PETER S KINJAP
PORT MORESBY – National Capital District governor Powes Parkop has branding Papua New Guinea’s capital as ‘Amazing Port Moresby’.
It’s his contention that this city goes far beyond just being another big town in the Pacific.
And it’s true, when you look around the city you’ll notice many of the modern buildings have been inspired by traditional totems.
People who appreciate architecture will rejoice in some of Port Moresby’s iconic buildings which boast innovative design and impressive mosaic facades. The striking national parliament is one such.
Built in Haus Tambaran [spirit house] style, the towering mosaic façade depicting Papua New Guinean motifs. Inspired by the traditional sacred houses of the Maprik region of East Sepik Province, the rocket-shaped roof pointing to the sky gives the building a futuristic look.
Another traditional design that gives Port Moresby its amazing look is the Bank South Pacific building designed in the 1970s by Australian architect James Birrell. The facade is admired for its figures inspired by traditional drawings. In soft-hue green and featuring playful forms, the BSP building is a treat for design lovers.
According to the Amazing Port Moresby official website, the international convention centre located in Waigani and completed in 2015 is another stylish landmark.
Its large pillars were inspired by traditional designs from the Sepik and Gulf regions. It’s as if traditional spiritual guards are protecting this modern building.
The next amazing look is APEC Haus which was built on reclaimed land in front of Ela Beach and completed in 2018 for the APEC forum and quickly became as iconic building, the distinctive roof design inspired by the traditional crab claw sail of the lakatoi vessels, still used by the local Motu people.
Moving from the built environment, observing birds of paradise at Varirata National Park, an hour’s drive from the capital, is a popular pastime. The park, with spectacular views overlooking Port Moresby and the coast, is home to six out of the 35 species of birds-of-paradise.
Within its 1,000 hectares, 800 metres above sea level, there is plenty of terrain to be explored. If you have the energy, several walking trails will keep you at Varirata National Park for hours. It’s an ideal environment for birdwatchers who can get lucky spotting birds of paradise, kingfishers and others of the most beautiful creatures in the world.
Formerly the Botanical Gardens, the Nature Park is the best place to see the region’s flora and fauna in a safe and picturesque setting. And there are over 150 animals including native tree kangaroos, cassowaries, hornbills, wallabies and more. The Nature Park is Papua New Guinea’s leading botanical and native zoological park.
It also features a large aviary housing parrots and birds of paradise, making it easy to see the birds. And with its explosion of numerous species of rare orchids, it is the perfect oasis not far from the city. There are green spaces for leisurely picnics, a popular cafe and a souvenir shop.
Amazing Port Moresby also offers the National Museum with collections ranging from the Malangan totems of New Ireland, Baining masks from New Britain, Highlands shields, Sepik carved columns and other national treasures in a superb introduction to PNG’s rich indigenous art.
Recently renovated, the museum is worth an extended visit. Stroll through the themed exhibits for a window into PNG’s creativity and unlimited imagination. And don’t miss the masterpiece room, as exceptional as its name suggests.
This anthropologist’s delight features the flora, fauna, ethnography and history of PNG.
Amazing Port Moresby is also home to the Adventure Park; a fun park including a small zoo. Take note of the crocodile feeding time (Saturday and Sunday at 3pm), a real spectacle.
The park’s winding pathways take you to other attractions like a wildlife sanctuary, water slides and a Ferris wheel, picnic sites and ponds full of fish. You can hire rods and reels from the shop nearby.
Indulge in an afternoon walk in the park, and don’t be surprised to run into couples taking pictures on their wedding day. The handsome grounds as picturesque as they are inviting.
Peter S Kinjap is a freelance writer and a blogger, email firstname.lastname@example.org