”, scene of heavy fighting in 1943. We will look for Japanese bunkers (but not enter them). Mt Tambu is the battle in which Australian stretcher-bearer Les “Bull” Allen was awarded a Silver Star for carrying out 12 wounded Americans while under fire. We will make camp at New Camp (formerly "Old" komiatum).
We walk up onto Mt Tambu and then walk down to post-war Kamiatum. Here we have lunch. After lunch we walk around to the prominent bend in Francisco River and walk over The Coconuts and then onto Old Vickers (both WWII positions which the 58/59th Battalion and 2/7th Battalion fought hard to capture in 1943.) We return to Kamiatum Guesthouse for dinner and to sleep.
We walk south along Buirali Creek, then climb Sugarcane spur to an old garden house. We view Ambush Knoll and take a shortcut northwest down into creekline and along pre-war bench-cut track, then up onto Timbered Knoll. Classic battles were fought in both places by 2/3rd Independent Company, commanded by George Warfe; the Timbered Knoll battle was filmed by Damien Parer. We will see the post war plaque there. We will return via Orodubi to Kamiatum Guesthouse for lunch.
This morning we walk to Francisco River and travel down Francisco River on bamboo rafts. This is approximately a 2 hour rafting trip. We arrive to the mouth of the Fransciso River at Salamaua. We walk up Salamaua beach to our guesthouse where we will stay for the night.
We explore Japanese positions on the Salamaua Isthmus; go swimming, fishing or snorkelling in a group; chat to the locals; enjoy a drink; stay at guesthouse at Salamaua for another night.
Travel by boat to Lae and check in to our hotel. Tour of Lae War Cemetery and visit the Rainforest Habitat.
Tour of the Imperial Japanese Army caves under Mt Lunamen. We drive to “7 Mile” to see the ridgeline above Heath’s Plantation, where Private Kelliher of 2/25th Battalion won his Victoria Cross. Evening meal and stay overnight at hotel in Lae.
Transfer to Nadzab Airport, fly to Port Moresby and back to Australia.
- Experienced Australian Guide
- Return airfare Port Moresby to Nadzab (Lae)
- Transfer from Nadzab to Wau
- Overnight accommodation and meals at Wau Guesthouse
- Black Cat Track trekking permit (issued by the Black Cat Track Association)
- Vehicle transfer from Wau to Kaisenik (the starting point of the track)
- Food while trekking
- Group porters for 6 day trek from Wau to Salamaua
- Personal porter
- Trekking accommodation costs
- 2 nights accommodation at Salamaua Guesthouse
- 2 nights hotel accommodation at Lae
- Bamboo rafting down the Francisco River
- Boat transfer from Salamaua to Lae
- Vehicle for day trip to 7 Mile
- Tour of Lae War Cemetery and Imperial Japanese Army caves
- Communications and safety equipment including Satellite phone
- Public liability insurance
- International return flight from Australia to Port Moresby
- Extra meals*, drinks, laundry and phone calls (*breakfasts and dinners are included)
- Personal porter to carry your pack during the trek
- Additional fresh local fruit and vegetables can be purchased along the way.
- Personal travel insurance
- Entry Visa to Papua New Guinea
AVAILABLE ON REQUEST
- Australian domestic & international airfare to Papua New Guinea (PNG)
- Personal travel insurance