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New Guinea recollections. (Part 8 of 8)

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Papua New Guinea Independence: 16 September 1975

Australia relinquished its colonial administration of PNG at the earliest practical opportunity in accordance with the wishes of the United Nations.
No political uprising or general discontent preceeded this transition.

One of the many ceremonies to mark the occasion was conducted at Finschhafen. There were very few dry eyes, either brown or blue, as the Australian flag was lowered for the final time and replaced with that of the independent nation of Papua Niugini.



Delving into my past to prepare this series of recollections has not been a process entirely free of emotion, because those of us who were fortunate enough to work so closely, and for so many years, with village people in New Guinea inevitably formed deep connections with them and their country.

So many of my co-workers and friends who featured in these stories and photographs are no longer with us, so it is for them and their descendants that I have written this series.

I was sent from Australia to "teach" Papua Niuginians.

In the final analysis it was they who taught me one thousand times more.

Especially the tolerant, happy and hospitable people of the Mape, Upper Dedua, Mongi, Kua and Bulum areas of Morobe Province who took me in and treated me as one of their own, and who showed me a societal model so vastly different from mine.
Their sustainable model.  Their caring and co-operative society.  
Their way of life where family and close community are central to everyday life.

Australia can hold it's head high for the work it did in bringing PNG to Independent nationhood with such a high degree of unity, prosperity and peace.

History will be the judge of how Papua Niugini managed the opportunites we presented to it on the 16th September 1975.



To mark the conclusion of this series I now wish to kick up my ageing  wrinkly heels with my very favourite kind of PNG music.
A bamboo band…..stacks of bamboo tubes, the ends of which are rhythmically and toe-tappingly flogged with rubber thongs, or if that phrase conjures up a somewhat interesting proposition for my American friends, rubber flip-flops.
I hope you too will enjoy it even though they appear to be cheating in this clip by using some PVC pipe instead of bamboo.

Thank you to everyone who has shared my little stroll down memory lane.

(for access to all stories in this series click "view my tags" on right of page, then "png history")

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New Guinea recollections. (Part 7 of 8)

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Miscellaneous photographs.

This is one of my favourite New Guinea photos because I love the intense concentration on the faces of the children.
New Guinea kids have an insatiable appetite for looking at picture books or photographs.  The adults too, hunger for information about the world outside of PNG.  Just one National Geographic magazine will entertain an entire little community for half a day.

In the era before television and videos had reached PNG, we regularly converted our workshop into a bush cinema, and this was the first time these children (and many adults too) had ever seen a moving image.

One night each month we would screen an assortment of cartoons and educational films followed by old Hollywood movies which we hired from Port Moresby.

The following evening we would load the portable generator, white bedsheet "screen", and projector into the plane and fly off to either Mindik, 4 minutes flying time away, or Siwea (8 minutes) to repeat the show.

Pindiu;  P2-WKD, with L to R; Goraseng, Tomai, Lembang, Pau and Gindi unloading coconuts and fish.

Pindiu was 15 minutes flight inland from Finschhafen, on the coast, and had a perfect climate at 3000 feet altitude for growing vegetables.  To provide an outlet for this produce we commenced a trading exchange.
Vegetables to the coast where they could not be grown, and coconuts and fish on the return flight.

Mimbel was an unforgettable character at Lumi in 1968 
who was employed in a role loosely described as "janitor"


Rice Milling.
Each year the Lumi people grew around 50 tons of rice. 
We purchased the harvested paddy from growers, stored it in the "paddy house" until it was dry, then processed it into brown or white rice with portable Japanese CeCoCo SC25 rice mills.

Rice had been grown by villagers in the Finschhafen area for a long time after it's introduction by the Lutheran Mission at Heldsbach.
The photographs are from Bonga village on the Finschhafen coast, and Wandokai village on the Sialum "grassland steppes" a unique geological feature caused by Continental drift.

(To access all stories in this series click "view my tags" off to the right, then "png history")

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New Guinea recollections. (Part 6 of 8)

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                                                Korbau Village hydroelectricity

This story is unashamedly written from the heart.

