Venturing into New Guinea’s Untamed Wilderness with Wayne White

New Guinea, with its vast swamps, wild rivers and nearly impenetrable jungles, was everything Wayne White desired. It is home to a deadly assortment of animals, including huge saltwater crocodiles, rare marsupials, and some of the planet’s most venomous snakes; and people who are as untouched and wild as any on the planet. Cannibalism at one time was common and woe to any shipwrecked sailor who washed up on its shoreline. It is the second largest island in the world.

In 1982, Wayne did a solo hike of the famous wartime track, the Kokoda Trail. He crossed the Owen Stanley Range from Owers Corner to Popondetta. He knew only what he could glean from books and rough maps. He made a few mistakes and learned a lot along the way. Next, Wayne attended the annual tourist highland show in Goroka then headed up to wild Enga province. The people in Enga were very distinct with their black face paint and penchant for violence.

Wayne will discuss what he learned from these treks and how it enabled him to do much tougher trips in Irian Jaya afterwards.


Wayne L. White is a former three-time winter manager at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole station, where he oversaw the health and safety of three crews and scientific assets in one of the world’s most challenging environments—an experience detailed in his book “Cold: Three Winters at the South Pole.” Prior to his tenure in the United States Antarctic Program, he worked as a Defense Department contractor for over two decades, taking on remote assignments in various locations. As a US Marine Veteran with a BA in Geography and a Masters in Public Health, White has had diverse experiences, ranging from personal expeditions to New Guinea, the Amazon, and Africa, to owning the historic Baylor-Norvel home in Rockport, Texas, which houses his collection of ethnic and exploration artifacts.

Wayne will be interviewed by Steve Elkins, the subject of Douglas Preston’s best selling book “The Lost City of The Monkey God.”

This program was organized by Phoebe Piper.