Monday 15 December 2014

True North in PNG: The Louisiades


It seems like only yesterday that I was aboard the superb luxury expedition yacht, True North, when in fact it was nearly four years ago in the Solomon Islands when I last set (bare)foot on her decks.

Moray peeps out at me during our morning dive

The remains of the Zero fighter slowly being consumed by sand and coral

Guests ashore at Panapompom enjoy shade

Young islander and pandanus hat

True North at anchor off Panapompom Island

Not a lot has changed, just a few new faces, but Dr Andy Lewis the marine scientist and Chad the skipper are two there to greet me.

After arriving on an Alliance charter flight from Cairns to the historic Gurney airfield at Alotau, we're away in no time and among the glorious waters of PNG's Louisiade Archipelago, off the very easternmost tip of PNG.

Our first stop at Pananpompom Island is another deja vu moment. I first visited this idyllic little outpost with Coral Princess Cruise in 2006 and the tiny community is now seeing an increasing number of visits from small ships and yachts. The locals gather around us with no less curiosity than before, their warm smiles still a welcome recollection.

Sunsetters on the spit, Nivani Island (Panapompom opposite)

Young Harrison, 13, travelling with his grandfather engages in a most energetic interaction with the local boys and the stand-up paddle board becomes a focus of fun.

The day is capped of with sunsetters on the sandspit where PO Okura Shigeru would have waded ashore after ditching his Zero in May 1942 in the lagoon a few metres away from us.

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