Introducing Morobe & Madang Provinces
If you have just rolled down the pot-holed roads of the Highlands on an arse-spanking PMV, Morobe and Madang, with their beaches and bays, will be as welcome as a shot of quinine after a bout of malaria.
Geographically speaking they are similar – both rise from pristine beaches and bays of Papua New Guinea’s northern coast into a series of thickly forested hills, imposing mountain ranges and, ultimately, the Highlands.
But that is where their similarities end. Lae is the abandoned child of the 1920s and 1930s gold-rush era and she grew up hard. In the ‘40s she was invaded by the Japanese and bombed by the Allies. Today Lae is finding her feet as an important economic and industrial hub and has become the most well-connected city in PNG with road, sea and air links to just about everywhere else. WWII battlefields, war cemeteries, wrecked planes and sunken ships all attract visitors and the Morobe Province’s Black Cat Track is slowly gaining popularity with hardcore trekkers now that the Kokoda has become ‘overrun’.
Madang, situated on a small peninsula jutting into a halcyonic harbour, is Lae’s younger, prettier sister. Despite being heavily bombed in WWII, Madang has returned to her sunny, carefree self. Once here, you’ll be shifting down the mental gears in no time. For the adventurer there is plenty of scope to grab a snorkel, slap on some sunscreen and banana-boat hop your way along the coast. Madang’s northern coast, the Finschhafen area and the foreshore south of Lae all offer opportunities to stay in locally run guesthouses and soak up some rays.