Hela Province

Hela is a province of Papua New Guinea. The provincial capital is Tari. The province covers an area of 10,498 km², and there are 249,449 inhabitants (2011 census figures). Hela province officially came into being on 17 May 2012, comprising three districts previously part of Southern Highlands Province.

FYI: The Start of the Hela Movement

No discussion of the Hela movement would be complete without mentioning the deep religious and spiritual mythology underpinning the Hela people. The Hela people see themselves as comprised of a number of clans living in a federation, ultimately seeking self-determination which amounts to the ability to define their civilisation through the Hela world view and philosophy. The creation of a Hela provincial government would formalise the existing Hela clans and allow for the recognition of the Hela world view and philosophy. The Hela world view, ‘revolved around the value of the ultimate common good of the collective wellbeing of this clan state’.

The people of Hela have their own version of the old testament and a reverence for Dadagaliwabe who commanded his own laws and spoke to the Hela people.

According to Hela mythology, the light (laitebo) burning within the Gigira (one of the prophetic mountains in Hela) would one day light up the whole land. The Hela people believe that the Hides gas project fulfilled this prophecy, as the actual gas, and also infrastructure associated with the project, have brought development to the Hela people, lighting up the whole land. The more recent LNG project is a further affirmation of this prophecy as development continues to come to the Hela people.

It was not until the 1950s that the people of Hela had any significant outside influence. In the late 1960s, the Hela people formed the Hela Association (now renamed the Hela Gimbu Association) to represent the people of Hela and their own interests. The Hela Gimbu Association survives today and was a key stakeholder throughout the fight for a new Hela Province and its formation.

In 1974, Hon Andrew Wabira, member for Koroba-Kopiago, moved a motion in the old House of Assembly calling for the creation of the Hela Province. The motion was debated in 1976 but it was not until 2000 when Hon Alfred Kaibe, member for Tari-Pori, lodged a petition in parliament to create the Hela Province that new life was breathed into the fight.

In September 2002, during a visit to Tari, Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare promised he would investigate the possible establishment of a Hela Province. Soon after, cabinet directed the establishment of a parliamentary committee, in consultation with the Boundaries Commission, to report on the establishment of new provinces.

Jiwaka Province

Jiwaka Province spreads across the fertile Wahgi Valley, the birth place of modern agriculture, 10,000 years ago with the Wahgi River running through the Valley. The province is bordered by the Bismarck Range to the north, which forms part of the highest mountain peak in Papua New Guinea, Mt William (4960m) in Simbu Province. The Bismarck Range acts as the natural boundary for Jimi district, with Simbu to the east of Jiwaka and Madang Province further north of Jiwaka. This part of the province is relatively mountainous and very sparsely populated and has the least infrastructure development. The southern part of Jiwaka, Kambia, is naturally bordered by the Kubor Range, which is part of the central backbone mountain range of Papua New Guinea. The mountain range divides Jiwaka from the Bomai, South Simbu people, and further southwest to the South Wiru people of Pangia district, Southern Highlands Province. These areas are also very mountainous and are the least developed in terms of infrastructure and economic development.

The province covers an area of 4,798 km² and there are 343,987 inhabitants (National Statistical Office, 2011). The South Wahgi-Anglimb electorate has a population of 93,107 inhabitants, Jimi has 33,998 inhabitants, and the North Wahgi electorate has a population of 38,464 inhabitants (National Statistical Office, 2011). The Kambia and Jimi areas are very sparsely populated because of their mountainous nature. The land in the Wahgi valley is very fertile and therefore is very densely populated.

In July 2009, the National Parliament of PNG passed legislation to create two new provinces by 2012. Parliament amended the organic law on National and Local Level Government Councils Elections and preparations have been underway since 2009. One of these new provinces is Jiwaka Province, and it was created by removing a number of electorates from the Western Highlands Province (WHP). These electorates include the Jimi electorate, North Waghi electorate, and the South Waghi-Anglimb electorate. In other words, the Jiwaka Province covers areas of the middle Wahgi, Jimi and East Kambia. The name “Jiwaka” is a portmanteau word combining the first two letters each of Jimi, Waghi and Kambia, which are three areas that make up this province. The location of the provincial capital is yet to be decided. In the meantime, all provincial matters are handled in Banz, because no provincial headquarters have been established as yet. Each electorate is called a district and they have their own district capitals. The South Wahgi-Anglimb district capital is in Minj. Jimi District has its district capital in Tabibuga, and North Wahgi District has its district capital in Banz (National Research Institute, 2010).

