Steve 'Grumpy' Collins is an Australian broadcaster, author, writer, producer, actor, humorist and travel expert who is based in Perth, Western Australia. Find out more about him and read other articles at his site Grumpy's Getaway Guide.
There are some places which just bring back the best of memories and for me one of those places is Mount Hagen in Papua New Guinea.
I lived there for a while many years ago, and it is still considered to be quite primitive. Not surprising when you consider that the first Europeans only made it into the area in the 1930s. Mt Hagen is the capital of the Western Province; being a mountain city, situated in the Wahgi Valley at an altitude of 1,677 m (5,502 ft).
Its elevation combined with its close proximity to the Equator means that Mt Hagen has an almost perfect climate. Warm, comfortable, days without the coastal humidity, a bit chilly at night, and regular rainfall (which you can almost set your watch by), makes for very lush forests and rich agricultural land.
With Mt Hagen having a reputation for being one of the last outposts of civilisation you might expect facilities to be a little unreliable. However, just 30 minutes from Mt Hagen, via a road which does live down to the area’s reputation for being under-developed, is the most luxurious Rondon Ridge Resort.
The resort is a real eye opener, and a pleasant surprise, as you don’t expect this type of facility to exist in such a traditional region.
Because Mt Hagen is situated in a valley, to leave it you have to climb out of that valley, and Rondon Ridge is almost 2,000 higher than the town, at 2,150 metres above sea level, overlooking the Wahgi Valley, the Hagen Range and the Sepik Divide.
The Resort contains 12 units which offer 180-degree views, modern bathrooms and electric blankets, which you do need as the nights can get very cold.
And those views are truly phenomenal.
These are not your traditional mountain vistas of snow capped alps rising above pleasant meadows.
This is Papua New Guinea, after all, and the view is of forests and wild pastures that have remained unchanged for millennia. There is no smoke from industry, or much real evidence of human interference with the natural habitat.
Rondon Ridge is situated on the edge of the untouched karst region, home to 10 species of Bird of Paradise and an unspoiled environment. To continue this ecological serenity, the heating and all power is supplied by the lodge’s own hydro system, providing environmentally friendly electricity.>
Daily activities include exploring the surrounding countryside and interacting with the local people to gain and insight into the customs and culture which hark back to humankind’s first foray with civilization as the Melpa people’s traditions remain largely unchanged from the Stone Age.
If you are looking to experience human activity which pre-dates even ancient civilization, but wish to simultaneously enjoy luxurious contemporary accommodation, the Rondon Ridge is one of those secret places you should explore for yourself.