Desktop version
Discussion of Bushwalking, Hiking, Trekking, Tramping, Rambling and Camping elsewhere around the world.
Post a reply

Mt Hagen

Fri 31 Aug, 2012 1:35 am

Considering that PNG is our nearest neighbour, its surprising that it is neglected or perhaps overlooked, by bushwalkers. It's a rare mention in this forum for example. I was in PNG 40 years ago but had to come back for a supplementary exam so missed out on climbing Mt Hagen which was one of my intentions. I've been thinking to go back there and amongst other things, give Mt Hagen a go, maybe next year. (I could think of a hundred other more comfortable places to go walking but it gets back to the question - why not PNG? - it is so different to just about anywhere else in the world) Has anyone reading this climbed Mt Hagen in recent years? At all? I'd be glad to get any advice. Also is anyone interested in joining me on such a venture? whatever, I think I shall reintroduce myself to pidgen.

Re: Mt Hagen

Wed 05 Sep, 2012 11:57 pm

Hi mikethepike - I agree that PNG has a lot of amazing opportunities for bushwalking that are yet to be discovered. Kokoda is the most well known, but there are many others that are much more scenic for the effort required. In my two years in PNG in 1978/79, I did three extended walks: Garina to Tapini, Tapini to Woitape, and Woitape to Mt Albert Edward and back. I met many fascinating locals and expatriates in these remote areas, and at no time then did I experience any concern for my personal safety when well away from the main city and town areas. I also did day walks in Variata NP and from Hombrom Bluff to the Laloki River exploring Blamey's Gardens on the way. There's a write up on the trip from Garina to Tapini here with a few photos -

Re: Mt Hagen

Thu 06 Sep, 2012 2:38 pm

In 2008 I was in a group of 8 that walked/climbed Mt.Willhelm (near Kundiawa) which is a days drive from Mt.Hagen. Willhelm is over 4500m and is not to be taken lightly but the experience and the amazing scenery are unforgettable.
I highly recommend this walk if you are looking for an adventure in the highlands of PNG - but do your homework in regard to guide companies and transport - PNG still operates very much on "Melanesian time".

Re: Mt Hagen

Thu 06 Sep, 2012 4:53 pm

Thanks for those replies guys and thanks for the link Tas-man! I was in PNG on the one time 'village scheme' (and only a few years ago met the person who initiated it) where Uni students could nominate an area they'd like to live for a month in a village and be their guest. I nominated 'mountain' thinking I would end up near Mt Hagen but instead ended up in the eastern highlands near Wau. The experience was unforgettable and I was very fortunate to get it. My host was a teacher undergrad at Uni PNG - the central highlands had few if people so advanced educationally at that time, 1969, only a couple of years before self governance.
I meant to say Mt Wilhelm when I started this thread and intended to climb it at that time (Canberra ANU had a lockable hut at at about 10,000 feet and I invited to make use of it) but I had to return unexpectedly to Aust to sit for a supplementary exam so missed out. I did find some helpful accounts of climbing Wilhelm and other peaks on the internet the other day. It seems that a cheaper alternative to advertised guide services (and this also seems to apply with visiting the Sepik area) is to make local contacts when you get there but of course this means that you can't be strapped for time and it wont suit everyone. These days I have the luxury of being able to cope with Melanesian time.

Re: Mt Hagen

Sat 08 Sep, 2012 10:51 pm

In 1982 four of us, as Northern Rivers Bushwalkers (Ian Barnes, Doug Binns, Roger Sheppeard and Cam Palmer), visited PNG for a five week series of walks. We planned it from NSW with some help from some Port Moresby school teachers, members of a local bushwalking club.
We visited Mt Albert Edward on a round trip using Woitape as the fly in/out (a week); Mt Wilhelm (one week, including a few days acclimatisation camp at Lake Aunde); a circuit from Mendi to Lake Kutubu via Nipa and return via Poroma (two weeks).
It was an unforgettable experience. At that time Australians were well regarded and we had many friendly visits with the locals. Although rascals were a threat around the heavily populated areas, once out into the bush we enjoyed some great country. The limestone country was very interesting. Nothing like seeing full flow rivers disappearing into voids in mountains!
The five weeks cost us less than $5,000 each including air fares to PNG and internally. As a result of the visit I've kept more than a passing interest in PNG affairs since. As a country the PNG people have an enormous challenge ahead of them.

