An Evening Cruise On MV South Pacific

Yours truly with some of the invited VIPs on board the MV South Pacific, owned and operated by the Bank of South Pacific.

Recently, I was one of the invitees to join the top brass of the Bank of South Pacific on their boat the MV South Pacific for a dinner cruise around Fairfax Harbour, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Fairfax Harbour is probably one of the best natural harbours in the country and in the Pacific Region. I shudder at the thought of more of the seaviews disappearing so fast so we miss out on the harbour views when driving into downtown Port Moresby nowadays. We used to be able to see the sea but slowly construction of many new buildings and the extensions of the port along the waterfront  is obstructing this view that we used to take for granted. It will be gone forever and it is beyond the control of so many ordinary people in Port Moresby who would want to get a glimpse of the harbour on their way downtown or back up towards the hinterland. 

Soon we’d have to go up Port Road or Paga Hill to be able to take in unobstructed views of our beloved Fairfax Harbour.

Getting out of the marina and into the harbour.

The evening started off with heavy rain. It was a little daunting also trying to find Finger B which was where our boat was moored. It took me 15 minutes to finally find it with the help of a couple of helful RPYC security guards. Of course me not been a member of the RPYC made it difficult too. Anyway, I finally found the place and was greeted by two friendly and helpful ladies.

I braved the drizzle walking down the length of the pier to get onboard but what a lovely reward at the end of the walk. Of course climbing up the stairs in rain was a bit of a challenge with the ever-present hazard of falling into the sea should I get a foot wrong going up. But I mustered all the strength and skill recalled from my early years growing up on Kwato Island and the many times we had to get on and off the mission boats come rain and shine got me up the ladder and on to dry deck.

Cheers! we’re off on an evening cruise around Fairfax Harbour.

I met others who were already there and was soon holding on to a cool glass of orange juice. As we sipped our drinks and slowly got to meet the others the rain subsided and it was calm and dry. This was something different – to be on a boat in the harbour sipping a cold drink and meeting new people on a rainy evening. Of all of them, I had met only three (3) people prior to the cruise. I was delighted to join our BSP friends and this small  gathering on board.  

Not long after the rain cleared, it was decided we should cast off.  So we were   going on our evening cruise after all. The rain had not dampened our spirits and expectations to cruise around the harbour this evening.

After a brief explanation on the boat itself and a fine one too, the Captain gave us a safety briefing and then we were off as we slowly edged our way out of the marina. A great sense of freedom, adventure and well-being came over me.

A lone figure at the helm – our able Captain Simeon at the helm of the MV South Pacific, owned and operated by the Bank of South Pacific (BSP).

The sea was calm but a little breeze to remind us we were on a boat and gliding gracefully over the water.

Just outside the RPYC there is a massive contruction site and this is the view from the harbour. Looks different, obviously.

I couldn’t believe the fact that I was seeing Port Moresby by night from the harbour, and rarer still the opportunity to do so this evening. It was just a very nice feeling to be out and about without having to look over my shoulder. I must say the city looked beautiful this evening.

Port Moresby’s waterfront. It would be really nice to have a seafood restaurant along the seafront. Now that would be something.

As the boat moved out into the harbour I was transported back to my childhood days albeit momentarily.  When on school holidays from Cameron High School we would board one of the mission boats – either the Osiri or Labini – one or the other for Samarai, Logea and Kwato.

Part of Port Moresby’s skyline. Could see the towering Grand Papua.

I used to feel rather cheeky arriving at night because no-one knew  which school children have come home to the island for the school holidays until the following morning or at Church.  

The container wharf with the large cranes. Massive. Don’t know whether they can expand anymore with all the shipping activity going on everyday.

The reflection of lights on the water held a certain facination for me. And now I couldn’t help feeling a sense of deja vu.  I decided to stand back and enjoy the views in the cool evening.

One of the delectable dishes served for dinner on board. Yumsko!

Looking back the way we came out of the Royal Papua Yacht Club marina and out in the open I focused my sights and my camera on the lights of Port Moresby.

Well, what do you know the city looked stunning with all the lights and the colourful patterns on the water from the many different coloured lights.

Dinner was served and soon we went downstairs to partake of the tasty morsels laid before us. One of the things I take for granted is that I am not seasick and the food was a welcome sight. After a few words of welcome and updates on BSP from the CEO we tucked in.

Dinner is served!

Later on I went aft to enjoy the sights of Port Moresby from the boat.

Port Moresby looked like a reclining lady in red, yellow and orange sequinns shimmering against a dark sky.

I went past a couple of big ships and then to Napa Napa and Motukea then infront of Tatana on our return to the marina. 

The last time I was on a boat in the harbour was in the ’80s and was a passenger or spectator on one somebody’s boat watching the regatta or some sailing competition. It’s all so hazy now. But anyway, this was the first time I am out in the Harbour at night.

