Will Millard's Story

Author: Will Millard
Will Millard's Story

Will's Fellowship in 2011 aimed to explore the historic inter-tribal trade connection between the Papuan interior and its coastline.

The Fellowship

Will's Fellowship aimed to explore the historic inter-tribal trade connection between the Papuan interior and its coastlines. By uncovering and following a series of ancient intertribal trade routes deep within unchartered New Guinea he hoped to record the last of the island's great overland traders, and make the first unbroken, unassisted crossing of West Papua's width via its remotest territories. 

Will established contact with an extremely remote tribe on the absolute last frontier of West Papua's original wilderness and made the first descent of the River Wara, connecting Papua's mountainous centre with the major river system flowing to the Mamberamo of the north. In the expedition's second half he achieved his intellectual aims: categorically proving the existence of a genuine trade route running to the southern coasts from Papua's centre and casting light on how coastal products had traditionally travelled to the highlands.

The Results

Since his Fellowship, the media interest in this ambitious and adventurous project allowed Will to introduce the under-reported, yet truly remarkable, system of intertribal trade in Papua to a worldwide audience. His blogs from the trip had in excess of 12,000 hits and he went on to write for many international adventure magazines, as well as UK publications such as the BBC News magazine and Geographical. Will also broadcast on the BBC World Service flagship programme, "From Our Own Correspondent". He has since received a grant from the Royal Geographical Society to record a BBC Radio 4 series of his 2013 expedition along the borders of Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Will's Fellowship to Papua allowed him to change his career. For 18 months he was able to develop his skills as a freelance journalist, writing for various adventure magazines, taking part in domestic endurance challenges and helping to influence and inspire others to take an active interest in geography. Will has also made the first descent of a West African River, and the subsequent broadcast was made into a two part series. On return to the UK from that trip he discovered a taster tape cut from footage from his Churchill Fellowship to Papua had been picked up by BBC Two.

Since then Will has begun a successful career as a BBC presenter, with his first series ‘Hunters of the South Seas‘ being nominated for both Best Series and Best Presenter at the 2015 Grierson awards, and shortlisted for best series in the 2016 Broadcast awards, and the Televisual Bulldog Awards.