Black Cat Track Battlefield Tours
BOOK NOW FOR 2012 ANZAC BLACK CAT TREK
In 2003 PNG Trekking Adventures did the first exploratory walk along the Black Cat with the vision that we could generate tourism income for the villagers. For a long time there was very little known or written about the WW11 history pertaining to the track. We are now finding that more information is becoming available due to more people becoming aware of the tracks existence.
PNGTA completed the inaugural Anzac WW11 history walk along the track over the Anzac period 2011. Due to the track never being walked by trekkers all the WW11 ammunition, bombs, the odd plane and pieces of uniforms and boots etc are still in tact. If you are interested in World War history and have done Kokoda then this is a must do track for you. Since the exploratory PNGTA in conjunction with the Tourism Promotion Authority of Papua New Guinea have been running training programs for the village youths along the track on how to become guides and porters. We have also on a regular basis been holding workshops in the villages on eco tourism and sustainable tourism projects. We now have an Association set up for the guides and porters and charging trek fees before permitting people along the track. This money is going back into the maintenance of the track. Black Cat is extremely diverse, beautiful and raw. There are certainly some challenges as you walk, land slides, slippery log crossings, steep ravines need to be crossed and the odd bit of ab sailing is required. Down towards the coast there are many rivers to be crossed. Trekkers hope that there hasn't been torrential rain the night before. People that want to walk this track must be experienced trekkers, and very fit. Besides the WW11 history trekkers are privileged to get to see the culture along the track. Sing Sing performances are common which we unfortunately do not get to see on Kokoda.
BLACK CAT WW11 HISTORY
The Black Cat trail was originally opened up in the early 1920’s by Australian administrative patrols reaching inland from coastal Salamaua during Australian colonial occupation. Gold prospectors immediately began extending the trails, eventually leading them to the rich gold fields, and the establishment of Wau as a township. In 2003 PNG Trekking Adventures pioneered this track, re-opened and defined the route. Allowing trekkers to once again walk the Black Cat. WW11 History: On 8 March 1942 in World War II, the town of Salamaua was captured by the Japanese. They had tried to take Port Moresby by sea, but were defeated in The Battle of the Coral Sea. Now they were going to take it by land. They tried to take the capital by going over the Owen Stanley mountain range, by the Kokoda Trail, basing the operation out of Salamaua. They almost made it this time but were pushed back 30 miles short of the city, in a series of bloody battles. After this they converted Salamaua into a major supply base. After a few months had passed, they made their final attempt at Port Moresby, the Black Cat Trail. If they could capture the Allied Air Base in Wau, they could launch an offensive on the capital that would have overwhelmed the Australians, Americans, and Papua New Guinea Militia stationed there. The Japanese attacked in force, but the Australian 17th Brigade, under Major-General Stanley Savige, held out until reinforcements (The three independent companies 2/3rd, 2/5th and 2/7th) arrived. Then on 23 April, the allies struck back along the trail, taking it until the hills called The Pimple, and Observation Hill. The Japanese were firmly entrenched there. The 2/7th attacked The Pimple, with mortar support, after it had been strafed by four aircraft, but the Japanese were too firmly entrenched, and the Australian advance was halted. The next day, they attacked again, supported by aircraft and the 1st mountain battery, limited to fifty rounds a gun, but again the attack failed. On 7 May, they attacked again, but again were driven back. Then on 9 May, the Japanese launched their own attack in the Pimple area. They surrounded the foremost Australian Company and started closing in. The Australians were not relieved until the afternoon of 11 May. By this time they had withstood eight attacks from parts of two Japanese battalions. The following day, they took The Pimple, supported by field