It is my tribute to each and every one of the 100 good folk, including my honorary family; Dad and Mum, Mr and Mrs Wating, and brothers and sisters, in the tiny hamlet of Korbau (Botong) 3 hours hard walk from Pindiu in the mountainous Huon Peninsula hinterland.

Please allow me to describe this walk as it was in the 1970's, because the Korbau people carried in everything for this project, cement, pipes, electrical wire and generators, on their shoulders with enthusiasm and good humour.

From Pindiu airstrip the slippery bush walking track zigzags two thousand vertical feet down into the Mongi River gorge, firstly through garden regrowth, then dense rainforest.
A rickety 3 foot wide wire-rope suspension bridge 50 metres long, with many missing or rotting foot treads, crosses the raging river before the track then zigzags another 2000 feet up the other side to Silemana village.  From there it is just one hour of easier walking on a contour bench track to Korbau passing through beautiful forest and crossing crystal clear mountain streams. 

On and off, from 1975 to 1979 we all blindly toiled together to find a way to provide electric lighting for the people living there.
None of us had any previous electrical experience, or a prior model to copy, and there were no libraries, or an internet, to find out how to do it.
The station refuse dumps at Pindiu and Finschhafen were our principal hardware shops.

Traditionally the only form of night lighting in village houses is the glow from the fire hearth in the centre of the house.

In the 1960's, kerosene lamps like the Hurricane, Tilley and Coleman became available but the people could often not afford to buy the expensive fuel which had to be flown in from the coast.

None of us will ever forget the day when we turned the tap on to run the first rudimentary turbine which was fashioned from a discarded lawn mower, and hooked up to an old aircraft 24 volt generator.
It was the 28th of May 1976.

The jet of water hit the flat wheel paddles and irrigated the countryside for 20 metres around. (not the primary aim of the project) Then, with eyes open wide, we all stared at the single incandescent light globe in the little thatched "powerhouse" and watched as the filament slowly, very very slowly, changed from silver to a dull orange colour.
Applause all round for what was a magnificent failure, but we were  sufficiently encouraged to build something better.

Our second attempt used PVC plastic pressure-rated pipe for a penstock instead of soldered galvanised downpipe.  We fabricated a more realistic pelton wheel with improved impellor cups shaped from sections of copper pipe scavenged from the dump.
After connection to a disused Honda 240 volt alternator, the system provided a single light in each house for 2 years.

The benefits of lights in village houses were;
Children and adults could read more books.
Less smoke was inhaled from constantly burning fires in each house.  
Women no longer had to cart 20kg of firewood every day in bilums (string bags) strung over their heads on the way home from the gardens.
Reduction in deforestation.

From the knowledge gained at Korbau we went on to build 2 other hydroelectric lighting systems at Gemaheng and Nawong villages.

Some time after I had returned to Australia, the projects fell into disrepair.
Experts, electrical engineering students, academics and politicians subsequently visited the sites and wrote reports outlining all of the design shortcomings and reasons why the projects eventually failed.

To my knowledge not a single one of these learned and distinguished critics ever did anything to repair them.

The machinery of foreign aid and Government funding to those most deserving is often clogged with bureaucratic procedure, and preference given to spectacular accessible-to-the-press constructions offering maximum publicity to the donor, and glory for the politicians involved.
Real power-to-the-people grass roots projects like that at Korbau are often derided and ignored by bureaucrats and administrators.

The PNG University of Technology eventually published a Standard Prototype Design Manual for micro-hydro installations in PNG and other developing countries.

As part of the introduction to that book, author Allen R. Inversin acknowledged our work at Korbau, concluding that we;
"largely forgot about the experts and detailed theory, and installed home-made micro-hydros at three remote village sites, and planted a seed by showing that it could be done before others said that it could not."

If that is to be the epitaph for these projects then I, on behalf of all my wonderful Korbau friends, proudly accept it.

