Follow The Voyage: Circumnavigation Of New Guinea | Cairns To Darwin
11 January 2024 – February 15 2024
Day 1: At Sea
12 January 2024
Our day embarked with an engaging introductory briefing that set the stage for our exciting circumnavigation voyage, unveiling the thrilling adventures that lie ahead in the days to come. Following this, our diving instructor, Jacob, conducted a comprehensive snorkel and dive briefing, enlightening us about the intricacies of the equipment we would be using.
Subsequently, our Guest Lecturer, Steve, delved into the rich history of Papua New Guinea, guiding us through the tapestry of human occupation, traversing key historical milestones, and culminating in the nation’s journey to independence. The day continued with a tour of the Bridge and Engine room, providing us with unique insights into the intricate workings of our vessel, followed by a delightful afternoon tea.
As the day unfolded, we concluded it with Captain’s Welcome Drinks and Canapés, where we got to know our fellow explorers better and shared stories and experiences.
Day 2: Killerton Island
13 January 2024
We continued our sea journey towards Papua New Guinea, indulging in various ship activities that included three captivating talks. Carol shared a love story, connecting her experiences to Papua New Guinea and describing how she ended up there. Mike provided an entertaining exploration of photography, highlighting common mistakes. Steve offered a lighthearted guide on how to speak Tok Pisin, the national language. Upon reaching Killerton Island, a local family greeted us warmly, offering refreshing coconut drinks. We took a brief stroll inland, followed by a delightful swim along the sandy shoreline, witnessing a beautiful sunset turning amber. The island visit, complemented with champagne and beer, provided the perfect chance to stretch 0ur sea legs. A short walk into the island’s interior revealed a captivating sight—an advanced stage of decay for a mission church covered by a strangler fig, offering excellent photography opportunities. While some of us chose to stay on the ship, Carol hosted an impromptu Q&A session in the BDL. Returning for a quick shower before dinner, we settled into the evening with renewed enthusiasm for the upcoming adventures.
Day 3: Fergusson Island and Dobu Island
14 January 2024
After breakfast, we embarked on the Xplorer, filled not only with eager explorers but also loaded with supplies for the Budoya hospital and school materials for donation. Our landing on the bank near the jetty led to a short walk to the village and hospital. Boarding the Zodiacs, we made our way to the Dei Dei Hot Springs, where curious kids lined the bank, and a massive candlenut tree shaded our approach. Owen, the local guide, provided a brief safety overview before we set off, donating supplies for distribution.
At the hot springs, we marveled at the diverse hot pools, bubbling mud ponds, and a large active geyser. Some even took a refreshing dip in the blue pool just above body temperature, while others explored pitcher plants and blooming purple wild orchids. Back in the main village, some of us supported local crafts by making purchases, and we donated a wheelchair to an amputee man who had endured over a decade without one, marking a heartwarming start to the day.
After lunch, we sailed to Dobu Island, where both Xplorers took us ashore, greeted by what seemed like the entire village. We began with a short walk to the main square, passing the church and shaded coconut trees. The village treated us to a small sing-sing, displayed Kula rings, and, after our donations, allowed us a closer look at the school, grounds, main houses, and the church.
Day 4: Kuiawa
15 January 2024
We landed on the shore, greeted by friendly locals who hosted a traditional Trobriand sing-sing and dance. Exploring the village and nearby market stalls, we discovered unique artifacts. The locals, especially the kids, were welcoming. After a ride back on the Xplorer, we enjoyed lunch on the Coral Adventurer, observing outriggers around the ship.
In the afternoon, we kayaked to a beach near the school, either walking through the village or relaxing on the beach. The bustling markets in the afternoon were bustling and filled with unique handcrafts. The Xplorers returned just before our departure, concluding a memorable day.
Day 5: Tufi
16 January 2024
Arriving at the villages of Efoa and Natade promised a unique experience. Seeking refuge under two massive mango trees, we discovered a small seasonal waterfall cascading down a cliff. The warm welcome included a sing-sing, and many of us purchased handcrafted items at the market. Post-lunch, certified divers set out for the outer reef, while we embarked on the Xplorers, cruising to the fjord before reaching the resort and anchoring off Home Reef for more swimming and snorkeling.
During the cruise, we spotted hornbills and admired the clear fringing reef along jungle-draped cliffs. Upon reaching Tufi resort, we had the option to walk or ride to the top of the hill, or take an Explorer back to the ship. The other Explorer anchored off the point at Home Reef, offering 16 snorkelers a delightful 90-minute session in ideal conditions—calm waters, warmth, and zero current. The shallow areas near the reef’s top, along with sandy lagoons flanking the cliffs, made for a pleasant afternoon.
Some opted to relax at the resort, while others swam off the back of the main ship. The diverse groups, including hikers, resort-goers, divers, snorkelers, and cruisers returning to the ship, created a perfect blend. Carol provided insights into scarification and tattooing before we gathered for a BBQ dinner upstairs.
