Only 46 kilometres from Port Moresby is the Sogeri Plateau, located at 800 metres above sea level.
Sogeri is the starting point for the famous Kokoda Track and is also close to the Varirata National Park. Covering an area of 1,000 hectares, the Varirata National Park was the original hunting grounds of its tree-house dwelling landowners. At certain times of the day, birds of paradise, wallabies and deer can be seen along the walking trails. At the end of the trail the lookout presents a panoramic view of Port Moresby and the coastline.
The road to Sogeri passes the historic Bomana War Cemetery and Gardens and the Moitaka Wildlife Farm, a crocodile research farm which also has a collection of native animals and birds. On Fridays, visitors are able to see the crocodiles at lunch.
Yule Island, two hours drive west along the Hiritano Highway, was one of the first areas to have European contact. Catholic missionaries settled here in 1885 and still maintain a presence in the area. The island is a popular spot for peaceful getaways and seafood delights. To the east, only fifteen minutes drive from Port Moresby is Loloata Island Resort, a popular destination for Port Moresby residents and a relaxing alternative for transiting visitors. Surrounded by coral reefs, the resort is a stunning location for snorkelling, diving, fishing and other water sports.
The Hiri or trade voyage of the Motu people from the Central Province began early in the 18th century when food supplies had dwindled along the coast. Yam harvests had failed and the people were dying from starvation and disease. Motuan legend has it that during this time of hardship a fisherman called Edai Boera was out on the water minding his own business when Divara (his eel spirit) capsized his boat and dragged him to the depths where he was schooled in the skills of making a large ocean going vessel called a Lakatoi. The vessel, said the giant eel, would be the answer to all their problems. Edai then returned to the surface and his village where he shared his experience before setting about constructing the giant vessel.
Two large canoes were carved and lashed together into a single hull. A platform, a shelter, two large masts and the characteristic Crab Claw sails were added. The Lakatoi was then loaded with ornaments and clay pots (specialties of the area) and set off on the journey to the Gulf to trade for the much needed supplies.
Several months after the Lakatoi's departure, the easterly winds turned north-westerly and it returned crammed with treasures of taro, sago, betelnut and timber. The historic journey was repeated until the 1950s. Today it is still commemorated together with Papua New Guinea's Independence Day celebrations, as the Hiri Moale Festival.
Exploring Central Province
Sogeri Plateau: Lying at 600m above sea level and 46km inland, Sogeri is much cooler and greener than Moresby. Sogeri Road leaves Sir Hubert Murray Highway near the airport and follows the Laloki River, climbing above the gorge with a view of spectacular Rouna Falls. Soon after the falls you’ll find the Varirata National Park and closeby, the Kokoda monument, which leads to Owers Corner and the start of the Kokoda Track. Just a short distance further along the road is the Crystal Rapids, where you can picnic and swim for a small fee, and Sirinumu Dam.
Variarata National Park: There is some pleasant walking here, with a network of trails, grassy picnic areas and shelters with barbecues, and lookouts giving fine views to Port Moresby and out to sea. Wallabies are common and birdlife is plentiful. Early morning is the best time to see birds of paradise. You can camp in the park or stay in the small park lodge.
Variarata National Park: There are many breathtaking and challenging walks and trails here in the Variarata National Park. Visitors can enjoy a network of trails, grassy picnic areas and shelters with barbecues. The area also boasts stunning views of Port Moresby and out to sea. Wallabies are common and birdlife is plentiful. Early morning is the best time to see birds of paradise. You can camp in the park or stay in the small park lodge.
Loloata Island: This pleasant retreat from Moresby is great for a day trip or a weekend getaway. The island lies off Bootless Bay and offers diving, snorkelling, fishing, sail-boarding and much more. Bootless Bay is about 20km from Moresby and can be reached by turning left at Six Mile and following the Magi Highway.
Hisiu Beach: The small beach resort on Hisiu Beach is 100km from Moresby. This village-operated resort offers bungalow accommodation – almost on the sand. Take time during your stay for fishing, swimming and surfing. When travelling to the resort be sure to take food, cooking utensils and bedding.
Yule Island: The large Catholic mission on Yule Island was founded in 1885 and for a while the island was a government headquarters. For unique accommodation on Yule Island, stay at the Carmelite convent in the original nuns' cells. Along with fishing, swimming and picturesque scenery, the history of the island is one of its most fascinating attractions. To reach Yule Island, drive from Moresby is 160km (three hours) via the Hiritano Highway, turning off to Poukama where a canoe will take you to the island. Alternatively you can fly directly to Kairuku Village.
Things to do in Central Province
Golf: Challenge your friends or family to a round of golf at Moresby's 18-hole golf course, located in Waigani, behind Parliament House.
Diving: For excellent diving, close to Moresby, explore the reef behind Fisherman's Island, at the east side of Basilisk Passage (the entrance to the harbour), and at The Finger, a long coral ridge with a drop-off on one side and white sand on the other. Here divers enjoy discovering the New Marine No7, a sunken trawler and the small MV Kupiki. A further site to explore is Horseshoe Reef, off Bootless Bay. This reef features a number of different dives, including the End Bommie and the wreck of the Pacific Gas.
If you prefer a diving charter, Loloata Island Resort is only 15 minutes from Jacksons International Airport and Port Moresby. The resort can tailor itineraries to over twenty-five dive sites, to suite your specific requirements. The Dive Centre at Airways Poolside offers day trips on MV Solatai. Live-aboard boats operate out of Port Moresby and travel to the Eastern Fields, Milne Bay and other excellent locations along the coast.
Trekking: The famous 96km Kokoda Track, taking from 5 to 10 days to walk (depending on fitness and conditions), crosses the backbone of Papua New Guinea, taking trekkers from the Central Province side of the trail into the behind Moresby to Kokoda in Oro Province. The Kokoda Track passes through remote, rugged country and it is highly advisable to use a guide. A short day walk can be done on the first part of the trail from Owers Corner to Imita Ridge.
The Goilala District also has excellent hiking around Woitape and Tapini, on trails established by missionaries; or you can climb Mount Albert Edward (3990m). Accommodation is available in these remote villages and visitors are advised to take a guide and use a tour company.
Flight-seeing: The Milk Run to Woitape, Ononge, Fane and Tapini villages by air is a great way to visit some remote country if you are short of time. Some of these village airstrips are very exciting.
Surfing: The best beaches are at Hula, 100km east of Port Moresby, from June to September. Closer to town at Taurama Point you'll find Sero Surf Club.
Fishing: Galley Reach, a few hours from Port Moresby, offers a variety of fishing.