Each district has one or more local level government (LLG) areas. South Whagi–Anglimb has two local level government districts. These are Anglimb Rural and South Wahgi. The South Wahgi LLG starts from Konfarm Balge, the border of Western Highlands Province, to Kupgamar, sharing boundaries with Simbu Province and Kambia. Jimi District has two local level government districts and they are Jimi Rural and Kol Rural Local Level Governments. The North Whagi electorate also has two LLG and they are North Wahgi Rural and Nondugl Rural Local Level Governments. North Wahgi spreads from Kerowahgi, Simbu Province, to Kimil Kondapina, Dei District of the Western Highlands Province. The LLG areas are further subdivided into a total of 184 Council Wards (National Research Institute, 2010). Each ward is represented by an elected councillor, who represents his/her people and who are further separated into tribal/clan groups. The clan and tribal groups are structured into villages. Natural geographical boundaries, such as rivers and mountains, mark these ethno-political groups with their unique customs and traditions. There are two main languages spoken in Jiwaka Province, with various dialects in each area. The people in the Western part of South Wahgi district speak the native Melpa Language. The rest of the people speak the local Jiwaka language. The differences in the dialects clearly define different tribal groups within
the province.

Currently, the Jiwaka provincial government has an elected governor facilitating the administrative affairs of the province. There are departments in the province, with caretakers on the ground, whilst positions are being advertised and the human resource (HR) processes are underway to appoint public servants to manage and run the affairs of the new province. Jiwaka Province has minimal political and administrative development, as they are still at an embryonic stage.

Jiwaka Province has a colourful traditional dance associated with different ceremonies and rituals, which could potentially attract tourists. The people take pride in their many unique customs and traditions and are very much attached to their environment and the traditional ways of life. The unexploited cultural rituals and practices, sacred grounds, ceremonial grounds, and customs are unique to Jiwaka. The people have been exposed to Western civilization but are still very attached to their indigenous practices. Tourism assets, such as the Wahgi River, the Wahgi Valley with tea and coffee plantations, rich native fruits and vegetables, the towering misty covered tropical mountain ranges with large caving systems and scenic views, the crystal clear waterfalls, beautiful natural scenery, and the unique Jiwaka way of life, have the potential to attract tourists.

The Jiwaka people live in tribal/clan and family groups on customarily owned land. They rely on their land within their own tribal boundaries for their livelihood. Distinct geographical boundaries, such as cliffs, hills, trees, native plants, creeks and rivers, distinguish the boundaries between tribal groups, clans and family groups. Therefore, land is an important cultural asset of the tribal/clan and family groups, as this provides a sense of belonging, cultural identity, status and security. Significantly, all the resources on the land are customarily owned by traditional landowners, and indigenous knowledge of land boundaries is common knowledge for customary landowners. Given this scenario, current or potential tourism products in PNG are often dependent on the environment and the land. The development of these products, such as kayaking down rivers, trekking, caving, and a road through a village to name a few examples, is usually on tribal and customary land. That is why community consultation, involvement and participation are necessary for tourism development.

The highlands highway runs through Wahgi Valley in Jiwaka Province. This is the major road that links the coastal parts of PNG to the rest of the seven highland provinces. The national highway connects Lae, Morobe Province and Madang Province on the coast of PNG to the ends of the Hela and Enga provinces in the highlands of PNG. There are smaller road networks branching off from the main highway to different areas in the highlands and Jiwaka Province. The conditions of the smaller roads range significantly and generally require upgrading and maintenance. The road network within Jiwaka connects most parts of the district, except for the Jimi and Kambia areas that are very difficult to access by road. The road network to Jimi from Banz has reached the district station of Tabibuga, but its condition is always poor. The rest of Jimi can be reached by traditional footpaths and long hours of walking. Kambia is another large area in the South Wahgi District that has limited infrastructure and other basic amenities and government services. There is no road network connecting the rest of Jiwaka to Kambia, except through traditional bush tracks over the Kubor Range that would take days and weeks of walking to reach Minj, the nearest town.

There is one airstrip in Kambia, where small third level airline aircrafts, such as Missionary Aviation Fellowship (MAF) aircraft operated by missionaries, can access. The remoteness of the place hinders development of all forms. There are three airstrips in Jimi accessed by MAF. The nearest airport is Kagamuga Airport in the Western Highlands Province, which can easily be reached within an hour from the furthest end of Jiwaka Province by road. Other nearby airports are Kundiawa in Simbu Province, which is three hours away, and Goroka Airport, four hours away from Jiwaka Province. People can reach Jiwaka by sea at Lae or Madang Ports, by road through the highlands highway in nine hours, and by air using any of these airports within 25 to 30 minutes.

