How much you need to bring with you as a family moving to Port Moresby depends largely on how long you are planning to stay and how frequently you will be making trips back home or abroad.
Perhaps in contrast with most travel advice you’re likely to get, if you’re planning for a long-stay it’s advisable to come with as much as you can. There are a number of ways to transport your personal effects to PNG. Depending on the distance your goods need to travel, many choose to ship via containers. Also, the world famous DHL operates a fantastic, reliable service here in PNG (+675 325 9866).
Day-to-day basics such as nappies, soaps, baby food, fresh whole milk and formula are readily available in all the major supermarkets, but certain childcare products are difficult to come by in Port Moresby. Any large-scale baby equipment, especially those which you would prefer to be accredited with a recognisable safety standard, such as cots and car-seats, need to come with you wherever possible. Items such as high-chairs, ride-on outdoor toys, baby baths, changing tables and bouncy chairs are available to buy in Port Moresby, but at a premium cost and generally, low quality.
Finding good quality new children’s clothing, just as with adult clothing, is a challenge. It is advisable to bring as much as you can and to plan ahead with larger sizes to put away for future use. If you find yourself short, very basic cheap clothing imported from around East Asia is available in Kids World in Vision City, and the two toyshops inside the Waterfront shopping complex.
That said, Port Moresby is nothing if not unpredictable, and it is possible to occasionally find good quality baby merchandise. The baby store Patini in Vision City, RH Hypermarket, also in Vision City, and the home-store Brian Bell in Gordons have all be known to stock global-branded baby merchandise (such as Fisher-Price and Britax). There is also a healthy trade in second-hand goods operating within the expat community. Goods for sale are advertised on notice boards in The Royal Yacht Club and The Aviat Club and can be bought at the regular garage sales and house clearances held in compounds and apartments throughout the year.
For older children, stationery is not a problem. School supplies and arts and crafts materials are covered by Theodist Stationers, which has an extensive range of products that would compete with similar suppliers anywhere. There is also a well-stocked stationer (Star Office) in Vision City. Books are trickier to come by. There is one bookstore in Vision City (Star News Link) that stocks a modest, though impressively diverse (and costly) range of quality children’s books. It is advisable to bring as many as you can with you, and to check for second-hand bookstalls often present at the monthly craft markets, as well as at special events held at the two main social clubs and the international schools. The availability of books might be less of a concern if your children will be attending either of the two international schools as they have libraries of their own.
Between the two main international schools, education and childcare is covered from 18-months through to 18-years and both schools are well-equipped and have respectable academic reputations. The Early Learning Centre, a division of the The Ela Murray International School, is the only International pre-school in Port Moresby, and provides excellent facilities.
If your children will be staying at home, you might be in need of a nanny. There is no shortage of people looking for work as nannies and babysitters in Port Moresby. Childcare qualifications are rare, but many will have a wealth of experience. Either way, there will likely be some trial-and-error involved in the process before settling on the right person for your family. Ask for recommendations from others who are pleased with their child-carers.
There are doctors and paediatricians holding internationally recognised qualifications operating in most medical facilities throughout the city, with the best reports coming from the Pacific International Hospital. If the company you are working for in Port Moresby comes with medical cover from the International SOS Clinic based at Airways Hotel, most routine procedures, including child vaccinations, can be handled there. Otherwise if you are travelling to Port Moresby with a young child, you will need to consider the possibility of returning to your country of origin, or making special arrangements for a trip to Australia, in order to continue a vaccination program.
There is no shortage of activities for children and families in Port Moresby. In addition to the more obvious attractions, such as the National Orchid Gardens and Wildlife Park, and the lovely Nature Park, there is also tennis coaching available, swimming lessons at the Aviat Club, and free children’s cookery classes at Airways Hotel. For very young children, there is a weekly toddler group held at The Royal Papua Yacht Club, a baby group for mothers with babes-in-arms held weekly at The Grand Papua Hotel, as well as a network of informal play groups hosted by different families every week. There are safe, well-maintained and well-equipped children’s outdoor, under-cover playgrounds in The Royal Papua Yacht Club, The Aviat Club, and Airways Hotel. There is also the indoor, air-conditioned, soft-play centre ‘Kiddieland’ hidden away in Gordons Business Park.
Most cafés and restaurants in Port Moresby welcome families, but the eateries that best accommodate children, and are equipped with high-chairs, include
The Beachside Brasserie in Ela Beach Hotel (where babyccino can be made on request!), Sails Café and Macdhui Restaurant in The Royal Papua Yacht Club, Hog’s Breath Café in Vision City Mall, and the Poolside Restaurant and Deli at Airways Hotel.
Port Moresby is famous for all the wrong things, which is the real crime since there is so much more to life here. Nevertheless, the city has been deemed one the five more unliveable in the world. So if you have your reservations about moving your family here, take heart from this: life in Port Moresby fosters resourcefulness, stoicism and a sense of humour in people, and if you can live in paradise here, you can live in paradise anywhere!