Accidental encounter touches Aussie sailor's heart

Adventurer Craig
Adventurer Craig "Crackers" Hand started the charity Friends of Papua New Guinea more than three years ago after he became aware of the hardship faced by the Sibidiri tribe when his boat hit a sand bar. Tony Martin

IT WOULD be a gross understatement to say Craig "Crackers" Hand lives a unique life.

He's lived out of his 15ft half-cabin fishing boat for the past 12 months, travelling 10,000km from Darwin to Brisbane, across the top of Australia and to Papua New Guinea's remote heart.

Continuing on his journey down the south-east coast of Australia, Crackers (a footy nickname that stuck) stopped in Mackay last week and took the opportunity to promote his charity work within PNG.

The accidental charity worker started the charity Friends of Papua New Guinea more than three years ago.

"I set out to cross the Torres Strait in 2008," he said.

"The trip was a week all up and in the process I came across the Sibidiri tribe in Papua New Guinea when my vessel hit a sand bar."

"It was an unbelievable experience to meet them."

Crackers spent a few days with the tribe. He was only the sixth white man they had ever seen.

During his visit he learnt that they had no communication with the outside world, no basic supplies and were in need of some assistance. They asked him for clothing, pots, pans, musical instruments and a chainsaw.

"I ended up back in Darwin and started up a charity for them."

He said the look on the tribe's faces when he returned was priceless because they never expected to see him again.

"In the end we got a VHF communication set up over there," he said.

Today, some members of the tribe even have mobile phones and communicate with Crackers via text. He has since revisited the island, recently spending two months living with the tribe.

To find out more about the charity visit

Topics:  brisbane charity darwin papua new guinea sailing

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Snitz sizzles to win qualifier with ease

IN FULL FLIGHT: Brisbane jockey Robbie Fradd streaks clear to win the $150,000 NRRA Country Championships qualifier on board Snitz, trained by Matt Dunn, at Clarence River Jockey Club.

SHORT priced favourite sends everybody home happy.

Ballina Players brings popular military drama to the stage

ON STAGE: John Rado as Colonel Nathan Jessep and Dylan Wheeler as Lt Daniel Kaffee in the Ballina Players production of A Few Good Men.

Tickets are on sale for their new production of A Few Good Men

Triumph of dreams ... it all started with one bike

A CLASSIC: Meerschaum Vale's Col McAndrew with his Triumph 1956 Speed Twin which he will show at the Northern Rivers Classic Motorcycle Club's Show and Shine at Alstonville Plaza on March 18.

Col has six classic bikes; 100 expected at show

Local Partners