(For access to all stories in this series click the "view my tags" link on the right of screen then click "png history")


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New Guinea recollections. (Part 5 of 8)

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The Zafilio village water wheel

During the 1970's there was a vibrant co-operative effort by all rural development agencies in PNG to introduce appropriate technologies into villages.

The Melanesian Council of Churches collected ideas from all sources then published the world-standard "Liklik Buk"  a handbook for rural development workers.

Regrettably the momentum generated at that time was not maintained after Independence when both political focus and financial allocations were redirected to urban areas of the country.

Zafilio village is located in the hilly Wareo hinterland of the Finschhafen district, an hours walk beyond the end of a rough 4 wheel drive track winding its way up the mountain from the coast.

Patrilineal societies in PNG often place a disproportionate burden of the physical "work of life" on womenfolk.  Food gardening and preparation, child rearing, firewood collection, as well as contributing to a family cash income.
Two of the highest priorities in developing countries, both then and now, should be the provision of equal educational opportunities for girls, and the introduction of technologies to reduce the workload of women.

Coffee pulpers are small hand-powered machines, (at that time manufactured in England,) which are used to remove the thick outer red skin from the coffee bean, before the bean is fermented in water for 3 days to remove a mucilage covering, then dried in the sun prior to being sold as "parchment coffee" to the factories.

We designed and built these very cheap and simple water wheels, then installed them at several sites throughout the Huon Peninsula specifically to power coffee pulpers…..previously an energy sapping task often left to the women.

The Zafilio village waterwheel was installed in March 1976.

When the author returned for a brief visit to PNG in 1998 the one wheel he had an opportunity to revisit (at Tambare) was still operational.

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New Guinea recollections. (Part 4 of 8)

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Aviation and airstrips.

The very first day you go to live on an outstation in New Guinea is the moment when light aircraft begin to assume a major role in your life.

From firstly wondering how the hell is this guy going to land me and my belongings safely on that little clearing down there in the jungle, to then knowing that these little planes will be your lifeline.  
Your once-a-week mailman, your shopping trolley from the nearest store 200 miles away, your ambulance, and your tractor to commute to work in the bottom corner of your estate.

Many days, accumulating into weeks of your life, will frustratingly be spent sitting beside one airstrip or another waiting for a plane delayed by weather.
Your senses will accordingly become acutely tuned to identifying approaching aircraft up to 10 miles away.
You can firstly hear whether it has either one engine or two, then differentiate between the grunt of a 300 horse power Continental engine and the 230 HP smoothness of its little brother.

The time will come when you can detect the slight whistling noise which distinguishes a Cessna flying with a two-bladed propeller from one which has three.  
Other subtle changes in sound tell you whether it is climbing or descending, or banking to go to another destination or return to home base because the cloud is too thick at your place.
When it finally arrives you can tell who the pilot is by the "shape" of the landing circuit being flown.

You will also inevitably accumulate an sizeable catalogue of aviation stories to tell.
I will conclude this recollection with two of my own.

Aviation has played an enormous part in facilitating the economic development of PNG, as well as being a powerful force to unite the more than 600 tribal groups which comprise the country.

The very first aircraft to fly in PNG was a Curtis flying boat in 1922.

After gold was discovered in the Bulolo valley, PNG led the world in the movement of airfreight.  1000-ton dredges were broken down into pieces and flown into the valley with up to 60 flights per day from Lae on the coast, to Wau, an extraordinary one-way 800 metre-long grassed airstrip with a 10 degree slope. (some sources have it at 8, others 12)

During the 12 months from February 1931 to February 1932 Guinea Airways moved 4000 tons of freight.
For the same period the combined airline services of the UK, France and USA carried only 2670 tons.

There are approximately 500 little landing strips scattered around this small mountainous country.  Here are just a few of them together with some facts, anecdotes and personal observations.

Government Patrol Post in the mountainous centre of the Huon Peninsula.  A one-way strip 600 metres long with a 3 degree slope.

