Hidden Valley mine blocks historic Bulldog track

Rod Morrison

Strict mine security blocks access along the track

I wish to express my disappointment of the closure and destruction of a vital section of the historical WW2 Bulldog road where the Hidden Valley Morobe Mine company is currently operating. A road that if kept open would have provided a venue for eco tourism for hundreds of foreign trekkers following the famous WW2 route  such as they do at the Kokoda Track. Employing porters from local communities and bring the much needed tourist dollar in to PNG .

I was sent there to trek the road by the Salvation army to conduct an initial trek as part as a new aid program by the non profit charity group. The agenda was to create another Kokoda through the region to bring employment and much needed aid to the remote communities. The Salvation army has operated for the past 5 years on the Kokoda bringing much needed aid to the communities and wanted to mirror their success on the Bulldog road and Black cat trail .

As you can see by the map I was provided that there is no mine registered over the Bulldog road. Too my surprise as I walked along from the southern side following the road I found myself in the middle of a major mining operation. It wasn’t long before I was met by private security with riot gear ,siren’s and flashing lights .

After my identification was established they toned down their attitude and after some phone calls back and forth , my group were escorted to the northern gate the following day.

What about all the ‘rubbish’ Harmony and Newcrest have dumped in the Watut river?

On my return the mine would not allow the trekkers, porters and my self through. Even though they were ferrying local people through as per their agreement with them. They left us out side all night in extreme conditions and in the morning after calling the police on us agreed to supply us a lift back to Wau and on to the alternate Bulldog trail route through Winima.

Again it is very sad to see an Australian run mine treat tourist in such a manner and destroy such a beautiful environment, a historical WW2 road tourist route and local road .

There is no boundary road for locals or tourist to move around the mine.

Trekkers forced to camp outside the heavily guarded mine

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23 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

23 responses to “Hidden Valley mine blocks historic Bulldog track

  1. Wesely

    Pity the company could not do some thing more conducive to eco-tourism than a razor wire fence………..although its not right to say the naive trekkers were ‘”forced” to do anything, including camping “outside the mine”.
    What are they saying Ramunickel?
    Are they saying they were denied a right to camp inside the mine?

    • Rod

      I am the Rod Morrison and sent the story on . Yes the mine did deny us access to shelter in side the mine . They wanted to provide us transport of the area but we had no accomadation any were eles and were safer staying at the mine administration area . We had to set up 4 tents to keep warm and were not allowed to make a fire . The guards were told not to asist us in any way . I do thank one guard who bought out a cup of coffee to one of the trekkers .
      It would be nice if they provided an alternative track around the mine boundary . Pending how you view the situation , I would not allow my team to be dropped off in an unknown situation ,in the dark with no accomadation , the mine mine offered no alternative accomadation and our only option safety wise was to stay put where we were and sought out the situation the following day. So in that sence yes we were forced to stay out side of the mine fence .

      • August

        A couple of questions for your Rod…

        Did you plan your trekking routes before hand? Ensure permissions have been granted? Would you be able to walk through a mine lease in Australia without permission?

        Trying to bulldoze your way through a restricted area because you’re a white guy doesn’t always work in our country.

