CirCumnavigation of new guinea Port Moresby to Madang March 29 – April 13, 2009 Presented by Zegrahm Expeditions, Harvard Museum of Natural History, and World Wildlife Fund Wednesday, April 1, 2009 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Our arrival into Papua New Guinea was via a modern jet from Cairns, Australia, arriving at the capital, Port Moresby. We visited the National Museum, Parliament House, and Botanical Gardens. A vist to PNG Arts gave us a chance to acquaint ourselves with the diverse art of this coun- try. The local artifact warehouses were packed to the rafters with ances- tral masks, woven baskets, penis gourds, spears, bowls, and tapa cloth. Archaeological evidence indicates that humans first arrived in New Guinea by island hopping across the Indonesian archipelago from Asia more than 50,000 years ago. Mi tai throwim way leg nau (I am starting my journey now), as we boarded the Clipper Odyssey we were all excit- ed for the chance to retrace these steps as we commenced our expedition ‘hop’ through the islands of Papua New Guinea. As we set sail eastwards towards Bonarua Island we were introduced to our Expedition Leader, Jeff Gneiser, the lecture staff, and welcomed by the travelers continuing their journey on the complete Circumnavigation of New Guinea. Thursday, April 2 Bonarua Island Cruising effortlessly through the waters of the Coral Sea the Clipper Odyssey made it’s first landing at Bonarua Island. The spirits were kind to us as a pod of dolphins guided us towards our anchorage. The population of this two-island, eight-clan community totals approximately 200. The islanders provided a number of “everyday lifestyle” options for us to enjoy including pandanus weaving, preparation of coconut steamed breadfruit, chestnuts, and sweet potato, and traditional and Western-style houses which we were invited to visit. Our official welcome included a group of delightful elementary school children complete with crowns of brilliant tropical flowers, the local United Church Choir, and an eloquent speech from Councilor Tony. Many of us were then guided though this idyllic small village by our new friends. Others wandered up the rocky trail to hunt for the endemic birds that live on the island with successful sightings of many wonderful species such as the metallic starling, Willie wagtail, white-bellied sea eagle, and spectacled monarch. To complete the day we enjoyed an introductory dive, snorkel, and glass-bottom boat excursion off the leeward side of Bonarua. To our delight there were many butterflyfish and soft corals woven through Acropora (staghorn) corals, a fitting start to our expedition. The icing on the cake was the captain’s welcome cocktail party followed by dinner. Friday, April 3 Ferguson & Dobu Island, D’Entrecasteaux Group Sailing northwards from the Coral Sea, we arrived at the D'Entrecasteaux Island Group, off the southeastern tip of New Guinea. Ferguson Island, the largest island of the group, is notable for its hot springs, bubbling mud pools, spouting geysers, and extinct volca- noes. It has been suggested that perhaps it is this fearsome landscape that gives these islands their reputation for witchcraft, sorcery, and ruthless cannibalism. Our options were: birding, hiking to hot springs, or visiting a Roman Catholic mission and school. The birders were the first to depart, eager to begin an early morning rain forest walk along the shoreline prior to heading into the hot springs. They were rewarded with eastern black-capped lories, a curl-crested manucode (bird of paradise), spangled drongo, hooded butcherbird, fan-tailed cuckoo, helmeted friarbird, orange-fronted fruit dove, and rainbow bee-eater. Others took the 45-minute walk through the pandanus and melaleuca swamp direct to Dei Dei Hot Springs accompanied by local guides. As our guide called out for the “Seulseulina” spirit to show herself she explained that in the past there was a woman named Seulseulina whose husband had run away with another woman, so she threw herself, heartbroken, into the largest of these hot springs, which thereafter became a spouting geyser. A small intimate group ventured into the Sacred Heart Mission & School and were invit- ed to join the school parade followed by a church service and question and answer time. The snorkeling and diving sites were wonderful with great sightings of scorpionfish, large basket sponges, sea stars, and feather stars. Four species of anemonefish were spied: tomato, Clark’s, pink, and false clown. Also encountered were long-nose filefish, juvenile Napoleon wrasse, golden batfish, along with