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Central Province Hiri Moale

Central Province

Only 46 kilometres from Port Moresby is the Sogeri Plateau. At 800 metres the air is cool and pleasant. Sogeri is the starting point for the famous Kokoda Trail. Nearby is the Varirata National Park. Covering an area of 1,000 hectares, it was the original hunting grounds of its tree-house dwelling landowners.

At certain times of the day, birds of paradise, wallabies and deer can be seen along the walking trails. At the end of the trail the lookout presents a panoramic view of Port Moresby and the coastline. The road to Sogeri passes the historic Bomana War Cemetery and Gardens and the Moitaka Wildlife Farm, a crocodile research farm which also has a collection of native animals and birds. On Fridays visitors are able to see the crocodiles at lunch.

Yule Island, two hours drive west along the Hiritano Highway was one of the first areas to have European contact. Catholic missionaries settled here in 1885 and still maintain a presence in the area. It is a popular spot for peaceful getaways and seafood delights. To the east, only fifteen minutes drive from Port Moresby is Loloata Island Resort, a popular destination for Port Moresby residents and a relaxing alternative for transiting visitors. Surrounded by coral reefs it offers snorkelling, diving, fishing and other water sports.

Milne Bay Air operates flights into the towns of Tapini and Woitape. After a short flight climbing into the Owen Stanley Ranges, the light aircraft lands, with little descent, onto an airstrip cut into the side of the mountain. These are popular destinations for bush walking, fishing and relaxing.

The Hiri or trade voyage of the Motu people from the Central Province began early in the 18th century when food supplies had dwindled along the coast. Yam harvests had failed and the people were dying from starvation and disease. Motuan legend has it that during this time of hardship a fisherman called Edai Boera was out on the water minding his own business when Divara (he eel spirit)capsized his boat and dragged him to the depths where he was schooled in the skills of making a large ocean going vessel called a Lakatoi . The vessel, said the giant eel, would be the answer to all their problems. Edai then returned to the surface and his village where he shared his experience before setting about constructing the giant vessel.

Two large canoes were carved and lashed together into a single hull. A platform, a shelter, two large masts and the characteristic Crab Claw sails were added. The Lakatoi was then loaded with ornaments and clay pots (specialties of the area) and set off on the journey to the Gulf to trade for the much needed supplies.

Several months after the Lakatoi's departure, the easterly winds turned north-westerly and it returned crammed with treasures of taro, sago, betelnut and timber. The historic journey was repeated until the 1950s. Today it is still commemorated as part of Papua New Guinea's Independence Day celebrations.

Exploring Central Province

Sogeri Plateau

Lying at 600m and 46km inland, Sogeri is much cooler and greener than 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. 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. On Sundays a small market here sells fruit and vegetables.

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. For bookings phone (675) 325 9340 or fax (675) 325 4247.

Loloata Island

This pleasant retreat from Moresby is great for a day or a weekend. It lies off Bootless Bay and offers diving, snorkelling, fishing, sailboarding or just relaxing. Bootless Bay is about 20km from Moresby, reached by turning left at Six Mile and following the Magi Highway. The resort ferry leaves the Tahira Boating Centre at 8:30am and 15:30pm, or 17:15pm Fridays. Ph: (675) 325 8590 or visit website www.loloata.com

Hisiu Beach

The small beach resort 100km from Moresby is village operated and has bungalows almost on the sand. Fishing, swimming and surfing are popular. You need to take food, cooking utensils and bedding. Bookings are through Westpac Travel in Boroko, phone (65) 325 4500. Call Chris on (675) 321 4782 Department Administrator.

Yule Island

The large Catholic mission here was founded in 1885 and for a while the island was a government headquarters. Accommodation at the Carmelite convent, phone 325 8023, is in the original nuns' cells. 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. Otherwise, fly directly to Kairuku Village.

Things to do

Golf

Moresby's 18-hole golf course, located in Waigani at the end of Magani Crescent behind Parliament House, is more challenging than it looks.

Walking

For weekend walks contact Pamela Christie of PNG Trekking Adventures tel 325 1284 or www.pngtrekking.com.pg in the vicinity of town and further out contact the PNG Bushwalkers Association, PO Box 1335, Boroko. Otherwise ask at the Australian or New Zealand High Commission Embassies.

Diving

There is excellent diving close to Moresby on the reef behind Fisherman's Island, at the east side of Basilisk Passage (the entrance to the harbour), and at The Finger, a long coral ridge with a drop-off on one side and white sand on the other. A sunken trawler, the New Marine No7 and the small MV Kupiki offer wreck dives. Loloata Island Resort only 15 minutes away from Jacksons International Airport and Port Moresby can tailor itineraries to over twenty-five dive sites to suite your requirements. Off Bootless Bay is Horseshoe Reef with a number of different dives including the End Bommie and the wreck of the Pacific Gas. The Dive Centre at Airways Poolside, Ph: (675) 323 1355 offers day trips on MV Solatai. Live-aboard boats operate out of Port Moresby and travel to the Eastern Fields, Milne Bay and other excellent locations along the coast.

Trekking

The famous 96km Kokoda Trail, taking from 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 behind Moresby to Kokoda in Oro Province. It passes through remote, rugged country and it's advisable to use guides. A short day walk can be done on the first part of the trail from Owers Corner to Imita Ridge. For more information, click here to check out the Kokoda Trail contacts.

The Goilala District has excellent hiking around Woitape and Tapini on trails established by missionaries, or you can climb Mount Albert Edward (3990m). Accommodation is available in these remote villages. You are advised to take a guide and use a tour company.

Flight-seeing

The Milk Run to Woitape, Ononge, Fane 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

The best beaches are at Hula, 100km east of Port Moresby, from June to September. Closer to town at Taurama Point you'll find Sero Surf Club, or contact the Surfing Association of PNG, phone (675) 326 0884 or visit the website www.surfingpapuanewguinea.org.pg

Fishing

Galley Reach, a few hours from Port Moresby, offers a variety of fishing. Contact Jason Yip, email .


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