Lorengau did not have a lot of tourist activity when I visited the area. Papua New Guinea was just too far away for most people to visit, and there were definitely better attractions at a more affordable price elsewhere in this amazing country.
My work activities at the two diesel power stations did not allow a lot of time for peaceful sight-seeing, but it still was an interesting experience to visit many tiny communities such as this. I always tried to take a look at my surroundings and realize just how lucky I was to have the chance to even see a place like this.
Fortunately, it does not take a lot to amuse me. I made it a point to visit as many smaller places like this as I could, because I felt that they too deserved to at least have the lights working!
Traditional Manus dancing is unique amongst all the cultures of Papua New Guinea with its use of Garamuts (slit-drums) of different sizes and tones, and the energy of the dancing. It has become one of the most popular of the traditional dances across the country where the bodies writhe and jump sensuously to the various fast rhythmic beats of the different sizes of garamut.
This photo is of one of a number of Manus Island women who were dancing in a long, loose line, each waving a spear in one hand and this 'brush' in the other. They also wore wide grass skirts reaching almost to their knees.
In the days before the internet and cell-phones, most communciations with family in either Canada or England was by Air Mail. A long-distance phone call would be made for really special occassions. Even local telephone calls in PNG were charged by the minute, as is the custom in England. As for the letters, I would regularly send photos and updates home to my parents and always made sure to put lots of colourful PNG stamps on the envelope!
Here is a typical scene at almost every place in PNG that was located along it's coasts or mighty rivers! Dugout canoes, often equipped with an awning like these ones in Lorengau harbour. These people were very adept at living off the land for both their housing and food needs. The main commercial activities on the island centred around copra (coconut palm) production and seeking pearls and marine shells from the waters of the numerous islands.
Located almost next-door to Lorengau, and joined by road/bridge, was the local Papua New Guinea Naval Base at Lombrum on the small Los Negros Island. The base had its own diesel generating station which the PNG Electricity Commission also looked after. As a result, I had a chance to tour this part of the Admiralty Islands as well.
World War 2 catapulted these islands onto the big stage when the Allies decided to capture them from the Japanese, who had suddenly taken them in April, 1942. Instead of attacking the dug-in and prepared 10,000 Japanese troops in Rabaul (New Britain Island also in PNG) an American/Australian attack in February, 1944 reclaimed Manus for the Allies. A large airbase and naval base was then developed here because it was closer to Japan and also isolated the garrison in Rabaul.
The two large patrol boats shown here, the 'Ladava' and 'Lae', were built in 1968 for the Royal Australian Navy and then given as gifts to PNG on its independence in 1975. They are 108 feet in length, have a top speed of 24 knots and are armed with 40 mm and 20 mm cannons. These patrol boats were the pride of the PNG navy, and took part in tasks such as patrolling their vast territorial waters, enforcing the new 200-mile fishing zone, search & rescue operations and performing medical evacuations of villagers from small islands. By the way, I am talking about the two boats in the background :-)
Of course the reason that I was making trips like this one was to check up on and fix any problems that the local power stations were having. This photo shows a typical interior of a small diesel station, this one being located in Lorengau with the job of providing power to the entire big island (well, at least as far as the power lines ran).
It shows a couple of typical machines that had been installed by the Australians over the years leading up to the independence of PNG. The smaller machine in the foreground is a 100 kW Blackstone, while the larger one is a 400 kW Lancashire Dynamo & Crypto unit (I love those old British names). Altogether not very much power, in fact, less than a single modern wind generator can produce! However, the thing about diesels is that they are very reliable and work even when the wind is not blowing! People like that, despite the noise and fumes! There is a place for both technologies, but don't throw out the old tried and proven methods just yet!
Favorite thing: The Admiralty Islands are located about 350 km (220 miles) from Madang, the nearest large airport on the north coast of the PNG mainland. As a result, it is a major exercise if you really want to go this far! Once you are there, diving around the various small coral islands is likely the tourist activity of choice. The Equator runs along the top of this photograph, placing these islands at about 2 degrees South.