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aussie 16-09-2002 05:52 PM

Sepik Adventure with Steven Mago
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Steven Mago has agreed to write and provide articles and photos of his adventures throughout Papua New Guinea.

Sepik Adventure
Photographs and Article - courtesy of Steven Mago who flew into Port Moresby on Sunday 15th September, 2002:

Thank you Steven for helping to show the outside world that there are fantastic places to visit in Papua New Guinea.

Here is Steven's story:

Aibom Village, Sepik

aussie 16-09-2002 05:54 PM

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The seven potters came, saw and were fascinated, promising to return to the mighty Sepik River and its unique culture and traditions, lifestyle and attractions compared to their own back back in Japan.

Tour leader STEVEN MAGO takes us with him on his journey down the Sepik River to AIBOM Village with a group of Japanese tourists:

aussie 16-09-2002 05:57 PM

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BENEATH the boiling, blue Sepik sky, the rain tree at Pagwi River station provided life-giving shade to the seven Japanese potters.

aussie 16-09-2002 06:01 PM

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They had jus gone through a rough, safari-type ride on the back of a Toyota 4-Wheel-Drive with Steven from Maprik with legendary drivr and tour guide Paul Kosol.

Their scenic drive frm Maprik over a small part of the Sepik Plains started four hours earlier after overnighting at the New Tribes Mission Guest Hosue, run by American missionaries.

They had arrived there from Wewak after spending a night at Wewak's Airport Lodge and delighting in a welcoming feast of lobster, courtesy of an old friend, lodge proprietor, and long time Wewak resident Margaret Hayward.

aussie 16-09-2002 06:04 PM

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Looking across the river, the wide expanse of water was serene and quiet, disturbed only by the distant sounds of a motorised canoe and children swimming at the edge.

aussie 16-09-2002 06:07 PM

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But even the logs that drifted past beside clumps of salvinia molesta (water hyacinth) on their long journey to the river's mouth are the subjects of conversation, not to mention the never-ending clicking of digital cameras.

aussie 16-09-2002 06:11 PM

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The seven Japanese visitors, members of the Nagano Ceramic Club found the first glimpse of the mighty Sepik a dazzling and awesome experience and as the cameras clicked away even more the tall young Tolai Japanese-speaking guide, Norbet Pirrie, smiles and tells our visitors that we have not embarked on the Sepik canoe tour, yet.

Norbet Pirrie and the Japanese Tourists

aussie 16-09-2002 06:13 PM

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The visitors should save their films for later encounters along the Sepik.

For the visitors even this start of the two-day canoe trip to Aibom pottery village on Chambri Lakes is a moment to be savoured but for the locals, who by now had gathered, the excitement is no big drama and is just another day on the Sepik.

aussie 16-09-2002 06:21 PM

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Our journey started in Port Moresby where I joined the group from Sydney as their tour leader.

After meeting and transferring the group from the early Sunday flight from Narita, the group oroceeded onto Madang for a quick tour of Bilbil pottery and a singsing, the Madang museum, housed inside the Madang Visitors and Cultural Bureau complex and a scenic drive along the North Coast to Kubugam Village , under the guidance of Madang tour leader Lina Siming.

Pirrie and I picked up the group in Madang and the flight to Wewak, one that I have taken so many times before, had a different kind of feeling as I was wearing a different hat this time as tour leader of my fir Japanese group.

Our journey to Aibom started very early the next morning when we loaded a hired Toyota Hilux 2 X 4 with our food supplies, water, first aid kit and luggage. The trip along the Highway to Passam was a nostalgic ride for me.

I last walked and rode through this part of the world 20 years ago when I attended Grade 11 at Passam National High School.

We drove past the school, but the road did not look too familiar. It was now sealed and the dust I knew had gone and there was more traffic,mainly grubby highway trucks, filled ot the top with bags of garden produce and people sitting on top of the cargo.

For the tourists, seeing the steady flow of trucks making their way to Wewak with their load of people and garden produce provided both amusement and wonder at the reality of public transportation in rural PNG.

After arriving in Maprik, we had a picnic lunch at the lodge's haus win before checking in to a large house that the missionaries had given to us complete with cooking facilities, a clean bathroom and shower and clean, comfortable beds and linen.

Chambri Catholic Mission

aussie 16-09-2002 06:26 PM

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A tour of two haus tambarans were the highlight of the Maprik stopover and next morning after re-stocking our fuel, food and water supplies, we headed for Pagwi on a trip that many advised against, owing to the condition of the road.

It wasn't until an hour along the Pagwi Highway that we realised and understood why all vehicles, except 4-wheel drives, do not dare to take on the highway. The road had deteriorated so badly that many PMV's now only drive to Pagwi on Thursdays.

Those who do not make it onto PMV's from Pagwi walk for two days on foot, and sleep on the way, to Maprik where it is easier to catch a PMV to Wewak.

Our mode of transport to Aibom from Pagwi Station was a large dugout canoe, powered by a 15hp Yamaha motor and skippered by a jovial character in Charlie, who loves his betelnut so much that there wasn't a moment in the three hour canoe journey that his mouth was not moving in time with his hand at the controls of the canoe.

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