It was 1964 and it was my first year of teaching. I was teaching at Korobosea School in Pt Moresby, Papua /New Guinea. It was quite exciting having my own class and classroom. I was nervous at the beginning but with support from my colleagues I started to get more confident. I was keen to do the right thing by the children and their parents and I worked hard at it. However, at the end of term it was time to have fun and explore this new country. Some friends and I booked up for a day trip by charter aircraft to the Trobriand Islands. They are a group of tropical islands off the north east coast of PNG in Milne Bay. See map.
Early in the morning we arrived at Jackson's Airport and climbed aboard a trusty DC3 aircraft. These airplanes were used a lot in those days in PNG. They were tough old workhorses. Pilots were also very good, they had to be to cope with the towering mountains, the sudden tropical thunderstorms and the hectic turbulence. I was pleased to see that we had proper aircraft seats this time not like the last time I went on a chartered plane ride, where the seats were webbed garden variety chairs along the walls of the fuselage.
The Trobriand Islands belong to PNG but in the sixties the people were still living like they had for thousands of years in grass huts in villages and feeding themselves from native crops and the sea. The Australian Government were establishing schools, medical clinics, law and order, cooperative plantations and generally helping the people to learn to live in the 20th century. (Whether this was a good idea or not is still debated) Church missionaries were also bringing western style religions. They also built schools and hospitals.
It was a fairly smooth flight over the mountains as most morning flights were. We landed and a truck picked us up and took us to visit some villages and beaches. It was extremely hot and humid as it is every day of the year when you are so near to the equator. We had our swim gear with us.
These islanders were known for their beautiful grass skirts and they were a sought after souvenir. The villagers were happy to sell them and other artefacts too. Carvings were also popular. I still have two grass skirts in a cupboard somewhere.
The colour was so bad in this 50 year old slide that I had to take it out altogether. These are the houses where the people lived.
some boys climbing the tallest coconut trees. They knocked the coconuts to the ground and another fellow cut the husk off the top with a huge machete .
Then holes were punctured into the nut so that we could drink the cool coconut milk. It is great when you are hot and thirsty.
After a picnic lunch we were back in the truck to visit another village.
Trobriand Is. village
Village food storage houses