Gavuone, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, SDA Church, Travel 1 Comment

The Koiari Park Pidgin Church (Pacific Adventist University) organised a weekend trip to Gavuone, and I was keen to go. Unfortunately, Rebecca had an assignment overdue, so she was unable to go. At first I decided not to go either, but there weren’t enough seats on the organised truck to cater for everyone. So on Friday morning, I offered to go if that meant that more members could go.

However, I had some critical things that needed to be attended to on Friday afternoon, so I chose to leave at 4:00pm – three hours later than the truck. I ended up running late, and we left at about 4:20pm, and then had to fuel up in Port Moresby. Finding fuel at that time is always difficult, because of long queues at the petrol stations. By 5:10pm we finally left 6-mile.

We made great time for the first hour or so, but once the sun set, we slowed down. Despite driving very sedately, we still had some passengers getting car sick – especially those sitting in the very back. So we stopped three times along the way.


When we arrived around 9:00pm, we were offered dinner. The others had conducted the opening Sabbath service a the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and had just finished their dinner.


The plan was for the group to sleep in a classroom – two classrooms for the boys, and one for the girls. Although I had brought a tent, there was no good place to pitch it. So I was offered a mosquito net and a place in the classroom with the boys. Here the pastor is putting up the mosquito net for me. He also provided the mat for me to sleep on.


I stayed up late talking with some of the boys. There is a diesel powered generator for the region, and it runs all night. During the day there is no power.


Most of the boys were asleep by the time I got to bed.


The next morning I slept in, as I had little sleep the few nights before this trip. Most of the members were students from Pacific Adventist University, and they were asked to run the early morning devotion. The Gavuone Seventh-day Adventist Church has worship for all Seventh-day Adventists in the village every morning from 6:00-7:00am, and every evening from 5:00-6:00pm.


The church is the big white roof in the center of the picture above. Below is a picture of the classroom where I slept, and another classroom where two others had pitched their tents for the night.


The Gavuone Seventh-day Adventist Primary School is situated on a small hill surrounded by mangroves. The path below is the only access to the school – and it floods during King tides.


In the pictures above, you can see a ‘metal shed’ in the middle of the picture, directly in front of the church. This is the elementary classroom. Here is what it looks like inside.


When I arrived at church, it was still empty – but that changed very quickly, with every seat being filled and almost all the floor space used by people sitting there. Approximately 600 people worship here every week, two-thirds of them are youth and children.


This photo shows how almost the whole floor is covered by people sitting on the floor.


Lunch was prepared by the village women, who put on a superb spread. Given that Gavuone had 16 cholera cases in the previous few days, some people were a little anxious. However, no-one got sick, and nurses who were with us ensured good hygiene standards were followed.


While we ate, the ladies who had cooked the food waited outside. Once we were finished, they took the leftovers back to the village.


Following the afternoon program at church, we went for drive to see the village and the beach. Gavuone is situated at the mouth of Marshal Lagoon.

This is the national primary school.


Here the beach faces the open sea, and in about the center of the photo is where the lagoon meets the ocean.


Unfortunately many of the youth have little to do, so they sit around on the beach and play cards.


After dinner and telling stories, it was time for bed.


On Sunday morning I again slept in. When the others came back from the morning worship, we decided to go for a quick walk before breakfast. The mangroves looked very beautiful in the morning light.


The youth were busy practicing their volleyball. The village is largely divided into two halves – the Seventh-day Adventist side and the Uniting Church side.The Adventist youth were going to face the United youth in a volleyball competition – something that was a first in this village.


And on Monday, the famous canoe race was going to take place, so people were busy getting ready for that also. People from all over the country come to watch the canoe race.


This man is busy working on his canoe for next year – the shell you see on the left, needs to be ‘doug out’ further, until the wall is just 1cm think (currently it is still almost 3cm).


A few houses are built over the lagoon.


Getting a haircut!


Everywhere I went, children were looking at me – I guess they don’t see tall white men very often.


The house below had these two children look out between the cladding.


And, of course, people were going about their normal business. This woman is weaving a basket.


Here is a shot across the lagoon fro one of the highest points in the village.


The main street of the village.


The school where we stayed from the distance – this makes it easy to see how it is one hill surrounded by mangroves.