No, I wasn’t trying to sing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ – in fact am facing the wrong way. City lights in the background.

I look out on the harbour from my office day in day out and to be in it myself in the same place that so many container vessels use during the day was an awesome thought.

The city looked like something out of Star Wars or Galactica.

My camera was clicking all the time we were cruising around but the constant movement did not help but I think I managed to get some. I did the best I could but happy that I can actually take photos.

One of the views from the bow of the boat. Fascinating.

Thank you so much Mr Clyne and your managers for giving us the privilege to go on a harbour cruise and to enjoy Port Moresby at night this way.  Thank you Captain Simeon for taking us out on the MV South Pacific and bringing us safely back home.

All too soon our cruise came to an end at about 9.00pm.

We were back at the marina and then it was goodbyes and I took my leave. Driving home, I thought about the cruise, about the MV South Pacific, about BSP and the food we enjoyed and most of all about seeing the lights of Port Moresby this way.

Captain Simeon and I at the end of the cruise. He’s my wantok from the Trobs – kagutoki Captain Simeon for a great cruise.

There ain’t no nicer way to enjoy the night air in Port Moresby than a wonderful cruise in Fairfax Harbour on an evening like this.

Approaching the marina – coming up to berth.

Flying Into POM: Da View!

The 'Motuan Coastline'...jolie vue de la mer!

A few months ago I was flying back from Brisbane and this was the view as we approached the coastline of the Papuan mainland. I’ve flown this route so many times before but on this particular day I seemed to have focused on it and am not sure if it was because I had a camera handy. Will never know. A compelling view nonetheless.

 

The reef below...mystical...
Breathtaking...

I kept on thinking about the folks that came to settle in Port Moresby long before commercial flights became a popular means of travel. I wondered what they would have thought of their journey to PNG if they were in an aeroplane then looking at this vista. But then again perhaps the reefs weren’t so pronounced then as they are now so the view would have been completely different.

 

Best!

Another thought just crossed my mind. There I was making all that fuss over this view but perhaps to the pilots of the aircraft that fly the skies between Port Moresby and other destinations or regular travellers into Port Moresby, this was just another view. In any case I captured this vista to add to the many memories I have of Port Moresby and am glad to be able to share this one with you.

Views Of Port Moresby On A Dull Day

A couple of weeks ago I took these shots of  Port Moresby from the road leading up to Paga Hill  facing Fairfax Harbour. It was a dull and overcast day so the photos may look a bit dreary.

Dreary but peaceful...
Major civil works near the Royal Papua Yacht Club towards Konedobu and the Poreporena Freeway.

Been up this way (toward Paga Hill) before but never paid much attention to the road or surrounds until I ventured up there albeit not all the way to the top given time constraints. So many things have changed. Especially places that I used to know are no longer there or have changed in way or another. The road to Paga Hill on this particular day was a long lonely road. It seemed weird at that time of the day but I guess that’s what Port Moresby is like now.

Looking towards Napanapa.

So many changes have made the place not only unrecognizable in some places but also quite depressing. So many historical buildings that gave Port Moresby her special charm and warmth as a city are gone.

This is a government office...believe it or not! Is this building going to benefit from the anticipated millions expected from the LNG project.

I felt a lump in my throat and realised how strange the place feels now. Thought about the restaurants, the movie theatres such as the Papuan Theatre, bookshops and gift shops and felt really nostalgic. I guess the dull and overcast day didn’t do much for my spirits.

Inspite of these feelings of nostalgia, my keen amateur photographer’s eye did not miss the opportunity to capture some of the views of the harbour and downtown Port Moresby.

Fairfax Harbour - one of the few natural harbours in the world.
Views towards Fisherman's Island - tranquility
The 'Hiri Chief' berthed at another wharf below Paga Hill and a little ways from the container wharf.
Views over Douglas Street, downtown Port Moresby
This new building is just up from the site of the former Royal Papua Hotel and a little ways down from the Crowne Plaza. I remember a lovely coffee shop and a hair salon on this site. These are long gone. 
Bank of South Pacific - bought off the former PNGBC
Pacific Place along Champion Parade, on the site of the former Papua pub/bar and next to Stop 'n' Shop formerly Steamships.
Deloitte Towers - cant remember what was there before - the library and theatre?

Unfortunately, I cannot remember where most of the old buildings were located. I am sure someone will come along with a historical map of Port Moresby that should tell us where the old buildings were. They are part of our heritage but with very little preservation of historical buildings in this city I wonder if we will ever recreate the charm and warmth of the city of Port Moresby – once a duty free port.

The million Kina question now is: what would it take to bring back the old charm and vibrant character of this city by the sea – Port Moresby?