"Popondetta - North of the Mountains" Popondetta by Bwana_Brown

Popondetta Travel Guide: 10 reviews and 12 photos

Popondetta, the small capital of Oro Province (formerly Northern), lies inland from the coast of the Solomon Sea on a well-drained area of fertile volcanic soil. In fact, this is the largest area of prime agricultural land on the mainland part of Papua New Guinea (please see my 'General' tip for a map of the area).

But this piece of good luck does not come without a price. The original Popondetta was destroyed in January, 1951 when the long dormant volcanic Mount Lamington suddenly erupted. At that time, the mountain was totally covered in green jungle forests and the locals were not even aware that it was a volcano. Only a few days after it began to 'burp', the mountain erupted in a massive explosion somewhat like Mount St. Helen's did. Pyroclastic flows of searing gas and ash flowed down the mountainside at 150-kph, killing everything in it's path up to almost 12-km out. It is believed that between 3000-4000 people were killed by the eruption.

The photo also shows relics of another of the early catastrophies to befall this area. Japanese forces landed here in 1942 in their attempt to conquer New Guinea and heavy fighting took place over the next few years between them and the Australians and Americans.

In my case, all was peaceful as I flew in from Port Moresby, over the 13,000-ft high (4000-m) Owen Stanley Range, to fix up a few power production problems at the local diesel electric station.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Not Much Happening Here
  • Last visit to Popondetta: Aug 1980
  • Intro Updated Jun 29, 2005
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Reviews (6)

Comments (14)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Jun 14, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    Glenn, another interesting little page about Papua New Guinea. I didn't know about all this WWII history in this place.

  • evaanna's Profile Photo
    Dec 22, 2009 at 10:35 AM

    Looking at this peaceful land, who would have thought it had witnessed such enormous tragedies!

  • Nov 18, 2009 at 4:10 PM

    I miss those planes, and that airport! Thanks for posting pics of Popondetta. Tessa in Florida

  • yumyum's Profile Photo
    Feb 13, 2008 at 1:07 PM

    Thanks for a glimpse on this part of the world!

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Apr 25, 2006 at 10:05 PM

    Better to be flying OVER the Owen Stanleys than to one of the strips tucked among them! Another enjoyable page.

  • Luchonda's Profile Photo
    Apr 23, 2006 at 10:39 AM

    Nice fly high picture Glenn - nice little story too ! Greetz and catch you later

  • awladhassan's Profile Photo
    Mar 23, 2006 at 7:41 AM

    Not much happening, you say; but it has in the past. I expect the natives are grateful for the peace .

  • JLBG's Profile Photo
    Oct 26, 2005 at 8:44 PM

    It is amazing to find so many remains from WWII in a place like Popondetta. Another of your fascinating pages !

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Aug 26, 2005 at 2:11 AM

    "Power to the people" - that is a good motto for your pages, and THAT kind of power should be available for everyone !

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Aug 5, 2005 at 11:50 AM

    Greetings from Delft Holland. Tomorrow we leave for Prague where we will stay for five nights. Interesting little page on Popondetta. Lori.

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