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At the beginning of 2009 I realised it had been 4 years since my last surf trip to the Mentawai Islands and I was due for a new surfing adventure but I wanted to go somewhere different without the crowds and tourist infrastructure. With my new attitude you surf anything on a SUP I started looking at really really remote locations it wasn’t long before I started to to look hard at Papua new Guinea a country war torn in the 40’s and still in turmoil now. After a few e-mails to the boys at the Surf Travel Company a really cheap trip started to come together to remote PNG plus they had a new surf camp Clems Place where no one had been and yet opening up a whole reef system . It only took one phone call to each of my close mates Lets Go To PNG and film a Stand Up movie go into really remote locations sharing the stoke & taking in school needs , clothes and some Titans footy gear.
Wind the clock forward to to 31Oct 2009 and there we were 9 of us standing at Air New Guinea check in at Brisbane airport with 550kg of gear to check in trying to load 15 stand up boards , paddles & camera gear .Air New Guinea was great letting us go through with no excess charges over 55kg a person.A few hours later we arrive at Moresby international airport and that's where the real drama started we had to lug our gear from the international airport to the domestic terminal apx 200m , the heat was insane outside the terminal we struggled to move all the gear in one shift.The foot path outside the airport was red from beetle nut spit something almost the whole PNG nationals chew , it’s nicknamed the PNG carpet a sour nut mix with mustard seed like a green bean and dipped in lime (ground up coral) to activate it , it gives a slight high and it’s cheap as alcohol is too expensive even kids young as 10 chew it.
Finally we arrive at Kavieng airport at night 900 miles from Moresby and only 1200 from Cairns in the remote New Ireland Provence , it’s hot and muggy night and everyone is scrambling for their mozzie spray.The crew from Nusa Island Retreat load our gear on 2 trucks and we make the short trip across the passage to Nusa Island.It was like landing on Gillian's Island huts up on stilt's and sand floors in the bar and food area , we even had a grave yard between our rooms.
It was low tide in the morning and no need to get up early so we had the traditional first night Aussie drink. 8am we loaded the boats froffy eyed and not expecting much swell but after a 20 min boat ride we rolled up at Rawles Island and it was cranking , almost double overhead on a perfect right hander.All the camera gear was still in it’s waterproof cases as the camera crew struggled to get the gear out out Dale Chapman and myself were first in the water and my eyes went to saucers as I saw Dale kick turned around on a big set and drop straight in , I couldn’t believe he made it on his first wave in PNG.
Over the next few days we were taken to some insane breaks & at first our surf guides wouldn’t take us to the sucky shallow breaks but after they saw the crew charging they took us places people said it couldn’t be surfed on SUP’s , unfortunately I pushed the limits too far on only my second day snapping my 8-11.
From Nusa Island we jumped in a boat and made the 3 hour voyage to Clems Place , as the boat idled to a stop at Clams there was the most perfect right hander just rolling through , you didn’t need a boat to get to it it was straight out from the camp .Clems was a place so remote that there was no running water and the only power we had was a 3KVA generator which turned off at 2 am , turning off our only cooling our ceiling fan that spun down in the early hours. The fishing was insane , I took 4 of my trusty blue and silver Halco’s 160 DD’s lure’s that catch anything and they didn’t disappoint.Our first fishing trip in the late afternoon was just over an hour we came home with 17 fish including yellow fin & blue fin tuna , spanish mackerel , GT’s , Coral Trout & Mangrove Jack all on the trusty Halco’s.
There was a break near Clems which they said couldn’t be surfed on SUP’s “Step On Blood” so we rigged the camera gear and headed straight for it , as we approached it was a a slab breaking onto really shallow reef The take off was so heavy it came through really fat and then it just pitched on the the 90 degree reef , after a few shoulder take off's we moved further in pushing each other . I made a really late drop to the hoot of the crew and then moved inside even further .I still carry the scars from that decision getting pitted on the next 3 waves straight Brett paid the ultimate price snapping his board clean in half on the next wave.As I paddled back out with blood seeping through my wet shirt the boys nick named the reef Step On Rob.
It was time to hand out all our gear and Clem organised a village meeting , all the clothes school books and footy gear was laid out on tables and presented to the village leader John. This was a really special occasion as these people have so little and they were so grateful of things we just take for granted.
Clem had organised a Sing Sing for us from a neighbouring village and days before we could hear them rehearsing from across the channel , so we decided to pay them a visit .We arrived to a very warm welcome of laughing children and smiling red teeth .For 20 Kina about $10 Aussie we hired their beloved pig for a photo shoot , which brought to villagers to their knees with laughter as their faithful piggy was carried through the jungle strapped to a stand up paddle.The pig was released unharmed.
Our departure was just as spectacular as we were sent of with song and dance as our boat pulled away from the beach.On the night of the Sing Sing Clems place filled from villagers from surrounding islands , the dance was spectacular with colour and jungle rhythm .This was the first time this village had performed and they were outstanding , the footage we got is priceless and I will never forget the experience.
These are such beautiful people with such a wonderful grasp on life and the following day when went up the river just blew me away even more , it was a scene from apocalypse now , no bricks and mortar no boats no anything just villagers in dug out canoes all living with nature growing coca beans, we saw their names carved into the petrified mud on the river bank which was 100’s of years old. It really made you sit back and realise just how simple life can be .The only way these kids get to school is by dug out canoe , there is no bus , car or boat to take them. No power, running water or power they are truly living with nature .
We ventured to PNG bearing gifts to try and make their lives a little better but they ended up giving us something far more valuable. They taught us to look at ourselves and see how complicated we have made our lives. It’s not until you live amongst the locals with no running water, electricity, computers or mobile phones and you see them paddling around in, their only form of transport, a dug out canoe that you realise they have a true inner peace and are extremely happy. The children have no toys but are constantly playing and running around having the time of their lives, even surfing the reef breaks on pieces of scrap wood. Talking to and filming the local villagers for 2 weeks I really got to see and feel how beautifully they live with nature and their surroundings. They basically create no non organic waste so there was no need for rubbish bins. When you let go of your superficial, material needs the other person inside you (the real you) takes you back to the simple pleasures of life and suddenly life becomes very easy. I got so much more than just a movie out of this trip, we all got a wake up call to the way we are living our lives. Take your mask off, listen to the other person within yourself and try to feel the peace. Smile then share it around, it costs you nothing.