snappers, surgeons, triggers, and fusiliers galore, making this site a highlight of the trip. An enthusiastic sing-sing performance in Dobu village demonstrated that sorcery, shrouded behind a thin veil of Protestant Christianity, still exists on this fabled island. As we ventured into the hamlets to visit with the locals we were treated to a demonstration of traditional cooking and weaving. On the southern end of the kula ring, Dobu trades fish, sago, and yams for Ferguson Island pots. Kula shell wealth was displayed for our appreciation and we learned that the armshells, or mwali, travel clockwise, and the cone shells, or soulava, trade counter clockwise. Trading routes unite far-flung islands with social bonds where reciprocity is a way of life. Great social status is bequeathed on those who successfully trade. Trobrianders often say, “Once in the kula, always in the kula.” Saturday, April 4 Kitava and Narutu Islands, Trobriand Islands The Trobriand Islands lie to the north of the D’Entrecasteaux Group and are raised coral islands. Geologically different from the high islands close to the mainland in Milne Bay Province, which are predominantly flat. These islands give a fascinating glimpse of a traditional culture that has consciously resisted the corrupting influences of the outside world, while embracing some of its useful artifacts, of course. Placed firmly on the world anthropological scene by Malinowski, these matrilineal people are unusual in Papua New Guinea, having a chiefly, rather than a “big man,” political system. The cultiva- tion and exchange of yams are culturally very important in these islands, and the annual yam festival continues to be an exciting display of rituals and dancing, plus periods of sexual license that has led the Trobriands to be known as the “Isles of Love.” We enjoyed water sports this morning—snorkeling, diving, and glass-bottom boat cruising over a fine array of coral. There were sightings of longnose hawkish, pyramid butterflyfish, batfish, and a small school of trevally. Some of us enjoyed the deserted sandy shores of Narutu; the idyllic “Robinson Crusoe” moment shattered when the word spread to the local roving artifact sellers. The welcome performance on arrival to the landing site in the afternoon included the famous “tapioca” dance, usually only performed during the yam harvest, it left no doubt as to its fertility theme. The beautifully decorated young dancers, most still in their mid-teens, revealed in their smiling faces a precise knowledge of European reactions to this display. This was just to whet our appetite for bigger things to come after our hike into Kumwageya Village. As we passed through an agricultural wonder- land of yams, taro, and various greens, we spied an emerald ground dove, osprey, and white-bellied sea eagle. Hidden in the undergrowth on the foreshore some of us discovered the well-tended gravesite of a Japanese soldier, a victim of the intense WWII battle that raged through this region from 1942 – 45. Sunday, April 5 Gawa Island, Marshall Bennett Group We were greeted by a spectacular sunrise as we moved eastward toward Gawa Island in the Marshall Bennett Group. Our morning was packed with options. Bird- ing, nature trail walk, a culture excursion, swimming, “survival-of-the-fittest walk,” snorkeling, and glass- bottom boating on offer. Those on shore congregated under the huge old-growth ficus and tropical almond trees to witness a number of dances that transported us back to Tumbuna, a time before the white man. Birders reaped the benefits of their early departure with sightings of a Brahminy kite, great-billed heron, shinning flycatcher, brush cuckoo, and Torres Strait pigeon. A small, intrepid group made the climb over slippery mud footpaths and jagged limestone outcrops to the middle village, home to chief Tamtamwarra. This walk included a near-vertical 100-foot coral cliff, which we had to drag ourselves up, or be dragged up by the ever-helpful Gawa Islanders who bounded up the cliff face like rock wallabies. Monday, April 6 Rabaul, East New Britain Islands Most of us were up on deck this morning for grand views of Mt. Tavurvur, which has been angrily spew- ing ash since the 1994 earthquake which leveled most of the town of Rabaul. Some say that the locals treat Tavurvur like a member of the family, talking quietly to it, shouting at it, encouraging it to go to sleep, and assessing its mood each day. Once we were safely anchored in the magnificent caldera harbor, we embarked on various excursions in- cluding a visit to the volcano hot springs viewing area, Yamamoto’s bunker, Rabaul