One of the few National Parks in PNG, Variata, is located in the Astrolabe Hills behind the city. A drive up into the hills was often a weekend option to escape the heat along the coast.
The park had walking trails where you could enjoy the flora and fauna, with especially good birdwatching opportunities. It was also a great spot for a picnic as you enjoyed the view from above. For the children, a large tree house had been built high up in the canopy and they had a great time clambering up and down the wooden ladder to it!
I recently read that a bird-watching group had to be accompanied by guards while touring the park trails because of the deterioration of the security situation in PNG.
Another attraction on the drive to Sogeri, into the mountains behind Port Moresby, was Hombrum's Bluff. Located about 17-miles (28-km) from the city, this 2000-ft peak rises up out of the forest as you are nearing the Sogeri Plateau.
It made for a pleasant little detour to gaze out over the Laloki River and down onto the lowlands stretching toward the coast. Amazing what a few thousand feet can do for the temperatures too!
During my last year in PNG, I was promoted a couple of levels into senior management and was placed in-charge of the Operations of the power supply for the whole country. This brought a couple of perks with it, such as a company car and access to an Elcom-owned 'resort' located in the mountains at Lake Sirinumu.
Located on the Sogeri Plateau, this lake was formed by a dam which created a headpond for a small 1 MW hydro unit, and also provided water storage for the bigger generators further down the Laloki River. There were a couple of standard PNG 'stilt' houses here that could be booked out for a weekend, so we did just that with two other families.
It was great being together in the house, having BBQ meals and drinking beer while the kids amused themselves by swimming and running around the countryside. This muddy bank with some water to lubricate it made a great slide down into the lake! There never seemed to be any issues with security in places like this, more isolated from Port Moresby.
When we were tired of the mountains, the whole family would sometimes make a weekend trip with our friends to Bootless Bay, located along the coast southeast of Port Moresby. This was the location of the major Marina and we would set sail from there on our friend's 26-ft schooner.
Off-shore were a number of small islands and coral reefs. I was always amazed at how much work was involved in navigating these waters, making sure not to hit a reef. On this particular day, we anchored off Lion Island and went ashore for a picnic, some sunbathing (topless was common in offshore places like this) and snorkeling. I had not done much of that before (I'm talking about snorkeling) and I could not believe how bouyant the 'heavier' salt water makes you. It seems like no effort at all to just cruise along the surface enjoying the colours of the coral and fish.
Port Moresby is surrounded by mountains. You must visit the outlying areas and see the spectacular escarpment with large volcanic boulders