Travelling by PMV we visit Popondetta, the provincial regional town for Oro Province. This is an opportunity to collect a few items before the 2-hour run up the Kokoda Hwy (!) to Ilimo Village, nestled up against the base of the Owen Stanley Range with nearby volcano Mt Lamington. In January 1951 Mt Lamington erupted, killing approximately 3,000 people, today there is no obvious evidence of the devastation. Awaiting your arrival is a village welcome, introductions to both your homestay family and local villagers. This is a time for you to relax, take in the environment, discover the village, explore the banks of mountain streams, take a refreshing swim in the cool waters, or engage with the always delightful and very enthusiastic village children. Ilimo has a lot to offer.
Nearby is the fast flowing Kumusi River, in the 1930’s the construction of a wire-suspension bridge was the only crossing point for many months of the year when the river was in flood. In ‘Pidgin’ the common language for Papuans, the locals referred to the bridge as ‘Wairopi’; made of wire rope.
Towards the end of October and into the first week of November in 1942, the Wairopi Bridge had been destroyed by aerial bombing, with the river in full flood the Japanese set in place a defensive position. Backs against the full force of nature with the Kumusi in raging flood near the villages of Oivi and Gorari, 135 Australian were killed in battle, and over 1,200 Japanese lay dead on the battlefield. The flooding Kumusi also claimed hundreds of lives as the Japanese attempted to escape in the swollen waters.
Rafting is available in nearby smaller rivers.