      • Rod

        Yes the route was planned and a map was provided with no Longtitude or Latitude number listed . The route that was planned was the Bulldog Road and clearly ran from the southeast of the Hidden Valley Exploration Camp ( as listed on the map ) I tried to get current topo maps ( 1:25,000) but there were non avaiable . I contacted the PNG Consulate in Canberra and Sydney and asked about the maps ( any maps ) , conditions on the ground and clearly explained were I was going in writing . I had no responce from them . We hired a local tourist operator as a liasion and transaltor . She was sent the itinarary before hand and we also hired a local land owner from Yanina village who guided our party from Yanina . We had no intention of entering any mine operation illegally . I was asked to confirm wether or not , once we passed the entry of the camp 1 km to the north east to walk to the gate and find out if they offered accomadation to trekkers . I have a copy of the map here .
        You are correct , no you would not be able to walk through any mine lease with out prior permission and we would not presume we could or had any right to do so .
        We have nothing but respect for the law of the land and local culture and values . When we entered the mine from the south there were no signs or barriers . I approached a plant operator and give him a letter of introduction and asked him to call his superviser . Yes I wanted to be escorted through now I had found myself in the position I did and did not want to walk two days back south to find another route . Yes we did seek prior permission to come back through and have the e-mails to prove this . I returned un aware I would have another problem getting back through the mine . I was told by the company guys we had the green light as a number pf phone calls were made by the mine staff, my boss and the Mine HQ in Brisbane . Yes I argued my right of access after going through what I was informed was prior approval . Yes I understood there is a 48 hour permit process .
        To suggest white guys have a negative attitude and not respect the local people and can some times bulldoze our way through your country is very sad . The Salvation Army has only honourable intentions in PNG and seeks to provide asistance and aid to improve the quality of life for those in need .

      • Wesely

        Mate, WTF are you doing ?
        Are you saying that your wandering around Wau without planning your trip and accommodation?
        You allowed your team to be in an unknown situation.
        Do you think the mine is some kind of hotel/tourist .
        You could not expect this in Australia.

      • Rod

        WTF ! mate , brother we left Wau and headed south on a planed trip . The mine were not prepared at that time to return us to Wua . We werent going to be dropped off in the middle of no man’s land and take our chances at night , Be real brother ! Trekkers accomadation was sorted in pre arranged villages and camp sites on the Bulldog Road . The question is why did the mine adopted its atitude towards us and prevent us from passing through to a place we had secure accomadation and were out of the elements and danger . They wouldnt even let us light a fire to boil a billy or cook a hot feed . Thats not very friendly is it ! would you treat another person like that ??
        The worse thing is we had a traditional land owner guiding us and were invited to his village . The mine staff treated him like garbage and yelled at him , saying he even was not allowed to take us through on the local transport as his invited guest and we need approval fron a land caouncil before we traveled through .
        I am not a Salvation Army officer but a volunteer . I was chosen to conduct the trip because I have had some experience in similar enviroments and can adapt to the situation .

  2. Bigger Picture

    You claim to want to bring employment and much needed aid to the remote communities. You couldn’t come close to employing as many as the mine does or provide the millions of Kina it generates and donates. A naive and narrow minded article….

  3. Wesely

    Bigger Picture, who said they were Einsteins?
    After all, the Salvo’s?
    They need only to complain, not fix things.

  4. Wow tough critics reading this. I’ve grown up in The Salvos so I’m a tougher critic of the Salvos than anyone here. Yes it is my view that The Salvos need to and can do better, at just about everything. I don’t pass the buck to someone else. I get in and help and do what I can.

    That said this short article highlights something that most of the critics seem eager to overlook, there used to be an access road that many people used now it isn’t there.

    There was access now the mine has taken control of the area.

    Bag an organisation or an individual if that helps you feel better, but facts still seem to be that the main point in this article is that the mine has stopped aid and tourism.

    • Wesely

      Why blame the mine, or the salvos.
      The mine has been operating for several years now.
      The Salvos do a great job in the community, better than most.
      Good people.
      So lets lay off the personalized comments and look at the bigger picture.
      As usual, the real problem is that there is no sensible government engagement in support of eco-tourism in the region despite its huge potential.
      I actually feel sorry for Rod and his team.
      They seemed to have really tried to do the right thing here.
      Rod should drop a line to the community manager of Hidden Valley Project and explain what happened.
      The company does have an obligation under its social licence to support these other potentially sustainable and beneficial industries in the region, perhaps not in cash but at least in kind.
      Despite rules and regulations the Mine could have done a bit more to help but the message needs to be sent through to the right people.

