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Clearly, the local carvers knew what it feels like to go out walking in Port Moresby by yourself …..

I have just had a couple of quick days in Port Moresby with my ‘day’ job, and found myself in a town where you actually can’t just get out and walk around, due to safety and security concerns caused by the ‘raskols’ – groups of unemployed young men.  The situation is particularly bad for women: both locals and visitors. Everyone is hustled from A to B in cars with locked doors and windows wound up, as car jacking is not uncommon. In the evening, the streets are empty apart from groups of young men hanging around on street corners, and people don’t venture outside their hotels and homes, which are behind tall security fences. Fear can breed paranoia (and black humour: one of the expatriate compounds is affectionately known as ‘Camp S**t-Scared’), but of course many people do live there very happily and accommodate their lives around these constraints, and the Papua New Guineans I met were unremittingly kind, friendly and helpful. Outside of Moresby, the security situation is much different, and the country itself is fascinating and beautiful. However, it really struck me how I take the freedom to just go out and walk for granted, but that for some people, this is not the case.  Papua New Guinea is actually home to one of the world’s most iconic long distance walks (certainly for Australians): the 100km+ Kokoda Track, which goes up into the mountains north of Port Moresby. A lung-busting pilgrimage for many of the trekkers walking in the footsteps of their WWII relatives, this demanding trek can only be undertaken with licensed commercial operators.

Tantalising view of Port Moresby port and islands beyond from my window…..

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