Yilui.….  Short strip (470 m) in the middle of the Sepik plains. 
This is the landing view from the Catholic Mission Helio Courier aircraft.  On final approach in this short takeoff and landing aircraft the leading edge wing slats seen in the picture emerge from the wing with a disconcerting thump when airspeed decreases below 60 mph.
It has been said that the only aircraft in the world with a better STOL performance than the Helio Courier is a helicopter.
I knew at least one pilot of a Pilatus Porter who would probably like to challenge that reputation.


Yebil    An outpost for the New Zealand based Christian Missions in Many Lands.  Length 390 metres, slope 7 degrees.

Green River;  One of the most isolated and inhospitable Government outposts in Papua New Guinea.

;  Missionary Aviation Fellowship Cessna 185 at the headquarters of the Christian Missions in Many Lands and site of excellent hospital and school facilities in the 1960's and 70's.

Nuku ; Steeply sloping airstrip with Government office and Catholic Mission.  Length 700 metres with 7 degree slope.

Siwea;  One-way strip only 5 nautical miles from the coast, yet it's altitude is 5500 feet above sea level, and length only 450 metres. 
It has been the scene of many inelegant takeoffs where climbing airspeed is gained by firstly falling off the end at just above stall speed into the deep valley beyond.
Pictured is a Cessna 206 (possibly P2-COA) taking off in a cloud of mud and slush.

Lumi ;  Catholic mission on nearside and Government offices, with housing and hospital on far side.  Length 760 metres.

  Britten-Norman Islander loading bags of copal gum and massoi bark for export. 
Copal gum is the solidified sap of the Kauri pine tree, and Kabori is one of the few locations where there are naturally occurring dense stands of this tree.  The trees are "tapped" in a way similar to that used to obtain latex from rubber trees.  Copal was used in many products, including high quality paints and varnishes.
At 2000 feet elevation, Kabori is only 400 metres long and comes with a notice to pilots "slippery when wet".

I have included the Kabori picture primarily because the aircraft was being piloted by the legendary Reverend Doug McCraw. 
This is the only remaining picture I have of him, and it was disappointing when searching the internet to find almost no information about this extraordinarily gifted and experienced mature-aged aviator who was also one of nature's finest gentlemen.
It is my sad understanding that he was killed in a freak road accident on PNG's Highlands Highway through no fault of his own.

I would like to rectify the absence of Reverend Doug McCraw stories with two of mine.

An aeroplane was simply an extension of Doug's body.  He was born to fly, and more than any other pilot I have known, he had a consummate knowledge of aircraft performance gained during thousands of hours of aeronautical experience which enabled him to put his craft precisely where he wanted it, whether in the air or landing it on the ground.
When, later on, I was also to do my pilots training in PNG, he was my inspiration.

New Guinea is one of the most dangerous countries on earth for conducting light aircraft operations, partly because of sub-standard airstrips and high mountains separated by deep narrow gorges, but primarily because of the speed at which weather conditions can deteriorate and give pilots no escape route.

All such flying was nominally conducted under the Internationally accepted Visual Flight Rules which govern minimum distances, both vertically and horizontally, that pilots are required to keep away from cloud.  
Reality however necessitated that virtually every New Guinea bush pilot contravened these conservative rules, almost on a daily basis.
Flight safety was more dependent upon a pilot's skilled airmanship, timely decision making, and knowledge of local terrain and weather patterns, than strict adherence to any set of written rules.

Reverend Doug Story 1.

It needs to be remembered that there were no navigational aids at any of these airstrips, and planes were not equipped, as they are today, with GPS's. 

At the very top right hand corner of the Lumi picture above, there is a deep forested river valley running at right angles to the landing direction of the airstrip.  
Quite often in the mornings an extensive solid cloud layer would obscure the mountain tops, and the cloud base would be only a few feet above airstrip level .
In these conditions Lumi was inaccessible to all pilots except Doug. 
He would navigate his own well practised indirect route from Anguganak (at a lower altitude) to Lumi following a maze of clear river valleys beneath the cloud base, before making his landing approach from below the level of Lumi airstrip.
As onlookers we would watch in wide-eyed amazement as an aircraft climbed up out of the valley through mist and fog to deposit itself on the runway threshhold. 
This was not some irresponsible act of daredevilry. 
It was an exhibition of sublime piloting and navigational skills.

