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Ben’s PNG Diary – Day 5: Moresby is people, not places

Corney Alone with 100% Australian aid boomerangONE OF THE REASONS tourists visit the world’s great cities is because of their beauty and iconic monuments.

The photo albums trundled out after such overseas trips are invariably filled with a face well known to the photographer and imposed in front of something grand.

I’m as guilty as the next traveller of pulling a cheesy grin while standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Shibuya crossing, Times Square, Mount Fuji or the Colosseum.

Which brings me to modern-day Moresby, the city of which my father said, when he visited in 2011 after 35 years, he did not know any more.

It is not a pretty place and, Haus Tambaran (parliament house) aside, really has nothing to be photographed in front of.

But the photos I’ve collected so far do tell a story - of the people I have met. A story far more rich and personal than goofily pretending to prop up the leaning tower of Pisa.

Moresby is the melting pot of Papua New Guinea. A pot teeming with the country’s hundreds of cultures. A thousand opinions simmer in its sweating potpourri. Hardly surprising that, from time-to-time, the pot boils over.

Five days here and I feel incredibly lucky to have been greeted as a friend by so many people who, in their own ways, light up the mind with brilliant words and ideas.

Martyn Namorong, bikpela brata bilong mi, the Western Province youth who grew up to find his mission was to take the truth to the world.

Sil Bolkin, who leads the fight against AIDS, immortalises Simbu history and coaches footy.

Young lawyer-cum-poet, Ganjiki D Wayne, with East Sepik blood and a childhood spent travelling all over PNG, embracing his nation's plethora of people and cultures.

Tanya & Corney Alone with me last nightCorney and Tanya Alone, a beautiful and selfless couple who have, in the phrase which will today be used all over PNG, “a heart for the people”.

There are many other people I have met who are of similar charisma and there will be more today. I know the welcoming attitude and smiles will be the same.

So when I reminisce in the future about my first trip to Port Moresby, I won’t be thinking about going to a hotel bar or walking around Vision City mall. It’ll be the people.

Photos: Top - Corney Alone with the 100% Australian aid boomerang I gave him. Lower - Tanya and Corney with me last night


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Ingrid Jackson


Alex Harris

Nice work Ben. Hope you get a chance to visit Peter and Lydia Kailap at the Children's University of Music and Art.

David Wall

Ben, of course, friends are found in many places. Unfortunately, Moresby does nothing for me these days. My attitude to the city is perhaps reflected in the following links:



Corney K. Alone

Thanks Ben for the "surprise gift" to me and my wife. This item will form part of my special memorabilia.

What you get from us is "white teeth smiles".

Mrs Barbara Short

Great to see you, Corney and Tanya! Hope all goes well!

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