'Blackbirding' was a term associated with the kidnapping of Pacific Islanders to work in the Queensland sugar-cane fields in the late 19th Century - it was later outlawed as a form of slavery.
The practice, and its ugly connotations has been adopted by shady Australian trek operators who have sought to benefit from the increasing interest in trekking Kokoda in recent years. These operators are able to get away with the exploitation in Papua New Guinea because they do not have systems in place to protect their villagers against such abhorrent practices and because many Australians are seeking the 'cheapest' deal.
Blackbirders can be flushed out by asking the following questions:
- Do you have a maximum weight limit of 18 kg for the local guides and carriers you engage?
- Do you provide each of your local guides and carriers with a sleeping bag and mat each?
- Do you provide each of your local guides and carriers with a full trek uniform i.e. a cap, shirt and shorts?
- Do you pay each of your guides and carriers PGK 70 per day?
- Do you pay each of your guides and carriers a 'Walk-Home-Allowance' of PGK 250?
If they cannot answer an affirmative 'Yes' to each of these questions - no ifs or buts - you are dealing with a Blackbirder.
See for yourself!
Tackling the Kokoda Trail is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and, whilst there's nothing like actually being there, you can get a feel for what to expect with some of our videos.
Take a closer look now and see why over 7,500 people have trusted us to bring this historical and cultural journey to life, leading them safely across the trail and ensuring they have an unforgettable experience.