Communication infrastructure is relatively good in the Jiwaka Province. Digicel Pacific is a telecommunication company that provides mobile reception to the remotest part of PNG. People out in the remotest areas can still call, Skype, message and access the Internet as long as their SIM cards have credit. PNG Power Company supplies electricity to all the provinces. Solar appliances and generators are also used. Fortunately, Jiwaka Province has a hydro plant that is currently under construction at Kudjip to supply power to the whole of Jiwaka Province, and that should be an added advantage to the province. More so, banking facilities can be accessed at Mt Hagen, WHP and the other major centres in Jiwaka Province. Finally and fortunately, Jiwaka has one of the best hospitals in the highlands region, Kudjip Nazarene Hospital, to care for health related issues.

Having covered these facilities and amenities, it is important to note that currently, Jiwaka provincial government has yet to put in place public service mechanisms with government departments, where tourism development could be administered. The site for the provincial headquarters has been chosen, but the provincial headquarters is in its very early stages of construction. Tourism development is most likely to progress with the growth of the province.

Autonomous Region of Bougainville

The 168 islands of Autonomous Region of Bougainville, previously known as the North Solomons Province (NSP), cover 9,300 square kilometers made up of Bougainville and Buka islands, and a number of small islands and island groups. Bougainville lies in a region which has seen much volcanic activity in the past, and much of the coastal plain consists of rich volcanic soil. An eruption of the Bagana volcano was recorded in 1887, and it has erupted violently on several occasions since. There are several good natural harbors. The population rose from 128,800 in 1980 to an estimated 157,500 in 1990. The Bougainville rebellion prevented the collection of information in the 1990 census. Twenty-five languages are spoken.

The Constitution, adopted in 1977, provides for an Assembly of 19 elected and four appointed members. There are three districts and the headquarters are at Arawa on Bougainville island. The main port is Kieta. From 1972 to 1989 the main export was copper from the Bougainville Copper Ltd mining project. Until the Bougainville rebellion disrupted the economy in 1990, NSP was a leading exporter of cocoa (half the PNG total), copra (one sixth the PNG total), and timber. Continue reading “Autonomous Region of Bougainville”

Central Province

Central Province (CP), which covers 30,000 square kilometers on PNG’s south coast, includes natural harbors, coastal plains and swamps. Behind the coastal strip rise mountains belonging to the central cordillera. There are marked wet and dry seasons, especially on the coast, and total rainfall is lower than in other provinces. Vegetation varies from mangrove swamps, through grasslands and lightly timbered country to rain forests and alpine grasslands. On the coastal strip, plants with close Australian relatives, e.g., gum trees (Eucalypt) species and tea-trees (Melaleuca) species are frequently found.

The population rose from 117,000 in 1980 to 140,600 in 1990. At least 35 languages are spoken. Hiri Motu, earlier known as Police Motu, is still used as a lingua franca in the province. It is derived from Motu, the language of a string of coastal villages, including some now swallowed up in Port Moresby.

The constitution, adopted in 1978, provides for an elected Assembly of 26 members. There are five districts and the headquarters is at Konedobu, a suburb of Port Moresby and formerly the center of the Australian colonial Administration. The main towns are Sogeri, Kwikila and Kupiano. The main products are fish, chickens and eggs, livestock, rubber and timber. Until 1982, when the National Capital District (NCD) was established, CP included the capital, Port Moresby.

There is evidence of human occupation dating back to 26,000 BP. Traditional trade networks included the Hiri trade. Motu men traveled considerable distances, by canoe, to exchange pots, made by Motu women, for sago, with people in coastal villages around the Gulf of Papua. Missionaries of the London Missionary Society began work along the coast in the 1870s. The Catholics established a mission northwest of Port Moresby in 1885. The British occupied the region and declared a British Protectorate in 1884. The Australians took over the colony in 1906. The first white settlers, apart from Administration officials and missionaries, were rubber and coconut plantations owners, and traders. The Kokoda Trail area was involved in some of the heaviest fighting between Allied (Australian and American) and Japanese during World War II. The war also disrupted village life when people were evacuated to escape the bombing of Port Moresby which was occupied by Allied troops, and men were conscripted by ANGAU.

Things to see

Sogeri Plateau: Lying at 600m and 46km inland, Sogeri is much cooler and greener than Port Moresby. Sogeri Road leaves Sir Hubert Murray Highway near the airport and follows the Laloki River, climbing above the gorge with a view of spectacular Rouna Falls. Soon after the falls a road to the right leads to Varirata National Park.

