After spending three nights in the chaotic and lawless Papua New Guinea towns of Port Moresby and Lae, Inga (age 30) will this morning commence a journey with her Mum which will inevitably change her life and perspective of the world forever.
She will step into a rugged little Britten Norman Islander aircraft at the refurbished wartime airstrip at Nadzab, and with propellor blade tips spinning just inches from her ear through the side window, fly over the spectacular mountains of the Huon Peninsula into another peaceful and intriguing world surrounding the tiny landing ‘strip at Pindiu.
She may even use an occasional expletive during the final landing approach (below) and think her life is about to end before it really got started. (Internet gremlins are interfering with the youtube link so the only way to see this ‘interesting’ aviation exercise is to copy and paste the following URL)
I admire Inga’s courage in leaving behind a comfortable life in Australia to discover the places of Mrs GOF’s childhood, and I am enormously proud of her for accepting the challenge.
She will suffer from culture shock. She will be physically exhausted climbing mountains. She will have little privacy, and have to use communal pit latrines. She will bathe and do laundry in creeks and carry water and firewood for cooking.
The rewards however will far outweigh the privations. During the next 18 days of walking though the Dedua and Hube areas she will discover an entire extended family who will love her and care about her. She will walk through some extraordinarily beautiful scenery and meet some of the happiest and most hospitable people on Earth.
It is also coincidentally exactly 40 years since I conducted my first ten-day walking patrol through Dedua villages on these same bush tracks in the role of a rural development officer.
Inga will return to Australia culturally enriched and understanding why those of us who had the privilege of working with PNG village people a very long time ago retain such an enduring affection for them and their country.
The following photographs of the Pindiu-Dedua area were taken by Mrs GOF in 2011.