Daniel and friend on the mud in K-Town
PORT MORESBY - I have finally satisfied my curiosity to see Kerema, the town about which top musician Robert Oeka penned the words ‘Yu yet kam lukim’ - a sort of challenge for people to visit his part of our beloved country.
I’ve flown over Gulf Province many times since arriving in Port Moresby in early 1975 to attend Form 4 at Idubada Technical College, transferred there after Lae Technical College experienced a shortage of electrical instructors.
Continue reading "Tell Robert Oeka ‘mi go lukim pinis lo Kerema’" »
Photo Credit - David Kirkland
LISA SMYTH | Paradise, in-flight magazine of Air Niugini | Edited
PORT MORESBY - In May, Intrepid Travel released its 2019 Adventure Travel Index and Papua New Guinea topped its list of most ‘under-touristed’ countries, with a tourism density ratio of only 2.75%.
This means that in 2017, PNG had fewer than three visitors for every 100 people.
PNG’s vast natural, cultural and historical resources need to be protected, but this ranking shows that, if done responsibly, PNG’s tourism sector has a lot of opportunity for positive growth.
Continue reading "PNG’s K700 million tourism industry looks set for more growth" »
Papua New Guinea - a beautiful and exciting place where, with some basic precautions, you can be quite safe
NEWS DESK | The Broke Backpacker | Edited extracts
LONDON - Papua New Guinea is virtually an untrodden destination. It’s got a ton of things to explore, from World War II era wrecks, adventurous hikes in the jungle and a lot of tropical islands to discover – over 600 of them.
But like many awesome places, it’s not exactly paradise. Combine a deep gang culture and rampant violence with natural threats from tropical cyclones, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and it’s no wonder you’re probably wondering “Is Papua New Guinea safe?”
This is one place that we’d say is definitely for the more adventurous travellers, and we want you to be able to travel smart and safe when you visit.
Papua New Guinea is pretty cool, we’re not going to lie. World War II relics, a super diverse culture (including over 800 languages!) and beautiful lush nature.
Continue reading "Is Papua New Guinea a safe place for travel in 2019?" »
LORNA THORNBER | Stuff New Zealand
WELLINGTON, NZ - When there was a shooting on the street outside his hotel on his first night in Papua New Guinea, David Lee wondered whether he had made the right decision, accepting a job in the country that had seen his wife and children move there with him.
Lee, who hails from Lower Hutt, knew that running insurance company Capital Life in Port Moresby was a great career opportunity, and he and his wife Lydia thought their sons Jayden and Jack, aged five and almost three respectively, were young enough to adapt to a different way of life. But they got a bit of a shock when they began reading up on the place.
"What we read and saw focused mainly on the negative stuff, which made us pretty nervous," David, 38, says.
While the shooting initially exacerbated their fears, David says they have come to see PNG as a beautiful, and beautifully diverse, country that, for expats, offers an enjoyably exotic lifestyle.
Continue reading "‘I'm glad we took a chance on Papua New Guinea’" »
Charlie Lynn with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison. Lynn was an MP in Morrison's home state of NSW
CHARLIE LYNN | Adventure Kokoda Blog | Edited extracts
SYDNEY – I’ve had documents forwarded to me that include some remarks made to a recent Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA) forum in Port Moresby.
KTOA was established to look after the interests of a small but vocal group of Australian based operators of eco-tours in Papua New Guinea.
According to the documents passed to me, Association president Sue Fitcher told the forum:
“It is time to call out those who would choose to damage and destroy the industry for whatever warped vested interests they have – who would know.
“We have talked about some of the claims and accusations that have been made earlier; it is interesting to note that [these] are rarely, if ever, made in person but through others or from the safety of sitting behind a computer and ranting through social media.
Continue reading "Kokoda tour operators: Please improve your game" »
Campsite toilet on Imita Ridge (Lynn)
SYDNEY - Over the past decade more than $5 million (K11.8 million) has been hijacked from Kokoda trekkers by unaccountable Australian and Papua New Guinean bureaucrats.
This money had been paid in good faith to meet trekkers’ basic needs in the form of adequate campsites and a safe trail. The fees were also meant to provide for shared community benefits for villagers along the trail.
However, since Australian government officials assumed control of the emerging Kokoda trekking industry in 2008, not a single dollar has been spent to improve campsites, toilets or management systems to meet the needs of the trekkers.
Nobody knows where the money has gone because the bureaucrats involved have never produced an audited financial report.
Continue reading "Trail bureaucrats hijack $5 million Kokoda trekker payments" »
The Haus Tambaran - PNG's national parliament house
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY – National Capital District governor Powes Parkop has branding Papua New Guinea’s capital as ‘Amazing Port Moresby’.
It’s his contention that this city goes far beyond just being another big town in the Pacific.
And it’s true, when you look around the city you’ll notice many of the modern buildings have been inspired by traditional totems.
People who appreciate architecture will rejoice in some of Port Moresby’s iconic buildings which boast innovative design and impressive mosaic facades. The striking national parliament is one such.
Built in Haus Tambaran [spirit house] style, the towering mosaic façade depicting Papua New Guinean motifs. Inspired by the traditional sacred houses of the Maprik region of East Sepik Province, the rocket-shaped roof pointing to the sky gives the building a futuristic look.
