PAPUA NEW GUINEA 2013

National Capital District
Port Moresby

Port Moresby is the capital of Papua New Guinea (PNG). It was named thus in 1873, by Captain John Moresby RN (1820-1922) of the HMS Basilisk, in honour of his father, Admiral Sir Fairfax Moresby.

 

Map of Port Moresby showing relevant locations

Port Moresby is the usual port of entry to PNG, via Jackson's International Airport, named for RAAF pilot John Jackson who was killed in April 1942. Being the capital Port Moresby is also where many of the instititions I generally need to visit are located: Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH), Charles Campbell Toxinology Centre (CCTC), National Museum of Papua New Guinea (NMPNG), and University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). The town and its immediate hinterland are contained in the National Capital District, which is itself completely surrounded on all landward sides by Central Province. So central to Central Province is Port Moresby, that Central Province is the only one of PNG's 21 provinces not yet to possess its own provincial capital.

Downtown Port Moresby

Many biological researchers arrive in Port Moresby and leave for far corners of the county as soon as possible but since many of the medically important snakes we require are found along the south coast of Central Province we often find ourselves working in and around the National Capital District. This would be the case for a large proportion of my visit in 2013.

I arrived in Port Moresby at 08:00 in the morning, after flying in from Singapore. I went through Immigration and Customs, one of the Customs officers called me over and said "You're the guy who catches snakes". After that there was no need to search my bags and I left the airport to meet David Williams, an Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU) toxinologist and herpetologist based in Port Moresby. I've known Dave for many years and we have spent field time together in PNG in 1996, 2006 and 2008. In 2010 I was in Port Moresby covering for Dave who had been seconded to the WHO in Geneva.

Dave lives with his wife and son quite close to the PMGH, which is convenient for him as he is frequently called into the Emergency Room in the night when a snakebite from northwestern or southeastern Central Province arrives for treatment. I stayed with Dave's family for part of the time I was in Port Moresby, and for the rest of the time I used their guest accomodation.