Gulf Province, located on the southern coast of Papua New Guinea, is dominated by highland mountains, lowland river deltas and wide expanses of seasonally flooded grass plains. The Turama, the Kikori, the Purari and the Vailala are just some of the great rivers that flow into the swampy, delta-land of the Papuan Gulf. Gulf Province has about 500 kilometres of roads, mainly along the eastern coast and mountains.
Very few tourists visit the Gulf and tourism facilities are not readily available. Guest houses; however, are available and village stays can be arranged. Keen fishermen and canoeists visit the area and bushwalking expeditions are offered which retrace the journeys of earlier explorers. A trek which follows an early 1900s gold exploration track is one such route.
The people of the delta-land build their houses on piles high above the muddy river banks. As the rivers change course they frequently have to move their villages. Each village is centred around the men's longhouse, known as a dobu or ravi, where weapons, important artefacts, ceremonial objects and, in the past, the skulls of enemies were stored. Men sleep in the longhouse, while women sleep in smaller, individual huts outside. Cannibalism was a way of life for the fierce gulf people of Papua New Guinea, until the arrival of Christianity.
Things to See and Do
Arts and Crafts: Art is still strong in the Gulf region with several distinct styles. Although head-hunting has not survived European civilisation, main items include masks, bullroarers, headrests, skull racks and gope boards. Gope boards were made for each act of bravery or successful conquest of an enemy and are elliptical and carved with abstract patterns or stylized figures.
Kaintiba: This area, in the mountains behind the coast, is good for walking. There are many villages in the Kaintiba region and most have missions where it is possible to stay.
Lakekamu Basin: This huge forested basin is rich in birds and wildlife. During World War II, the Bulldog Track was pushed from Malalaua to Edie Creek near Wau in Morobe Province to carry provisions. Guesthouses in this area are located at the villages of Makara, Kakoro and Tekaku.
Moale Festival: The Moale Festival commemorates the traditional Motuan trade voyage from Central Province to the Gulf, in search of sago, in exchange for the Motuan clay pots. This event is held every September.
Provincial School of Arts and Crafts Festival: This festival is held annually in November.