Reverend Doug Story 2.

This event happened on the day when I took the Kabori picture.
The warning to pilots "slippery when wet" was an understatement. 
Doug had landed the empty Islander at Kabori amid a huge spray of mud and grass kicked up by the wheels and propeller wash, after which he slithered to a stop not too far short of the top end where the parking bay was located.

After loading our bags of produce, with weather closing in, I was the passenger in the co-pilot's seat as he gave maximum takeoff power to both engines, commencing his takeoff run across the parking bay to gain extra momentum, before initiating a skidding realignment onto the top end of the airstrip proper.

The Islander's 4 small main wheels rolled up strips of sodden grass like a harvester at a turf farm.  With 50 metres of strip left before plunging into an area of swamp, only the nosewheel was in the air. 
I was terrified that I might have made an error weighing the bags of copal gum we had loaded, and that eventually The Inquest was going to establish my culpability for causing this terrible accident.

Doug, sensing my unease, casually turned to me and smilingly noted "Ducks with mud on their feet take a while to get airborne"  then with barely perceptible inputs from him the aircraft flew off the ground missing all the bullrushes by just a few feet. 
It seemed at the time to me like some sort of miracle. 
Today I understand that he knew precisely how his Islander was going to perform under those conditions.

Thank you Reverend Doug McCraw for the memories and also for initiating my dream.

(For access to all stories in this series click the "view my tags" link on the right of screen then click "png history".   If any non-Vox readers would like to share a Doug McCraw memory, please contact me by email….address secreted and accessible from "profile" link on my home page.)


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New Guinea recollections. (Part 3 of 8)

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Lumi cattle drive 1971

The infant mortality rate around Lumi in 1970 was officially recorded to be 50% to age 5 years.  This was the result of endemic malaria and other parasitic infections, along with acute protein malnutrition from the predominantly sago-based diet.

Part of our job as Didimen was to introduce additional and improved sources of dietary protein to the villages.  At the Lumi Extension Centre we bred and distributed ducks, chickens, pigs, gourami fish, guinea pigs, peanuts and high protein varieties of rice.

At the time there were also a few smallholder village cattle projects, each with no more than 10 head of cattle.  The original young stock had been airlifted from the coast at Aitape into one of the bush 'strips by small Cessna aircraft. 
These cattle were a ragtag mix of British breeds often unsuited to living in the tropics, so the Local Government Council enlisted our support to drove, on foot, a small herd of improved Brahman bulls and cows into Lumi.

Wewak is the major town on New Guinea's north coast, and was the scene of fierce fighting against the Japanese in World War 2. General Adachi, the commander of all Japanese forces in PNG, formally surrendered to Australia at Wewak in 1945 but not before 100,000 of his soldiers had died from starvation.

The Sepik Highway extends inland from Wewak to Lumi.  It is not a "highway" in the American or Australian context, but more a winding country road, bitumen sealed in places, but often just a gravel surface. 
In 2010 you can comfortably drive from Wewak to Lumi in one day.

It was not so in 1971 when the Sepik Highway fell short of it's final destination by some 100 kilometres.  That distance from the roadhead at Dreikikir to Lumi consisted of a disconnected series of road benches which had been constructed through the rainforest-covered mountainous terrain by villagers using nothing more than axes and shovels. 

                     (footnote below provides more details on motorbikes and river crossings)

That 100 km forward journey Lumi to Dreikikir with volunteer worker Ralph Hazel on our Honda 90 Ag motor bikes (loaded with camping gear) took 44 hours of travel time over 4 days.  Traction on the steepest most slippery sections was achieved by using low ratio gearing and loops of thick nylon rope threaded at intervals through the spokes and around the rear tyre to provide a "snow chain" gripping effect.

                             (Ralph Hazel emerging from the undergrowth)

The return journey when we were assisted by 2 local stockmen droving the cattle, took 65 hours over 6 days, a lot of it spent devising ways to cross flooded rivers.

