Central Province (CP), which covers 30,000 square kilometers on PNG’s south coast, includes natural harbors, coastal plains and swamps. Behind the coastal strip rise mountains belonging to the central cordillera. There are marked wet and dry seasons, especially on the coast, and total rainfall is lower than in other provinces. Vegetation varies from mangrove swamps, through grasslands and lightly timbered country to rain forests and alpine grasslands. On the coastal strip, plants with close Australian relatives, e.g., gum trees (Eucalypt) species and tea-trees (Melaleuca) species are frequently found.
The population rose from 117,000 in 1980 to 140,600 in 1990. At least 35 languages are spoken. Hiri Motu, earlier known as Police Motu, is still used as a lingua franca in the province. It is derived from Motu, the language of a string of coastal villages, including some now swallowed up in Port Moresby.
The constitution, adopted in 1978, provides for an elected Assembly of 26 members. There are five districts and the headquarters is at Konedobu, a suburb of Port Moresby and formerly the center of the Australian colonial Administration. The main towns are Sogeri, Kwikila and Kupiano. The main products are fish, chickens and eggs, livestock, rubber and timber. Until 1982, when the National Capital District (NCD) was established, CP included the capital, Port Moresby.
There is evidence of human occupation dating back to 26,000 BP. Traditional trade networks included the Hiri trade. Motu men traveled considerable distances, by canoe, to exchange pots, made by Motu women, for sago, with people in coastal villages around the Gulf of Papua. Missionaries of the London Missionary Society began work along the coast in the 1870s. The Catholics established a mission northwest of Port Moresby in 1885. The British occupied the region and declared a British Protectorate in 1884. The Australians took over the colony in 1906. The first white settlers, apart from Administration officials and missionaries, were rubber and coconut plantations owners, and traders. The Kokoda Trail area was involved in some of the heaviest fighting between Allied (Australian and American) and Japanese during World War II. The war also disrupted village life when people were evacuated to escape the bombing of Port Moresby which was occupied by Allied troops, and men were conscripted by ANGAU.
Things to see
Sogeri Plateau: Lying at 600m and 46km inland, Sogeri is much cooler and greener than Port Moresby. Sogeri Road leaves Sir Hubert Murray Highway near the airport and follows the Laloki River, climbing above the gorge with a view of spectacular Rouna Falls. Soon after the falls a road to the right leads to Varirata National Park.
Kokoda Trail: The next road left, marked by the Kokoda monument, goes to Owers Corner and the start of the Kokoda Trail. Crystal Rapids, where you can picnic and swim for a small fee, and Sirinumu Dam are along the next road right, or continue straight ahead to Sogeri.
Varirata National Park: There is some pleasant walking here, with a network of trails, grassy picnic areas and shelters with barbecues, and lookouts giving fine views to Port Moresby and out to sea. Wallabies are common and birdlife is plentiful. Early morning is the best time to see Birds of Paradise. You can camp in the park or stay in the small park lodge.
Loloata Island: This pleasant retreat from Port Moresby lies off Bootless Bay and offers diving, snorkelling, fishing or just relaxing.
March Girls Resort: A newly established resort for a getaway from the city’s hustles to spend a quiet weekend with family.
Yule Island: The large Catholic mission here was founded in 1885 and for a while the island was a government headquarters. Fishing, swimming, history and good scenery are the attractions. The drive from Moresby is 160km (3 hours) via the Hiritano Highway, turning off to Poukama where a canoe will take you to the island.
Things to do
Golf: Moresby’s 18-hole golf course, located in Waigani at the end of Magani C rescent behind Parliament House, is more challenging than it looks.
Walking: For weekend walks contact Pamela Christie of PNG Trekking Adventures, Ph: +675 325 1284 or www.pngtrekkingadventures.com or ask at the Australian or New Zealand High Commission Offices.
Diving: Loloata Island Resort only 15 minutes away from Jacksons International Airport and Port Moresby can tailor itineraries to over 25 dive sites to suit your requirements. Off Bootless Bay is Horseshoe Reef with the End Bommie and the wreck of the Pacific Gas. The Dive Centre at Airways Poolside Ph: +675 3231 355 offers day trips on MV Solatai. Live-aboard out of Tahira Boating Centre to various dive locations.
Trekking: Trekking the famous 96km Kokoda Trail, taking 5 to 10 days to walk (depending on fitness and conditions), crosses the spine of the country from the Central Province side of the trail into the Oro Province. It passes through remote, rugged country and it’s advisable to use local guides. Kokoda Track Authority, Ph: +675 323 6165 Fax +675 3236020 and Email: [email protected]
Flightseeing: Airlines PNG’s weekly flight into Woitape and Tapini villages by air is a great way to visit some remote country if you are short of time. Some of these village airstrips are very exciting.
Surfing and Kite Surfing: The best beaches are at Hula, 100km east of Port Moresby, from June to September. At Taurama Point you’ll find Sero Board Riders Club, Taurama Surf Club or contact the Surfing Association of PNG.
Fishing: Galley Reach, a few hours from Port Moresby, offers a variety of fishing. Contact Sport Fishing PNG and Boat Charters www.sportfishingpng.net.
FYI: PNG’s 4 Regions & 22 Provinces
|Highlands||Eastern Highlands Province||Goroka|
|Western Highlands Province||Mt. Hagen|
|Southern Highlands Province||Mendi|
|Southern||National Capital District||Port Moresby|
|Central Province||Port Moresby|
|Oro (Northern) Province||Popondetta|
|Milne Bay Province||Alotau|
|East Sepik Province||Wewak|
|Sandaun (West Sepik) Province||Vanimo|
|New Guinea Islands||Manus Province||Lorengau|
|New Ireland Province||Kavieng|
|East New Britain Province||Kokopo|
|West New Britain Province||Kimbe|
|Autonomous Region of Bougainville||Buka|