Continue reading "Amazing Moresby: more attractions than you dreamed of" »
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - The National Mask and Warwagira Festival is an annual event in East New Britain where the local tribes gather to display their culture and traditions.
The festival starts at dawn on the beach with a Kinavai ceremony, when the mysterious and feared Dukduk and Tubuan arrive on canoes from their villages accompanied by the chanting and beating of drums.
The Kinavai ceremony is spiritually important for the local Tolai people, who reportedly migrated to East New Britain from Namatanai in New Ireland Province. The ceremony signifies their landing on the shores of East New Britain.
Impressive-looking men in red laplaps stand out from the crowd as they walk leisurely around grass huts selling refreshments, food and crafts.
Continue reading "The extraordinary mask festival & other Rabaul attractions" »
Bougainville men display a model of the traditional mona vessel used for warfare, exploration and fishing
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - Festivals and events are part of the indigenous lifestyle in Papua New Guinea. Everywhere you go there is always a celebration close by and many of them have turned into tourist attractions for the country.
The Mona canoe race event in Bougainville is one event that is hosted annually with other activities. In 2014 Bougainville set dates for Bougainville festivals including this one that started in August the same year.
The Mona Festival (sometimes referred to as the Canoe Festival) is held annually in Buka to celebrate the seafaring tradition of Bougainvilleans.
The ‘mona’ is a large sea going canoe which was used for trade or to conduct lightning raids on other communities and islands in the Solomon Sea.
Continue reading "Bougainville’s many festivals present a delight for visitors" »
A Welda student from the Western Highlands
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - Divine Word University community in Madang is always pleased to host its DWU Cultural Festival every year in the third week of August.
It’s a lively event with traditional songs and dances as students from all 22 provinces in PNG, Solomon Islands and Fiji take centre stage showcasing their cultures in what is something closer to a Pacific festival.
The people of Madang and visiting tourists and the growing expatriate community of Chinese, Filipinos and Europeans usually take the chance to see a sampling of the diverse cultures and traditions of Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.
Many students had their parents, guardians and extended relatives on campus to assist them with the preparations and performances as well.
The inclusion of mostly highlands parents was a testament to the level of pride and support they have for their student sons, daughters, nephews and cousins.
The highlands students usually appear more spectacular when their elders put the finishing touches on the face painting and traditional attire.
The annual festival is set by the university administration for the students to acknowledge their indigenous roots in traditional song, dance, costumes and folklore.
Continue reading "DWU cultural festival promotes students’ ethnic heritage" »
Karkar Island students parade with bilums
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - With all the hype of tourism as a sleeping giant for Papua New Guinea economic prosperity, the community-based cultural festivals throughout the country remain a major asset.
In a recent statement, tourism, arts and culture minister Emil Tammur said a policy submission to the parliament is pending for the national government to fund major cultural events, shows and festivals throughout the country.
“Maintaining and promoting cultural events and festivals is not only important for tourism but also for our identify as a unique and culturally-diverse national in the world,” Mr Tammur said.
Continue reading "Karkar Island bilum festival strives to maintain cultural values" »
Rashmii Amoah Bell - Can anyone effectively stand up for the Kokoda guides and carriers?
BRISBANE – How to best articulate the past eight months of futile dialogue with Kokoda Trail management and subsequent non-results for welfare reform for carriers and guides of the trek tourism industry?
It’s a question I much contemplate my unanswered pleas and the patrician-like silence of the key recipients of Papua New Guinea’s multi-million kina number one tourism activity.
The counsel to ‘write often’ and ‘write from the heart’ motivate my efforts to reinforce the repeated requests of the young Papua New Guinean men of the Trail – guides and carriers (porters) - who are asking the industry to enforce, with strict regulation, lighter-weight 18 kg packs, uniforms, safe sleeping gear, better safety measures and increased wages.
My observation and first-hand experience have been characterised by the uncomfortable reality that this is an industry that is controlled commercially by Australians and functioning relentlessly irrespective of Papua New Guinean decision-making and conflict-resolution. The time-rich, and I would argue more appropriate, Melanesian Way having been cast aside.
Continue reading "KTA echo chamber – deaf ears, silos, checklists written in steam" »
Rashmii Amoah Bell and Tracie Watson, general manager of Adventure Kokoda, which imposes standards Rashmii believes all trek companies should observe
BRISBANE, DECEMBER 2018 - His question came as I expected it would and as it echoed through the earpiece, I felt a movement of the boulders of anxiety wedged in my chest.
Shifting from one heel to the other, leaning back against the kitchen countertop to steady myself, I proceeded with the conversation.
DE was calling from somewhere along the road that snakes it way up to Sogeri. His calls were irregular but always brief and purposeful.
Seconds passed as my mind quickly arranged a response of uninspiring words. Words unworthy of the travel DE had undertaken from his village and his effort in borrowing a mobile phone from his cousin.
Unlike several of his Adventure Kokoda counterparts whom I ‘friended’ online, my trek carrier’s resistance to social media meant that I received a phone call. The boulders settled uneasily in the pit of my stomach.
Sensing my unease, DE’s kind nature moved him to banter. With Christmas approaching, he humoured me with instruction to not get carried away with indulgences and I playfully interrogated him about the shenanigans of his recent birthday in November.
