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eastern highlands province

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about goroka
eastern highlands province




(Adapted from brochure produced by Eastern Highlands Culture & Tourism)


The Eastern Highlands has had more exposure to European influence than any of the other Highlands Provinces. Lutheran Missionaries explored the Asaro and Bena Bena valleys in 1927 and Australian gold prospectors and Kiáps arrived in the 1930’s. During WW II (1942 —45) many villagers worked as carriers or labourers for the Allies, building airstrips and anti-aircraft gun emplacements in the Eastern Highlands.

The Japanese bombed Bena Airstrip, the original Government station, and then Goroka several times during late 1943. Eastern Highlands also served as a rest centre for Allied troops and a source of fresh vegetables.

In 1946 Góroka became the administrative centre for the Highlands and its main air link with Madang, the closest port. The first road linking Goroka with Lae was completed in the early 1950’s. Arabica Coffee was planted in the Kainantu and Goroka areas, developing the market for what is now PNG’s major cash crop.




1930:   Patrolled by Mick Leahy and Mick Dwyer through the valley to Madang.

1935:   Asaroka Lutheran Mission Station established.

1941:   Airstrip built at North Goroka


1933:               Visit to the area by Mick Leahy, Dan Leahy, Spinks and Charles Marshall.

1936:               Patrol by Jim Taylor

1966:               Unggai people joined the Goroka Council


1932:               (a)Visit by Mick and Dan Leahy who started work on an airstrip. (b) Police post established by Jim Taylor. First aircraft landed at the airstrip ( Hapatoga)

1936:              Jim Taylor climbed Mt Michael

1943:              Attacks by Japanese aircraft

1960:               Bena Bena council established


1935:               Goroka Airstrip built

1964:               Establishment of Watabung Council


1931-32:          Visit by Mick and Dan Leahy

1934:               Captain McGrath, a miner killed at Finintugu (Kukorna).


Headquarters:   Goroka

Districts:           8 Local Level Governments

People, Population and Major Languages






Gahuku, Asaro, Benabena, Siane.






Gadsup, Agarabi, Tairora.



Kamano, Yagaria, Gimi.



Baruya, Simbari, Yagwoia



Fore, Gimi, Auyana



English and Pidgin are common and everyday language spoken in the province as well as other languages as listed above.


 Goroka is situated in a valley at 1600m above sea level. It is also surrounded by high mountains that provide spectacular vistas in many directions. To the southwest are the Unggai Mountains covered with remnants of mid-montane forest that once covered much of the mountains to the south. Behind the Unggai Mountains is Mt Michael, which towers up to 3300m and is the tallest mountain in the Eastern Highlands Province. Stretching east to west directly north of Goroka is the Bismarck range, part of New Guinea’s central mountains.

Average Rainfall &Climate

The average rainfall is 1.8 meters annually. Being up in the mountains, the province has warm days and cool evenings, seemingly perfect, as most of the time is like spring. Daily temperatures range from a maximum of 27 to a minimum of 15 degrees, but some nights get as cold as 10 degrees. So it is always wise to bring something warm.

Major Industry Coffee Growing

Eastern Highlands produces 31% of PNG’ s coffee which is grown in 13 provinces around the country. The first village planting commenced in 1952 in the Asaro Valley. The Coffee Industry Corporation is based here in Goroka which sets laws and guidelines for all plantations, factories and exporters to ensure the final export product is of world standard. Buyers of PNG coffee include Germany (55%), Australia (19%), USA (9%), United Kingdom (6%), followed by Japan (2%). Sales to Sweden, Norway and Spain are beginning to increase.


 The major religion is Christianity, hence Papua New Guinea often claimed to be a Christian country. The major Christian denominations are Adventists, followed by Lutherans and Catholics. Other smaller church groups are also established here in the province.


Primary and Secondary schools are located in most parts of the Province, including private schools which are non government funded. Located north of Goroka is the University of Goroka, which grew out of the Goroka teachers college and is the newest university in PNG and is the only one in the highlands. It serves students from all over PNG, as well as some pacific island countries.


Goroka has a variety of night life entertainment to choose from, ranging from night clubs for party goers, or just for a quiet drink, head to the Aero Club and Yot club situated on the east part of town or Birdy’s bar at the Bird of Paradise Hotel. The hotel’s Lahani restaurant offers International buffet cuisine every Wednesday evening. Mandarin Restaurant offers Tuesday night Asian buffet at an affordable rate for all you can eat. Hair salon services are available at MAM hair salon or the Highlander. Kumul studio, equipped with hi-tech recording for local artists is located on the west end of town. Ten minutes out of town is the Goroka Country Club, where you can enjoy a round of golf, or visit the shooting range to see some of PNG’s top shooters in action or even stroll down and see the horses and motorbikes in action. The club house offers bar facilities and Sunday BBQ during the golf season.