Kokoda Trail: The next road left, marked by the Kokoda monument, goes to Owers Corner and the start of the Kokoda Trail. Crystal Rapids, where you can picnic and swim for a small fee, and Sirinumu Dam are along the next road right, or continue straight ahead to Sogeri.

Varirata National Park: There is some pleasant walking here, with a network of trails, grassy picnic areas and shelters with barbecues, and lookouts giving fine views to Port Moresby and out to sea. Wallabies are common and birdlife is plentiful. Early morning is the best time to see Birds of Paradise. You can camp in the park or stay in the small park lodge.

Loloata Island: This pleasant retreat from Port Moresby lies off Bootless Bay and offers diving, snorkelling, fishing or just relaxing.

March Girls Resort: A newly established resort for a getaway from the city’s hustles to spend a quiet weekend with family.

Yule Island: The large Catholic mission here was founded in 1885 and for a while the island was a government headquarters. Fishing, swimming, history and good scenery are the attractions. The drive from Moresby is 160km (3 hours) via the Hiritano Highway, turning off to Poukama where a canoe will take you to the island.

Things to do

Golf: Moresby’s 18-hole golf course, located in Waigani at the end of Magani C rescent behind Parliament House, is more challenging than it looks.

Walking: For weekend walks contact Pamela Christie of PNG Trekking Adventures, Ph: +675 325 1284 or www.pngtrekkingadventures.com or ask at the Australian or New Zealand High Commission Offices.

Diving: Loloata Island Resort only 15 minutes away from Jacksons International Airport and Port Moresby can tailor itineraries to over 25 dive sites to suit your requirements. Off Bootless Bay is Horseshoe Reef with the End Bommie and the wreck of the Pacific Gas. The Dive Centre at Airways Poolside Ph: +675 3231 355 offers day trips on MV Solatai. Live-aboard out of Tahira Boating Centre to various dive locations.

Trekking: Trekking the famous 96km Kokoda Trail, taking 5 to 10 days to walk (depending on fitness and conditions), crosses the spine of the country from the Central Province side of the trail into the Oro Province. It passes through remote, rugged country and it’s advisable to use local guides. Kokoda Track Authority, Ph: +675 323 6165 Fax +675 3236020 and Email: [email protected]

Flightseeing: Airlines PNG’s weekly flight into Woitape and Tapini villages by air is a great way to visit some remote country if you are short of time. Some of these village airstrips are very exciting.

Surfing and Kite Surfing: The best beaches are at Hula, 100km east of Port Moresby, from June to September. At Taurama Point you’ll find Sero Board Riders Club, Taurama Surf Club or contact the Surfing Association of PNG.

Fishing: Galley Reach, a few hours from Port Moresby, offers a variety of fishing. Contact Sport Fishing PNG and Boat Charters www.sportfishingpng.net.

Chimbu Province

Chimbu, occasionally spelled Simbu, Province (SP) covers 6,181 square kilometers of mountains and intermontane high valleys in the middle of the highlands. On its border is Mt Wilhelm (4,509 meters), PNG’s highest mountain. The population rose from 178,300 in 1980 to 183,800 in 1990. Twenty-one languages are spoken. The Constitution, adopted in 1977, provides for an elected Assembly of 27 members. There are seven districts and the headquarters is at Kundiawa. In 1953 Kundiawa was linked to the coastal town of Lae by the Highlands Highway. The main product is coffee produced by PNG smallholders.

There is evidence of human occupation 24,000 years BP. Europeans did not reach the area until 1933 and Catholic and Lutheran missions were established in 1934. Overpopulation and shortage of land is causing many people, mainly men, to seek work in the coastal towns.

Things to see

Kundiawa: There are basic facilities in town, which was the first government station in the Highlands. The market is located on a side road between the Shell Station and the Police Station.

Kegsugl: The road to Kegsugl at the base of Mt. Wilhelm snakes through rugged country patchworked with gardens on impossibly steep slopes. Several very pleasant guesthouses cater for trekkers and make a good base for exploring other villages. One of them, Betty’s Lodge, has its own trout and rabbit farm.

Caves: Close to Kundiawa there are several caves used as burial sites. The Nambaiyufa amphitheatre, which has rock paintings, and the Keu Caves, near the main road, are close to Chuave. Other large caves in the area are more suited to experienced cavers.

Things to do

Walking/trekking: Mt. Wilhelm (4509m) is a fantastic climb in a sub-alpine environment, made harder by the altitude. In clear weather the Madang coast can be seen from the summit. It can be climbed from Kegsugl or traversed from remote Ambulla Village. Take guides and warm clothes. The three to four-day hike from Kegsugl to Bundi and Brahmin Mission in Madang Province is mainly on a 4WD road with great views and plenty of forest. Bundi has accommodation and an airstrip.