Continue reading "The Kokoda shame: A continuing tale of a Trail of Woe" »
Welda girl from Mt Hagen (Peter Kinjap)
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - 2019 has brought changes to the Mount Hagen Cultural Show committee in setting priorities designed to regain corporate sector confidence leading to the staging of another colourful cultural extravaganza in August.
A successful team lead by John Bonny has brought forward K30,000 from last year to enhance preparations for this year’s annual cultural festival.
Members representing various organisations have come together to form a strong team including Phil Kelly from Tinining Limited, Pim Mamandi from Paiya Tours, Pauline Grove from Trans Niugini Tours and James Wakapu from Western Highlands Provincial Tourism, Arts and Culture.
John Bonny said the K30,000.00 forms the basis for raising funds this year and he stressed the importance of business community involvement along with key government departments and schools to ensure that one of the world’s great shows will be maintained.
Continue reading "The Mount Hagen Show will be bigger & better this year" »
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - The focus of the O’Neill-Abel government to divert most tourism development funds to the West and East New Britain is not to derail or downplay other aspiring provinces but to enable visitor numbers in the New Guinea Islands to gradually catch up.
Rabaul’s Frangipani Festival is becoming a global event, so over the next few years a huge climb in tourism numbers can be expected that will benefit province, region and country.
On the morning of 19 September 1994 when the colcanoes Vulcan and Tavurvur erupted forming an ash cloud reaching more than 18kms above Rabaul and causing 30,000 people to be evacuated from the town. The resultant damage to buildings and other structures was massive.
That eruption caused a lot of hardship for Rabaul, but over the last 25 years the once beautiful town has been able to revive itself and regain its reputation as a tropical paradise.
Continue reading "The Frangipani Festival reminds Rabaul of its past" »
Hiri Moale is an annual celebration of the culture of the Motu Koitabu people
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - In many parts of Papua New Guinea, tribal boundaries and customs remain barriers for the progress the country desperately seeks.
A traditional fear of enemies still imprisons many people from pursuing progressive outcomes.
But the Hiri Moale Festival breaks down obstacles that hold back PNG from becoming a prosperous and respected nation.
The success of the Hiri trade was based on the Motuan tradition of daring to explore the unknown for the collective benefit of the people.
And in September each year, amongst the many cultural events coinciding with PNG’s independence celebrations, is the Hiri Moale Festival and the Hiri Hanenamo beauty contest.
Continue reading "Hiri Moale Festival pays tribute to a great seafaring tradition" »
CHARLIE LYNN | Kokoda Treks Blog
SYDNEY – As many as 600 trekkers will be on the Kokoda Trail during the Anzac period over the next fortnight.
The Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA), established to protect the interests of their members, has refused to adopt the World War II army standard of 18 kg, imposed in 1942, as the maximum weight allowed to be carried by PNG wartime carriers.
Instead, the KTOA adopted a weight of 22.5 kg, a number worked out by an Australian bureaucrat who had never trekked the Trail.
That 4.5 kg difference, in addition to imposing a greater burden on carriers, will lead to the loss of 150 jobs for local Koiari and Orokaiva villagers during the Anzac period.
Continue reading "Fair carry could create 150 Kokoda jobs over Anzac period" »
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - If you’re thinking of an exotic holiday this year, the Alotau Kenu (canoe) & Kundu Festival from 1-3 November is a spectacular event showcasing the fascinating cultures of Milne Bay.
The stunning traditional war canoes are a significant part of the lives of the Milne Bay people. They are crafted from special woods in the same way as those made by the people’s ancestors.
The patterns and colours represent the tribe and the area the canoes come from.
This highlight of the festival occurs when dozens of canoes, some more than 40 warriors adorned in traditional dress, paddle to the beat of kundus leaving a powerful impression. Races are held amid much rivalry and celebrated with enthusiasm.
Continue reading "Exotic Alotau – a must-visit destination for holiday makers" »
CHARLIE LYNN | Edited
SYDNEY - Since Australian environment officials assumed control of the Kokoda trekking industry in 2009, trekker numbers have declined by almost 50% from 5,621 in 2008 to 3,033 in 2018 – despite an injection of more than $50 million of aid funding.
The official response to the decline invariably refers to an aircraft crash in 2009 and a couple of deaths around the same period. The reality today is that, whenever the crash site is pointed out to trekkers, the usual response is ‘what crash?’
Prior to the discovery of the $3 billion Kodu gold and copper deposit on the southern slopes of the Kokoda Trail near Mt Bini there was no interest in the area or its people from either the PNG or Australian governments. The appearance of bulldozers from Frontier Resources in 2006 changed that.
Continue reading "Kokoda: Is world heritage ambition killing the military heritage?" »
PORT MORESBY –Travel4Green (T4G) is an autonomous nonprofit private project about offsetting global tourism carbon footprints and sustaining indigenous forests in Papua New Guinea.
The project is based on blockchain and encourages travellers worldwide to calculate their carbon footprints to calculate the volume of carbon emissions they leave behind in each country they visit.
In PNG, the project is independent of government, being designed and operated by Howarig Traders, a registered consultancy firm.
T4G is calling for public review and comment of a white paper being put together to launch this project in PNG. Public feedback on this final draft working document will be taken into account in the development of the project.