  5. James V

    Look, the guy was trying to walk a path that held some significance to PNG’s heritage, asks his way around because a mine has blocked off the pathway. What is so difficult to understand this. We are shooting him with darts for nothing. And August, stop this nonsense racist remarks. It just irks me. Just because we are black or brown and from PNG makes us qualified to make suck low down racist remarks. Imagine a white man telling you that you are trying to curry favour because you are black. You will be enraged and would be shouting racism. Just looking at the response from Rod, it seems he is more a gentleman than the three of you that are shooting darts.

    And the Salvos will be here long after the mine cough’s out of existence. The Salvos have touched lives. I have read some of your notable commentators over this forum for some time now. I must say some of your comments are worth reading whilst others are not worth the paper they are written on. I suggest you respectfully put your views without insulting anyone on this forum. I must say I do read your responses, Wesley, and where they ply intellect, I respect them and note and appreciate the degree of intellect behind them. It is the low down sarcasm that irks me.

    • Wesely

      James,
      Its true that I can be sarcastic but only to those who I think deserve it.
      Generally, they are repeat offenders.
      Those who don’t seek real solutions but engage in controversy for the sake of conflict and mis-information and mindless self promotion.
      The empty self promoters who don’t respect a balanced informed view on matters are particularly deserving.
      But there is no sarcasm in what I said above.
      I know Wau and its a dangerous place at night if your on the street.
      I may well be over-exposed to crap which also has the potential to make one cynical, hence sarcasm creeps in.
      Try to stay balanced but I am not perfect.
      There’s good and bad in everyone, you might choose just to take the good and leave the bad.

  6. Rod, the Bulldog Track trekking route goes via Winima not via Edie Creek. Somebody has misinformed you that the Bulldog Tack is some kind of new tourist attraction waiting to be discovered but local trekking operators like my company, Pam Christie’s PNG Trekking Adventures and Tim Vincent’s Wau Adventures have been operating treks along the Bulldog Track for years. It just needs more promotion. But there is no way it is going to become “another Kokoda” when the real Kokoda Track trekker numbers are already on the decIine. We have tried promoting the Bulldog Track as the next challenge after Kokoda but have found it a hard sell. Most trekkers only come to PNG to do Kokoda and never come back again.
    I would like to know who is the “tourist operator” engaged to make arrangements for your group. She has not done her homework. We bona fide trekking operators know full well that the old Bulldog Road route from Yanina to Edie Creek has been closed off by the Hidden Valley mine management for many years now. It’s sad because the old Bulldog Road is a piece of history but the government in its wisdom has granted the mining lease and the whole area is subject to blasting with explosives (with associated loosening of the topological profile which can cause rock falls at any time) and it’s just not safe for trekkers to be wandering through, with or without security escorts. Besides, most of the old Bulldog Road is already washed away (it was only ever a dirt track even in its heydey after 1943) and is now only a sequence of GPS coordinates anyway.
    The alternative trekking route via Winima has been used by locals and trekkers since pre-war days – it is outside the mining lease area, the walking track is challenging and picturesque. The Winima route was used during the war for supplying Kanga Force at Wau since all supplies coming up the Bulldog Track were carried on foot anyway, the old Bulldog Road that branched off from Yanina to Edie Creek was not yet built at that time.
    Don’t ever rely on embassies or consulates for information of this type, always do your homework on the internet and seek information from tourism authorities and tour operators who know the situation on the ground.
    See pasted below my signature some more detailed information copied from my website.

