Australia to Papua New Guinea – by kayak

General / Feb 4, 2003

Malum Nalu tells of the trials and tribulations of four young Australians who travelled from Australia to PNG in kayaks.

Four young Australians have completed the trip of a lifetime from Australia to Papua New Guinea – by kayak.  On December 31, 2002, they paddled into Alotau to a rousing welcome by the appreciative and friendly people in the Milne Bay capital. 

The four – Daryle Byrne, 31, from Perth in Western Australia; brothers Paul Lovelock, 28, and Shaun Lovelock, 26, from Perth in Western Australia; and Steven White, 30, from Sydney in New South Wales – went through amazing experiences. 

They had planned this trip for over a year since another long distance trip from Port Douglas in Queensland to Thursday Island in the Torres Start in 2000, a distance of over 1100km.  Their kayaks – which have since been sold to Milne Bay Magic Tours in Alotau – are 17 feet long and have all safety equipment, flares, radios, GPS, compasses, and radar reflectors on the masks.

In real life, Byrne is a boat builder, Paul Lovelock a bio technologist, Shaun Lovelock an environmental scientist, and White a surveyor. The four men started from Thursday Island on September 23 last year, paddled across the Torres Strait to Daru, and then followed the coastline of Western province on the Gulf province and then Port Moresby, which they arrived in on November 26.

After a few days break in the national capital, they paddled out on December 1, to the east of Moresby and on to the Milne Bay province. They have seen countless villages and people in Saibai Island, Daru, the mouth of the Fly River, Bamu River, Kikori, Baimuru, Kerema, Moresby, and all the way down to historical Samarai Island and on to Alotau.

They have completed over 3500km by sea, and met with people and seen the wildlife that makes the mass of island and reefs their home. The amazing journey has been recorded on both still camera and video for a documentary.

The PNG Tourism Promotion Authority assisted in logistical support for the group. 

They have been through calm and rough seas, storms, and strong winds. 

In Milne Bay waters, they were separated for almost two days by waves as high as a house but persevered, despite injuries of varying degrees.  It was also in the seas of Milne Bay that they encountered the Melanesian Discoverer, and who else but Sir Peter Barter himself was there, to invite them on board for a nice, hot dinner in the middle of the deep, dark ocean.  “Whales have touched our boats and herds of dolphins surrounded us as we paddled,” group leader Byrne recalled about the first leg of the journey between Thursday Island and Moresby.  “Tiger sharks, dolphins, turtles, sea snakes, and crocodiles also paid their respects as we struggled through what I can only describe as the most – beautiful and challenging journey I have undertaken. “We have met some amazing people along the coast between Daru and Port
Moresby who have welcomed us with open arms and fed us with dugong, cassowary, deer, barramundi, pig meat, sago, coconuts, and many other things.”
But that was only an appetizer to whet the appetite. Between Moresby and Alotau, they experienced more of the scenic wonders as well as the generous hospitality of the people – a complete contradiction to media reports.

Schools of friendly dolphins, like tour guides of the deep, accompanied them every day in poignant scenes that have been captured for posterity. “The people once again were fantastic, “Byrne reported. “We had dolphins with us every day from Port Moresby, lots of fish, lots of tuna, and mackerel jumping 30 feet in the air.  “Rainforest meeting the sea was quite amazing, insects, birds, and the people, of course.

“The people are top of the list.” Arriving in Samarai just before Christmas, the four adventurers had to catch a boat because of Paul Lovelock having an infection on the groin. They spent Christmas in Alotau, in fact on East Cape, where they spent time with local villagers.  “That was just fantastic,” Byrne said. “The villagers sang all night from dusk till dawn. “It was the nicest place to spend Christmas. “We felt pretty good about that.” After Christmas, with Paul Lovelock recovered from his injury, the four men traveled by boat to Samarai where they paddled from to Alotau on December 31.

They flew in to Moresby Saturday, January 4.  Byrne said the four months at sea had given them a completely new outlook on life and a completely different view of PNG.
“Apart from inspiration, which is one of the biggest things out of this, we're making a documentary which not only focuses on kayaking but also PNG, the people, scenery, and everything,” he said.  “We will also help in any way to encourage people to come to PNG, in an environmentally – friendly way. “Regarding the law and order problem, and especially Port Moresby, every city has its crime.

“We've been in PNG nearly four months, and we're living proof that the law and order problem is not as bad as made out to be. “We have paddled through rough elements, ridden on PMVs, canoes, and walked barefoot though the city with cameras.   “Personally, I've never seen a place like this in the world, and all of us are well – traveled.
“There was not one place from leaving Port Moresby to Milne Bay that was not interesting. “We were never bored. “We were in awe every day. “Everything was amazing.” Their final words: “We'll be back, and we'll be back, and we'll be back, and we'll be taking people with us. 

“It (PNG) is one of the last, great wilderness areas. “It's got a lot of fish, birds, and wildlife, and it's all accessible.