Crackers sets sail to help tribe
IN AN effort to provide an isolated Papua New Guinea tribe with basic supplies, former Lismore resident Craig "Crackers" Hand will have to navigate danger in a 15-foot boat.
This week, Crackers will sail from Darwin to Papua New Guinea to provide the secluded Sibidiri tribe with 200kg of medical supplies, educational materials and construction tools.
"I'm expecting to run into problems on this trip because I'm going into waters I've never been in, but they're just challenges I'll have to work through myself," he said.
It will be Crackers' third trip to the region and he will be alone for the best part of six to eight months.
However, a "Cracker tracker" device, created by mapping company Esri Australia, will monitor his journey and allow him to upload content to the internet.
"Every four hours a signal is sent to the server to show everyone where I am," Crackers explained.
"When I'm within range of a Telstra tower I'll be able to upload pictures, youtube clips and diary entries.
"The whole idea is people will be drawn to the project; it will raise awareness and at the end of the day, it will help this tribe."
In 2008, Crackers set a record by sailing the smallest boat from Australia to another country, which was Papua New Guinea. When he arrived there, he stumbled across the secluded Sibidiri tribe.
"I came across this tribe in PNG and they had nothing; no electricity, no roads, no anything," he said.
"The tribal king's brother had to paddle for two days to get his son, who had a badly broken arm, to medical care."
When Crackers returned, he founded Friends of Papua New Guinea, a non-profit organisation which aims to develop basic health care and educational facilities in remote parts of the country.
He said isolated citizens of Papua New Guinea endured particularly bad living conditions because there was little to no government support.
"The only government person I've ever seen in Papua New Guinea is a customs person," he said.
"There is no real government over there."
In past months, media and people from around the world have been fascinated by Crackers' projects and he has received many donations. He hoped the interest would increase and draw more attention to disadvantaged Papua New Guineans.
You can keep up to date with Crackers' journey at esriaustralia.com.au/crackertracker.