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Om Papua New Guinea - Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea, the eastern half of the second-largest island in the world, includes a cluster of islands off its northeast coast - New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, Manus, the Trobriands, and scores of smaller islands. The other half of the island, the western part - Indonesian Irian Jaya - is another story and, other than brief remarks about it, this chapter is confined to Papua New Guinea. However, when you put both halves of the island together, notice how in profile it resembles a huge bird taking off. The head of the bird, a place the Dutch called Vogelskopf (bird's head) is on the Indonesian side. The other end, given no anatomical name by the Australians, is in newly independent Papua New Guinea. We once fell in with such a group, and in time they asked why we were in Papua New Guinea. I explained that World War II nostalgia drew at me a little, but mostly we wanted to see the Sepik River, the Trobriands, the Highlands, maybe the Kokoda Trail. They approved with noisy enthusiasm, but one of them added, "You're just scratching the surface of this country, mate. There are other rivers to be seen, trails to be walked, mountains climbed, some snow-clad, and with valleys so remote that Stone-Age people live in them. There are jungles with birds of paradise in them, cassowaries, wallabies, little pigmy blokes too. And don't forget the hundreds of islands in the Bismarck Sea off the North Coast that are like little jewels. Remember too that over 700 linguistic groups and cultures share this country." Two subsequent trips convinced us that New Guinea has everything an adventurer or escapist from the usual could want. But, on balance, Papua New Guinea has far better amenities and transportation facilities than Irian Jaya, the western half. Tranquil lagoons in shades of emerald and turquoise, palms swaying gently in the tradewinds, powdery white beaches framed by soaring mountains, waters teeming with brilliantly colored fish - this is what you will find here.