Continue reading "Project will offset PNG tourism impacts by sustaining forests" »
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - At the official opening of the Goroka Cultural Show last year, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Emil Tammur told showgoers that Papua New Guinea’s major cultural events countrywide will now be funded directly from the national budget.
He said a policy submission to fund major cultural events “will be out in parliament soon for debate and endorsement.”
The events and festivals include Goroka, Mt Hagen, Jiwaka, Enga, Kutubu Kundu and Digaso, Morobe, Madang, KarKar Island, Kokopo, Sepik, Hiri Moale, Rabaul, Kenu and Alotau.
These festivals are increasingly recognised in PNG for their contribution to the growth of communities,. They revitalise the communication and celebration of indigenous culture, tradition and rituals.
Continue reading "Tourism beset by issues of safety, infrastructure & support" »
RASHMII BELL | Edited extracts
DEAR MR WARGIRAI - I am writing in response to your recent correspondence to Australia-based Kokoda Trail tour operators outlining the Kokoda Track Authority’s decisions and agenda for the 2019 trek season.
The welfare of guides and carriers is an issue I have been following for some time through media and predominantly online publications by Charlie Lynn OAM OL.
I view his conscientious efforts as intended to assist and support Trail management to improve and develop an effective, ethical, accountable and transparent trek tourism industry along the Kokoda Trail.
I support your expressed commitment to redeem relationships with landowners and monitor delivery of projects that will have a positive impact on the daily lives of Trail communities.
Continue reading "An open letter to the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA)" »
Major Charlie Lynn
CHARLIE LYNN | Spectator Australia
SYDNEY - Community museums and trade centres under construction along the Kokoda Trail are the latest taxpayer funded folly of our so-called ‘Australian – PNG Partnership’.
The use of ‘partnership’ by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade operatives in Port Moresby is an oxymoron based on the principle of ‘we pay – you agree’ and it’s indicative of the empathetic divide between them and the people they are supposed to serve.
In this case there has been no consultation with trekkers or local villagers to see if such an initiative would meet their needs and no cost benefit analysis to justify the expenditure of other people’s money.
Apart from a few rusted rifles, rotted boots and mortar shells community museums will have little to display – and apart from the odd bilum bag or carved stick, villages along the trail have little to trade.
Continue reading "After $50 million, Kokoda suffers from Australian meddling" »
Scott on the Kokoda Trail - gutsy, passionate and very, very persistent
SCOTT PHILLIPS | The Motley Fool
SYDNEY - It didn’t exactly end the way I expected. I finished… walked every bloody step of the aptly nicknamed ‘bloody track’, but the last hill was really hard.
‘Jesus, that last hill was tough’, I said to my mate Simon just after we walked through the archway that marked the end of the 120km, eight-day trek.
‘No mate, that was easy’ he said. And I realised how crook I was.
Fair to say, that night was tough, and I felt like death warmed up when I woke the next day for my flight home. Fast forward a few days, and I was in an intensive care bed back in Australia.
But we’ll get there.
Continue reading "How the Kokoda Trail almost killed me; & why I’d do it again" »
Members of the Adventure Kokoda team - Charlie Lynn ensures the highest standards are maintained for his trekking company
Edited extracts from a submission by Adventure Kokoda on the welfare of Papua New Guinean guides and carriers engaged in the Kokoda trekking industry. Link here to the full submission
PORT MORESBY - The welfare of PNG guides and carriers has been a contentious subject for some years, however the recent death of a carrier who was allegedly overloaded by an Australian trek operator has brought the issue of their exploitation to the forefront of the debate.
A recent forum organised by the Kokoda Track Authority (KTA) in Brisbane resulted in the CEO of PNG Tourism calling for a response to the issues raised but which could not be properly addressed due to agenda and time constraints.
This response to the draft minutes of the forum is based on the collective views of Adventure Kokoda trek leaders who have a combined total of 130 years professional army experience and who have led more than 520 expeditions across the trail over the past 27 years.
Continue reading "Pursuing the better welfare of Kokoda Trail guides & carriers" »
The tropical turquoise water of PNG (Ben Jackson)
BEN JACKSON | Sun Sea Earth Blog
PORT MORESBY - The proclamation of Papua New Guinea as the “last paradise on earth” by the country’s prime minister had the ring of an early 20th century adventure novel and it is a tagline that perhaps appropriately reflects the country’s place as a frontier travel destination.
There are good reasons that the nation of just over eight million people has been long touted as having great potential for tourism. It has all the natural ingredients for an idyllic tropical beach getaway and much more.
For many years adventurous fishermen, snorkelers and divers have known about the wealth of sea life pulsing beneath the surface of PNG’s turquoise waters.
At times the pelagic fish seem to hook themselves and the fact that the first and second (and only) fish I’ve caught were a marlin and a wahoo speaks to the embarrassment of marine riches.
Continue reading "The last paradise: a sleeping giant waiting to be woken" »
Charlie Walker has chosen PNG for his next big adventure
CHARLIE WALKER | Adventurer & Writer
LONDON - In March 2019, I will undertake a two-month journey through the interior of Papua New Guinea.
The goal is to get from the coast at Lae back to the coast at Wewak via the country's three highest peaks and having paddled the longest river, the Sepik, from source to sea.
The entire route will be completed without motorised transport and is approximately 2,400 km, breaking down as:
Cycling: 800 km
Hiking: 480 km
Packrafting: 1,120 km
Some of the challenges will include local crime, tribal warfare, whitewater, crocodiles and some of the world's densest jungle.