East New Britain Province

East New Britain Provincial (ENBP) covers 15,500 square kilometers of the island of New Britain and 46 smaller islands. The mainland includes the fertile and densely populated Gazelle Peninsula, the Baining mountains and the eastern section of the Nakanai mountains. There are a number of active volcanoes.

The population increased from 133,200 in 1980 to 184,400 in 1990. Fifteen languages are spoken. The provincial Constitution, which was adopted in 1977, provides for a House of Assembly of 22 elected members, and two members appointed by the national government. The province is divided into three districts with headquarters at Rabaul. Kokopo and Pomio are the other main towns. The Gazelle Peninsula is PNG’s most important copra producer and also exports cocoa and timber. Rabaul has a good natural harbor and products are transported mainly by ship.

Although there is evidence of human occupation 13,000 years BP, the dominant ethnic group, the Tolai, are thought to have begun migrating into the Gazelle Peninsula from New Ireland in relatively recent times. Between 1884 and 1914, the Germans alienated much of the most fertile land to establish copra plantations. After World War II these plantations passed into Australian hands. Methodist and Roman Catholic missions were established in the 19th century and Seventh-Day Adventist missions in the 1930s. ENBP was under Australian control from 1914 to 1975 except for a period of Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945. After World War II there was increasing unrest over land, and over Administration insistence on establishing multi-ethnic local government councils in the Gazelle Peninsula. The villagers were Tolai, but many of the plantation laborers came from other parts of PNG. In August 1971 the District Commissioner, E.J. Emanuel, was killed while intervening in a land dispute. In the early 1970s, the Mataungan Association led a separatist movement. The Tolai are now prominent in business and the professions throughout PNG and the separatist demands have lapsed in recent years.

Things to see

Kokopo: After the eruption of Tavurvur and Vulcan in September 1994, most Rabaul services have been relocated to Kokopo, along the edge of Blanche Bay. The town has grown rapidly and the busy market is located on the main road from Tokua Airport. The waterfront is the place to find boats for travel to the outer islands or for a spot of fishing.

East New Britain Historical & Cultural Centre: Located across the road from the golf course, this has good displays and collections of historical relics and photographs. Open 8am-1pm and 2pm-4pm week days; 1pm-5pm weekends. Small admission fee.

Vunapope Catholic Mission: Pleasant views and old colonial buildings in the hospital grounds are interesting. The mission is located at the eastern end of Kokopo. St. Mary’s Hospital at Vunapope is the largest private hospital.

Bitapaka War Cemetery: The graves of over 1000 allied brave soldiers are in these grounds and gardens. Turn off the coast road past Vunapope.

Malmaluan Lookout: Fantastic views over the volcanoes surrounding Simpson Harbour can be enjoyed from this inland highpoint. Take Burma Road, off the Kokopo-Rabaul Road.

Japanese Barge Tunnels: At Karavia Bay between Raluana Point and Vulcan are a network of tunnels and tracks connecting barges and buildings dating back to the war. In the main tunnel, there are five barges lined up end to end. Take a torch.

Rabaul: Some parts of Rabaul still function but most of it remains an eerie desolate wasteland covered by ash. Simpson Harbour is still the main port, guarded by the grumbling volcanoes. A market and a few shops still operate at the eastern end of town.

Tunnels and war relics: Some of the 580km of tunnels built by the Japanese are still open. Aircraft wreckage is found beyond the old airport.

Duke of York Islands: These thirteen beautiful islands are easily visited. Some have accommodation and swimming, snorkelling and canoeing are good.

Things to do

Diving and snorkelling: In Simpson Harbour there are World War II boat and plane wrecks, good walls, and the Beehives (a small group of craggy islands) to explore. At Tavui Point is Submarine Base where Japanese subs pulled right up to the edge of the reef. It’s superb for snorkelling on the flat coral beds. Most resorts can arrange dive trips.

Climb a volcano: New Britain is dominated by volcanoes, some still bellowing great clouds of black ash-laden smoke. All the volcanoes, except Tavurvur, can be climbed, but heavy rain can make the ground slippery. Vulcan is best tackled on the northern side. Take plenty of water.

Canoeing: Taklam Tours in Kokopo can arrange paddling experiences around the Duke of York Islands.

Fishing: Sport fishing for blue and black marlin, sail fish and dog-tooth tuna is good in the waters around New Britain and the Duke of York Islands. Baia Sports Fishing has a lodge at Open Bay. The Blanche Bay area is good for casual line casting. Boats operate from Rabaul and hotels and guesthouses can organise trips.

