Reigniting ANZAC Spirit: Historic Walk and Business Bond Between Australia, PNG

By: Roselyn Erehe May 06, 2024

from left to right: Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and PNG Prime Minister Hon. James Marape in Port Moresby for Anzac Day, 25th April. -image provided

The historical ties between Papua New Guinea and Australia run deep, rooted in shared experiences and mutual support. On April 25th, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and PNG Prime Minister Hon. James Marape embarked on an historic 2-day walk to commemorate ANZAC Day, symbolizing the enduring strength of the relationship.

“May the Spirit of ANZAC, underscored by the bravery and courage these young men exhibited and the mateship that grew between them and our Pacific and PNG carriers, never be forgotten,” PM Marape said for the National Day of Commemoration.

Prime Minister Marape emphasized the importance of honoring the sacrifices made at Kokoda and beyond, highlighting the invaluable contributions of PNG's own volunteers, known as the "Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels."

He stressed the enduring significance of courage, ingenuity, and mateship, traits that continue to resonate in contemporary society.

PM Marape emphasized the importance of sharing and rediscovering the spirit of endurance and mateship forged during World War II. He envisioned the trek as a symbolic gesture to reignite the ANZAC spirit and foster solidarity between Australia and PNG.

“Why must we do this; you ask? What is the significance of this task? It is because in the busy grind of work and life, it is so easy to forget the hardships and sacrifices those who went before have made. It is also a necessary feat to share, to symbolise and rediscover the spirit of endurance and mateship that our two people shared during WW2 at Kokoda. The trekking is symbolic to reignite the ANZAC spirit.”

“Australia and PNG must walk hand in hand to carry each other, share each other's burden, and walk into a future of peace and prosperity that we are working to create for our children to live in,” he added.

One significant aspect of this enduring relationship is the longstanding business partnership exemplified by companies like Steamships Limited (Ltd).

A brief of Steamship Ltd history in PNG, to properly understand and appreciate this bond between the two countries:

Established in 1919, retired sea captain, Algernon Sydney Fitch, founded the business to run operations in Australia. In the same year, he left his Tasmanian Apple farm in Australia and sailed the company’s first ship, the SS Queenscliffe, to Port Moresby to trade along the Papuan coast. In 1924 the public company was formed and the Steamships history began in PNG, with the company listed on the Sydney – Australia stock exchange.

Historically and up to this date, Steamships Ltd has played a pivotal role in PNG's economic development, fostering industries and businesses that have contributed to its growth. According to Port Moresby Stock Exchange (POMSoX) 1999, Steamships Ltd stock was the first company listed on the POMSoX with the company’s stock continued to trade on the Australian Stock Exchange. Noted from the POMSoX, the first cargo was 25 coconut fiber sacks, about 15 pounds of tobacco, and a case of condensed milk.

From its humble beginnings as a coastal trader, to its present status as the largest non-mining company in PNG, Steamships has diversified its operations into logistics, property, hospitality, and manufacturing.

The company's resilience during challenging times, such as World War 2, highlights its commitment to PNG's progress. Despite operations being suspended during WWII, Steamships swiftly restored its retail operations post-war, reopen store in November 1945, demonstrating its dedication to the country's recovery and rebuilding efforts.


Historically noted, at each stage of PNG’s economic development, seen to be the largest nation and economy in the South Pacific, Steamships has fostered businesses and industries that have helped build PNG. Steamships Ltd has boosted local economies through businesses initially established in Port Moresby, the gulf and western reaches of the former territory of Papua and later in New Guinea and the Highlands.

Moreover, the company’s association with the Multinational Conglomerate Swire & Sons Limited began after WWII in, formally in 1952 with the initiation of the New Guinea Australia Line Service, which used China Navigation Company vessels and steamships as shipping agents.

Steamships' coastal shipping and stevedoring services supported the PNG economy as it started to develop and explore its rich and diverse endowment of natural resources, including plantation crops and mining. In response to new opportunities, Steamships diversified into major operating categories of logistics, property and hospitality, and various joint venture operations.

Companies under steamships are Coral Sea Hotels, Pacific Palm Properties, Consort Express Lines and EastWest Transport. Steamships was the owner of the country’s first manufacturer of ice cream; Laga Industries, makers of the Gala brand, which was sold to Paradise Foods Limited in 2018.

Furthermore, Steamships' association with the Swire Group, dating back to the 1950s, underscores its role as a key player in PNG's economic landscape. The Swire Group has a majority holding in Steamships, which is the largest non-mining company in PNG.

The partnership between the company and PNG has facilitated the expansion of services and the establishment of vital connections with other nations, further strengthening PNG's position in the Asia-Pacific region.

The enduring business relationship between Australia and PNG, epitomized by companies like Steamships Limited, remains integral to both nations' growth and prosperity.

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