Journey to the Sinking Lands

A witness to the world's first evacuation of an entire people due to climate change

On board the rollercoaster

” Everyday, it’s a-getting closer…going faster than a roller coaster…”

And I have just woken up to how close it’s a-getting. I leave on April 13, which is actually very soon (yep, you can actually hear the realisation hit as I write that). And I have a huge list of things to do; some of which I really shouldn’t have left this late, like a visa… But, step by step, I’m a-getting there.



So far, I have tickets to Brisbane (or Brisvegas to the locals), in northern Australia, where I have just been offered a bed for the night by the shiny, happy Sarah Elks, with whom I used to work on The Australian.

From there, I need to get a short flight up to Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea. I’ve heard various things about Port Moresby, from the official Foreign Office line (“armed carjackings, assaults, robbery, shootings and serious sexual offences, including rape, are common…(but) most visits are trouble free) to the more informal “it’s best simply not to leave the airport”. However, a friend of a friend who lives out there has just got in touch to say she’s happy to meet up and take me out to dinner, so I’m feeling a lot less uncertain than I was.

From there, it’s another flight to Buka, capital of the semi-autonomous island of Bougainville, about which I know almost nothing. This is the island the Carterets people will be evacuated to and where I hope to meet the chiefs and ask permission to visit the islands themselves.

So, looking back, a quick progress check: Step 1 is sorted. Steps 2 onwards need some work. Time to get a-moving I think.


1 Comment»

  Michael Moran wrote @

Hi again Dan

For some reason i thought you were Michael Palin on another post I answered!

I did go to Buka and across to Bougainville and wrote about it in my book. Fabulous place Buka. In the book there are some interesting contacts you could look up. They helped me a great deal and more important are a fund of local knowledge. Not a sales pitch for my book, just overjoyed someone is going to give these lovely people some publicity in their frightful dilemma.

‘Beyond the Coral Sea : Travels in the Old Empires of the South-West Pacific’ (HarperCollins 2003, Flamingo 2004 and still in print) Short listed for the 2004 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award.

Incidentally I am a Fellow of the RGS hence my knowledge of your grant and enthusiasm.

Good luck on a worthy enterprise indeed

Michael Moran

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