Goroka – Eastern Highlands
Goroka, the capital of the Eastern Highlands Province is a centre of European settlement in the central Highlands region and a commercial and transportation hub for the region. It has an airport and also lies on the Highlands Highway; an important truck route leading 110 miles (180 km) east to outposy Kainantu and Aiyura, and eventually reaching the coast at Lae on the Solomon Sea.
It is known for its friendly people and the home town of Goroka Lahanis, a Papua New Guinean semi-professional rugby league football club, which is proudly known for representing the people of Eastern Highlands Province.
Something that you would not want to miss at this cool mountain town, 1524 metres above sea level is the Goroka coffee. It is home to some of the export coffee names like Espresso, Paradise Gold, Highlands Blue and Premium Estate. The taste of 100% Organic Goroka coffee at the home of coffee are tastes of a lifetime.
Now imagine a cultural display rich in colour, culture and is longly established; and how much your digital camera would appreciate the sights, the sounds and the smells.
The Goroka Show is a well-known event in Papua New Guinea. It is a melody of drumbeats, flutes, and authentic Papua New Guinean choirs, or singsings, that is held every year close to the country’s Independence Day (16 September) in the heart of the town of Goroka. About 100 tribes from all over highlands arrive to show their music, dance and culture. The festival started in the mid-1950s as an initiative of Australian Kiaps.
In recent years it has become a major attraction for both national and international tourists, and remains the largest cultural event in Papua New Guinea despite similar shows now being organised in Mount Hagen and other parts of the country.
If you are keen in seeing what Goroka has to offer, whether you’re feeling adventurous or interested in absorbing some of the impressive culture and customs, there is something for one and all.
Some popular sites to visit include: McCarthy Museum, Asaro Mudmen’s Village, Daulo Pass, Mt Gahavisuka National Park (Bird of Paradise sightings), Raun Raun Theare, Kainantu Pottery and visits to coffee plantations. These sight-seeing tours are all available and conducted by the most reputable tour operators from local hotels like Bird of Paradise Hotel.
Rabaul – East New Britain
As a tourist destination, Rabaul is popular for its volcanoes, scuba diving and for snorkelling sites, spectacular harbour and other scenery, World War II history, flora and fauna, and, of course, the fascinating and colourful cultural life of the Tolai people.
The former capital of East New Britain has historical connections with colonial powers and World War 2. Starting on 4 January 1942, Rabaul came under attack by large numbers of Japanese carrier-based aircraft. After the odds facing the Australians mounted significantly, Lerew signalled RAAF HQ in Melbourne with the Latin motto, “Nos Morituri Te Salutamus” (“we who are about to die salute you”), the phrase uttered by gladiators in ancient Rome before entering combat. On 20 January, over 100 Japanese aircraft attacked in multiple waves.
There are several amazing sites to visit once in Rabaul. Bitapaka War Cemetery- maintained by the Australian War Graves Commission this is the final resting place for servicemen from many countries who died in WWII.
There is also a Japanese War Memorial at a former sea-plane base plus Japanese Tunnels; around 700km of tunnels are in the hills that surround Rabaul’s Simpson Harbour. Accommodation, hospitals and hiding places for barges were built in them. Some of the barges can still be seen in tunnels at Karavia.
Admiral Yamamoto’s Bunker – the admiral that led the Japanese South Pacific campaign. He was eventually shot down by the Americans after flying out of Rabaul on an inspection tour to the Solomon Islands. You can visit his underground command post.
Kokopo War and Cultural Museum also has a good collection of Japanese vehicles, munitions and other relics. Another great site is OISCA Botanical Garden which is about half an hour by good road from Kokopo at Warongoi. It is a great place for butterflies.
Rabaul area offers some fantastic diving opportunities for diving. Apart from incredible coral and fish there are numerous sunken Japanese battleships to explore. Dive companies include, Kabaira Dive Rabaul. This company is located about one hour from Rabaul and Kokopo. It also has four beach-front apartments. Rapopo Dive Centre which is attached to the Rapopo Plantation Resort.
In addition to the two active volcanoes, Tavurvur and Vulcan, there are four other volcanic hills surrounding Simpson Harbour; Mt. Mother (or Kabiu) is the highest,and is 700 meters. It can be climbed early in the morning from Matalau Village. And Mt. Tavanabatir which provides a home to the Rabaul Volcanic Observatory, and offers a beautiful panoramic view of Rabaul Town.