Natural History Museum, the observatory, local markets, and an art shop. After an early dinner our convoy of buses set off into the hills of Rabaul to visit the Baining Dancers. Of all the ceremonies and rituals still performed throughout Papua New Guinea, perhaps the most mysterious are the traditions maintained by the Baining people of New Britain. Dances and ceremonies are not for show. All dances serve an important purpose—to celebrate a birth or marriage, to ensure the strength of their young men, or to secure the fertility of their crops. We watched dozens of athletic dances, performed naked except for penis coverings and elaborate masks depict- ing the spirits of the bush. Periodically a dancer would dash through the large bonfire creating a dramatic fire- lit backdrop. We moved and swayed in our seats as the performance reached a feverish pitch of chanting and exuberant dancing. With sensory overload we made our weary return to the Clipper Odyssey. There the entertainment continued for some, as Tavurvur illuminated the sky with a continuous cascade of molten debris, a fitting farewell to an amazing night as we set sail for the Bismarck Archipelago and New Ireland. Tuesday, April 7 Tsoi Boto / Tsoi Lik A most welcome morning at sea was enriched with stories from Kevin Clement’s Strange Tales of Island Life: Biogeography in an Insular World complete with M&M candies and Peter Harrison’s Tropical Sea Birds accompanied by chocolate. Satiated even before lunch we alighted at Mansava Village on the island of Tsoi Boto for an enchanting choral and choreographed welcome by the local people. We entertained the locals with a “Mexican Wave” of thanks and our very own version of the hokey pokey before explor- ing the island further or taking a Zodiac to the neighboring island of Tsoi Lik to look for megapodes. The local band joined us aboard the Clipper Odyssey for a sumptuous barbeque dinner which climaxed with simultaneous dancing on decks 5, 6, and 7… and that was just us! Wednesday, April 8 Tingwon Islands Another picture-perfect postcard island? Oh! to start ones day alighting upon white coral sand lapped by turquoise blue waters and stroll amidst a coconut grove fringed with hibiscus and vanilla. This languid scene followed a warm and harmonious welcome from the local choir and some wonderful local dances. The many lush gardens of the island were bursting with sago and bananas, as well as coconut palms which are mainly used to produce copra. In addition to this bounty the birders found megapodes, Steffan Strait doves, and Nicobar pigeons. The afternoon venue afforded opportunities for diving, snorkeling, and wading ashore for beach combing. After dinner Natalia Baechtold enthralled us with a journey through her fascinating underwater Photographic Adventures. Thursday, April 9 Nauna Island, Admiralty Islands Yes we do have bananas! A seven clan, chief line-up hosted by the Paramount Chief, was the highlight of the spectacular welcome ceremony that greeted us on Nauna Island a.k.a. Los Angels. Most definitely one of PNG’s most remote islands with a dramatic history of repelling visitors, we were welcomed most warmly along with our own Paramount Chiefs: Captain Peter Fielding and Expedition Leader Jeff Gneiser who presented school and first-aid supplies along with rice. We applauded, appreciated, danced, learned how to “kite fish,” strolled along white sand beaches, snorkeled, dived, birded, and finally waved a resounding and regrettable thank you and goodbye. This was the island where many of us thought seriously about jumping ship. Friday, April 10 Baluan Island & St. Andrews Island Our morning began with a Zodiac ride guided by local pilots to avoid the fringing reef around the island. En route to the small island village of Lipan we were greeted by a fully manned seagoing outrigger canoe bedecked with streamers and traditionally clad crew. Upon arrival we were welcomed by colorfully dressed island ladies and girls with frangipani and hibiscus blossoms in their hair. The local band serenaded the procession of visitors as we made our way to the village center. The Paramount Chief of Lipan, Chief Sapulai, asked Jeff and Peter Harrison to unwrap the ceremonial “Mooi” pole, a symbol of the chief’s power. Chief Sapulai sprang up and onto the pole and conducted an official welcome dance with great skill and alacrity. Following a display of tradi- tional dancing and a staged marriage ceremony, the “survival of the fittest” jungle hike 800 feet up to the volcanic crater rim commenced. Hikers were rewarded with stunning views and witnessed a traditional stone