Swimming: Beaches near Kokopo are good and there are good beaches at Pila Pila and Ratung villages in Talili Bay north of Rabaul.

Trekking: Suggested areas are the Bainings Mountains, the Pomio area, where you can walk from Pomio to Navu, and the Wide Bay area, walking between Milim and Sampun or Tokua and Merai. Contact Ecotourism Melanesia, Ph: +675 323 4518, www.em.com.pg

East Sepik Province

East Sepik Province (ESP), the second largest province in Papua New Guinea, covers 42,800 square kilometers of the mainland and a number of offshore islands. The region is one of tectonic instability; there are frequent earth tremors and landslides, and an active volcano on Bam Island. The terrain ranges from the broad flood plain of the Sepik River and swamps in the east, through hill country to steep mountains in the west. The population increased from 221,900 in 1980 to 248,300 in 1990. Over 90 languages are spoken.

The provincial Constitution, which was adopted in 1977, provides for a House of Assembly of 33 elected members and three members appointed by the national government. ESP has four districts and headquarters at Wewak. Other towns include Maprik and Angoram. The main products are coffee, cocoa and artifacts such as carvings and pottery which are made for export as well as local use.

The Sepik River, which runs the length of the province, is thought to have been one of the main routes for trade and migration to the highlands from the coast for thousands of years prior to European contact. The Germans controlled the area from 1884 to 1914. The Australians controlled the area from 1914 to 1975, except for the period of Japanese occupation 1942-44. Some parts of the province were severely affected by fighting between the Allied (American and Australian) and Japanese forces during World War II. Villages were bombarded, houses and gardens destroyed and many villagers died in the fighting or from dysentery introduced by Japanese troops. The most successful missions have been the Catholics and the Evangelical Alliance group of Protestant churches.

Things to see

Wewak: Pretty Wewak, at the foot of a high headland, has all services and wonderful golden sand beaches backed by swaying palms. It’s a jumping-off place for travel along the mighty Sepik River. Smaller airlines run services from here to remote parts of the province. The 18-hole golf course is east of town beyond the airport.

Markets: The best is Taun Market, in town at the end of the main street. Kreer market is on the airport road just before it turns inland and Dagua is on Dagua Road near town.

Arts and crafts: Baskets and bilums can be bought at Taun Market and at a stall at Chambri bus stop on Boram Road. There is also a craft shop at the airport.

Cape Wom: The wartime airstrip and memorial where the Japanese signed surrender documents on 13 September 1945 are 14km west of Wewak. Open 7am-6.30pm. There is good swimming and snorkelling on the west side of the Cape.

War relics: Japanese war relics can be seen at Brandi High School, east of Cape Moem army base. Bomb craters are still visible around Boram Airport runway and the unused airport near town. The rusting remains of Japanese landing barges lie on the beach between Kreer market and the hospital.

Muschu and Kairiru Islands: These lie close to Wewak and can be reached by catching one of the small boats from the wharf near the post office. Kairuru Island is almost 800m high and has hot springs, waterfalls and good snorkelling. Both islands have accommodation.

Maprik Area: Maprik town in the Prince Alexander Mountains overlooks the Sepik Basin. Many villages have spectacular forward-leaning haus tambarans and during July and August, when yams are harvested, there are ‘Sing Sings’ and rituals. Woven fibre masks, the region’s most famous artefacts, are used in yam ceremonies.

Angoram & Lower Sepik River: From Angoram, 113km by road from Wewak, you can make trips by motorised canoe to some interesting places. It has banks and trade stores, and there are several places to stay which offer boat trips. Good day trips are to Moim or Kambaramba and nearby lagoons, or to Kambot on the Keram River where there is accommodation. Beyond Kambot there is good forest with plenty of birds. Alternatively, visit the Murik Lakes on the coast and stay overnight.

Ambunti & Middle Sepik River: This section of the river between Ambunti and Tambanum is regarded as the region’s cultural centre with each village having its own artistic style. From Ambunti, reached by air from Wewak, travel is by motorised canoe either down or up-river, staying in houses or village guesthouses. Villages in the Chambri Lakes area are notable for polished carvings, spears and pottery. The Blackwater Lakes on the Korosameri tributary have stilt villages, dense forests and incredible birdlife.

Things to do

Luxury cruises: The easiest way to see the Sepik River is to cruise in luxury on the Sepik Spirit, run by Trans Niugini Tours, or on Melanesian Tourist Services Kalibobo Spirit. Trans Niugini Tours also has a traditional-style haus tambaran lodge on the Karawari River from which it runs tours.

