Oer the past 6 months I been backward and forward between Sydney and Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 7-8 times. Having come from New Zealand where it’s either winter or summer (warm or cold) I was looking forward to experiencing a “wet season” first hand. Come the end of January and I’d had 2-3 “showers” but noting spectacular, in fact the locals were saying the rainy season has passed them by again – who says there’s no climate change effect in play? [Only the Australian Prime Minster supports this radical theory I believe].
Last week I returned to Port Moresby for a few days and although it was not raining at the time it was apparent there had been a lot of rain in the days (the locals say weeks) preceding my return. As we came in on final approach to the airport I was able to take these photo’s of the river to the north of the city – apart from looking more like a jet boat race course the water was a very muddy brown.
Contrast that muddy brown water with the crystal clear water around the small islands we passed over about 10 minutes out from Port Moresby. As we came in over the mainland we passed over this village with the house set up on stilts out over the water. It looked so calm – such a contradiction to the pacific island images we have been witnessing on television following cyclone Pam tearing through Fiji in recent weeks.
The Kokoda trail of course !! The trekking Mecca for all Australians.
Well I din’t know that either but on a recent trip out of Port Moresby and into the “hills” we visited the village of Sogeri and it all became quite clear.
On past Bomana cemetery at 9 Mile, and pushing higher into he hills east of Port Moresby. very lush and green – thats an understatement – within in no time after commencing the climb th road was engulfed in the clouds and at times when we stopped to take in the view wisps of cloud would race past on the updrafts from the valleys below.
The terrain is spectacular – there’s no way you’d find me walking at night here – the chance of walking of the edge of a severe drop is just to high!!
Just before Sogeri village there’s a intersection (maybe an overstatement) and the muddy road that curved to the north takes you to the start of the Kokoda trail – just 5-6 kilometres further on. Maybe one day soon I get to see if that’s true and make the trek across the mountains to Kokoda on the northern side. Although having seen the relief map of the trek I’m not so sure.
Road barriers that once were the tracks for the armoured vehicles to drive in the boggy ground. Recycling at it’s best!
Sogeri lodger – a fine place to stop for lunch. Try the burgers…
Road to Kokoda and quite possibly the last public toilets for some time!
Sager village market place
Sager village market place
Magnificent views across the valleys. There is no shortage of water here.
9 miles out from Port Moresby, heading toward Sogeri and the southern end of the Kokoda track theres a side road.
Just a few metres past the turn are the gates to Bomana Cemetery, the largest war cemetery in the Pacific region. 3,779 graves, 3,306 Australian soldiers from the fighting in New Guinea and 443 Allied servicemen.
After the Japanese landed at Lae and Salamaua in March 1942, their focus turned toward Port Moresby. After their seaborne attempt to take Port Moresby was and heavily defeated by American air and naval forces in the Coral Sea, their reduced force returned returned to Rabaul. After this defeat the Japanese focused on an overland advance on Port Moresby and launched an attack from from Buna and Gona in September 1942.
Early in 1942, and almost without resistance, the Japanese established a considerable force and developed a useful base on Bougainville, the largest and most northerly of the Solomon Islands. This they held until Americans and Australians began offensive operations towards the end of 1943, when Bougainville was the only one of these islands remaining in Japanese hands. By August 1945, when the Japanese surrendered, most of the island had been recovered.
Those who died in the fighting in Papua and Bougainville are buried in PORT MORESBY (BOMANA) WAR CEMETERY, their graves brought in by the Australian Army Graves Service from burial grounds in the areas where the fighting had taken place.