Re: Mt Hagen

Wed 26 Sep, 2012 10:55 pm

Over the course of two visits and several walks in 1982 and 1983 I walked with others including my brother James (whose memory is recorded elsewhere in the Tasmanian section of this forum) from Ok Tedi near the West Papuan border via the Strickland River to Mendi in the Southern Highlands where we then climbed Mt Giluwe sleeping in a small cave near the top. From memory it took a couple of months in total. Essentially we just got hold of some topo maps, picked a route and just kept asking villagers along the way for directions to the next thing that was named on the map. (The contours were fairly meaningless and for most of the trip one was not really sure where one was. Several times we had to retrace our steps to the last village and ask for more explicit directions.) Part of the trip involved a canoe across Lake Kutubu. My memory is of tough conditions, often very slippery, some pretty sketchy vine swing bridges, some very basic food (sometimes in very short supply) and very friendly people with no fear of theft or harm. We would for example leave our bags unattended in the village for hours. One day we came across a traditional pig kill and spent all day watching the festivities. Another time a flood came through our camp and almost washed us all away. Two of us contracted malaria en route and at one stage we got completely lost for 24 hours (I was young then and did not realise the tropical sun could be in the south even though we were still in the southern hemisphere.) Once there was a vine bridge marked on the map which we were hoping to cross. Unfortunately it had been torn down by one tribe to prevent another tribe from carrying out raids on their village. A very long detour resulted. We came across houses that had been burnt in another raid but we never felt threatened ourselves. It was most fascinating and I will remember it and my brother for ever.

I suspect walking in PNG now is a little different. I hear for example that parts of this walk (Lake Kutubu) are now covered in a major gas pipleine and crisscrossed by roads. But I am sure that it will still be an exciting place with a vibrant culture. I loved being imersed in a "foreign" language (Pidgin) that I could actually learn fairly quickly. We never got as far East as Mt Hagen it was always considered to be too dangerous over there!

Lukim you behain

Re: Mt Hagen

Mon 11 Mar, 2013 4:46 pm

Hey Guys,

Well I don't normally say much on here, but this is a topic I definitely know about. I am an Aussy, but was born up here in PNG in the Goroka hospital. For the first 8 years of my life I grew up in the Kuman tribe, just outside of Kundiawa. We worked/work with a mission organization (main base just out of Goroka) and would frequently have the 12th grade class stay with us one night so the next night they would head to Wilhelm. These were great years of spending time with the Newguineans. We then moved out of the Kuman tribe in 97 and started working on the base just out of Goroka. I spent the rest of my schooling there at the school. Anyway, my senior year (12th grade) me and a bunch of my mates attempted Wilhelm. We were experienced with the land and we were all in great shape, though we didn't have experiance or equipment for such a hike. We went up after one of the coldest weekends in a long time. I tell you it was really hard, one of the guys going with us got Hypothermia, but luckally he had served in the OZ military and knew how to deal with it. It is not an easy hike, the drive in alone wears you out.

As for hiking in general in PNG, it's more of a safety issue. I spent 20 years here and I am currently working here again for a year, I am fluent in Pidgen and understand basic Benna and Kuman tribal languages and I still wouldn't attempt to hike out alone, or even with someone. I do know a lot of Newguineans around this base and in the Goroka valley, so I do occasionally get some of my local friends, and mission friends to go out for hikes up mountains and so. But if you know nothing about the culture or the language, it would be very challenging as we 'Whits' have endless supply of 'stuff' in their eyes and so if you aren't cearfule or ready, they will take gear and whatever they can get their hands on.

So enough with the negatives. The PNG people are really lovely people once you get to know them and their culture, but if you are the typical ignorant white man, they will take advantage of that. For the most part. Its a great country. I love it, hence why I am back here working.

The other down side to it is the cost to fly in to PNG. I got tickets here in Oct last year, $550 from Adelaide to Cairns, and I believe it was about $400 from Cairns to Pom to Goroka. Plus they only allow 16 kgs of baggage when traveling in PNG. You get slogged the excess baggage weight fee. So I believe it cost about the close to $500 to get from Cairns to Goroka and that is only a travel time of 2 hours. Where as Adelaide to Brisbane to Cairns is about close to 6ish hours. So the cost alone is a downer.

I have friends who have flown to the US and back to AUS for the price they had to pay to get in to PNG. But you may be lucky. 21 years of this and its still the same.
Post a reply