Thursday, January 26, 2006

Flights Shown in Google Earth

Download HERE

Owena People

Owena People
Originally uploaded by luckyforehead.

Di at Owena

Di at Owena
Originally uploaded by luckyforehead.

Airstrip at Owena, 400m long, 12% Grade

Owena Kids

Owena Kids
Originally uploaded by luckyforehead.

People at Marawaka

People at Marawaka
Originally uploaded by luckyforehead.

Day in the Twin Otter

We went flying with MAF today - just for fun. Took off at around lunchtime, flew to Marawaka to pick up some people and coffee. Marawaka is tucked away in a magnificent valley. The Twin Otter went exhileratingly close to the mountains as it circled down into the valley losing height before the landing. We spent an interesting half an hour there standing by the plane as probably a thousand people watched us through the airstrip fence.

Then on to Aiyura, right next to Ukarumpa - where the 'Summer Institute of Linguistics' (AKA 'Little America') is. Spent a pleasant hour there being shown around the place - amazing to see the work they are doing recording some of the almost 900 languages found in PNG.

From Aiyura we flew to the small village of Owena, perched on the side of a mountain, with an airstrip only 400 metres long at a 12% grade up the slope. Very exhilerating! I can't believe these pilots do it all the time. The airstrip is so steep that if it's wet, the plane runs the risk of sliding down it when it's parked up the end! The villagers at Owena had none of the hesitations (or fences) that the one's at Marawaka had. We were mobbed by probably a hundred children as we took photos. Di attempted to hand out some stickers at one point - causing a complete moshpit of crazy kids. She gave the rest of the stickers to a local guy who is the church worker there, to distribute when the hype had died down.

Home again in the evening to rainy Goroka... what an amazing day! Of course it's all logged with GPS and viewable in Google Earth - download the file HERE

"I'm on John Howard's Team" - Alan Cadman

Spent an interesting day up at AT Projects on Sunday. 4 Federal politicians from Australia are visiting PNG for a few days, and AT Projects was one of their stops. AusAID put a TINY bit of money into AT Projects at the moment, but hopefully the positive impression made will send some more of Australia's money their way.

The pollies were:
  • The Hon. Alan Cadman MP, Liberal, Member for Mitchell (NSW) - delegation leader.
  • Glenn Sterle, Labor, Senator for Western Australia - deputy delegation leader.
  • Anne McEwen, Labor, Senator for South Australia.
  • The Hon. Kym Richardson MP, Liberal, Member for Kingston (South Australia).
Steve Lleyton from AT did a great job showing them the place. His colourful description of toilet design was especially memorable. Miriam (Steve's wife) and various emplyees (workmates of Di's) did short presentations. Unfortunately they ran out of time and were not able to take part in one of Di's initiative games.

The CRMF team was all up there as well, showing off a 'World First' VHF Internet connection that they have set up from AT Projects to CRMF Base in Goroka.

Lunch with the pollies was traditional PNG food - 'Greens', Sago, KauKau (Sweet Potato) and Di's banana cake.

Di and I stayed up at AT after the circus left and walked up the mountain to Mt Gahvisuka National Park. Some of the lushest rainforest I've had the privelege to see! The walked back was especially enjoyable as we were joined by 3 mankis (little boys) who gave us flowers and showed us lots of edibale plants and continuously demonstrated their skills by trying to shoot little birds with their shanghais...

We spent the night in one of the houses at AT enjoying the mountain grandeur and especially the LACK of rooster crowing from 3am in the morning. (The rooster has been a part of our month in Goroka that we will be happy to forget...) If only I had a mountain bike for the trip back down into Goroka the next morning...

Monday, January 23, 2006

View from the deck - AT Projects

Alan Cadman, MP - Checking out the community care centre model at AT Projects

Gahavisuka National Park - just up the Hill from AT Projects

Breakfast on the Deck - AT Projects

Kids we met on the road up to Gahvahisuka N.P. - They gave us flowers!

Australian Politicians being shown around AT Projects

Friday, January 20, 2006

Wireless Success!

Just thought I'd write a quick blog post from this laptop which is working over the wireless link I finally got working... it's only going over 500 metres right now, but should theoretically work up to 50km. I don't know if you can share my excitement... I just thought you all might like to know!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


We took a long weekend (you can do that if you're volunteers...) and went to Madang "Most Beautiful Town on the Pacific".

We left Friday morning, walking down to the markets to catch a PMV. They are vans that drive around with the driver yelling what their destination is "LaeLaeLaeLaeLaeLaeLaLaLaLaLae" etc. Found one for Madang pretty quickly, then drove around for another hour before it filled up. That's the usual thing apparently.

The rest of the day was spent sitting in the van marvelling at the scenery. After descending a few different mountain ranges, I thought we must nearly be down to the plains when suddenly we went down through some clouds and I saw how far we had to go (this was on Kasam Pass). There was a change of vans on the way down when a landslide had cut the road. Some vehicles were getting through (with the help of ropes and hundreds of willing helpers), but the lineup was long, and one clever passenger went and found another 15 seater on the other side of the landslide who was willing to swap passengers. The last few hours before the coast is a punishing dirt road over a small be RUGGED mountain range.

Arrived at Madang around 4pm and went to our accomodation - Madang Resort. A bit nicer than our usual style of accomodation, but volunteers get half price, so the three of us shared a room for about K140 (AUS$70) per night for two nights. It beautiful - located right on the tip of the Madang peninsula, looking out at palm fringed islands with a large volcano island in the distance. John Howard stayed there last year with the other Pacific nation leaders for a conference. I checked under our bed to see if he had scratched his name there, but we mustn't have had his room.

