ALBURY businessman Gary Essex has escaped uninjured from an attack by bandits on a jungle track in Papua New Guinea.
Mr Essex is returning to Australia after being part of a group of trekkers which included two porters who were hacked to death by the bandits.
He was among eight Australians, one New Zealander and a group of porters who were attacked as they camped on the Black Cat track in Morobe province on Tuesday.
One Australian had his arm slashed and another was speared in the leg.
Mr Essex’s wife Christine said she was contacted on Tuesday night by the tour company that had arranged the trip to confirm he had escaped unharmed.
“He rang last night to say he was OK as soon as he got to a safe area where he could make the call,” she said.
“Hopefully he will be home in the next couple of days.
“He is perfectly fine and got no injuries.”
The incident happened on the second day of a week-long trek.
Mr Essex is a partner of Albury-based accountants JohnsonsMME and a well-known East Albury Cricket Club identity.
The group — some wearing bandages — were met at Port Moresby’s Jackson’s Airport yesterday by Australian High Commissioner Deborah Stokes and consular officials.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has condemned the attack.
“At a time when we are seeking to increase tourism these crimes are an obvious setback — but we must not let them deter tourists and travellers generally visiting Papua New Guinea and our own people helping visitors in their travels,” he said.
“I express my sympathy to the families of the guides who were murdered, and the victims who sustained injury. I hope all make a speedy recovery.”
PNG Police spokesman Dominic Kakas said the group was attacked between 1pm and 2pm on Tuesday by six men armed with guns, a spear and bush knives.
One of the guns was homemade, the other a .303 factory-made rifle.
“Three of the porters suffered lacerations to their arms and eyes, one was wounded on both legs,” Mr Kakas said.
“They all had their passports stolen.
“One man was speared in the left leg. Another has a head laceration, cuts on left elbow and bruises and cut on his back,” he said.
Local villagers were tracking the attackers and about 20 police officers and the Airborne Unit had been sent to the area.
Australia has issued a warning for travellers wanting to walk the Black Cat track but has kept its travel advice for other notable PNG treks — such as Kokoda — the same.