by Jeremy Mogi – EM TV Sports, Port Moresby
The Oil Search Pacific Games baton relay travelled to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville after having spent the day on and in the water in Simpson Harbour and surrounding Islands.
Arriving in the East New Britain province earlier, in the week, the baton wasted little time, traversing the islands.
An hour boat ride across a flat sea took us to Duke of York Islands. A place of beautiful white sandy beaches, small coastal communities and if you’re lucky a pod of spinner dolphins playing in the calm waters and a pair of pilot whales.
On arrival at Molot island, youth dressed in traditional bilas re-enacted a scene from the first missionaries arrival many decades earlier but who had meet a somewhat different end at the hands of the tribesman. The LLG president received the baton and took it to a number of historical sites on the island, including the old Methodist Church and the cemetery where the first Samoan missionaries are now buried
After getting Tura off the bullock and cart transport, the islanders ran a relay down the length of the island, passing between a number of runners, with school kids running alongside.
On the return journey the baton was passed onto the kids from Urakukur and Kabilomo, where they ran it back to the boat chanting Tura Tura and plenty smiles.
Farewell at the small dock and the St George continued on its journey.
With a small support craft assisting, the team was able to drop in at beaches throughout the islands where villagers and school children had gathered on the waterfront to see the baton and give their support to Team PNG.
From the islands, the Baton headed back into Simpson harbour, with the smoking backdrop of Mt Tavurur and a spectacular close up visit to the Beehive lava formations in the centre of the harbour.
The baton was passed to the Rabaul Mayor who took it across to the small beehive where the town’s rugby union team carried it to the top, before bringing it down and handing it over to traditional canoe for the paddle across to the large beehive.
The baton was passed between the rest of the players and the team climbed up to a jumping platform.