2008 Papua New Guinea Trip

Page 1 - Cairns, Australia


Jump to Page: 1. Cairns (this page), 2. Goroka Market, 3. Goroka Tour, 4. Madang


Explanation of this set of web pages: In July, 2008, the original 5 family members that lived there (Howard, Virginia, Cheryl, Randy, Brian) plus all of Howard and Virginia's grand-children (11 people total) went back to see our old home in Goroka, Papua New Guinea.  We lived in Goroka in 1972 and 1973.  We wanted to see the town that made such a huge impression on us 35 years ago.  Along the way we took the opportunity to spend a few days in Cairns, Australia, and Madang, Papua New Guinea.  The reason we lived in Goroka, Papua New Guinea in 1972 was that my father (Howard Wilson) was there to help create the "Goroka Teachers College" (later this became the University of Goroka) as part of a UNESCO team. My Dad was there as head of the math department.  Click on any picture below for a REALLY high resolution version!

Click here for a summary of flights for our 11 people.

I (Brian) flew in later than the rest of my family, here are a few silly pictures from from my journey.  Below shows my cell phone sitting on top of a pay phone in the airport in Sydney, Australia.  I just thought it was funny how insanely large (and fixed to a wall) the old technology was compared with the modern technology.  Everybody in the airport was carrying their own cell phone which are cheaper to use than this pay phone, so it's pretty silly to have pay phones anymore.  :-)


Driving in the Sydney airport shuttle to the domestic terminal for my flight to Cairns.  I just took this because it's such a shock for me to ride on the left side of the road.


Walking out on the tarmac in Sydney to take the Virgin Blue hop from Sydney to Cairns, Australia.  At this point United Airlines had already lost all my bags (in exactly one hop from SFO -> Sydney), so I'm now travelling light.  This was not completely unexpected, the airlines lose so much luggage this wasn't my first or second time landing in a foreign country without any luggage.  :-) 


The view out my window landing in Cairns, Australia.


A few more feet along the way, getting close to the runway.


And the taxi ride back to our condo in Cairns (WorldMark).  Again, left side of the road.


Safely back at the WorldMark Cairns Condo, that's my Dad (Howard) on the far left, Nathanael (my nephew), Cheryl (my sister), Mark (Cheryl's husband), and my mother Virginia on the very far right.


The next day is my only full day I spent in Cairns, Australia.  We went out on a "Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling Cruise".  The company was called "Reef Magic", and it was a good day (from 8:30am - 5pm).  From left to right below that's Brian, Virginia, Howard, Katie (Mark & Cheryl's daughter), Mark, Nathanael (Mark & Cheryl's son), and Cheryl.  I'm still in my business casual flying clothes from the day before because United airlines still can't find my luggage.  :-)


The boat ride takes about 90 minutes to arrive out on the Great Barrier Reef, it leaves Cairns harbor. 


Cheryl & Mark's family getting comfortable out on the back deck for the 90 minute boat ride.


Putting along out of the Cairns harbor.


Just out of the harbor there were a couple of sea planes anchored.


When the boat hit open water, it cruised along at maybe 35 knots.   Here is our view out on the back deck with Cairns, Australia disappearing into the background.


The Hoffmann family: Nathanael, Katie, Cheryl, and Mark on the right in the green shirt.


The tour has a permanently anchored barge (pictured below) out at a good spot for snorkeling on the reef.  Here everybody is getting ready, renting wet suits, etc.


Nathanael in his wet suit, ready to go snorkeling.


The Hoffmann family: Nathanael, Katie, Cheryl, and Mark, about to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef outside of Cairns, Australia.


There were several other activities available besides scuba and snorkeling, one free activity was the "semi sub" pictured below, a pretty nice glass bottom boat that allows you to see the reef even if you aren't snorkeling.  My Mom & Dad & I took a 20 minute ride.  Although it looks like a submarine, it doesn't go any deeper than pictured below, it's just a boat with a glass bottom.  :-)


This is the entrance to the "semi-sub".


Pictured below is the interior of the semi-sub, the windows are entirely submerged under the water and the clarity and visibility is great for about 30 or 40 feet under water.


Howard and Virginia Wilson waiting for the semi-sub tour to start.