Due to the lack of internet connectivity, I will not be blogging during the trip but, when possible, will post updates on Instagram and Twitter.
I’m a British adventurer, writer and motivational speaker specialising in long distance, human-powered expeditions and I’ve travelled by bicycle, foot, horse and dugout canoe.
Continue reading "Mountains & rivers: solo adventurer gets set to do PNG" »
BUSU – Two of my former classmates and I from Busu Secondary School in Lae shared an adventure with our former English teacher Mrs Bailey recently.
Together with the five students from the Grade 11 tourism class, which Mrs Bailey teaches, and a UPNG medical student, the three of us - Komuna Karo, Kimson Giyactulu and I – embarked on an awareness-raising expedition to the people of Gobadik in the Nabak area of Morobe Province.
(Mrs Bailey is seen here speaking to the villagers.)
The purpose of the trip was to explain to the people about two matters - tourism and APEC.
Our team left Busu Secondary School just before one o’clock in bright sunny weather. We travelled along a mountainous track which my friend Komuna explained had been built in colonial days by a Western logging company. In fact, we were heading to his village.
Continue reading "Tourism awareness for the Gobadic people of Morobe" »
BRISBANE – The words were handwritten on a torn white plastic sheet, and the images appeared on Australia’s Channel 9 news on Sunday.
Reason for collection of gate fees
- You trekkers payed K350.00 to KTA, but that never reach the landowners in terms of service for the last 10 years
- For the last 10 years landowners never received ward allocation
- The landowners want KTA chairman to step down before gate will be open
- For that reason, we are collecting half of that K350.00 which is K175.00 for road to pass through
Plis pay K175.00 cash now to walk
On Remembrance Day, journalist Tim Davies presented a disturbing news story even as companion media were beginning to focus on the exorbitant expenditure of staging the APEC meetings in Port Moresby.
Continue reading "Kokoda barricades: Official disengagement leads to Trail unrest" »
Most journalists in Port Moresby for APEC are being accommodated aboard P&O's Pacific Jewel
STAFF CORRESPONDENT | AFP-JIJI
ABOARD THE PACIFIC JEWEL– Quoits deck, plunge pools and sunset yoga: For security and logistical reasons, thousands of delegates and journalists attending this year’s APEC summit are being quartered on hulking cruise ships.
‘Like nothing on Earth,’ screams a slogan in huge dark lettering against their gleaming white hulls, moored off Papua New Guinea’s crime-ridden capital of Port Moresby. Indeed, few attendees can have experienced summit accommodation like it.
The 245-meter Pacific Jewel, where mainly journalists are housed, has 14 decks and berths for nearly 1,700 people, ranging from small interior cabins to spacious suites with an ocean view.
It boasts an array of restaurants and bars from the Mix Cocktail bar to the darker and jazz-filled Orient. Other entertainment includes the Marquee theatre for shows and ‘Gatsby’ and ‘Back to School’ parties.
Continue reading "Journalists live on board for APEC in Port Moresby" »
RASHMII AMOAH BELL
Rashmii Amoah Bell and Charlie Lynn at the Isurava memorial
The seventh in a series of articles about the need to improve the conditions and sustainable development of the trek tourism industry along the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6 -17 August, 2018
ON THE TRAIL - Collapsing on top of the clay-baked ground, my trek group seeks refuge from the midday heat under the cool of an awning.
A stream of loose dust swirls past, dancing toward the row of aged banana trees bordering the edge of Menari village. I reach for the nozzle of my hydration bladder and take three appreciative sips.
Beside me, trek mates use the interval to rummage through their backpacks and Band-aid strips, jelly beans and small bottles of sunscreen are offered around – along with tips about redistributing weight in the packs.
I’ve been accompanying trekkers nominated by New South Wales RSL clubs who are participating in their annual Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge in partnership with Adventure Kokoda.
Fourteen of the group are employees of RSL branches and two are soldiers serving with the Australian Army. Like trek leader Charlie and the trek guide, their daily khakis are enviably immaculate despite the daily grind of uphill climbs and unsteady clambering through swamps.
It is a multicultural group reflective of contemporary Australia and it is the first visit to Papua New Guinea for all 16 participants.
Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Deep commemoration & missing interpretation" »
Brown River crossing - Adventure Kokoda carriers guide trekkers across a fallen tree 'bridge'
RASHMII AMOAH BELL
Sixth in a series of articles about the need to improve the conditions and sustainable development of the trek tourism industry along the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6-17 August
ON THE TRAIL – My guide and carrier DE and I have developed a vocabulary of sorts.
Extending his arm back toward me, low-slung and with fingers splayed, DE warns of a winding navigation of Emoo Creek.
At a standstill facing me, hand elevated and shoulders curled towards his chest, DE’s eye movements map out a path to safely manoeuvre the slime-coated incline of Nauro Lookout.
With short, clear instructions received from over my shoulder, he gently insists on my full concentration when clambering amongst floating logs in swamps and he steadies my balance through light pressure on the small backpack on my shoulders.
Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Inadequate infrastructure mars the Kokoda Trail" »
Uploading the first Maserati - handle with care
PORT MORESBY – Forty white-jacketed Maserati Quattroporte luxury cars estimated to cost a lazy million kina each have been airlifted to Port Moresby for the three-day APEC forum next month.
