Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a stunning country located in the South Pacific region, just under an hour and 25 minutes flight from Cairns, Australia. Despite being Australia’s closest neighbour, many Australians know very little about this culturally-rich country.
PNG has a reputation for being a dangerous and unpredictable place, but in reality, it is a welcoming and beautiful country with much to offer visitors.
In this article, we’ll provide you with some interesting Papua New Guinea facts, dispel some myths, and give you tips on what to see and do while visiting.
Facts about Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea is a country that is often overlooked, but it has a rich and diverse history, culture, and geography. Here are seven facts about Papua New Guinea that many Australians might not know:
- Papua New Guinea has over 800 indigenous languages, making it one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world.
- The country’s economy is largely based on agriculture, with coffee, cocoa, and palm oil being the major export crops.
- The famous Kokoda Trail, a 96km track in the Owen Stanley Range, was the site of a significant World War II battle between Australian and Japanese forces.
- The country is home to the world’s largest butterfly, the Queen Alexandra’s birdwing, which has a wingspan of up to 30cm.
- The Huli Wigmen of Papua New Guinea are famous for their elaborate headdresses made from human hair, feathers, and other materials.
- The highlands of Papua New Guinea are home to some of the world’s most unique and diverse bird species, including the bird of paradise.
- PNG has a rich cultural heritage, with traditional music, dance, and art being an important part of everyday life.
Papua New Guinea Cannibals
The idea of cannibalism in Papua New Guinea is often sensationalised in the media, but it is important to note that it is not a widespread practice in the country.
In fact, cannibalism is illegal in Papua New Guinea and has been for over 60 years. While there have been isolated incidents of cannibalism in the past, it is not something that visitors should be concerned about when visiting the country.
Manus Island is a small island located in the Admiralty Islands group of Papua New Guinea. It is known for its beautiful beaches and coral reefs, making it a popular destination for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts.
The island is also home to the Lombrum Naval Base, which was used by the Australian government as a detention centre for asylum seekers between 2012 and 2017.
Kiriwina Island is the largest island in the Trobriand Islands group of Papua New Guinea. It is known for its unique culture, including traditional dance, music, and art.
Visitors can also enjoy beautiful beaches, snorkelling and diving, and exploring the island’s traditional villages.
Papua New Guinea is home to some incredible natural and cultural landmarks that are well worth visiting.
One of the most famous is Mount Wilhelm, the highest peak in Papua New Guinea, which offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
The Sepik River, one of the longest rivers in Papua New Guinea, is also a popular destination for visitors, with its vibrant cultural traditions and incredible wildlife.
Rabaul, East New Britain
Rabaul is a town located on the eastern coast of Papua New Guinea’s island of New Britain. It is known for its beautiful natural harbour, volcanic landscapes, and rich history.
The town was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 1994, but visitors can still explore the remnants of the town’s colonial past, including the Japanese tunnels and war relics.
Papua New Guinea Flag
The flag of Papua New Guinea features a black, red, and gold bird of paradise, which is native to the country.
The black and red represent the country’s traditional colours, while the gold represents the country’s wealth and resources.
The currency of Papua New Guinea is the kina, which is divided into 100 toea. Visitors can exchange their currency at banks and money changers throughout the country.
P&O Cruises to PNG – Travels
P&O Cruises offer a range of itineraries that include stops in Papua New Guinea, allowing visitors to explore the country’s beautiful islands, vibrant culture, and incredible natural landscapes.
Some popular ports of call include Alotau, Kiriwina Island, and Rabaul.
Air Niugini is the national airline of Papua New Guinea, offering flights to and from major Australian cities including Brisbane, Cairns, and Sydney.
The airline also offers domestic flights within Papua New Guinea, making it easy for visitors to explore the country’s many attractions.
10 Things to Do in Papua New Guinea
- Hike the Kokoda Trail and learn about the country’s wartime history.
- Visit the Sepik River and immerse yourself in the local culture.
- Dive or snorkel on the reefs around Manus Island.
- Explore the traditional villages and learn about the customs of the Huli Wigmen.
- Visit the Tari Valley and see the famous bird of paradise in its natural habitat.
- Learn about the country’s colonial history in Rabaul.
- Visit the Goroka Show, one of the largest cultural festivals in Papua New Guinea.
- Sample the local cuisine, including dishes like mumu (a traditional feast cooked in an underground oven).
- Relax on the beautiful beaches of Kiriwina Island.
- Take a scenic flight over the country’s stunning landscapes, including the Highlands and the Sepik River.
PNG Travel Websites and Stories to Check Out
here are four reliable websites that travellers can refer to when planning their trip to Papua New Guinea:
PNG Insight (https://pnginsight.com/): This website offers information based on local travel experiences in Papua New Guinea. Visitors can find information on places to visit, things to do, festivals and events, as well as learning about subtle key Papua New Guinea facts.
PapuaNewGuinea.travel (https://www.papuanewguinea.travel/): This website is managed by the Papua New Guinea Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) and offers information on travel and tourism in the country. Visitors can find information on attractions, events, travel packages, and travel tips.
SmartTraveller.gov.au (https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/pacific/papua-new-guinea): This website is run by the Australian government and offers up-to-date travel advice and warnings for Australians travelling to Papua New Guinea. Visitors can find information on entry and exit requirements, safety and security, health, and natural disasters.
LonelyPlanet.com (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/papua-new-guinea): Lonely Planet is a popular travel guidebook publisher and their website offers a range of travel information and advice on Papua New Guinea. Visitors can find information on attractions, things to do, and travel tips, as well as a forum for asking questions and sharing advice with other travellers.
Conclusion (Facts, Myths and Travel Surprises)
Papua New Guinea is a beautiful and culturally rich country that is well worth visiting. While it does have its challenges, it is important to dispel the myths about the country and encourage Australians to discover all that Papua New Guinea has to offer.
With its incredible natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, Australia-PNG ties and warm and welcoming people, Papua New Guinea is a destination that should not be missed.