On Saturday, after a morning foray around town - picking up some wood carvings, Sago palm weavings and food, we took a water PMV out to Krangket Island for some snorkelling. Krangket is pretty close to paradise... palm trees, villages, kids swimming, crystal clear water with coral and fish... We walked to the tip of the island and hung out for the afternoon snorkelling on the reef and eating pineapples and avocadoes. Pretty much the perfect afternoon!

Sunday was another long day in the PMV. This time the main event was overheating on the way up Kasam Pass. They managed to cool it down and we kept going. Coincidentally it was an ideal spot for some photos though.

Back to work, Di is loving AT Projects so far this week and I'm making some progress with my stuff at CRMF. Only two weeks left though!

On Monday was our wedding anniversary - we went to the 'Bird' for dinner. They do GOOD pizza.

View on the way back up the mountains

When our PMV (Public Motor Vehicle - small vans that you catch lifts

with to places) overheated on the way up the mountains.

Team Snorkel

Team Snorkel
Originally uploaded by luckyforehead.

Madang - On the boat to Krangket Island

Kids Swimming - Krangket Island

Outrigger canoes at Krangket Island, Madang

Supermarket in Madang - 'Diana' Tinned Fish

The predominant food in the supermarkets are tinned fish, dry crackers

and Maggi noodles.

Landslide on the way to Madang

We went to Madang for the weekend (3 days). This is a landslide on the

way that held us up for about an hour until we managed to find another

vehicle on the other side willing to take us.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Main Building at 'AT Projects'

On Tuesday Di and I visited 'AT Projects'

, an NGO located half an hour up a

rough 4WD track from Goroka. It's absolutely beautiful up there. The

'AT' stands for 'Appropriate Technology', meaning development projects

that are really thought out properly so that they are appropriate for

the people using them. 'Technology' here is anything from plastic

bucket showers and toilets for AIDS sufferers, to solar power. It is

just brilliant what Steve and Miriam and their team are doing. They

totally take into account all aspects of problems faced by locals and

come up with appropriate solutions in partnership with the people.

Di's going to be volunteering there for the next couple of weeks,

helping finalise the materials for a 4 week course they are starting to

run in Febuary. It introduces the concept of 'Development' and teaches

people how to start it in their village and how to get assistance and

support to do it.

Me up a mast

Me up a mast
Originally uploaded by luckyforehead.
Spent some time up this mast yesterday setting up an antenna and the

2.4GHz box connecting to it. My (VERY limited) climbing/ropes

experience was useful. Di's work with ropes at Googa was even more

useful. It was a little unnerving watching from up the top as the guys

at the bottom looked at instructions to work out how to tie the knot to

get me on belay...

Guy trying to sell us a snake (K20 - about $10) - Goroka

The Market - Goroka

The Market - Goroka
Originally uploaded by luckyforehead.

The Bilum Market - downtown Goroka

West Goroka Lutheran Church

West Goroka Lutheran Church
Originally uploaded by luckyforehead.
This is where we went to church on Sunday. It's the same church that

Di's parents went to when they lived here in the seventies. Her sister

was baptised there! A fantastic mix of familiar Lutheran church stuff

and PNG culture!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Coffee Capital of the Nation

After an unplanned stopover in Port Moresby (staying in the beautiful Gateway hotel, courtesy of Air Niugini), listening to several tourists complaining loudly about the cancelled flights, meeting Robyn, a volunteer with AVI in Goroka (lots of good advice!) and finally a short, beautiful plane flight, we made it. Remarkably easy to get somewhere so remote! A 3 hour plane flight really didn't feel long enough to be in another country...

First impressions of PNG are that the people are really nice, much quieter and more reserved than many other places we've travelled. In markets etc there is no hassling at all. Only the occasional person trying to sell something on the street. Our accomodation is great. It's in a CRMF 'compound' - in a large split house. All the people we work with (mostly Nationals, some expats) are great.

As for the work we're doing, I've got a few small electronics/wiring type tasks to work on (putting indicator lights / buzzers here and there for this and that) as well as a larger project which involves shifting one of the HF radios from Goroka, out of town to Asaro where there will be better reception and less interference. The control of the radio will remain in Goroka, via a dedicated 2.4GHz microwave link. We were to attend a remote radio installation on Friday, but apparently safety is a concern in that area so we are staying away.

Di has been helping out in the CRMF office so far - she's loving hanging out with the other ladies. Next week she's looking at visiting AT Projects and following up some other leads for volunteer work. Again - a month is not enough!!

Security is always a real issue here. All the houses are surrounded by high security fences, barred windows, burglar alarms, dogs etc. Walking around at night is a definite no-no. And the Eastern Highlands Province where we are is one of the safest areas in PNG. I hope things get better in time!

We caught up with some volunteers with NGOs at the 'Bird' (Bird of Paradise hotel) last night. Great to hear what some other people are doing. Some work with the 'Agricultural Institute' developing farming techniques, others with the 'Melanesian Institute' training PNG nationals to produce books.

That's about enough for now! Here's some photos...

Our house for the month:

CRMF, where I'm working:

Results of our first expedition to the market. All this stuff is CHEAP! Probably less than $10 worth in this photo!

Di and Doris (Dee and Do). Di's learning how to make bilums. A month is probably not long enough...

Monday, January 02, 2006

Mipela likim i go Goroka tumora moning taim

We're off tomorrow morning to Goroka in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. I'm working with CRMF for the month - they install and maintain radio communications with remote villages in the highlands.

Will try to post some photos during our month up there!

Also - I just posted a bunch of random photos from 2005 on our website

Have a great January everyone!