In April 2015, I decided to take a two-day visit to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Why Port Moresby?
The reason why I went to Port Moresby is to give its tourism sector a good boost. Everyone is going to Bali, why not give Port Moresby a shout?
Before you decided to take a trip to Port Moresby there are a few things you need to consider
1) If you are an Australian citizen, you will need to apply for a tourist visa in advance from the local Papuan Consulate/High Commission. Americans, Canadian, New Zealanders, Europeans and South East Asian can get a free visa on arrival at Port Moresby Airport
2) There are NO HOSTELS in Port Moresby or anywhere in Papua New Guinea. Major chains of foreign hotel charge over $200AUD a night. If you want to spend less money on accommodation there are a few AIRBNB hosts in Port Moresby and plenty of Couch Surfing host’s in town if you want free accommodation.
3) It’s very hard to get around Port Moresby using the PV van’s as they all go around the place. Taxi drivers are okay to use, but they can be unsafe. If you want the best transport method you are best to hire a driver and a Toyota 4WD for about $100-200 Kina a day.
4) Papua New Guinea does have malaria. It’s recommended you start taking Malaria tablets 2 days before arrival. Keep taking your malaria tablets for 2 weeks after you leave Papua New Guinea
5) Papua New Guinea is an expensive nation, compared to neighbouring Indonesia and Australia. Accommodation is sky high, most food products are imported from overseas and you may never see a backpacker in the entire time that you’re in Port Moresby
Port Moresby on a Budget
If you want to see Port Moresby on a budget you will be spending around $200 Kina for a driver and car, $75AUD for accommodation and instead of dining out you’re better off buying food from supermarkets as it’s much cheaper than visiting a low-quality chicken burger chain.
Day 1 Thursday 2nd April 2015
The best time to arrive in Port Moresby is during the early hours in the morning. There is a Qantas link flight from Cairns that leaves at 6.20am and land at Jacksonville Airport around 8.05am. Everything starts opening up around 9 am so that’s the best time to arrive.
When I walked through the arrivals hall I noticed a tall man called Ronald holding a sign up with my name on it. His name was Ronald and his job was to drive me around Port Moresby. It’s best if you have someone to pick you up from Port Moresby Airport as taxi drivers do overcharge.
After dropping my bag off at my host’s apartment (near Koki Hill). Ronald drove me down the road to Remembrance Park. This Memorial was pinpointed on Google maps. As a fan of Memorial/Monuments, it’s one memorial that you just can’t miss out
Remembrance Park features a Memorial dedicated to the Fuzzy Wuzzy ages who helped Australian Forces in the Kokoda Trail. On a nice day, the flags of Papua New Guinea are flying high. But today they are nowhere to be scene.
The memorial contains a bronze painting of Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel Raphael Oimbar helping a wounded Australian soldier during the Kokoda campaign.
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels were able to show the Australians around the tough terrain of Kokoda.
The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels finally got their recognition in 2008. The memorial park was completed in 2005 to commemorate 30 years of independence from Australia.
At 9.30am Ronald drove me to the Parliament Haus of Papua New Guinea. This is where politics is discussed throughout most of the year. Parliament Haus is one of the most unusual parliaments I have ever visited.
The front entrance of Parliament Haus has got to be seen to be believed. It’s the amazing artwork, but it gets even better as you walk inside to start your tour.
Inside the reception area is a giant Papuan totem pole. There are gifts from 5 different nations that were given to the people of Papua New Guinea upon its independence in September 1975.
Before entering the chamber, you will notice a large collection of insects on display as well as the portraits of all Prime Ministers and Speaker of Papua New Guinea.
The tour guide takes you inside the chamber as he explains the functions of Parliament Haus. How politicians can speak in the 3 languages of Papua New Guinea.
The tours of Parliament Haus are free and they run whenever Parliament isn’t sitting. At the end of the tour, you will be able to buy a souvenir book explaining the history of Parliament Haus.
Papua New Guinea National Museum & Art Gallery
Because I arrived in Port Moresby around Easter, I was unable to visit the Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery. This was a bummer as I was looking forward to seeing allot of objects from World War II and the usual Papuan art.