The accompanying pictures hopefully tell part of the story.

(Journal;  13 January   Depart Monandin 0900 after rain over unrecognisable road.  Abandon motor bikes 1600 then walk to unnamed village Dreikikir area 1900.

(J;  18 January   0600 commence construction of rafts to assist passage of patrol over flooded Bongos River near Yekrumbok village.  River 20 feet deep.  Crossing accomplished 1630, thence Nuku 2230 overnight.

Our Government supplied Honda 90 motor bikes were excellent little workhorses which saved us many days of walking.
Fast-flowing river crossings of any depth below the high exhaust pipe level could be accomplished (sometimes) by firstly cooling the engine down by splashing water all over it, then coating it, and all electrical components with water dispersant "Jesus Juice" spray, before riding a diagonal downstream track and emerging at some point on the opposite bank entirely determined by the force of the current.

The maximum life expectancy for Honda 90's at Lumi was 2 years or 7000 kilometers, whichever elapsed first.

This story is written in the memory of Ralph Hazel, a mature level-headed mentor, at a time when I probably needed one.

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New Guinea recollections. (Part 2 of 8)

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 South Wapei Patrol 1970

I should firstly acknowledge that Christian organisations and their missionaries with practical skills deserve much of the credit for providing improved services such as health and education, to village people in many of the remote areas of Papua New Guinea.

The Australian Government's mandate was to firstly explore uncharted territory, pacify warring tribes and headhunters, then rapidly improve infrastructure and services throughout the country in preparation for PNG's eventual Independence as a nation.

On the ground that process was led by "Kiaps" the Australian patrol officers who can now look back on a proud, meritorious and often heroic history in PNG.  They often put their lives on the line on a daily basis.  From 1950 to 1977 there were 18 recorded incidents of patrols being attacked by natives.  Fifteen Kiaps were killed in the line of duty from 1950 to 1977. (not all from ambush incidents)

Once areas had been officially pacified by the Kiaps, Medical personnel and "Didimen" (rural development officers like the writer) were introduced to do their own field patrols to identify and implement ways to rapidly improve the standard of living of the people who were often malnourished and sick with malaria and other parasites.

We would walk from village to village, on the way gathering information about sociology, geography, soil and vegetation types, then sit down at night with everyone in the meeting house to learn about their social aspirations and priorities for future development.  Comprehensive "Patrol Reports" were then compiled and sent to our Port Moresby headquarters for analysis and evaluation.

The task of economic and social development in places like the South Wapei was daunting.  The vast flood plains which drain into the upper Sepik River are not traversible at all during the wet season, and at other times the walking distances as notated below make any sort of life improvement extremely difficult for these sparse populations of people.
They had no roads, communications with the outside world, education or health facilities.

Some financial income was remitted by men who had been "recruited" by labour agents and shipped off to work on private coconut and cocoa plantations near Rabaul on the more developed island of New Britain. Small amounts of cash were also earned locally from selling salted crocodile skins.

A large percentage of the adult men were away working for years at a time, leaving behind a legacy of family and social disruption, and a disproportionate burden of village work on the shoulders of women, young people, and the old folk.

Our foot patrols involved packing all food, bedding and medicine (most important were anti-malarial tablets and antibiotic ointment and powder to treat infected wounds and tropical ulcers) into galvanised or black steel trunks.

Carriers were recruited from the nearest village, (sometimes against their wishes) and they lashed the patrol boxes onto long bush poles using kunda (vine rope)….one carrier at each end of the pole.

The Government payment rate for carriers was set at 10 cents per hour.
We also carried blocks of tobacco.  Twisted greasy tobacco leaf  sticks which were glued together with molasses to make a single heavy block. 
Tobacco, rather than cash was sometimes preferred by the carriers as payment for their work. 
We also traded tobacco for fresh food supplies along the way.

Our patrol box contents also included old copies of Sydney's broadsheet newspaper which we distributed to people who tore them into appropriately sized sheets to wrap the untwisted, dried and cut tobacco and made "cigarettes".

