By Ilya Gridneff, AAP
It was a simple question inspired by my island-hopping adventure in his home province of
Charles Abel, the member for
He ruefully retorts he doesn't want to see the region's standards plummet with me as a new constituent.
"Speak to the landowners, it's not a simple purchase, I am not sure you can simply buy an island," he says.
"But if you want to build a resort on one, well, it's a long process we can talk about.
"We have big plans to turn this region into a tourist hub," he says pointing out to the surrounding crystal blue sea.
Most of the island groups' names come from an armada of early explorers from as far back as 1660 who set sail through this intricate tapestry now known as the Trobriands, Woodlark, Laughlan, Louisiade Archipelago and the D'Entrecasteau islands.
In a cluster of islands just outside Milne Bay's `China Straits,' is Kwato, about three kilometres east of what was the region's provincial centre, Samarai, first established in 1888.
Kwato is where the tourism minister's great grandfather Charles Abel settled as one of the first white men in the province circa 1891.
Charles Abel (senior) helped build a church that proudly sits on top of the Kwato's hill and provides spectacular panoramic views of what typifies the `Pacific experience'.
Abel is famed for breaking from his London Missionary Society and championing the local people by teaching practical skills. Ever since those tumultuous early days the Abel family has been an institution throughout
Nowadays when navigating on our small dingy there is an impression of lost time, of a place where not much has changed since the volcanoes left a landscape that looks like a sprinkling of the earth's last crumbs.
Turquoise sea and white sandy beaches with the occasional local paddling a traditional canoe takes up much of the vista as we dart along the water island hopping.
On Samarai the old Colonial memory of the administration lingers in buildings and decaying houses now occupied by locals and their algorithm of family networks cohabiting what was once a hive of activity.Both Kwato and Samarai are incredible spots as living histories, remnants of a past era long gone but not too far away.
All this is a simple excursion depending on how much fuel you've got or how much time you can afford to find paradise lost.
Driftwood Resort, more an oasis than resort, is a handful of boutique bungalows sitting on
Serenity is at Driftwood's core and it is ideal for those who may want to rekindle something special or mend the body, mind and soul.
Friendly hotel staff organise island adventures or can arrange, for the history buffs, tours of
Their fishing tours and excursions to surrounding villages are also well worth the effort.
Driftwood's scenic jetty and quality restaurant is the place to unwind and do nothing. Just watch it all go by. Sunsets or sunrises.
And after these tough days it is recommended to visit the bar for an array of colourful cocktails.
Then there is Tawali dive resort, about an hour's drive east from Alotau, where scuba divers from around the world flock to what is considered some of the globe's most abundant and versatile coral reefs.
Regular flights from PNG's capital
As another sun sets on
I badger the tourism minister for a discount if I commit to setting up several `offices' in
"Keep dreaming," Abel repeats with a chuckle.
"I am," I say.
And it is,
IF YOU GO:
There are regular flights to
Visit: www.airniugini.com.pg; www.airlinespng.com.pg.
Travel Services: Call: 675-320-2468 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Driftwood Resort, Alotau. Visit: www.driftwoodpng.com; call: 675-641-0098; 675-323-1920.
Cost: Per night: garden bungalow $A260, waterfront bungalow $A320.