    Aaron Hayes
    Director
    Ecotourism Melanesia Ltd
    (also Vice President of PNG Tour Operators Association)

    The Bulldog Track supply line
    The Bulldog Track was an important supply line and evacuation route for Australian military forces based at Wau in 1942. Even though there was an operational airfield at Wau, there was an acute shortage of transport aircraft in Papua at that time. Ammunition and food supplies were transported from Port Moresby to Kukipi by coastal vessel, then taken up the Lakekamu River by outboard canoes to Bulldog, an abandoned gold mining camp. From Bulldog, supplies were carried by native porters along a narrow foot track through jungle swamps, up rocky river gorges and over the steep mountain ridges to Winima village near Wau. Sick and wounded soldiers were carried back the other way to Bulldog for eventual evacuation to Port Moresby. Conditions on the Bulldog Track were just as difficult as on the more famous Kokoda Track some 200km to the south east.
    You can read war veteran Peter Ryan’s account of the Bulldog Track supply line on The Australian newspaper’s website http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0, 22653320-31477,00.html?from=public_rss

    The 1943 Bulldog Road
    In 1943 when Wau was back in Australian hands, army engineers built a vehicular road along the Bulldog-to-Wau route, approaching Wau via Edie Creek instead of Winima. The ravages of flooding and landslides frequently made the road impassable and after the war the Bulldog Road, as the vehicular route was called, was conceded to the jungle and no longer maintained. Many sections of the vehicular road have now been obliterated but the original walking route from Bulldog to Winima is still used by locals.
    Trekking along the 1943 vehicular road diversion via Edie Creek is no longer possible because it now passes through a gold mining lease area. The mining company operating there does not permit access to hikers for safety reasons due to blasting, excavation works etc. One of the last trekkers to walk the Edie Creek route before it was closed off was Richard Stanaway who walked west to east with local guides in 2001. See his trip notes at http://richard.stanaway.net/bulldog.htm
    You can read more about the building of the vehicular Bulldog Road at http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Bulldog_track
    See also these books, which may be available in some Australian public libraries:
    1. Reinhold, W J. “The Bulldog-Wau Road” (Brisbane, Queensland University Press, 1946). The author was the engineer in charge of building the road.
    2. Freeman, Colin. 1975. “Bulldog-Wau Road Sapper”
    3. Freeman, Colin. “Wau to Bulldog: Across the Roof of Papua New Guinea”. An illustrated account of an Australian Army Patrol over an old military road built by Australian Army Engineers across New Guinea during WW2. Descriptions of History and Geography are provided. 110 pages paperback ISBN 1-4251-7419-1;available from http://www.trafford.com/08-0374 US$33.00, C$33.00, EUR22.54, £17.04

    The Bulldog Track today
    Nowadays it takes about a week to walk the track from Bulldog through to Winima, following the original supply route. Three days out of seven are relatively easy walking along surviving sectors of the 1943 Bulldog Road from Bulldog to Yanina and the other four days are a more challenging negotiation of narrow foot-tracks through thick jungle and over steep ridges. Rusting road construction equipment and other WW2 relics are encountered as you walk along, especially at the Bulldog end.

    The first half of the walk going southwest-to-northeast ascends the Eloa River valley for four days as far as Yanina village, mostly following the 1943 vehicular road which is largely intact, although derelict, along this stretch. There are many river crossings over crudely fashioned cane suspension bridges and slippery log bridges which are rebuilt by locals every year after the wet season floods (December to March) wash everything away. The 1943 road bridges are long gone. At Yanina the 1943 vehicular road diverges north to Edie Creek while the original foot-track leaves the Eloa River and traverses a number of steep mountain ridges for two days ridge-hopping (peaking at 2600m) to Kudjeru village. The last day of walking descends over grassy hillsides following the Upper Bulolo River valley down to Winima. From Winima there is an all-weather road connection to Wau.

    Bulldog vs Kokoda
    Walking time for both the Bulldog Track and Kokoda Track is roughly the same at 7 days.
    However one main difference between the two tracks is that only the Kokoda Track is said to have almost the same degree of walking difficulty in either direction. The Kokoda Track has roughly the same number of climbs and descents whether you walk north to south or south to north. On the other hand the Bulldog Track is definitely easier to trek from northeast to southwest (ie from Winima down to Bulldog) because it is a net descent from 2000 metres at Winima down to 80 metres at Bulldog.