Air Cargo News reports that AirBridgeCargo (ABC) Airlines operated two Boeing 747-8F charters to ferry the brand new vehicles from Milan in Italy to Papua New Guinea.
“The vehicles are being used for the comfortable and safe transfers of key representatives of the participating countries,” the trade publication said, adding they will “provide high-end chauffeuring services”.
It was also good to learn that “ABC’s dedicated team of highly-skilled and experienced professionals strictly followed all internal procedures to guarantee the secure and seamless transportation of the luxury vehicles”.
Continue reading "40 million kina payload of Maseratis arrives in Moresby" »
A treat of baked goods and fruit prepared by women of Abuari village - part of a project supported by Adventure Kokoda
RASHMII AMOAH BELL
Fifth in a series of articles about the need to improve trek tourism along the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6 -17 August 2018
ON THE TRAIL - Atop a moss-covered fallen tree trunk bananas speckled with brown spots lie next to bundles of light globe-sized passionfruit.
A baby blue shawl thrown across an elderly woman’s bony frame complements the deep orange sweet jelly produce positioned beside her. She lowers her eyes as the trek group edges past her towards the forest border.
Standing a few metres away, trek leader Charlie Lynn rehashes his presentation as I tap my fingers across the keypad of my phone. I note details of mortar relics resting in an open, rusting cage in the forest bordering Myola 1 village.
An absence of information boards on the Trail means Charlie’s thorough knowledge of World War II’s Kokoda campaign is crucial. Today is the sixth day I’ve been learning about the military history behind our long 10-day pilgrimage.
Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Dispossession – no joy for women in Kokoda tourism" »
The cook winds down from preparing the evening meal after a long day's trek (and cooking)
RASHMII AMOAH BELL
The fourth in a series of articles about issues of the trek tourism industry on the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6-17 August 2018
ON THE TRAIL - BOSKUK and Junior emerge from the haus kuk section of the trekkers’ dining hut with two stainless steel bowls of warm rinsing water and another filled with warm soapy water.
Taking turns, my fellow trekkers and I line up against the hand-built dining table chattering about the afternoon’s descent into this campsite at Ofi Creek as we wash our individual dishes and cutlery.
A pile of striped purple cleaning cloths are laid out for us to dry our implements before heading to our tents for the night.
I sit easily on the table’s bench seat, comfortably content after my meal of French onion soup, instant potato mash and tinned bully beef and hear DE’s gentle call from outside the hut’s thatched frame.
Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Wartime gratitude morphs into a troubled present" »
Carriers' quarter on the Kokoda Trail
RASHMII AMOAH BELL
The third in a series of articles about the need to improve conditions and sustainable development of the trek tourism industry along the Kokoda Trail. The articles are drawn from Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6 -17 August, 2018
ON THE TRAIL - Empty cans of chicken soup sit beside a small open fire, their metal charring slowly as flames flicker around them.
Boskuk moves about busily clearing the other end of a timber platform on which his assistant, Junior, and I recline.
He throws scraps of onion peel and ripped pasta packets into a garbage disposal bag as he makes his way towards us to inspect the evening’s dish washing efforts.
Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Carrier welfare & poor practice on the Kokoda trek" »
Vehicles approach a road tax centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
PORT MORESBY - The Papua New Guinea government has spent billions of kina on road infrastructure in recent years.
Most of the funds came from loans which will be repaid by taxpayers. Herein lies a big problem.
PNG has a small income tax base. Only 5% of the population is engaged in formal employment and they bear the tax burden.
The other 95% are in the informal sector and don’t pay any direct tax other than GST which is passed on to customers.
On average, a bus or taxi owner makes about K400 per day. In a fortnight, that’s more than K5,000. Bus and taxi owners receive benefit from public hospitals and schools – are they paying their fair share?
There are property owners who provide single rooms for rent at inflated prices and others in the informal sector who make a lot of tax-free income every day.
Continue reading "Distribute the tax burden fairly among formal & informal sectors" »
Carrier assists a trekker down a steep incline
RASHMII AMOAH BELL
Second in a series of articles about the need to improve the conditions and sustainable development of the trek tourism industry on the Kokoda Trail. The articles document Rashmii’s observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as she trekked the Trail from 6-17 August
ON THE TRAIL - IT is just on dusk at Agulogo campsite when an impromptu meeting takes place inside the trekkers’ dining hut.
A hand-built and much weathered column table flanked by snake-length benches sit on the earthen floor. Seated across from me in the candle light are three Papua New Guineans: one from Kokoda Initiative (KI) funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs; the other two from PNG’s Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA).
To my left is Adventure Kokoda trek leader Charlie Lynn and, at his suggestion, our trek guide and my carrier, DE. The sound of Brown River, in which I had bathed earlier, echoes around us.
Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Disregard & mismanagement blight an iconic trek" »
Holiday Inn in Bangkok: If you're from PNG, everything in the city feels like a bargain
PORT MORESBY - I was recently in Bangkok, Thailand, for a meeting. On the first day, a friend from the US, who works in the Thai capital, asked, “How is Bangkok?”
“Oh, it’s a beautiful city. Things are so cheap here,” I replied.
“Yeah, you enjoy first world luxury for a third world price in Bangkok,” my friend said.
