Experiencing Papua New Guinea
AG Editor Ian Connellan gives his insights on the popular AG Experience reader events.
I HAD MORE THAN the usual share of fun hosting Australian Geographic’s Experience PNG events earlier in the month, and I’ve been meaning to write about them ever since. The no-argument highlight was the appearance of Huli Wigmen, tribesmen in full traditional dress and ceremonial paint at the events in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. The dance they performed said “PNG culture” with greater clarity than anything else uttered – and the other speakers all gave thoroughly entertaining presentations!
Experience PNG was the second of AG’s regional travel forums – the first was Tasmania, back in August – and they’ve quickly become something I greatly look forward to. All AG staffers feel a sense of connection to our readers, so it’s fabulous to get out and spend a night actually meeting and talking to Society members.
And the forums’ structure is proving to be a perfect mix of information and pleasure. There are food and drinks and casual chatter to begin the night. Next comes the presentations, with pictures, film and short talks both from independent speakers – who provide personal insight into travel in the destination – and the expedition operators who offer journeys there. The operators are often AG Society expedition partners and they’ve made some great special offers to guests at the events. That’s one of the reasons why, as a Society trustee, I’ve thrown energy into the forums: if you join a Society expedition you’re ultimately helping us support Australian scientists, researchers and adventurers.
Our next destination forums, Experience the Kimberley, are set for February 2011. I’ve asked AG Society Young Conservationist of the Year Simon Cherriman to be the independent guest speaker – most of Simon’s research on wedge-tailed eagles has been done in the Kimberley – and I’m very hopeful that he’ll be available. Of course there’ll also be plenty of information about travelling in the Kimberley from expedition operators, and an enthusiastic crowd of Society members to meet and share a few yarns with. Watch the website for registration details, and come along and say hello!