Pictures didn't come out great through the glass of the semi-sub windows, but here you can make out a a few things like snorkelers in the upper right of the picture and some coral down below.  The big shadow at the top of the picture is the permanently anchored barge.


Some scuba divers passing by our window in the semi-sub.


The scuba divers disappearing off into the water.


Along on the semi-sub ride, some coral on the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef.


Another picture of coral with a few fish. 


A fish wandering by our window out on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.  If you know what type of fish this is, please email me!


The snorkeling was mostly done in a roped off swimming area next to the barge.  Here is a wide picture showing the snorkeling area.



That's Katie Hoffmann (my niece) waving to me from the center of the snorkeling area.


A close up of Katie.


I didn't take this next picture, it was done by the under water photographers along on the Reef Magic Cruise (I bought this picture).  It is Mark Hoffmann holding some strange sea creature.  :-)  Some readers of this webpage think it might be a "sea cucumber", but please email me if you disagree.


This next picture is WAY out of order but I like the picture. Eli wasn't in this spot until a week later, but it is another picture taken by the under water photographers along on the Reef Magic Cruise.  This is Eli with Wally, a real fish that lives in the area.


Nathanael and I decided to take a quick 10 minute helicopter ride while we were out there.  Below you can see the helicopter landing on it's little platform, and the water taxi that takes you out to the platform to load on the helicopter.


Here we are on the water taxi going out to our helicopter ride.


Getting close to the helicopter, they let the helicopter land, then then water taxi slides up next to it.


The rotors are still spinning slowly, here we are about to load.


The mighty warriors: Nathanael and Brian.  :-)  Picture taken by the Reef Magic crew.  Those are inflatable life vests around our waists.


Our pilot (I think his name might have been Nigel?)


Nathanael giving a thumbs up from the back seat (I sat next to the pilot).


Click the "Play Movie" button below to watch a short 2 minute YouTube video of highlights of our helicopter ride.  For WINDOWS ONLY Click Here for a MUCH HIGHER QUALITY Windows Media format movie.

NOTE: For WINDOWS ONLY Click Here for a MUCH HIGHER QUALITY Windows Media format movie


I also took some still pictures of the helicopter ride.  Below shows the pilot has a basic aftermarket car GPS bolted to his helicopter dashboard.  It happens to be a Garmin GPSmap 196.


A picture of most of the helicopter's controls.


Here we are airborne over the Great Barrier Reef, you can get a good idea of the reef from this altitude.


Scroll left to right in the picture below to see a broad picture of our view.  The horizon is curved because of the photo stitching software I use, sorry about that.


Random picture of the Great Barrier Reef from Helicopter.  I like the picture below because you can see down through my feet.  Click on any of these pictures for a much MUCH higher resolution version.


Random view of the Great Barrier Reef from our helicopter ride.


Nathanael in the back seat of the helicopter looking around.


Another random picture.


Below you can see our launch pad, along with some OTHER companies barges out here on the reef.


Coming in closer you can see boats and barges all over.


The close up below is labeled with what is going on in our "Reef Magic Cruise".  The "Taxi" is the water taxi that takes people out to the helicopter landing pad.  It stays away from the landing pad until the helicopter lands.  We are coming in for a landing now.  You can also see the main boat we took out to the reef, it is tied up to the barge that is permanently anchored out here.  The "Semi-Sub" is also cruising around looking at coral reefs under the water.


All landed and offloaded from the helicopter, here we are taking the water taxi back to the main barge.


Below is a picture from the OTHER end of the barge that is raised up in the air (a second level).  Scroll to the right to see the barge, and on the FAR LOWER RIGHT in the picture below are snorkelers in their roped off area.


Time to go home around 3:30pm, here we are cruising back to Cairns at about 35 knots.


Below is a quick shot of the main bedroom of our Worldmark condo.  It had 3 bedrooms and was pretty nice.


My Mom & Dad have now been away from home for 7 days, so it is time to recount their HUNDREDS of pills and put them in their daily pill containers for the next 7 days.  Geez, look at all the pills to keep the old people healthy.  :-)


This is the end of the "Cairns" webpage, next is the "Goroka Market".


Or Jump Directly to Page: 1. Cairns (this page), 2. Goroka Market, 3. Goroka Tour, 4. Madang

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