guns, where before there had been only two mountain batteries. The 2/3rd battalion had been pressing along while the 2/7th tried to take The Pimple, and in early May, they came to the Bobdubi Ridge. Seeing that it was only lightly held, they attacked it, and captured it on 4 May. They then held off all Japanese trying to retake it. From Bobdubi, the 2/3rd battalion severely harassed the Japanese. Their tactics were so successful that Major-General Savige had to tell them not to attempt too much, as “premature commitments in the Salamaua area could not be backed at present by an adequate force.” Then on 14 May, the Japanese launched a full-scale attack, supported by guns and mortars, forcing the Australians to withdraw. On the 15th, over 100 Japanese planes attacked Australian positions in three raids, and on the 17th and 18th they raided the Wau airdrome. In late May the 2/6th battalion arrived to relieve the 2/7th, and the 15th brigade headquarters and another battalion of that brigade started arriving in Savige's area. In mid June, the allies started acting as if they were going to attack Salamaua, but really the target was Lae, on the other side of the Huon Gulf. The Japanese fell for this and on the 19th and 20th, they seemed to anticipate an attack, and started patrolling aggressively. The plan worked as planned, but the allies didn't attack until early September. On 26 August, General Milford relieved Savige, with his 5th division headquarters. Salamaua was captured on 11 September 1942, a week after the Lae offensive began. Five days later Lae was taken. Forgotten history: The Black Cat Trail is rarely remembered today, except as a hard hike through unforgiving terrain, and seldom then. The historical side of it is almost forgotten Most hikers know that there is World War II history behind it, and that is about it. It is sad that a place where so many men lost their lives defending their country, and ultimately the world, from the Japanese Empire would be forgotten so quickly. The glory was already taken by the men on the Kokoda Trail. All these men that lost their lives there are being forgotten.
CONTACT US NOW FOR INFORMATION ON OUR 2013 70TH ANNIVERSAY TREK WITH PHIL BRADLEY: renowned WW11 historian and author.
Interested in Wau , Skindiwai / Black Cat Track ? Reference books on History, local Aussie legends and Terrain
THE BATTLE FOR WAU, New Guinea's Frontline 1942 – 1943: Written by Phillip Bradley, Published 2008 ISBN- 13 978-0-521-89681-8 hardback
TO SALAMAUA: Written by Phillip Bradley, Published 2010 , ISBN 9780521763905 hardback
BATTLE OF THE RIDGES ( An Official Publication) Brochure Number Three, The Australian Army At War
WAU - SALAMAUA 1942 -1943 Australian in the Pacific War, ISBN 1877007 18 8 Published by the Department of Veterans 'Affairs
THE HUON PENI N I S U L A 1943 -1944 Research and written by Dr Mark Johnson, ISBN 1 920720 553 Published by the Department of Veterans 'Affairs , Canberra, September 2005
T H E P R O U D 6 T H A U T H O R : Mark Johnston
C O M M A N D O D O U B L E B L A C K : Written by A.A. (Andy) Pirie ISBN 0 646 15367 6 First printed in 1994, reprinted in 1996 by Australian Military History Publications
T H E N E W G U I N E A V O L U N T E E R R I F L E S NGVR 1939 – 1943 A History: Written by Ian Downs, ISBN 1 875150 03 X Published by: Pacific Press
F E A R D R I V E S M Y F E E T : Written by Peter Ryan, First Published 1959 Angus & Robertson, reprinted 2001,2002,2005 by Duffy & Snellgrove ISBN 1 875989 87 0, A classic W W2 Memoir of an Australian behind Enemy lines in New Guinea
T H E L A S T B L U E S E A : Written by David Forrest, First Published 1959 ,reprinted and published 1985 by Penguin Books Australia, ISBN 0 14 007508 9.
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PNG Trekking Adventures based in Papua New Guinea. PNG's largest inbound tourism operator. Pioneering the gateway into PNG. Specialising trekking, climbing, cultural festivals, diving and other specialised areas of tourism based activities.
Tufi is a boutique resort situated in Oro Province on the North coast of Papua New Guinea. Famous for its diving and culture. This is a very unique part of the country.
PNG Trekking Adventures (PNGTA) is a fully licensed Papua New Guinean Tourism Company.
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