The Conflict Islands: a great new destination

Dallas Sherringham finds the Conflict Islands have suddenly shot to prominence as an exciting new cruise destination for Australians looking for a sea change.

The stunning lagoon and beaches of the Conflict Islands. Photo: Sharon Micallef

The stunning lagoon and beaches of the Conflict Islands. Photo: Sharon Micallef

Now, in order to develop a new destination and make it “must see”, P&O had to find a unique place it could use as a marketing magnet and develop a long term strategy. 

Enter business guru Ian Gowrie Smith who happened to own the 21 islands and a magnificent lagoon that make up the Conflict group, which is adjacent to the Trobriand group.

Apart from the occasional visit by a fishing boat, the coral reefs and waterways are much the same as they have been for a million years or so.

I recently cruised to the Trobriands and Conflict Islands on P&O’s Pacific Aria out of Brisbane.

The islands were our final destination on the 15-day adventure, but they proved to be a stunning finale.

We approached the island group’s main lagoon on a sparkling tropical morning with the blue water given an extra dimension by the shimmering sand underneath.

The picturesque group surrounds the central lagoon which features one of the world’s most biodiverse reef systems.

In the distance was Panasesa Island with rarely visited beaches and shaded walkways that would soon be teeming with passengers going about the business of tropical escape.

This was the highlight and climax of our extensive cruise aboard the friendly, modern Pacific Aria through New Guinea and the Coral Sea out of the Queensland capital. 

We had visited Alatoa in Milne Bay, Wewak on the North West coast and volcano ravaged Rabaul on New Britain, but this was not paradise.

They were a glimpse into the quaint town life in New Guinea and a poignant reminder of the dark days of World War Two.

But we were now looking for untouched places, islands like Mystery Island where you could quite happily spend a year or two escaping the rat race.

Pacific Aria provided the answer, heading south again, cruising through the narrow opening of a collapsed volcanic caldera at Vitu Island which caused a 20m tsunami in the 19th century.  

Then it was on to the Trobriands.

This is a truly untouched world of beautiful tropical beaches, friendly locals and pristine reefs, where the weather averages 25 degrees all year round. 

First up was Kiriwina, largest of Trobriands and an island covered in fragile rainforest.

Until P&O started cruising there a handful of years ago, Kiriwina had seen few tourists under its shady trees.

Next up was Kitava with its unique outriggers and children singing and dancing under the massive palm trees. 

Our final day ashore on the Conflict Islands’ cruise HQ on a coral quay provided the perfect end to a great holiday.

P&O Cruises Australia is offering six dedicated cruises to Papua New Guinea in its latest program.

For more information visit www.pocruises.com.au, call 13 24 94 or see a licensed travel agent.

  • By Dallas Sherringham. Feature supplied by: www.wtfmedia.com.au 
  • Do you have the travel bug? Send us a traveller’s tale and a photo by going to www.southernhighlandnews.com.au, and click ‘Community’, then ‘Send us your news’.

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