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PNG Trip - September 2008 by Michael McFadyen
On 19 September 2008 12 members of the St George Scuba Club left Sydney for Port Moresby. On the trip were Michael and Kelly McFadyen, Carol Martin, John Prior, Eddie Ivers, Ron Walsh, Paul Watkinson, Dave Casburn, Jason Coombs, Heinz Bendinger, Brian Byrnes and Bill Purkiss.

After a short stopover, we were on the flight to Rabaul at the northern end of New Britain. The volcano was very active, easily visible from the airport when we arrived. We were collected by the owner of the accommodation and dive operation, Steve, and transported in three vehicles to Kabaira Resort.

This is about 80 minutes from the airport and on the west coast of the Gazelle Pennisula. The resort is very simple, with two new buildings and one older large accommodation building. It was basic, but very suitable.

The next morning we were off for our first dives. There were two boats, both banana boats and very comfortable. It was only 20 minutes to the first dive and most sites were less than this distance. Over the next four days we ended up doing eight boat dives. As well, most did at least one shore dive and nearly all did a Thursday night shore dive.

Most of the dives were reef dives, but we did one trip further afield to the northern shore of the Rabaul area to dive George's Wreck. This is a World War II Japanese wreck. A very nice dive. After this we were taken through Rabaul, seeing the ruins of the town after the 1994 volcano eruptions. The main volcano is still erupting, spewing out huge quanties of ash. This even falls as far away as the resort which is about 25 kilometres. By the way, we could even hear the volcano's eruption some nights. It was also heard while diving ona couple of dives. The second dive this day was done on some wrecks off another resort.

The reef dives were excellent. One dive, Harrys Step Up was as good a reef dive as I have done anywhere in the World. The shore dive in front of the resort was also excellent, so much to see.

The resort and diver operation were well run, with nice food and a relaxed operation. You almost felt as if you were part of the family.

After five nights we headed off to Kavieng. This is at the northern end of New Ireland and a short flight by jet. Here we were staying at the Nusa Retreat which is on an island located off the town. This was a lot more upmarket than Kabaira, with fancier accommodation, but I think that most people preferred the Kabaira operation overall.

Over the next four days we did eight boat dives, with two extra boat dives using left over air and most did a boat night dive. Three of the dives were on Japanese war aircraft. The rest were reef dives. Some people also did shore dives off the Kavieng town. Paul, Kelly and I did a freshwater cave dive. This was quite nice, although the cave was not all that big.

There were also some excellent reef dives, with some great things seen. We saw harlequin ghost pipefish, leafish, sharks, baracudas and more. Great!

Again, this was a nice place to stay, the food was very good (especially if you like seafood, crays, crabs and/or oysters every night as part of the smorgasbord). For me, it was not so great value as I hate seafood (in general). However, the place was a bit more rigid, with a prohibition on drinking duty free in the bar area.

The dive operation was very good, with any request met.

After 12 nights we headed back to Sydney. It was a great trip, with some excellent diving and a very relaxed time.
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