I couldn’t agree more. Bangkok, with an endless variety at bargain prices, is one of the best cities to shop till you drop.
The Holiday Inn Express at Siam, where I slept, is a fancy hotel.
It’s taller than any hotel or building in Port Moresby but the suites cost only the equivalent of K240 a night, which includes breakfast.
For that, you could afford only a low standard guest house or lodge room in Port Moresby.
Continue reading "In PNG, it’s first world price for third world service" »
When Mt Lamington erupted in January 1951, it killed 3,700 people in Higaturu town, in 29 villages and at missions and schools more than 10 km away
STAFF WRITER | Deakin Research
This piece is based on an article written by Dr Victoria Stead published in a special issue of ‘Anthropological Forum’ co-edited by Dr Stead with Professor Michèle Dominy (Bard College New York) on the theme ‘Moral Horizons of Land and Place’
MELBOURNE - Located on the slopes of volcanic Mount Lamington in Papua New Guinea’s Oro Province, the old Higaturu Station is a place marked by violence and memories.
It is less than an hour’s drive from the Provincial capital, Popondetta, on the way to Kokoda, which, depending on which way you are walking is either the beginning or the end of the Kokoda track.
That 96-kilometre track over the Owen Stanley Ranges is the focal point of a burgeoning but unevenly spread war tourism industry in the Province.
Between July-September 1943, at the height of World War II, 21 local men were executed in Higaturu for charges stemming from the ‘betrayal’ of eight to ten missionaries in August 1942 who were brutally murdered by occupying Japanese forces.
Continue reading "Researching the morality of PNG’s ‘dark tourism’ initiatives" »
Blockchain Expo promotion in Port Moresby
PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY - Blockchain technology – a modern development understood by few –is worth learning about, no matter what industry you’re in.
Blockchain is currently popular in financial services but I’ll use the example of the hotel and tourism industry, potentially very significant for Papua New Guinea, where it can process and secure data in better ways.
For example, here’s a hypothetical scenario. Giluwe Hotel enters an agreement with an online travel agent, Wanol Travels, with a clause saying that, for the next six months, room nights booked more than five days in advance will offer a higher commission than those booked later.
With a non-blockchain model, both parties would sign a contract. When the deal ends, both provide reports to identify the total number of online bookings from Wanol Travels or use some commission consolidation service to document it for them.
Continue reading "Blockchain offers a secure, modern solution for PNG tourism" »
BEN JACKSON | Sun Earth Sea Blog
Our world is filled with a diversity of cultures, geographies and ideas. Sun Earth Sea is a new blog that celebrates exploration; the elements that make places and people unique; and values and characteristics that are ubiquitous. It is about creative expression, balanced living and respect for the earth. Sun Earth Sea shares the stories of locales that amaze, individuals that inspire and food that nourishes. Here is its introductory offering. Archive this link to stay in touch - BRFJ
RABAUL - The town where my sister was born is long gone.
It disappeared in a shroud of burning ash more than 20 years ago.
At that time, the inhabitants of Rabaul picked up what remained of their lives – in many cases, not much – and moved some 30 kilometres down the coast to start again.
Today, the new hub Kokopo seems like it has always been at the centre of activity.
The streets are lined with department stores, hardware houses, banks and supermarkets. Youngsters spill out on the streets each weekday after school to buy drinks and food. They walk along laughing and talking together.
This is the only life they’ve ever experienced, and it’s a good one, but many of the older generation long for the days in the shadow of the volcano.
Continue reading "In the shadow of the volcano" »
Kokoda trail or trial? Rashmii Bell's 10-day trek investigated who benefits from Kokoda tourism and why there's a need for urgent corrective action
RASHMII AMOAH BELL
The first of a series of articles about the need to improve the conditions and sustainable development of the tourism industry on the Kokoda Trail. The articles document my observations and conversations with Papua New Guinean guides, carriers, campsite owners and communities as I trekked the Trail from 6–17 August.
ON THE TRAIL - In 2017, I was invited by the Australian-based social enterprise, Kokoda Track Foundation (KTF), to facilitate two rural school book-making workshops in Oro Province.
While designated to act only in as a volunteer, all research, design, delivery and facilitation was assigned to me by the Foundation. On both occasions I achieved the assigned outcomes.
And so, having donated my time and talent to this organisation, it was with disappointment and regret to have it deny my sole and rightful authorship of ‘Butterflies along the Track’, the KTF’s Kokoda75 commemorative children’s book, funded by Australia’s foreign affairs department.
Continue reading "Trail of Woe: Bucks versus benefits; the ugly side of Kokoda" »
Relaxing in Dubai - I could goldmedal in this for Australia, and will when they add the event to the Olympics
“We are here to help each other through this thing, whatever it is” – Kurt Vonnegut
DUBAI - By the time you read this indulgence, Ingrid and I are on our way to Europe for a few weeks. Here, in August 2018, I suspect my travelling days are numbered as age is not so much creeping up on me as shoving its unwelcome presence in my face. Or, more accurately, into my spine.
For 10 years my love of travel has struggled against my ailing frame. Movement is now a daily challenge. After six bouts of surgery to keep me mobile, I have been told by the neurosurgeon, ‘no more, it’ll just make things worse’. I can walk perhaps 200 metres at a time, sometimes three times a day. So I'm not expecting too much excitement on this journey.