Motorised canoe trips: You can organise your own trip from Ambunti or Angoram. Alternatively contact Sepik Adventure Tours / Ambunti Lodge Ph: +675 456 2525 Fax +675 456 2516 or email [email protected] for trips from Ambunti, or WWF on Ph: +675 456 3926 additional Sepik Tours using the services of locally based tour operators and guest houses.

Surfing: Dolphin Surf Club, Ph: +675 456 2525 Fax +675 456 2516 or email [email protected]

Eastern Highlands Province

Eastern Highlands Province (EHP) covers 11,200 square kilometers of rugged mountains, broad valleys and hills in approximately the center of PNG. EHP has on its border Mt Wilhelm, the highest peak in PNG. Rainfall averages 1,500 to 2,000mm p.a. but droughts can occur in the dry months of July and August. Days are warm and nights cool except in the colder high altitudes. Vegetation includes grasslands, rain forest and Castanopsis and Nothofagus forests. Human occupation is densest in the intermontane valleys, where the grasslands have resulted from forest clearance for gardening.

The population increased from 276,700 in 1980 to 299,600 in 1990. Twenty-two languages are spoken. The provincial Constitution, adopted in 1977, provides for a House of Assembly of 27 elected members and two members appointed by the national government. The main diseases, respiratory, intestinal, sexually transmitted diseases and malnutrition, are treated at the hospital in the provincial headquarters at Goroka, or at one of the 30 health centers. EHP has a national high school, eight provincial high schools, a teachers’ college and a technical college. EHP is the most prosperous highlands province, producing 30 percent of PNG’s coffee, the most important cash crop. Vegetables are sent to coastal towns as well as being marketed locally. EHP has a better road system than most provinces and is linked to the coast, at Lae, by the Highlands Highway.

There is evidence of human occupation 18,000 years BP and trade links with the coast 9,000 BP. In the early 1930s, missionaries, gold prospectors and administration officials were the first Europeans to come to the area. Many Eastern Highlanders were recruited to work for the Allied (American and Australian) forces during World War II. In the 1950s Australians established coffee plantations, most of which have passed into PNG ownership.

Things to see

Goroka: Lying at 1600m, this attractive town built around the airport has pleasant temperatures for walking. On Saturdays, the market, across the park on the side of the Highlands Highway, is very colourful and busy as people trade, fruit, vegetables, pigs, feathers, small animals and ferns.

National Performing Arts Troupe: Home to a Goroka-based theatre company, this circular building located in the park opposite the market is the place to see live performances during production.

JK McCarthy Museum: Excellent displays of artefacts, pottery, weapons, war memorabilia and a collection of photos taken when Mick Leahy first came to the area in 1939 make this small museum a must see. It’s located across the airstrip on Morchhauser Street. Open weekdays 8am-12 noon and 1-4 pm; Saturdays 2-4pm; Sundays 10am-12 noon. Admission by donation.

Arts and Crafts: Baskets, Highlands hats, bilums, spears, bows and arrows and necklaces are available from the museum, from the footpath outside, and inside the lobby of the Bird of Paradise Hotel. Other places to look are the Christian Bookshop, the Prison Rehab Shop behind the Police Station and the art department of University of Goroka.

Goroka Show: Each year on Independence Day in mid-September thousands of painted tribe’s people gather to display their traditional cultures at a huge “Sing Sing”. There are ground-shaking dances, bands and other cultural attractions – a sight not to be missed.

Coffee Plantations: Tours of plantations and processing plants are a good way to see some of the outlying villages.

Asaro Mudmen: Villagers once used weird mud masks to scare their enemies and will show these off for visitors.

Famito: This lush valley 10km south of Goroka has a 9-hole golf course, pretty villages, coffee plantations and a go-cart track.

Lufa: A cave near here has interesting cave paintings and the village makes a good base for climbing Mt. Michael (3380m). You will need guides.

Kainantu: Strung along the highway this small town is a key service centre for the local coffee and cattle producers. Located on the Lae side of town, the Eastern Highlands Cultural Centre sells crafts and has a small museum and coffee shop. Open 8am – 4.30pm weekdays; 9am-4pm weekends. The little town of Kainantu is known for the famous pottery art work, along with a worldwide reputation for its remarkable pottery.

Ukurampa: The Summer Institute of Linguistics is based here in the Aiyura Valley, a 30-minute drive from Kainantu. It’s a pleasant place for day walks and the Institute has a guesthouse.