 Air Niugini has daily direct flights to Goroka from Port Moresby. Third level airlines also provide connections to Goroka from various centers. Local PMV buses travel regularly between Mt Hagen, Lae and Madang through Kainantu to Goroka. Within Goroka, Town buses operate daily which can take you around town and other parts of Goroka. Hire Cars are also available from Budget, Avis, and Kanda to name of few.


Ten main supermarkets and other smaller outlets sell general merchandise ranging from groceries, imported and local frozen goods, hardware, drapery, furniture and more. Souvenir shops and markets sell a wide range of local handmade baskets, Pottery, bush fiber bilums, mudmen masks, bamboo flutes and many more. Find them at the Goroka Women’s Awareness Group gift store inside Bird of Paradise Hotel or take a stroll to the colourful bilum market in the centre of town. Be sure to check out the Goroka Town market for a variety of garden fresh fruit and vegetables from delicious strawberries to evergreen broccoli and lettuce.


 IMR., NSI, Mt Sion, JK McCarthy Museum, MIR, UOG, Business College, CIC, SIL, Yonki Hydro Dam. Kainaitu Cultural centre.

Goroka is the headquarters of the PNG Institute of Medical Research (IMR). The Institute was established in 1968 and the activities are directed towards the primary goal of conducting research into the health problems of the people of Papua New Guinea. West Goroka is home to the National Sports Institute,(NSI) a live-in centre for developing PNG sportsmen and women. Sporting facilities include soccer, basketball, tennis, netball, softball, volleyball, rugby, Gym and athletics. It is also the venue for yearly Goroka show which is held in September every year.

Mt Sion centre for the blind was established in 1983 to help blind people in PNG. Facilities the centre offers are Hostel for Blind and Deaf children, Deaf Unit Class, Itinerant Teacher Programme, Braille Resource Dept Eye Clinic, Optical workshop, Rehab Programme and Elementary School.


The Wildlife Conservation Society, (WCS) based here is Goroka is one of the oldest and most respected organizations in the world. Formed in 1895 as the NewYork Zoological Society, WCS first worked in PNG 70 years ago. It began funding biological research here in 1977 and has had a full time PNG country programme for the past five years. WCS also works with a PNG organization called Research Conservation Foundation, (RCF) to provide training in environmental education. With RCF headquarters based in Goroka, it is involved with conservation research projects in the Crater Mountain covering an area of 2 700sq km of wildlife. The Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area,(CMWMA) ranges from lowland tropical rainforest (50m) on the Purari River to montane forests and sub alpine scrub (31OOm) on the summit areas of Crater Mountain, and contains some of the largest sections of untouched rainforest left in the world. It is also home to over 220 birds and 84 mammal species, many of which are endemic to PNG. The Wildlife Management Area (WTMA) with landowners, have developed an enterprise based on the conservation of their natural resources, and one of these efforts is eco-tourism. There you will find a guest house, bush house, variety of handicrafts, diverse trekking options and other attractions in wildlife. MAF, Pacific Helicopters and SDA all offer flight services to the Crater Mountain.

Highland Tours & Treks

 Goroka has a variety of tours and trekking adventures including Dauo Pass and Village experience, Kainantu Pottery, Mt Gahavasuka, Mt Wilhelm, Mudmen Warriors, Mt Wilhelm trek and Goroka to Madang trek. Goroka based Tour Operators can organize the above activities of your choice.

When visiting the Eastern Highlands Province, you can choose to stay at the following



Bird of Paradise Hotel

(675)    732 1144

Lutheran Guest House

(675) 732 1171

Goroka Lodge

(675) 732 1009

Mendikwae Lodge

(675) 732 3466

Village Adventure Tours Guest House

(675) 682 4605

Pacific Gardens Hotel

(675) 732 3418

Inn Goroka       Tourist Motel   

(675) 732 1218

Kainantu Lodge

(675) 737 1021

YWCA hostel  females only


Other guest houses are located at Daub Pass, Henganofi, Kainantu, Aiyura and Crater Mountain in Herowana. Village stays can be organized with tour operators.

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