Black Cat Track: Australian trekkers share story of deadly attack, three years on

By Melissa Maddison, Meecham Philpott, and Harriet Tatham

In a new book, Attack on the Black Cat Track, author Max Carmichael sought to understand the pre-existing tribal tensions that led to the deadly gunpoint robbery — something Mackay hikers Steven Ward and Nick Bennett said had not been an easy process.

“It’s not always comfortable to read it, but I think it’s important,” Mr Bennett said.

“It was actually pretty harrowing to actually see the whole story in print,” Mr Ward added.

“You never forget the incident, but it does fade, and flicking through pictures, it regenerates images and smells, sounds.”

The incident occurred in September 2013, after Mr Ward and Mr Bennett joined six Australians, a New Zealander and 19 porters to hike the Black Cat Track, in Morobe province.


“It was a trip of a lifetime,” Mr Ward recalled.

“Me and Nick had been planning it 12 months, we’d trained for 12 months, we got super fit, we got super excited when we went over there.”

A mere 24 hours after arrival, it was a different story.

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