But let me go back a few years. For today’s PNG Attitude, I take advantage of the enforced captivity of air travel to let you peek into a private travel log from seven years ago which recorded another trip where my back, for a while anyway, made a bastard of itself. The log should really be called a long, it is voluminous, so I don’t expect you to read it all. Or at all. But, if you enjoy travel, or even the human condition, you may find it diverting. I hope you do.
Continue reading "Travels with my back: Private notes for understanding friends" »
SYDNEY - Our daughter was born in Port Moresby in 1958 during my first term of service in Papua New Guinea.
Recently, she applied to renew her Australian passport, six months ahead of its expiry date. To her surprise, the current perfectly valid passport was immediately defaced by clipping the pages.
She was told before a new passport could be issued she had to prove her Australian citizenship. The documentation required for this included her birth certificate, both her mother's and her father's birth certificates, their marriage certificate and details of their (that is, mine and my wife's) parents' place of birth.
Expostulation that this was merely the renewal of an Australian passport, which had previously been issued at least three times previously without question, was brushed aside without explanation.
Continue reading "The mysterious Citizenship PNG Unit is on the prowl" »
The governor's residence well ablaze - targeted by protesters who have reached the end of their tether
WABAG - Air Niugini’s beautiful bird of paradise which for decades have showcased our cultural diversity were shredded when the Dash 8 aircraft was burned to the ground in Mendi last week.
I cannot describe the emotions I feel when I see our nation al icons destroyed.
It is the same emotion that wells up in me when I encounter our carvings, paintings, music or meet Papua New Guineans in far off lands.
In 1989, I had such an experience as I flew on an Air Niugini airbus painted with a giant bird of paradise with its yellow plumage covering the entire fuselage of the aircaft like a satin dress as we headed north to Hong Kong.
I was already seated when I saw two young men enter the cabin and watched the air hostess direct them to their seats.
Continue reading "I feel for the crew of the ill-fated Dash 8 flight to Mendi" »
STAFF REPORTER | PNG Today
PORT MORESBY – Papua New Guinea has indefinitely suspended services provided by passport and visa agents amid a visa fraud scandal.
The suspension, effective from today, was announced by immigration and border security minister Petrus Thomas.
The action followed police investigations into a passport and visa service agent and a Chinese national recently charged with bribery.
“All clients will have to lodge their applications directly with the Immigration and Citizenship Authority,” Thomas said.
“There will be no more new applications accepted from visa agents. This indefinite suspension will be in place until a policy regulating registration and monitoring of all agents is developed and put in place.
Continue reading "Fraud scandal triggers suspension of PNG visa services" »
SUE FITCHER & CHARLIE LYNN | The Spectator
Spectator Editor’s note: After publishing the Charlie Lynn article ‘Losing Kokoda’, we received a letter in response from Sue Fitcher, president of the Kokoda Tour Operators Association. Ms Fitcher did not respond to an offer to author an item in reply, so we are publishing her correspondence in the interest of fairness, along with a follow-up comment from Charlie.
Ms Fitcher (Kokoda Tour Operators Association) to The Spectator:
THE BASIN, VIC - I write after reading an article published by and in my role as president of the Kokoda Tour Operators Association (KTOA), an organisation representing just under 70% of the Kokoda trekking industry.
My first question is, do you have any sort of fact checker on articles put to you before you publish? This is an article big on allegation and extremely short on substance. Where are the examples, where is the verification?
Continue reading "The battle of Kokoda: Fairness or exploitation on the Trail?" »
Crossing a stream on the Kokoda Trail - too little to show for $50 million of Australian taxpayers' money
CHARLIE LYNN | Spectator Australia
SYDNEY - The ‘blackbirding curse’ is as damaging to Papua New Guinea’s adventure tourism industry as the ‘resource curse’ is to mining and exploration.
‘Blackbirding’ was a term given to the coercion of native people from PNG to work as cheap labour in Queensland’s sugar plantations in the latter part of the nineteenth century. When the extent of the exploitation became known it was outlawed as a form of slavery.
The ‘resource curse’ refers to the paradox that countries with an abundance of natural resources tend to have less economic growth, less democracy and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources.
Over the past decade 45,000 Australians from all walks of life have trekked across the Kokoda Trail. Their reasons are many and varied but the wartime significance combined with a sense of adventure in the land of the unexpected is the most compelling motivation.
Continue reading "Losing Kokoda: $50 million & dishonouring our military heritage" »
ELIZABETH ROBINSON | Cruise & Ferry
SYDNEY - P&O Cruises Australia is to sail six itineraries to Papua New Guinea in 2019, taking guests to destinations such as Alotau, Kitava Island, Rabaul, Kiriwina Island and the Conflict Islands.
The line will offer five 10-night ‘New Guinea Island Encounter’ cruises from Brisbane. The sixth cruise will be an 11-night round trip from Sydney onboard Pacific Aria in mind-November, which will include a call at the Conflict Islands, one of the most remote locations in the Coral Sea.
P&O Cruises became the first cruise line to ever visit the islands in 2016, allowing guests to explore the group of 21 islands that surround a lagoon and are home to one of the world’s most bio-diverse reef systems.
Continue reading "P&O Cruises announces its new PNG itineraries for 2019" »