slab used to slaughter the unfortunate victims of the erstwhile local cannibals. Baluan Island claims to be the home of kava processing and we were able to sample this curious pain-killing brew. Those preferring a more sedate pace explored the farming village of Lipan and walked the coastal path to the neighboring village of Mouk, home to fishermen and seafaring canoe builders. Snor- kelers and divers were delighted to have the opportunity of two water sessions in one of the most enjoyable sites of the trip which included the sighting of a shark. Michael Moore enhanced our knowledge of the region with his fascinating lecture on Coming up in the World: Australia’s Jour- ney North, the Rise of the New Guinea Highlands and the Ascent of Marsupials and after dinner Silvard Kool transported us into The Wonderful World of Mollusks. Saturday, April 11 Kopar Village, Sepik River The Sepik River is the second largest river in PNG after the Fly River in the south. Before arriving in Kopar Village our Zodiac ride gave everyone the opportunity to photograph the Clipper Odyssey at the mouth of the river and to see white-bellied sea eagles, eclectus parrots, swiftlets, and herons. Upon our arrival local children raised the flag of PNG and sang the national anthem. Then a wonderfully colorful procession of men (symbolizing a living canoe) led us through the village to the entrance of the men’s traditional house. Once the ceremonial welcome was complete it was time to enjoy the arts and crafts for which the Sepik River region is famous. Ten villages had congregated at Kopar and the wonderful artifacts on display ranged from wooden masks decorated with cowry shells, wooden storyboards, drums, fiber bilums, baskets, and shell ornaments and jewelry. Our Sepik experience was completed with a Zodiac jungle cruise along a sago palm- lined river tributary. An afternoon at sea gave everyone time to pack and Word Wildlife Fund’s Meredith Lopuch introduced us to World Wildlife Markets: The Network Approach. Our last evening aboard began with the captain’s farewell cocktail party, served poolside and illuminated by a magnificent Pacific sunset, with the dramatic Kakar Volcano as a backdrop. Sunday, April 12 Madang / Cairns Today we bid farewell to 23 intrepid travelers who left with Suzanne and Kevin for the PNG Highlands extension. Once the heavy rain subsided the birders left for their final birding expe- dition of the trip. A 45-minute drive into the foothills was well rewarded with many varieties of New Guinean birds, and of special interest and enjoyment was hearing cassowaries in the wild as well as a sighting of six displaying male lesser birds of paradise, a perfect way to end the trip. The remaining passengers set off for a morning tour of Madang on Easter Sunday. The first stop was at the Coast Watchers Memorial Lighthouse, erected by the Australians in 1959 to commemorate the sacrifice of the coast watchers during WWII. Our next stop was Bilbil Village which is famous for its pottery. Before seeing the pottery making process first- hand, we were welcomed and entertained by traditionally clad villagers who performed local dances accompanied by drums. Our final stop was at the small local museum which contained a wonderful collection of local artifacts ranging from masks, carvings, ceremonial items, and prehistoric pots. After a delicious barbeque lunch washed down with local SP Beer, we enjoyed the gardens and the pool of the Madang Resort. The resort has a small aviary on its grounds and our group got up-close and personal with a Blyth’s hornbill and Victoria crowned pigeons. The trees in the gardens are also home to many fruit bats. A late afternoon flight from Madang to Port Moresby enabled us to change planes and head for Cairns, Australia where, having declared all our treasures to customs and quarantine officials, we finally reached the Shangri-La Hotel for a late night salad and sandwich buffet. We then headed off for bed, resting up for our long voyages homeward the next day. Group photo by Shirley Metz Jeff Gneiser Lynne Greig Peter Harrison Shirley Metz Kevin Clement Natalia Baechtold Thomas Baechtold Silvard Kool Meredith Lopuch Michael Moore Lynda Murphy Suzanne Noakes Text by: Suzanne Noakes & Kim Saunders Photography by: Shirley Metz, Peter Harrison, Natalia Baechtold, Alida Latham, Kim Saunders, Michael Moore, Karin Beumer-Browner & Bill Kee Produced by: Sonia Surguy Kim Saunders Craig Ward This photo log has been produced by Zegrahm Expeditions and is the property of Zegrahm Expeditions. Any unauthorized use of images included is hereby prohibited.