    WW2 veteran Peter Ryan who walked both the Kokoda Track and the Bulldog Track in 1942 describes the Bulldog Track as being the tougher of the two, though the walking conditions at that time – prior to the construction of the vehicular road bench in 1943 – were undoubtedly more challenging than today. Our senior Kokoda trekking guide Philip Arari who has reconnoitred the Bulldog Track reckons the Bulldog Track is easier to walk than Kokoda – even in the uphill direction from Bulldog to Winima – because there are quite long remnants of the levelled 1943 vehicular road to follow, offering a relatively smooth walking surface and more consistent gradients for climbs and descents, unlike the Kokoda Track where one expends considerable energy stumbling over tree roots and scrambling up and down every little undulation in the terrain. Even the spurs between Yanina and Kudjeru typically take less time and effort to mount than ridges encountered daily along the Kokoda Track.

    Our guides also opine that the Bulldog Track (in either direction) gives trekkers more time to ‘get their legs in’ before tackling the most difficult section between Yanina and Kudjeru. Walking out from Bulldog you get several days of steady gradients along the old 1943 road before you have to tackle any really steep spurs. Starting from the Winima end, you get a full day of hiking through gentle rolling hills before you come up against more serious gradients at Kudjeru. Compare this with walking the Kokoda Track where you get thrown in at the deep end right from the first day whether you start at Owers Corner with the steep descent to Goldie River immediately followed by that real huff and puff up the Golden Stairs, or that killer first day climb from Kokoda to Isurava if you start from the north.

    Whichever way you walk, the Bulldog Track is just as scenic as the Kokoda Track – moreso, perhaps, because you can see all the way to the coast a lot of the time – and features a more varied and visible range of plants, birds and small mammals like bandicoots. Interactions with local village people are also more candid along this route as there are few visitors traversing the Bulldog Track and the people are not numbed by tourism. Along the Bulldog Track villagers still stop, stare and greet occasional visitors with amazement whereas locals along the Kokoda Track no longer bat an eyelid at groups of up to 100 people hiking past their window.

    That said, please take note that walking the Bulldog Track is significantly riskier than trekking Kokoda, due to the more isolated terrain, the scarcity of airstrips for medevac flights, and the lack of communication facilities – see trip notes at the bottom of this itinerary.

    Our Bulldog Track expeditions
    Ecotourism Melanesia has decided to operate our Bulldog Track trekking expeditions “the hard way”, uphill from Bulldog to Winima, because
    (i) trekking in this direction more accurately emulates the WW2 supply line, ie this is the direction in which supplies were carried through to Kanga Force in Wau
    (ii) there is demand from trekkers who have already “killed” the Kokoda Track for another challenging expedition as a follow-up trip so we don’t want it to be too easy
    (iii) it is cheaper and more practical for us to mount expeditions from our operations base in Port Moresby rather than from Wau which is just a small town with few facilities.

    The logistics of operating expeditions in such a rugged and isolated area are far more complex than for the Kokoda Track (which is now as crowded as grand central station at some peak periods) and we require larger group sizes to make open treks along the Bulldog Track economical to operate. Expeditions for private groups of minimum 12 and maximum 20 trekkers can be arranged on any other date convenient to your group.

    • Rod Morrison

      Thank you for your informative information . My recon trip through the Bulldog was to confirm routes and note war relics , seek permision and information from land owners . The tourist operator / translator was there to asist with the gathering of the information and provide advice . I had not seen the Winima map until I got on the boat to head up river with her and she had not pionted out any issues with Edie Creek . I ended up walking both routes taking 4 days each way and not 7 . I am a volunteer for the Salvo’s and completed a track report and recommendation on the trekking route clearly promoting the Winima route and no use of the Edi Creek route due to the minning issue . Its up to the Salvo’s how they promote the trek but I will be volunteering to lead the next trek to clear up any unresolved issues . I did recommend that the Salvo’s do not use the tourist lady again as she had compromised our mission on a number of issues .

