Savouring the Best of PNG Independence Day in Cairns

A colourful day of celebration to remember Independence Day

One of my favourite things about travel photography is not only you enjoy and appreciate the beauty around you but actually you get to meet people in person from all walks of life. 

Here in Cairns, I had a great opportunity to capture some of the celebration moments of Papua New Guinea (PNG) Independence Day. Papua New Guinea is a country not only embrace the bird of paradise that symbolises the greatness of Papua New Guinea but it is a country with rich and unique diverse culture. 

With over 800 different languages still in daily use, it is one of the most intriguing and diverse place on this planet earth and you will be blown away not only in history but its unique lifestyle and diverse cultural celebrations which are still use in feasts, marriages, deaths, initiation rights and compensation ceremonies . No wonder it is known as the “land of unexpected”. 

When it comes to Independence Day celebration, there is no exotic world of natural colourful celebration than the people of Papua New Guinea. The country rose to Independence on 16th September, 1975 from Australia. Ever since that day, the Independence Day has been an occasion not only celebrated in almost every cities, villages and provinces throughout Papua New Guinea but it has been celebrated far and wide globally from Australia, across the tassman to New Zealand and throughout many pacific island countries where past and present citizens come together to celebrate to signify this special occasion. 

This year 2018, the PNG will be celebrating the 43rd Anniversary of that momentous event. Papua New Guineas 43rd Independence Day.

Faces of traditional Papua New Guineans from different parts of the country tells a story how unique this country is and where they belong does create an unique colourful celebration

Attending this special event – The PNG Independence Day celebration, 2018 for the second time after living in Cairns for the last 30 years gave me a great in-depth of my heritage. I have come back for the celebration to reflect on the country that raise me, educated me and the country that made me who I am today. I have decided to come back not only to take photographs but to take time out for the celebration and to see the people of Papua New Guinean community living in Cairns celebrating. At the same time, it gave me an opportunity to witness my own people rejoicing with songs and dances from various regions displaying their unity and diversity. This occasion is celebrated like a common festival that all the people from Papua New Guinea, friends, families and visitors, irrespective of religion, language or tribe come together to celebrate. It is the day that shows what they are – Proud Papua New Guineans. 

To be here taking some of the photographs of this colourful event, I found it to be a lovely way to bring together everyone from various tribes and regions and encourages a feeling of patriotism coupled with a lot of fun. It keeps the spirit of Independence Day alive. 

As a country of diverse culture, their diversity is not only in their language, culture and food but also in their attire. They all came out in their traditional face and body paintings, head dresses, grass skirts and traditional dresses and with modern fashion of clothing reflecting on the colours of the PNG flag – red, yellow, black and white. It was truly an colourful event and can’t be ignored to be part of it.

City of Cairns has has the largest PNG expats residing here from many different parts of Papua New Guinea. Many of them came here, cooked ethnic food from their natives and setup stalls to sell them to the people at the park. It was just wonderful to see all the tasty foods cooked in traditional way and must admit, I went a little overboard tasting every food from every regions.

Food Stalls

The area was lined with stalls with their unique PNG designs from clothing to string bags or known traditionally as bilums and mouth-watering betel nuts. There were certainly people both locals and tourists have come to enjoy the celebration and the traditional cuisines.

Cloths on display for sale
Buyers going for bargain at the stalls

Market stalls at the park
Collection of fruits, nuts and artefacts on sale
Bettel nut stall
Bilums on display for selling
People at their stalls
Tourists want to be part of the celebration
Sharing was part of the celebration
Crowd at the celebration
More visitors at the event
Proud PNGean

Traditional dress

Papua New Guinea is a country of diverse culture. Their diversity is not only in their language, culture and food; but also in our attire. They certainly came out in style to display their traditional dresses and regional colours – head dresses, face paintings, grass-skirts and dancing

Central region
East and West New Britain region
Highlands region
Morobe (Momase) region
Manus region
Bougainville area

The scene at the PNG Independence Day was electrifying as people began to take part in traditional dancing (sing-sing) and showing their skills with contemporary style of music. It was certainly a day of sharing fun, unity and a colourful event that everyone has to put in their calendar.

From personal perspective: It gives great pleasure in taking photographs of various place during my travels but it is more enjoyable when you become part of the celebration. It gives me a better understanding of the significance of their traditional culture, outfit (traditional head dresses, paintings and attire) and lifestyle.

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