August 1970.   (Blue represents journal entries)

Lumi to Bulawa;
Commencing from Lumi patrol post in the foothills of the Torricelli mountain range in the West Sepik (now Sandaun Province) walking south towards the middle reaches of the Sepik River.
" 6 hours walk to Bulawa village following the rocky river bed and crossing the Gwenif River 41 times"

Domestic servant/fixer/part-time interpreter Fortel (with gun) and a meal of fish and hornbills at Bulawa village.

Bulawa to Abrau;  
7 hours through alternating steamy lowland forest and "kunai" grassland.
" Abrau village deserted, roof of rest house removed by storm at night"

Abrau to Yakeltim;

                                          Patrol in state of shambles (top picture) following canoe capsize.

Village leader with Goura pigeons from hunting expedition.
Children with big bellies, the primary symptom of kwashiorkor.
(acute childhood protein malnutrition)

Abrau to Norambalip and Yegerapi;
12 hours walking time, then a village meeting at night to discuss strategies for marketing crocodile skins.
Mosquitoes so tiny here that they get through mosquito bed-net mesh.

Yegerapi to Yowari;

" 12 hours walk. Depart 7 am crossing endless kunai swamplands and following pig tracks into Yowari at 7 pm."

Semi-permanent floating foot paths had been constructed in the flooded kunai grasslands. They were made from split palm trunks cut  from the adjacent woodlands.  The planks were laid end to end across the "teis" (swamp) and floated on top of the mud.

"Yowari women and children fled into the bush at first sighting of the patrol's arrival, returning later at night".

The Yegerapis were not on friendly terms with the Yowaris and the carriers, fearing sorcery being applied to them if they camped at Yowari overnight, chose to immediately turn around and walk the 10 hours back home by moonlight.

Yowari to Kernam;

" Eleven hours in heavy rain.  Kwieftim village carriers deserted, found substitutes"

Kernam to Lumi;
" Depart Kernam 5.45 am to Parisko on an overgrown bush track thence via Taute to Lumi 6 pm"

Lumi was the closest Government Patrol Post providing services to the people of the South Wapei. The Catholic Church, (Franciscans) and the protestant Christian Missions in Many Lands also had establishments at Lumi.
The CMML had an additional staff member at their Yellow River base, close to the Sepik River.

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New Guinea recollections. (Part 1 of 8)

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A few people have convinced me that there might be some historical value in posting and preserving some of my old faded and fungus ravaged transparencies taken in Papua New Guinea from 1968 onwards, before they, like me, end up as nothing more than landfill.

I am especially mindful of young Papua Niuginians who, with 21st century Google magic might one day discover and appreciate these pictures of their villages and ancestors.

The pictures are accompanied by my probably biased recollection of events, along with unedited extracts from my Agricultural Officers Field Journal written at the time, which will reflect colonial attitudes and policies no longer either socially or politically acceptable.

I make no apology for this, as both my own behaviour and that of the Australian PNG Administration was at the time full of good intent.

Considerable debate exists as to the value of colonial occupation of developing countries in the 20th century.

History should prove that Australia was a benevolent and generous administrator in PNG.  We literally brought many of the people from stone age, often barbaric, cultural practices into the jet age during the few decades prior to PNG's Independence in 1975. 
Australia continues to pour several hundred million dollars worth of aid funds into PNG each year.

As a nation we did not deliberately set out to pillage it's economic resources, or to an unnecessary extent impose our culture upon theirs. 

Those critical of Australia's performance need only compare it to the Dutch and Indonesian colonial record in neighbouring West Irian (now Irian Jaya) to understand just how fortunate Papua New Guinea was.

I appreciate that my ancient history will probably be of little interest to most of my regular readers, but as I have built up a small head of steam for this project I will post all 8 stories in a series which will occupy the next 2 weeks. (weather and solar power permitting).

Normal blogging will resume in 3 weeks time.

(For access to all stories in this series click the "view my tags" link on the right of screen then click "png history")

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