Okapa: Traditional culture can be seen in the nearby Yagusa Valley. In town, Highlands Handicrafts sells bark paintings and crafts typical of the area. The Eastern Highlands Mission has a guesthouse for those wanting to do walks, bird watching, see wildlife or visit villages. Bird of Paradise Hotel has more information, Ph: +675 531 3100 or email:
[email protected]

Things to do

Bird watching/adventure: For a remote experience, visit Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area to the south of Goroka. The people of Herowana and Ubaigubi villages can act as guides. You can fly to Herowana or reach Ubaigubi by road. Trekking between villages is only for the experienced. Contact the Research and Conservation Foundation of PNG in Goroka, PO Box 1261, Goroka, and Ph: +675 532 3211 /
+675 532 1320 or Email: [email protected] for information.

Enga Province

Enga Province (EP) covers 12,800 square kilometers in the mountainous western highlands. The population rose from 164,500 in 1980 to 238,400 in 1990. Over 90 percent of the people in the province speak some form of the Engan language. There are more speakers of Engan than of any other single language in PNG. The Constitution, adopted in 1978, provides for a House of Assembly of 23 elected members and one member appointed by the national government. EP has six districts. The headquarters are at Wabag. Other towns include Laiagam and Wapenamanda. By far the most important export is gold from the Porgera mining project. Coffee and small quantities of pyrethrum are grown. The rugged terrain makes road construction difficult and EP has a poorly developed communications system.

There is evidence of human occupation 12,000 BP and trade with coastal people 6,000 BP. Catholic, Gutnius Lutheran, and Seventh-Day Adventists missionaries, miners and colonial officials arrived in the 1940s, and European coffee growers in the 1950s. For most of the colonial period the people of Enga were administered as part of the Western Highlands District. The discovery of alluvial gold at Mt Kare led to a gold rush in 1988, and in 1990 a mine was established.

Things to see

Wabag: Tribal fighting is still common in Enga, a rugged mountainous province that has little development apart from coffee plantations and the huge Porgera Mine in the west. The road from Mt. Hagen to Wabag traverses some spectacular country and crosses Kaugel Pass at almost 3000m.

Wabag Cultural Centre: Wabag has a large cultural centre, art gallery and workshop where you can watch artists making sand paintings, an art form unique to Enga Province. Using ground stone as a medium, the sand painters create landscapes and legendary figures on a base of wood or plasterboard. Wigs, masks and war shields from many parts of the country can be seen in the museum. The centre is open from 9am-4pm weekdays.

Enga Festival: Held in August, this is a smaller version of the Goroka and Hagen Shows.

Porgera: Porgera is PNG’s biggest mine and it produces both gold and silver in open-cut and underground operations.

Laiagam: A research station and botanic gardens with a huge orchid collection are the attraction here. The village is located a short way off the road to Porgera.

Things to do

Walking/trekking: Lake Rau, a beautiful crater lake at nearly 3000m, is reached from Pumas village above Laiagam. Allow two days with a guide.

Gulf Province

Gulf Province (GP) covers 34,500 square kilometers in the south of the main island. It has high mountains in the north, swamps on the coast and many lakes and rivers. The population rose from 64,100 in 1980 to 68,000 in 1990. Twenty-six languages are spoken. Many people speak Hiri Motu, one of PNG’s three official languages, in addition to their local language. There was missionary activity along the coast from the 1870s, and later a few copra plantations were established by Australians. But the swampy coastal regions (where virulent forms of malaria were and are endemic) and the rugged interior offered little to attract white settlement.

The Constitution, adopted in 1977, provides for a House of Assembly of 22 members. GP has five divisions and headquarters at Kerema. Small scale logging, gold mining, commercial fishing and copra are the main cash sector activities.

There is evidence of human occupation 3000 BP and pre-European trade with the highlands and coastal people to the east. Missionaries, miners and colonial administration officers arrived in the late 19th century. Gulf men were recruited as laborers and house servants to work in other parts of Papua, and many were conscripted as carriers during World War II.

Things to see and do

Arts and crafts: Art is still strong in the Gulf region with several distinct styles. Main items are masks, bullroarers, headrests, skull racks and gope boards. The latter were made for each act of bravery or successful conquest of an enemy and are elliptical and carved with abstract patterns or stylised figures.

Kaintiba: This area in the mountains behind the coast is good for walking. There are many villages and most have missions where it is possible to stay.

Lakekamu Basin: This huge forested basin is rich in birds and wildlife. During World War II, the Bulldog Track was pushed from Malalaua to Edie Creek near Wau in Morobe Province to carry provisions. Guesthouses in this area are located at Makara, Kakoro and Tekaku villages.