Day 6: Buna and Sanananda
17 January 2024
Today held immense importance for its WWII significance, resonating personally with many of us whose fathers fought in the war. The Buna landing and sing-sing left a lasting impression, featuring remarkable headdresses and a captivating sing-sing adorned with tapa cloth, massive drums, and a bustling market focused on bilums.
We embarked on a fulfilling long walk through the jungle, engaging in small conversations with locals, particularly the children practicing their English—a heartwarming experience. The Sananada afternoon was equally delightful, offering more vibrant markets, a lovely sing-sing, welcome speeches, and an extended expression of gratitude during donation presentations.
Taking note of the needs in both Buna and Sananada, we made space for medical donations, responding to a nurse’s information about the clinic running low on supplies. Upon returning to the ship, Steve shared insightful perspectives about the war in PNG, capping off a day filled with meaningful encounters and experiences.
Day 7: Fly Islands
18 January 2024
We started the day with a serene sunrise cruise, spotting various birdlife and coming across a nest, likely belonging to a Striated Heron, with two pristine white eggs. The air was filled with bird calls. After returning to the ship for a hearty breakfast, we gathered for an engaging talk by Mike on Invertebrates.
Our next adventure took us to a village, where we immersed ourselves in an extensive and captivating singsing. This particular performance stood out, featuring three distinct groups in the main square—a drumming circle, a ladies’ group, and a finale with men enacting a victorious battle story. We explored small markets and strolled through the village, contributing by donating school supplies and toys for the kids. Opting for a leisurely walk back to the landing area, we enjoyed a gentle return to the ship, allowing time for refreshment before lunch.
In the afternoon, we set out to explore the Fly Islands through snorkeling and diving. Both boats ventured off the reef, and on the west side of the smaller island, we marveled at a steep snorkel wall teeming with vibrant coral and fish life. The location felt isolated and protected, offering a serene underwater experience. Meanwhile, certified divers set off on the Zodiac for a dive between the islands, covering a few hundred meters and concluding the dive with a particularly beautiful spot.
Day 8: Tami island
19 January 2024
Our morning in the village was fantastic, filled with a lively sing-sing, warm welcomes, and an impressive market. Following this, we set out once again, this time to snorkel and dive the outer lagoon, creating lasting memories from a successful morning.
Post-adventure, we made our way towards Madang, enjoying a late lunch on the journey. The afternoon took an entertaining turn with Carol’s excellent fashion show. Approximately 15 guests and crew members embraced the local clothing and headwear for a humorous and immersive experience. The laughter continued as nearly all the guests joined in the dancing, following a local pattern of footwork, making it a hilarious and memorable event.
After sunset drinks and a delightful dinner, we wrapped up the day by screening the documentary “Birds of Paradise.”
Day 9: Madang
20 January 2024
Upon our arrival at Madang harbor, we were greeted with a fleet of small buses and guides ready to take us on a journey to explore the sights of Madang. One highlight was a pottery-making class in Bil Bil village, offering a hands-on experience. Following the creative session, we indulged in a delightful lunch at the resort, overlooking nearby waterways adorned with small islands.
Our adventure continued as we explored the local markets and the dock, following Guest Lecturers Steve and Anne into town for a visit to the cemetery. In the afternoon, we set sail for Seato, our gateway to Sepik, eager for the next leg of our journey.
Day 10: Sepik river
21 January 2024
The Sepik River proved to be a captivating experience, with its vast system and picturesque villages along the way offering a glimpse into life in PNG, perfect for capturing memorable photographs. Following breakfast, Carol delivered her final talk for this leg of the trip, focusing on the changes in an urban village.
We disembarked from the ship on the explorers, continuing up the river and passing Sago palms and water hyacinth. Our destination was the main section of the village of Bien at Sepik, where the entire community warmly welcomed us with fantastic sing-sings. Exploring the marketplace, we marveled at the unique Bilums and masks that were a specialty here, and despite having just 45 minutes to shop, generous donations were made.
As we departed Sepik, we enjoyed lunch with stunning views of the river. Ray’s talk followed, delving into the geography of PNG, including the country’s volcanic activity. Our arrival at Kadovar was nothing short of spectacular. Nearly everyone gathered on the outer decks to witness this incredible sight, with the bridge team skillfully keeping the ship close, providing a perfect setting for sunset drinks and dinner. Despite small puffs of smoke, the experience was truly incredible.
Day 11: Wewak
22 January 2024
We made a visit to a village, and the locals warmly greeted us. The snorkeling was a highlight, thoroughly enjoyed by all. Later in the afternoon, we bid farewell to Papua New Guinea. The day unfolded with the final two talks relevant to Papua New Guinea. Steve shared insights into growing up as a missionary’s child in the region, followed by my major brief on the upcoming week, including an overview of Indonesia and a talk on the tree kangaroo program that both Steve and Anne were involved in.
After a short break, the entire team collaborated to create a slideshow capturing the highlights of the trip so far. This seamlessly transitioned into a show-and-tell session, where each of us shared treasures acquired during the Papua New Guinea part of the voyage. Jacob kicked off the show, inspiring everyone to take the mic and showcase their favorite possessions, sharing stories of where and how they acquired them.