New Farm Park, Brisbane

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A TROPICAL ISLE WITH A DARK SIDE

Continuing my last post where I was remembering my trip around New Guinea with my friend, Joan,  in 1967. We flew from Pt Moresby to Mt Hagen in the mountains then over to the north coast to Wewak for a few days. Then we flew to Lorngau on Manus Is. A beautiful Tropical Island not far from the equator. See map on previous post.
 We were met by Wes, Joan's brother, who worked on the island as a teacher. Later he married a local girl from an important family on the island. He was accepted well into the family and he was well respected in the community. He left teaching to help the people of the island set up a cooperative to sell coconuts and other produce. He made PNG his home. He also developed a tourist business and motel in Lorengau. In 1975 when PNG gained independence his wife became a member of parliament so Wes and his wife and three children moved to Pt Moresby. During this time they became aware of corruption among some members of parliament. Wes and his wife wanted to expose the corruption. Sadly Wes was murdered before this happened. Needless to say Joan and his family were devastated.
We were taken around the island, it was beautiful.

We stayed in Wes's little house called a one man donga. He bunked in with a friend while we were there. This was the view from his house. I remember his door wouldn't close properly but he said not to worry there is no crime on the island everyone is safe. That was in 1967 how things have changed now. 
Last year, the PNG government agreed to have an Australian detention centre on Manus Is. to house illegal immigrants who have tried to enter Australia on people smuggling boats from Indonesia. Recently there was a riot at the centre and one person was killed by the guards.

Joan outside the Post Office, a left over building from WW2. There was a big Naval Base on the island .

The Manus people had quite big ocean going canoes or lakatois. It was an idyllic scene way back in those days. Soon it was time for us to board a plane again for Kavieng on New Ireland Island, where my brother lived.

18 comments:

  1. A couple of minutes of research and I can say it is pity someone never became Governor General.

    Were constructions like the post office building called Nissan Huts back then?

    You have probably known the people you know for a long time, but it would be interesting during a conversation with new people to say when the subject of refugees comes up (and I make sure the subject doesn't come up in my life), you would say, ah Manus Island. I've been there. I bet you never imagined what an infamous place it would become so many decades later.........ouch.....well not too many decades.

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  2. Such a beautiful place - THEN.
    Shocking what is going on up there now.
    I think that Post Office building was called a "Q Hut" - leftovers from the Americans based in various places in PNG in WW2. Dregerhaffen had a few of these strange buildings and it was a major Allied hospital base, became a large boarding school for the NEW Guinea side in the 1950s.
    Bob Hope's initials were carved into one of the tables in the "GI's" entertainment building/ basketball court when he came to visit the ALLIED injured and gave a show.

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  3. Looks a tranquil place back then. I really wonder how bad or good it is these days!

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  4. sadly, even more remote places get infiltrated with crime and corruption. as is the case everywhere humans exist.

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  5. How sad, even this remote and beautiful place saw such awful crime.. It looks like a beautiful paradise.. Lovely photos.

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  6. I like that last photo a lot.. and we had many of those Q huts in Savannah back then.. in 1967 i had two baby boys in diapers.

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  7. its too bad it couldn't stay crime free. beautiful scenery.

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  8. Corruption in Parliament????? How can that be????? ha ha ha---Here in the USA, a qualification for being in a national office in Washington DC is to be corrupt and to be a liar... GADS-- we are in a mess!

    Looks like a beautiful place --and you got some great photos even in 1967. Do you have a desire to ever go back?

    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  9. Such a pretty place and yes it is sad that crime finds it way into pretty places but such is life

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  10. I was sorry to read about the murder of your friend's brother. Such a crime seems even more evil when committed in a beautiful setting like this.

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  11. That is quite a story you had. Sorry to read things has become so bad there. It seems the world turnes around only for money nowadays.

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  12. Oh it is so sad that the beauty of this paradise has a dark side I suppose it is like that with many things in life. You have such interesting stories I love reading about them. Great photos of a time gone by. Hug B

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  13. Enjoyed reading this and last post Diane.. you had some adventures for sure. I wonder if there are many places where you can leave your door open and not worry about it these days. Ditto what Andrew said about Manus Island, you just never know what's going to happen in the future.. even more so these days it would seem!

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  14. It looks gorgeous, sad about Wes. He must have been a very brave man. I had a great uncle who was murdered. The person who did it was never found.

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  15. I'm glad you got to exoerience it when it was peaceful and idyllic, which your photos certainly make it seem.

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  16. Murdered ? how terrible ! Your pictures look great, what a nice journey you did !

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  17. It is awful that your friend's husband was murdered for uncovering the truth but thank you for the photos and the story of the island.

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  18. Your stories make me disappointed that I did not see more of the country when I lived in png. As always I am enjoying them a lot.

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