Beginnings of the Ali Island Project
The Aitape region is a fabulous destination for tourists, with spectacular surf beaches, historic World War II sites and incredible local culture, however, the region has little in the way of appropriate accommodation for visitors. In recent years there have been visits by international tourists and cruise ships to Ali Island, who fell in love with the beauty of the region and the charming local islanders. However, these visitors raised concerns at the lack of basic accommodation and facilities to meet their needs. Government conferences are also often held in the region with a lack of suitable facilities.
The first steps
In realizing this, Tony Raok, a local of Ali Island, started discussions with the island community around development of tourist-friendly facilities. Further consultation was held with tour operators, government officials and companies for the development of a guest house and establishment of a tourism venture for the local region. Architectural plans were drawn up and a project proposal was finalised in 2005, with progress stalling for a number of years.
Revitalising the Project
Travis McCombe, a founder of the Project, was born in PNG and lived in Aitape as a child. Travis’ father Daryl McCombe took on a job in 1968 as a ‘kiap’ (patrol officer in PNG) and was posted to Saundaun Province. During his years of working in PNG, Daryl married wife Moyne and raised his family. Travis returned to the area in October 2009 with his wife Kelli, spending six days in Aitape and on Ali Island. During their stay on Ali Island, Travis became aware of the 2005 project proposal and offered his assistance in bringing the project to fruition. Upon returning to Geelong, Travis formed a group of like-minded individuals together to form the Ali Island Project, endeavouring to bring to life the dreams of the local people in developing the Ali Island Guest House and Conference Centre.
In 2011, the first construction project group headed to Ali Island to commence the initial phase of building on the Island. You can view a gallery of the construction efforts and also view the first hand account written about the group’s journey
To date there have been 6 tours to Ali Island to continue the work of the project. 2011, 2012, twice in 2013, 2014 and just recently (April-May) in 2015. The eco-tourism buildings are near full completion and there has been great assistance given to the local Ali Island School, as well as the island Health outpost and wider community.