PNG's Conflict IslandAugust 09th , 2014
Lin Sutherland’s love of nature and our planet has taken her around the world making films which promote travel, adventure, fun and the environment.
Col Larsen is a creative freelance cinematographer with enormous professional experience.
Lin and Col took on a Getaway challenge and headed to The Conflict Islands in Milne Bay, south-east of Papua New Guinea at the top of the Coral Sea.
At the lower end of the D'Entrecasteaux Straits, the 22 untouched Conflict Islands boast the most extensive biodiversity and coral reefs in the world. The uninhabited tropical islands are under consideration for a World Heritage Marine site.
The pristine waters are home to a third of the world’s species of marine fish from the tiny ghost pipe fish to enormous manta rays and killer whales. Assessments conducted in Milne Bay recorded around 430 species of coral, 950 of molluscs and over 1000 species of fish, many found nowhere else.
Lin and Colin landed in Alotau in Milne Bay province, the largest of PNG’s marine provinces covering 250,000k². Known as the ‘peaceful province’ Milne Bay is like a magnet once you’ve experienced it. In fact the whole country can do that. There are over 800 languages spoken and wherever you go, you are greeted in a different way.
A quick trip on the ‘Oceanic Discoverer’ took Lin and Colin to the Conflicts, a coral atoll in the middle of nowhere. There aren’t many places left on earth that have escaped the influences of modern development, but the Conflict Islands Group has avoided all of that and is paradise.
Just one of the islands has accommodation, and Lin was shown around by owner, Australian entrepreneur, Ian Gowrie-Smith. He is rightly proud to be one of very few people to own one of the world’s complete atolls. Ian was totally captivated when he was diving in an area they call Beluga and found himself surrounded by so many different species of fish he thought he had died and gone to heaven.
Resident Chef, Island Joe, has years of experience working throughout Australia and Papua New Guinea and creates his daily menus based around local delights. Panasesa has an abundant vegetable garden and the islands have been planted with fruit trees. The surrounding waters are a wonderful source of food – tuna, coral trout, trevalla, lobster, crayfish and other delicacies. For the popular ‘surf and turf barbecue’ best quality Australian meats are teamed with local seafood.
Activities include sport fishing, two dives a day, kayaking, sailing, boating and nature encounters. Among the group of islands, Irai has been found to have the second best coral in the world with the most number of species noted in a single dive – an absolute dream for divers!
Lin rounded up a boat and crew and sailed around the islands in traditional style, just the way it has been done for thousands of years.
It’s a physical exercise and with such heavy sails, everyone works hard. Lin’s reward was being taken to a white sandy beach for a snorkel. She had a wonderful day with locals who are just as at home in the water as they are on land.
It was over all too soon, but in traditional Papua New Guinea custom, it all ended with a feast. Mumu is the traditional way to cook – it’s an earth oven using heated stones which are put into or arranged around the food. Costumes are all about customs and cultures and have not changed for thousands of years. The good news is that the Conflict Islands are open for investment, presenting a rare opportunity to own part of the complete atoll in one of the last untouched places on earth.
Potential investors or purchasers are invited to participate in the conservation and protection of the islands in whole or in part. The plan is to create an exclusive, sustainable, eco-travel destination and Marine Protected Area. The owner's vision is to find an exclusive community of like-minded individuals who want to preserve and enjoy the islands for future generations, as part of their legacy.
For further information, contact the owner, Ian Gowrie-Smith on www.conflictislands.com
The Conflict Islands in Milne Bay, 128 kilometres due-east of Papua New Guinea.
Panasesa Resort’s 7 Explorer Package starts at $4999 per person twin share. It includes accommodation, all meals, activities – including diving and fishing expeditions and return boat transfers from Alotau.
Prices correct at 10.05.2014