The Oil Search Pacific Games Relay today took on the challenge of driving the length of Bougainville Island, from Kokopau to Buin, after a 3am start to catch the ferry across the Buka Passage.
The convoy of nine vehicles took off down the island in the complete darkness and into a torrential downpour.
First stop at the oldest boarding school on the island, St Mary’s Asitavi Primary School where the school children braved the rain to pass the Baton around their oval.
Brief visits followed to Wakunai and Morgan Junction before Lapaim Balma carried the Baton symbolically across the boom gate into the former No-Go Zone of Panguna.
The Depara school welcomed the Baton into Panguna and ran a Relay through the old township past the abandoned and destroyed buildings that are slowly being taken back by the encroaching jungle.
The team was then treated to a tour of the old Panguna mine pit.
The drive then continued south along a road of pebbles and through over 20 rivers before reaching the township of Buin, on Papua New Guinea’s far eastern border.
The Buin Secondary School put on an incredible welcome for the Baton as it was carried in on a large people carrier with over 50 kids taking the load, before sing sing groups celebrated its arrival.
The school principal echoed the words from the AROB House of Representatives, yesterday, speaking of the unity that the Relay is bringing to both Bougainville and the country as a whole.
The day concluded with yet another Relay around the township watched on by the community.
The Oil Search Pacific Games Relay heads for Arawa and Kieta tomorrow.