The beauty of the mangroves is that it attracts many herons. Here are two landing on the water.


Yes, everyone helped where required.


After we finished breakfast, we were told that the church had put on a farewell feast for us. We were expected to eat again! When we arrived at the church, sure enough, here was a long spread with lots of food. Notice the bowls for hand washing? Just making sure no-one gets cholera.


While we were eating, the ladies sat on the lawn and sang – they sang for more than an hour without stopping.


After the extra meal, there were some short speeches and then it was time to leave.


And here are some shots showing some of the terrain we saw on our way back to Port Moresby.


One of the little churches along the way.


We spotted some locals processing sago by the side of the road. These men are cutting up the palm with hoe like instrument.


The ladies then take the shavings and wash the starch out.


A common sight in Papua New Guinea – washing the car (and everything else) by the river.


We passed the truck, and shot ahead and looked for a nice spot to take some pictures of it passing.


And some more photos of the varying conditions of the road.


Just before we reached Gaire, the truck driver decided it was time for a short stop. For some reason Papua New Guineans must sit in the middle of the road (Magi Highway), as sitting by the side of the road is clearly not appropriate.


When vehicles come, there is a quick scramble to get off the road.


Our nurse, Annie, who made sure we were safe.


And then we were on the road again.


Arrival back at Pacific Adventist University.


Edevu and Beyond, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea, Travel No Comments

On Sunday, 6 June, I joined a team from the School of Science and Technology of Pacific Adventist University to Edevu and from there on a two hour drive to the end of the track in the mountains. The track ends near where a new hydro dam is planned, and the team where there to take a preliminary look in preparation for an environmental study.

Here we are, three 4WDs in Edevu village getting ready to leave.



It was a beautiful, misty morning.


The track is quite rough in places, but passes through some beautiful forest.


Wayne, the driver of the Mitsubishi Challenger, was also enjoying the drive – he is only sliding his car a little bit here – very self-controlled.


As we headed up the mountain, the clouds blocked our view most of the time, but as you can see in the third photo below, the sky did open up a bit to reveal the height of Mt Victoria.


Some more pictures of the conditions of the track.


The whole in the road is only small … it goes right through to the stream underneath.


Just a little crossing, though I did this crossing quickly, and bent the number plate.


When we neared the top of the mountain range, we came to a transit point. A 4WD comes up this way two times a week to pick up villagers who walk for hours to this point. They bring vegetables and all kinds of produce/goods for markets in Port Moresby.


The track got worse the further we went.


Yes, some of the mud holes were quite deep. Here Wayne is backing up to make another attempt.


I guess the School of Science and Technology staff had too much for breakfast, so they had to get out in order to navigate the mud pool.


When Wayne tried, he found his car just a tad too low – and with the back of his car firmly sitting in the mud, his wheels were freely spinning.


But that is what the towrope is for, right? Hey, boys, surely you aren’t planning to pull him out? Oh, that’s right, Roger’s 4WD is close by.


About 250 meters from the top, we encountered this washout. The hill was pretty steep, and on the far side of the hill was a 10+ meter drop and a very steep slope. We tried dig the far side of the track to make a bit more room, but the tyres just spun on the red mud. So we decided to walk the final few meters.


The misty track we walked up was very beautiful, with lots of ferns. These photos also show how the locals walk everywhere, often carrying huge loads. This man was carrying half a 44 gallon drum, and the ladies in the following picture were just unloading for a short rest.


At this point, we are actually very close to the Kokoda trail – separated by just one valley. When the clouds cleared for a few seconds, we were able to see one of the villages in the distance.


Lots of nice ferns.


On the way back it was raining, and the some of the villagers were resting under a shelter.


The rain made the trip home more fun than originally anticipated.


When we came to the meeting point (see earlier photo), we found out that the 4WD that normally comes on Sunday wasn’t able to make it up the hill due to the mud and rain. Many of the people walked down the mountain to meet it. We took on some cargo and carried it to Edevu village, where it would be collected later.


After we descended the mountain, we passed the 4WD that does provides the public transport. It costs K30 for a trip from here to Port Moresby.


When we arrived back at Edevu, the sun was breaking through the clouds again.


Here is a picture of the number plate I nearly ripped off during the water crossing.