If you want to visit the National Museum, it’s best to visit Port Moresby outside of Christmas and Easter. I found it dumb the museum was closed on HOLY THURSDAY!
Bomana Commonwealth War Cemetery
Around 11 am I got outside of Port Moresby and into the town of Bomana. This is where the Bomana Commonwealth War Cemetery is located.
The Cemetery has 3824 graves of British, Australian, New Zealander and Papuan’s. There are 699 unknown graves.
There are 2 Australian Victoria Cross recipients buried at Bomana Cemetery
- Jack French 2/9 Australian Infantry Battalion KIA 4th September 1942
- Bruce Steel Kingsbury 2/14th Australian Infantry KIA 29th August 1942
I spent a good 45 minutes walking around the cemetery. Inspecting every grave and learning a bit more about Kokoda.
War does not discriminate against religion when you see a Star of David amongst all the crosses.
The memorial at the front entrances states that a total of 12,000 Japanese Troops died at the hands of Commonwealth Forces on the Kokoda Trail and at Gona Buna.
When you walk up the hill at Bomana cemetery you can see the names of those troops who have no known graves. The hill is a great opportunity to photograph some Commonwealth War Graves.
The only Mosque in Port Moresby
After visiting a local supermarket to buy some snacks, I drove past the only Mosque in the whole of Port Moresby. There are roughly around 5000 Muslims in the whole of Papua New Guinea.
The Mosque was built by funding from Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.
Port Moresby Nature Park
The highlight of the day was visiting the newly branded Nature Park. It’s located right next door to the University of Port Moresby.
This is where you can get up close and personal with native animals from both Australia and New Guinea.
Tree Kangaroos up high, Victorian crown pigeons down low, cassowary’s under the bridge and a few Birds of Paradise in a large bird cage.
It costs $13 Kina to enter and it comes with a free map of the park. I would recommend spending a good hour here as there are so many different animals to see.
By 3 pm I had seen enough of Port Moresby for the day. I decided I would go back to the apartment for a good sleep.
I got up at 7 pm to talk to my host Elvina and her housemates Viv and Ab. I had a fun night talking about sex, religion, politics and Australian imperialism.
Friday 3rd April 2015
The next day I got up early to go visit the local markets for some shopping.
As a foreigner, you will be overcharged, as I paid an excessive amount of kina for a wood carving of the coat of arm of Papua New Guinea. Just remember that even if they overcharge you, they need to make a living out of selling 2nd hand goods.
Do remember you will need to declare wooden items for Australian Quarantine inspection.
St. Marys War Memorial Cathedral
It was Good Friday that day, so I paid a visit to St. Marys War Memorial Cathedral. The front entrance has a curved half cylinder featuring Papuan Tribal masks.
Inside the Cathedral are wooden blocks that commemorate “The Stations of the Cross”. There are stained glass windows to tell the story of Jesus.
The Church is more of a memorial to those who died in Papua and New Guinea during World War II. Outside the front door is a fountain to remember the Australian that died protecting Kokoda and inside is a plaque to remember the American’s killed in Papua New Guinea.
I travelled along Ela Beach and to me, it’s not really a pretty beach to go swimming at. The locals make good usage of the giant red slide at Ela beach, but I would stay clear of going in the water.
My driver took me on a trip outside of Port Moresby to see some gas fields. They were pretty interesting seeing a giant flame in the distance. But this area was off the beaten path.
Visiting Old Parliament Haus
The last thing I saw in Port Moresby was the location of the old Parliament of Papua New Guinea. Before Parliament Haus was opened in 1984, this was where all the politicians met. Nowadays it’s just used as a storage room.
I left Port Moresby to go back to Cairns at 6 pm in the afternoon. I was grateful that I went to Port Moresby even if it was for 2 days.
I don’t regret not visiting cities like Lae, Madang and Rabaul. It’s just so expensive to fly within Papua New Guinea. Even a one-way flight from Port Moresby to Vanimo will cost around $800 Kina. Just to get to the town that’s on the Indonesia/Papua New Guinea Border.
I will return to Port Moresby to visit the National Museum. But I will only stay 1 night before traveling on to Lae and Vanimo.