      • Readers of this blog may wish to take note that the Salvation Army operates a commercial trekking company called Investa Treks and we are not talking about church groups and missionaries walking the track here.

      • Rod Morrison

        Investa Treks is an arm of the New Soth Whales Newcastle Branch of the Salvation Army . Investa Treck is part of the Salvation Army and initiated and managed by a Minister of the Salvation Army under the authority of the Salvation Army . Investa treck is not a private commercial venture and operates as a non for profit aid program .under the Salvation Army. All money raised by Investa Treks is put back into community it serves . All Investa Trek guides are volunteers and work for free . They do not get paid allowing more funds to go back to Salvation Army aid program ..
        Invest Treks has been operating on the Kokoda Track for five years plus and have asisted the communities there with the funds raised from the trekking operations over the trail . Investa Treks wishes to bring this trekking concept to the Black Cat and Bulldog tracks with the long term out come to bring aid to the communites there . This is being done by promoting the WW2 history of the trails and the eco tourism that the area provides . Investa Treks has completed its first trek along the Black Cat and Bulldog tracks and is preparing for its second trek in June – July . Investa Treks will hire local people to act as guides and porters , stay in villages and guest houses . There will eventually be Salvation Army Ministers walking the track and other active members of the Salvation Army . I dont know what a missionary does but my job was to walk into an unknown area , introduce myself as a representative of Investa Treks and the Salvation Army , seek permission to pass through and bring in tourists with Investa Treks . I promoted the Salvation army , excepted wish lists from each village and past the lists on to the minister I was representing . I will return on the next trip .

  7. Rod Morrison

    Aaron Hayes : Just some info for you . I note that you state that the Bulldog road up to the mine is unsafe due to minning activity . Why does the mine have an agreement for locals to pass through the mine , supplying transport through the mine at agreed times in both directions . Why was I informed by the mine PR people and security that the mine had a 48 hour permit policy to gain entry ? . I walked most of the Bulldog road from Yanina to Hidden Valley/Edi Creek guided by a local land owner including sections that have been closed for many years . I cut my way through with my bush knife . Despite the obsticles the road is still accessable . I guess that makes me the first trekker since Peter Ryan to trek this section of the Bulldog road . From there I trekked the Black Cat to the Huon Gulf picked up trekkers and trekked back through the Black Cat returned back to the mine with the belief I had secured a entry pass . As you know I was denied access and had then no choice then to head over to Winima and hike the Bulldog trail through to Yanina back onto the Bulldog Road/trail . All up I spent 27 days trekking on my mission to gain intell and I think I could claim to be the first trekker to walk both directions in one trip From the Southern Gulf to the Huon Gulf back to the Southern Gulf , both the Bulldog road and Bulldog Trail , the Black Cat trail ( over 270km’s hiking and 140km’s boat rides ) since at least WW2 . Let me know if im wrong ! and as you know its unlikley locals are would complete the same trek due to ethnic issues as I found out passing through villages with my men from the south . I lost staff along the way and had to hire new ones as I went . I was the only person of all involved to actually complete the entire round trip .

  8. Wesely

    might have been a few other brave souls through there but in te main they don’t go all the way.
    Well done.

