Cecilie and Max Benjamin

Max and Cecilie Benjamin have been long term residents of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Both originally from Australia, came to PNG in 1966 and 1972 respectively to work for the Department of Agriculture Stock and Fisheries as agricultural extension officers. Max purchased Walindi Plantation in 1969. This included over a mile of beach fronting onto Kimbe Bay and the Bismark Sea one of the warmest oceans in the world.

They both learned to scuba dive in 1976 when a local opportunity presented itself. Max & Cecilie were virtually the first people to explore Kimbe Bay reefs with scuba in the late 1970’s. Scuba Instructor qualifications followed with FAUI (Federation of Australian Underwater Instructors).

A diving holiday to the Red Sea in late 1978 inspired an interest in the possibility of sharing the Kimbe Bay destination to fellow diving travellers. In 1983, Walindi Plantation Resort commenced with the construction of two beach side bungalows as the first diving guests arrived from Australia. Today the resort has 20 accommodation units and welcomes visitors from all corners of the globe.

Walindi Plantation set aside an area of land to commence the Walindi Nature Centre in the mid 1990’s. Today, Mahonia Na Dari (MND) Research and Conservation Centre is and has been home to NGO’s such as TNC, and James Cook University, Townsville Australia. MND has developed a specialised program called MEEP, Marine Environment Education Program, which teaches youth ranging across Elementary, Primary and High School levels the value of marine education and conservation to their lives and futures.

In 2008, Professor Charles Veron, (Author of 3 volumes “Corals of the World”), identified Kimbe Bay as having over half the world species of hard corals within its confines. This is 413 species out of approximately 800. From their balcony seen above, within the vista viewed, that remarkable hard coral statistic abides along with over 900 species of fish. This is a truly remarkable statement of marine biodiversity for the planet.

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