Eight Australians including, two Queenslanders, who survived a murderous attack on their trekking party in Papua New Guinea have arrived home safely.
They’ve described, in horrific detail, the ambush which claimed the lives of two of their porters.
The terror of the ambush is still raw in their minds.
“These guys rushed into the camp area and they went into the porters lines and just started hacking and slashing. A number of the porters made a break for it, some made it, some didn’t,” Peter Stevens, the only tourist to see the start of the attack, said.
“I saw some of it but certainly I could hear the sounds, you know the bush knives striking people, the moaning.”
It was day one of their trek, they’d just set up camp when the attackers wearing balaclavas and armed with machetes, knives and guns, struck.
“I think the porters took the brunt of it, all we got was a few injuries and robbed,” Mr Stevens said.
“Some of us, the trekkers, were beaten with the flat side of a machete.”
Nick Bennett from Mackay was beaten when he went to see where the noise was coming from.
“I started to put my head out of the tent, I thought I’d been shot. But what I realised after was that I’d been clubbed with a rifle barrel,” he said.
“I don’t think anything goes through your mind, we’re all in shock. The whole thing was just rapid. As it came on they were just lashing the tents demanding money.”
They say the bandits were on drugs and heaped praise on their tour leader Christie King, an Australian who calmed the situation by announcing herself as the leader, then led the injured Aussies through the jungle to safety.
The damage to Papua New Guinea’s tourism industry from the attack is enormous and the concern has gone right to the top.
PNG’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neil said he makes no apology that those responsible will face the death penalty.”
“Those four individuals have potentially ruined an industry here in PNG and the only people who are going to suffer are the locals,” Mr Stevens said.
The Aussie survivors arrived in Cairns around lunchtime on Thursday afternoon keen to fly on to their home towns.
They were scarred by what they’d been through, but strengthened by an unbreakable bond.
They want to help the families of the dead and injured through a trust fund.
“We’ve had so many people come to us, so many (PNG) natives came to us and said sorry… they touch you and say sorry,” Mr Bennett said.