Port Morseby

The commercial centre of the nation, Port Moresby is in itself a microcosm of Papua New Guinea, catering for about 200,000 people consisting of a large number of non-citizens, as well as 800 diverse languages and cultures.

Moresby fluctuates from the hustle of commercialisation to the serenity of a countrytown. Downtown at the waterside is the nostalgic Moresby, of narrow streets and historical street signs. At the entrance of Fairfax Harbour lies Lolorua and Fisherman’s Island, favourite picnic areas for sailors. Beautiful views from Paga Point overlook Ela Beach and Koki Bay.

Juxtaposed to the metropolis is the partly stilt-based Hanuabada Village, home of the traditional Motuan landowners of Moresby. Burnt after World War II, the big village was rebuilt by the Australian Administration. Despite cosmetic changes, the character of the village is still there and it is renowned for its elaborate and expensive bridal ceremonies.

Koki market down at the waterfront is a favourite for trade in seafood brought in daily by local fishermen. Here you’ll also find lots of fresh vegetables and fruits for sale.

There’s a pleasant informality about dress in Port Moresby and casual clothes and open neck shirts for men are worn throughout the year, along with the traditional clothes such as rami, sulus, laplaps and kolos.

Blending the new and the old, the National Parliament, a symbol of modern architecture, contrasts with the dignity of traditional design at the National Museum and Art Gallery.

Located on the slopes of Independence Hill at Waigani, the National Museum and Art Gallery is open weekdays and Sunday afternoons. If you are lucky enough to be in Moresby during the Hiri Moale festival in September, you can join the celebrations to commemorate the historical trade between villagers around the Gulf Province and the capital. The festival features canoe races, processions, choirs, string bands, sing-sings and the Hiri Queen contest.

Port Moresby is made up of a complex traditional society formed upon historical bonds between the traditional landowners, the coastal Motuans and the inland Koitabu, through intermarriages and trade which have been occurring since the mid-19th century

Today the Motu-Koitabu have sacrificed much of their heritage to the influence of Europeans and Polynesian missionaries, who have been visiting the port since the 1780s.

Forty-six kilometres from Port Moresby is the Sogeri Plateau where the infamous Kokoda Trail became the centre of war between the Japanese and Allied Troops. The trail is a redex trial of slippery slopes and steep mountains covered in jungle.

At 800 metres, the atmosphere is cool in contrast to the humidity of the city. You can take short drives around to the many picnic sites and jungle walks, and swim in the Crystal Rapids.

Variarata National Park is a spectacular natural mountain region which offers views over Port Moresby and the coastline, If you get up early, you can catch the mist which blankets the ranges and provides a glorious picture.

West-bound from Port Moresby is the Hiritano Highway which connects the city with Bereina, home of the Kairuku and Mekeo people.

The Mekeos are renowned for their strong chieftain system as well as their grand traditional costumes and the designs they draw on their faces.

While in Moresby and its surrounds, keep your eye out for Papua New Guinean wildlife. It’s as varied as the vegetation and very special. Look for the long-snouted echidna, the New Guinea eagle, the Birds of Paradise, Goura pigeons, seven types of birdwing butterflies and different kinds of egrets.

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