Downtown Port Moresby – Hills, Hulls & H20

Today marks exactly two months since I landed in Port Moresby, so in honor of my lovely new home I thought I’d quickly answer the request from some of you for more photos of the town itself. All but one of these photos were taken this morning when I met a friend for breakfast at the yacht club (yes, I know) then had a lovely walk around the boat basin, watching sailboats come in and out, the scuba club getting ready to head out for some scuba around the harbor, and so on. As you’ll see, Port Moresby is situated in a lovely area with hills, outlying islands and coastline. Directly above are the two hills of the main part of town with the tall towers of the central business district (CBD: a common term in this part of the world) in between. Like most of the cities I’ve traveled through or worked in lately, POM is also a city of contrasts – lovely harbor and hillside houses for those who can afford them, and many less-expensive settlements which are more densely inhabited and with less access to services, etc. — e.g. below, if you look closely enough, you’ll see a lot of very low-rise shacks built out onto the water itself. If you’re facing outward toward the water from where I had breaky (that’s Australian for breakfast), the shot above was to the left and the one below was to the right. For reference, the office and home between which I shuttle day to day here are on the other side of that low spine of hills in the shot below. PNG has hundreds (usual estimates say over 800) of different tribal and ethno-linguistic groups; the settlements in these urban areas tend to be mostly inhabitants who’ve moved in from other areas, typically the highlands in the middle of the island, and don’t have any traditional family or clan ties, or rights to land, here.

It’s been an interesting week in Port Moresby politically – the drama of parliament, prime minister, high court, elections and so on has reached new heights this week; a quick search for PNG-related news this week will give you a better sense of it all than I could hope to here, but suffice it to say things are rarely dull here and this week did not disappoint on that score. Since we live in the Gordons area of town, just down the road from the House of Parliament, we’re close to where demonstrators sometimes end up when there are marches for good government, etc.; we’re also a long stone’s throw from where two different groups of police stood off one day recently though the situation did not, thankfully, escalate any further than that. In other work ways, it was a fairly stressful week but a productive one, and on the personal front I played some doubles (yay! thanks, Will!) and with a couple colleagues collaborated in creating a fine Thai curry for all of us here at base – as our finco commented it was the first time everyone in POM sat down to dinner together since he arrived in early April. And I actually got out for some socializing today as well…goodness, if I don’t watch out, I might begin to look like someone who has a wee bit of work-life balance! This is a new concept for me and not common among us long-term MSF field types, to be honest. Not quite sure it’s a thing I know how to do any more, but here’s hoping…

…I love this contrast: sleek boats & fancy apartment houses below; working tankers and ships, above.

…below, the containter port in the foreground, the towers of the CBD in the middle, and Ela Beach just off the frame to the right.

…below: literally what I see when I look out my window each morning. Our compound is shady and lovely – sometimes I miss the light, but I never miss the heat the sun brings with it. We’re in a hilly, green section of town about 10 or 15 minutes’ drive from downtown and the harbor.

3 responses

  1. Stephen Brockmann

    Hi Paul, great pictures! Really enjoyed them! This gives me a much better sense of where you’re actually living and working. The town actually looks quite nice and posh, although I know looks can sometimes deceive!

    May 27, 2012 at 23:51

  2. It does look a bit paradisical, all that green and water and those mountains. Quite a contrast to the dire and fairly unpleasant underlying facts you were presenting when last we met!

    May 31, 2012 at 13:28


    Love seeing these photos, especially Paga Hill – I can almost see my old house, it’s just round the bend facing the other side (where the red water slid is on Ela Beach). Thank you so much for posting these!

    March 1, 2013 at 00:46

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