  9. Seb

    Getting valid information on the Bulldog Track is a tough job. Before we set out hiking in late 2012 it took us about 2 month to gather enough knowledge to do this track self-guided. But quite honestly, once you know your stuff the whole track is a great adventure in the heart of a beautiful jungle. It’s probably the best hike off the beaten track in PNG.
    Because of all this, we came up with the idea to bundle our knowledge and experience on the Bulldog Road in an adventure package for future trekkers. We even have a fully walked GPS track and maps.
    For everybody who wants to walk the track self-guided and without hassling with mining companies or expensive tour operators, check out our brand-new adventure site here: http://www.real-adventure.info/portfolio/bulldog-track/

  10. Rod

    We know now the hidden Valley route of the Bulldog road is out and the second option is the BullDog track section from the north at Winima , heading south to Yanina then rejoining on to the Bulldog Road to Anandea etc . Or Heading North ,Yanina to Winima .
    I would use caution travelling the route on your own as the locals own the land and permission should be sought by land owners , village elders etc . The trek is a means of income for the locals as guids or porters and they dont like out sider PNG peoples taking there potential jobs and walking through there lands . I would advise picking up staff to asist you from each village or a local guide to take you through the trek . The Blackcat Trek has a union were you must seek staff ,eg guides and porters . If you do not go through them your asking for issues ! No doubt the Bulldog people will adopted a similiar group to secure work for them selves in time .
    Portors should cost you around 60Kina per day for the labour . You will have to negoitiate food supply or extra Kina ( eg 10 ) per day so they can deal with there own rations . Its around 10 Kina extra for a guide . There is little in the way of guest houses and generally accomadation will be in a locals own home or ground . I was paying 20Kina per head for Accomadation .
    Again I would not advise any trekker to take on the Bulldog alone with out local support .

  11. Seb

    Interesting to hear this, as our experience was quite contrary. We have been traveling half the world but the people of PNG are in the top 3 of the loveliest, most hospitable and helping people we ever met. This also applies for Gordons Market in POM and the locals around the Bulldog Track are anything but an exception. We know of course that other things happen in PNG as well, but for us, we have to object 100%.

    I also think, that the villagers react different if there is a group of 20 trekkers and 30 porters coming or simply two people. One must not forget, that traveling and hosting travelers is an absolute normal thing all over PNG. If it’s a small group the only difference is the color of your skin and the fact that the whiteman or whitemeri actually pays 20 Kina for the night (so did we). It is out of question to contribute and help the local communities when you are there (at the same time not spoiling them into dependence) and to pay your respect to the eldest and everybody else.

    Actually everybody we met was happy to host us and told us to tell more people to come around. Some even complained, that all the white people before us just traveled through (in groups) and did not, or only superficially, get in contact with them. For all of them it was an honor to host us or help us and nobody seemed offended in the slightest way. It also depends on the way you interact with people, I guess. There is a big difference but only a thin border between being cautious and being timid.

    IMHO it is absolutely unnecessary to book a tour or get a guide if you know what you are doing. However, it can be necessary to hire a porter for the tougher parts, or the whole track, depending on your level of fitness and experience. (We got one to do Yanina – Kudjeru in one shot for example) The track itself is (thanks to the road) pretty obvious for most of the way and for those points unclear, our GPS track will help any trekker out. Being self-guided, does not mean walking reckless and selfish through a foreign country, it means to walk free and in your own pace while respecting the local culture and habits. If you really want to get in contact with people, this is the only way to go.

    I would not advise inexperienced trekkers and travelers to do this track self-guided, but everybody who has sound experience in trekking, bush-camping and traveling to foreign countries is good to go.

  12. Rod

    Yes I found the local people on the Bulldog track very friendly and had no real issues with them . My issues were dealing with the Hidden Valley Mine staff who were guided by the Australian bosses in Brisdane .
    I did loose a guide and porter along the way as I was compelled to hire local staff at .Niukeva . This was arranged through a local tour operator/liasion officer I took with me who claimed to know the area ( I took her with me to assure I honoured local customs and act as a translater were required ), called Ruth who lives on the southern Peninsula . I was stopped on the Blackcat by village elders and asked why I had boys from out side the area working for me and told I had to hire local boys . I lost these boys and was presented with new boys for my return trip . Yes you can pass through on your own but Im not sure how long the locals would wear it if they were not gaining a benifet out of it . I did have 28 days on the track and got to obsorb my self in the local culture and attitude .

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