Robin's Adventures

Tales of the South Pacific
A Tropical Island Adventure

Interesting Adaptation

Apparently some of the local birds have a habit of making a nuisance of themselves by pulling off the rubber parts of cars, such as the windshield wipers. In order to protect their vehicles, drivers have placed tree fronds or colorful zip ties on their cars to keep the birds away. Interesting idea.

We also noticed a lot of lean-to type structures off the side of the road. Not sure if these were intended to be bus stops or something else, but it seemed like a good way to keep out of the sun while you are waiting.

Betel Nut

A betel nut is the seed of the areca palm tree that is common throughout the South Pacific. It is a popular custom to chew the betel nut and the effect it provides is that of a mild stimulant, often resulting in feelings of euphoria and a heightened sense of awareness.

The green husk is removed and a few slices of the nut inside are wrapped in a betel leaf, usually with some lime juice and other spices, such as clove or cardamom, for extra flavoring. As people chew, a red liquidy residue is formed that stains teeth and creates an eyesore when people spit the residue on the ground. In addition, recent studies have shown that chewing the betel nut has a definite link to oral cancer and to an incurable jaw disorder.

Fresh Fish

The Kori Fish Market, which is one of the oldest fish markets in Port Moresby, has a wide variety of just off the boat fresh fish. Small boats and dinghies, belonging to the local fishermen, are scattered along the edge of the jetty and the fish are carried from there to the stalls in the market ... it doesn't get much fresher than that.

Stilt Village

The Koki Stilt Village is a neighborhood of homes that is built on stilts over the ocean. The homes are large enough to provide living quarters for an extended family and sturdy enough to withstand heavy winds and storms.

There are boardwalks on stilts that run along between the houses like local sidewalks. Most of the homes are wired for electricity and most also have running water that is piped in. Guess this gives a whole new meaning to ocean front property...

Entertainment while at Sea

The islands that we visited were spread out across the South Pacific and some took longer to get to than others. Thus, there were some days that were spent totally "at sea" with no land in sight. Fortunately, there were lots of things to do during our at sea days.

There were a couple of interesting lecturers that gave wonderful talks. One was an expert in the area of World War II battles in the Pacific Theater and the other was an art historian that spoke about the arts of the native Pacific Islanders and of naturalists on the ships that first explored those regions.

One of the more colorful events designed to amuse us while at sea was a demonstration of how to carve fruits and vegetables to make a lovely floral bouquet.

More Entertainment while at Sea

Other sea day events included a demonstration from the pastry chef, lessons in how to make crepes Suzette, and building small boats out of recycled materials.

Tropical Cyclones

While we did experience some rain during our journey, we managed to miss the two big tropical storms that seemed to follow in our wake.

Thursday Island

Thursday Island, which has the distinction of being the northernmost town in Australia, has an area of about 1.5 square miles and a population of about 2,600 people. The island is located in the Torres Strait, an ocean channel that separates Australia from Papua New Guinea.

The major industry on the islands from the 1880s until World War II was pearl diving for the Golden Lip Oyster. The shell from this oyster was used to make shirt buttons. After the development of plastic buttons in the 1950s, the pearl diving industry rapidly declined on the island.

The island was also a major trade stop for shipping vessels during that same time period. In 1890, a ship called the RMS Quetta struck a reef and sank very rapidly with the loss of over 130 lives. An Anglican church, Quetta All Souls Memorial Church, was built on the island as a memorial.

Along the Trail

There are some beautiful walking trails on the island and lots of interesting things to see as you walk.

We saw a bright orange Gulf fritillary or passion butterfly and some fragrant jungle geraniums or Ixora coccinea which were also of great interest to a common paper wasp.

Hanging out by the edge of the shore, strutting around on bright red feet, were some noisy Red-billed Gull or Larus scopulinus.

Torres Strait Cultural Centre

The Torres Strait Cultural Centre was a museum and educational complex that housed not only cultural artifacts from peoples of the Torres Strait, but also a variety of modern artworks that were made from local materials, such as shells, feathers, and pearls.