I recently went over to Port Moresby (POM) in PNG to visit some friends of mine. It had been two years since I was last there and I needed to go back for a few reasons. It is much easier traveling to Papua New Guinea from Cairns (where I lived in 09-10) than it is from Canberra, and a hell of a lot cheaper too. My first trip to PNG was in 2005 with one of my best mates and his family. They are from Milne Bay Province in the south-east of the country and now a lot of the family lives in the capital. I remember the flight from Cairns to POM being close to $1000 return from Cairns (pretty exe for a 1 1/2 hour flight). On this most recent trip (my 13th - confirmed after checking my visa stamps) flights were available for under $400 return.
I needed to go back to POM for a few reasons. I hadn't seen my friends in two years and I just wanted to hang out with them and catch up on what's been happening. I had also recently started to feel distanced from the country and the people that I dearly love. I started to think more than I should have about media reports relating to PNG and whether it was as safe now as I knew it to be. I think the recent "PNG Solution" policy introduced by the previous government had something to do with it, but not entirely. I was nervous nonetheless and that signalled to me that I needed to go back and hang out, walk around, party with friends and see people who I hadn't maintained enough contact with.
I shot quite a lot of film on this recent trip, more than I thought I would. I photographed the small stuff, my friend Johnny playing guitar and his wife Seli sleeping during a quiet and lazy Sunday afternoon. I photographed their children and I photographed their friends when they came over to tell stories and have a few beers on Friday afternoon.
The Port Moresby that I know is different to the one that you read about in the newspapers and that you see on the television, as it is for many people who live and visit there. It would be naive of me to suggest that POM is a place without danger and risk. Indeed, Port Moresby is a city and all cities have risks and dangers, especially in ones that are so blatantly socially, culturally and economically divided between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'. But the Port Moresby I know is inhabited by remarkably wonderful, hospitable, gracious, peaceful, honest, caring, loving, friendly, helpful and funny people who make me feel welcome and safe in their town.
In the next few days I will be receiving scans and prints of all the work I shot in POM on my most recent visit. I am slightly excited at the anticipation of seeing what is there. In the mean time I have just discovered some digital scans from a trip to PNG that I made in 2008 with some very dear friends of mine, the family who introduced me to PNG, the O'Rourke's. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to show a few of the images that were made on this trip in 2008. The pictures were made in Port Moresby and in Milne Bay Province.