Brisbane, QLD

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


In January 1964 I had been in the Territory of Papua New Guinea for a few months working at the District Education Office in Pt Moresby, while I was waiting for the schools to reopen after the summer holidays. It was very easy work shuffling papers and trying to look busy as well as watching the tropical fish swim below the office which was built over the water on stilts.

On the weekends I was taken on trips to places around Pt Moresby. I didn't have any transport of my own and I can't remember who I went with. I didn't know anyone other than those I had met in the office, so it must have been someone from the office.

Looking back down the road from Rouna towards Pt Moresby.
Rouna Falls
 There weren't many sealed roads but the road up the ranges north of Pt Moresby was fairly well graded. This was because it led to the Rouna Falls Power Station and Sirinumu Dam.

 There was always plenty of water flowing over the falls coming from the rainforest clad Owen Stanley Mountains.  Power was generated here to supply Pt Moresby.

After stopping to view the falls and listen to the thundering water we drove further up the mountain to the native village of Sogeri, where there was a market selling fresh fruit and vegetables.

Rubber plantation near Sogeri
 Then I was taken to see a rubber plantation. Something I had only read about in school text books. I could see how the white, milky sap was being collected in a little metal cup from a 'v' shaped gash in the trees.

There was a worker cutting new strips of bark off to release more sap. Just like I had seen on the pages of my Geography book at school.

I was really here in the tropical jungles of TPNG. It felt like I was on a tourist vacation but no, I was really here to work.

Latex sheets ready to be fired.

I saw how the sap was turned into latex sheets and then fired or smoked and turned into rubber sheets ready to be exported.

It was all very interesting but the day was getting late so we headed back to Pt Moresby. We stopped on the way down the mountain at Rouna Hotel for a cool drink in the gardens.

We had to keep a watch on the sky and leave at the first sign of the afternoon storm clouds arriving. The road turned into a muddy slippery slide when it rained.
Roana Hotel garden

Every week that I worked in the office, I would ask," Which school will I be at and who will be the head teacher?" Finally a week before school was to start, I got an answer. I was told that I had a position at a brand new "A" school at Korobosea. "A" stood for Australian Curriculum School to differ from a "T" school which stood for Territory Curriculum School. In general "A" schools were for European children which was a term used for Australians and any other expat people from all different countries. "T" schools were for native children but it wasn't apartheid it was more beneficial to teach native children together because they had to learn English and a curriculum more suited to their culture where as the expat children followed the Australian NSW curriculum. However, if native parents wanted their child to go to an "A" school they could and in some smaller villages expat kids went to the 'T" school because it was the only school there.

Korobosea 'A' School Jan 1964
 A few days before school started I met the principal, a very young fellow, who said, "Let's go to see our new school and start preparing our classrooms."Off we went and what a surprise we found. Workmen were still building. There were no steps up to any of the buildings and there was a bulldozer bogged in the mud which was supposed to be the playground/school yard. There was no way children could move in here in four days time.

We headed down the new muddy road and back into town to the office to tell them the situation.
When school started for the year the children had to return to their old overcrowded schools in Boroko and Ela Beach. I was told to report to Boroko East School.  Although disappointed that I wouldn't have my own class and room yet for a few weeks, it was good to help out in a classroom with an experienced teacher to see how things were done in an "A" school.


  1. Loving your posts! How interesting those latex sheets look hanging there!

  2. Wow I would love to see a rubber tree.

  3. the part of your story that amazes me the most is you have all these old photographs... i like the rubber plantation, and that cool ladder to reach higher... kind of like what they do to maple trees for syrup but not quite...who knew being a teacher could be such and adventure.

  4. Such an interesting post... What a great experience for you... LOVE the waterfall.. Gorgeous... In fact, the entire area looks great... Love the history lesson from the rubber plantation.

    Hope you got to go to your new school soon --but i'm sure you got some good experience in the old one with the other teacher.

    Foggy morning here on the Cumberland Plateau. Have a wonderful day.

  5. the rubber plantation is really interesting!

    always enjoy your continuing story!

  6. Diane, what a lovely time in your life. Precious memories and great photos. Loving reading about your job in PNG.

  7. Yes I agree the rubber plantation looked interesting, also interesting to hear about the A and T schools. Who would had thought all those years ago when you were taking those photos you would one day share them with people from all over the world, not be of course I am a good old Aussie

  8. Diane, you had a great adventure and saw so much while you were starting your teaching career. Cool visit to the rubber plantation. Wonderful memories and photos. Have a happy week!

  9. Ha ha, I remember those geography books with their sad little drawings. The photos help bring it all to life and are fascinating!
    I'm looking forward to the next instalment!

  10. This had to be as much an adventure as it was a job. Thank you for sharing your story -- and pictures -- with us.

  11. It's not geographically far from Australia but oh! what a difference in landscape and culture. I can imagine your surprise at seeing those class-rooms unfinished and without steps ... but would imagine there was a big difference once all was completed and ready for the new students.

  12. Interesting to see the latex hanging there, first thought it was laundry :).

  13. That looks very primitive.


  14. What wonderful memories and what a lot of things you have seen ! Your first job was really an adventure !

  15. I lived at Sogeri for 10 months in 1966.
    The rain used to pour down at 2.30-3 pm every afternoon, wet season or dry.
    It was like a curtain.

    The old girl who ran the Rouna Hotel was a real character.
    I forget her name but everyone addressed her by her nickname.
    It might have been “Woody’ Not sure all these years later.

    And yes the rubber plantations at Koitaki were interesting. Quite a few expats lived on the plantations.
    The Sogeri area is where the Kokoda Track starts. I walked the first 4 or 5 km. one weekend.
    That’s the easy part before it goes skywards on a muddy, greasy near-impenetrable trail.
    The Japanese could see the lights of Moresby from the Sogeri plateau in the early Forties before the Tokyo High Command ordered them back where they started to lose strategic battles on the retreat.

    And the Sogeri High School is there. That was PNG’s premier secondary school establishment at the time and for quite a few decades afterwards.

  16. i like the rubber plantation.
    what an interesting post, diane. precious memories and adorable old photos. how wonderful is that!

    big hugs~

  17. Odd the resemblances, I also started at a new school in 1956, a bit before you, but the school was not ready at the time and we were all in one room in the boarding house for the first term.

    Interesting post. Keep well Diane

  18. I'm full of admiration for you; teaching in schools in England was challenge enough for me.

  19. Great start to your adventurous travel-filled life!

  20. Fabulous! I am enjoying reading this.

  21. I don't remember seeing rubber plantations in PNG ... probably wasn't looking.

  22. The rubber tree process looks so interesting. You really did get to see quite a bit when you lived and worked there.

  23. I was a pupil at the Korobosea Primary A when the school opened in 1964 and finished Grade 6 in 1970.
    Maybe I was in one of your classes!

    Family colour photos of Port Moresby in the 1960s are rare so it was nice to see your shot of Korobosea
    school still under construction. We played under the buildings at recess and I was in one of those
    classrooms listening intently as the moon landing was relayed over the intercom. The photo of Rouna Falls
    brought back memories of the steep and winding dirt road up to Sogeri and Crystall Rapids, which was
    Dad's favourite family outing. It was the best of times.

  24. What wonderful adventures you had. A and T schools and muddy roads and rubber trees!