On the 18th we took a boat from Lihir to Namatani. The original plan was to go to Namatanai and take a truck across to the West Coast, than again a boat to Kokopo but due to rough seas and a Solwara Meri boat sinking during that week we didn’t make it that same day. It took about 3 hours from Lihir to Namatanai on a 60horse outboard motorboat. We faced some rough seas when leaving Lihir.
During my school days I used to be a fan of the New Ireland musicians by the name of Henry Peni who was the front man for the band April Sun. One of the song he sings was “sapos u laik save lo Kavieng you kissim bus lo Namatanai”. After all this years I set my foot in Namatanai and while we stepped on to the beach some guys came and asked us if we are taking a bus to Kaveing we told them no maybe next time. I sang part of the song to my teammates.
We hang around the town and had a big lunch in one of the kaikai bars. We put our bags at the friendship house, they told us that they will pick us up later and take us to the West Coast and across to Kokopo but after waiting for hours Wade made another arrangement, so we slept over night in one of the motels in Namatanai. Early the next morning the truck came and picked us up for the trip across to West Coast. The truck was very full with people who were also going across to Kokopo. This time we are on boat firefly.
It took nearly all morning to go to Kokopo because the sea was very rough. When we were near Kokopo we took out our cameras and started taking pictures of the volcano. I told the team that I was last in Rabaul 25 years ago that was during my high school days. After, it seemed like ages we arrived safe and sound in Kokopo and hired a truck direct to Tokua Airport.
The messages the team got from the Lihir project is, the landowners are getting the maximum benefit from their land. The Lihir project is a good example for every one in Melanesia in those islands where there are talks of mining, logging or whatever.