Redcliffe Pier

Friday, September 12, 2014

PARADISE IN THE PAST

(Another post in the series 'My Story'.) 
By 1967 I had worked for three years in Papua/New Guinea. I was no longer on a bond and I could return to work in Australia. However, I was having so much fun up there. I had found lots of friends and a boyfriend so I returned to continue teaching in Pt Moresby.
During the first term school break my friend, Joan and I planned a trip around New Guinea. We were teaching colleagues and we are still friends today, 47 years later. We both had brothers working in New Guinea (we lived in Pt Moresby, Papua) so we decided to visit them. Joan's brother, Wes, lived in Lorengau, Manus Island and my brother, David, lived in Kavieng, New Ireland. 
We bought a plane ticket to take us from Pt Moresby to Mt Hagen, Wewak, Larengau, Kavieng and Rabaul. When we arrived at the airport there was much excitement as we were booked onto the inaugural flight of the Fokker Friendship into Mt Hagen. The airstrip there had been made longer so that bigger planes could land. (Not that a FF is a very big plane)
 When we arrived the valley was full of cloud and we had to circle for some time waiting for it to clear. At last we could see the ground and we descended into the valley surrounded by high mountains. All the towns people had come to the airport to see the "big" plane. The pilot banked the plane on its side and circled the airport skimming the mountain sides and then gave a wing waggle to the crowd before finally landing. I must admit I was a tad nervous with the aerobatic celebration.
 We didn't stay in My Hagen long before we were winging our way over the mountain tops to Wewak on the northern coast of New Guinea mainland. We could see the mighty Sepik River winding its way to the sea.

 We were met by friends of a friend who had offered to put us up for a few nights and show us around Wewak. The beaches were lovely with white sands and tropical seas.

 A magic place for a picnic in the shade.  It was a tropical paradise except you had to look out for crocodiles and snakes.

The local people fishing with a big net.

Joan and I (in front) walked along the river edge using a banana leaf for shade.














I was impressed with the height and thickness of the trees, which were all covered in vines. The jungle came right down to the river's edge.
I was wrong about this building earlier. It is a church not a mens house.

We were lucky enough to arrive in this nearby village when they were having a 'sing-sing' (traditional celebration). It wasn't for the tourists' benefit as there weren't any there except us with our friends who lived in the town of Wewak. The head dresses were amazing. They were  made from Bird of Paradise feathers. Their grass skirts were also thick and colourful.
(See more by clicking the label 'My Story' or going to the links on my side bar.)

23 comments:

  1. Great shots!
    The beach scene is good - but you forgot the other two hazards - sea snakes and stone fish! Both deadly to the nth degree. I was always so terrified of them at Finschhafen, especially around the reefs.
    Well documented.
    Cheers
    Colin

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  2. What a magical place! Have you ever been back, Diane? Oh, and was the boyfriend TOH? (I seem to remember you two met in PNG? ) Have a great weekend. Jo

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  3. Another wonderful adventure ! You are so lucky that you have taken photos, I have no photos of my travels at all at that time ! Photography was the last thing I thought of at that time !

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  4. Fascinating. It's so much better to visit places away from touristy places/times and have a feel for authentic happenings.

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  5. wow the pictures are amazing. The beauty, the white beaches and indeed the amazing head dresses. How special that both your brothers lived their as well and that you have been friends for such a long time. A fantastic adventure

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  6. Now there would be hundreds of photos taken and the best shown. But you did so well back then to take such good photos and such a good record. Historians will thank you. Love the banana leaf photo.

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  7. Andrew in those days we didn't take hundreds of photos because we had to pay to get them developed not like today where you can take hundreds and delete the rubbish. I just chose the ones that looked okay and then tried to improve them with post processing to get all the magenta colour out of them and all the fungus spots removed...takes ages.

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  8. Pleased to see you are persevering with cleaning up your photos and posting them as it is a real treat to read about your time there.

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  9. Wonderful Diane, good memories for you and a story of us to read. Love the banana leaf, very fashionable :)

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  10. Great you were able to see so much more there than the place where you stayed. Very exciting with all the planes hopping to the different islands.

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  11. That is a place I have never been to and would love to go but it is not likely to happen now as N's feet will not stand long travel any more. We could always travel 1st class but that is a bit beyond our pocket!

    Wonderful memories again Diane, I must get back to mine but time always seems to be short and I am still without my own computer!!

    Take care t'other Diane

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  12. Absolutely amazing and I love the pictures! How cool you got to see a REAL sing sing (not one that was staged). I so love reading about your life story!

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  13. that beach is beautiful.. so is the view of the mountains.. i only have one friend that i have known as long as you have yours, we have been friends for 55 years.. I like the name sing sing... tells it all

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  14. such neat experiences - even the scary plane landing. :)

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  15. Great memories Diane but snakes & crocodiles ...eek!
    So good you kept all your photos as it's a record of another time. I always smile at the different clothing and often recall similar outfits that I wore many years ago.

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  16. Hi Diane great photos of the Wewak area, bring back many great memeories of my time there 1967 to Aug 1970 my family lived at Moem Barracks , dad was RSM of 2PIR, we loved Wewak and the east sepik, the photo you describe as a "mens house" is in fact the original SAK SAK House Lotu (Church) at Moem Barracks I have a few photos of it myself and attended many a sunday mass there, it was replaced with a "New Church" July 1969, please keep posting your photo are great. regards Grahame

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  17. Wow! What an adventure. Your photos are beautiful. I'm sure I would also have been nervous on that first flight of the "big" plane into Mt. Hagen.

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  18. What wonderful photos, really you had such a great youth living the adventure

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  19. How wonderful to be there just when the sing-sing was on. Amazing costumes, I would really enjoy seeing this, The beach was also great except for keeping an eye out for snakes and crocs!lol

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  20. What a wonderful adventure! I loved all your photos but the one of you with your ingenious shade giver made me chuckle. Thanks for another great post and for also including the map.

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  21. Hello Diane, you have had some awesome adventures.. I love the shade shot and the scenery is gorgeous.. Wonderful post, thanks for sharing..

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  22. These islands look so tropical and life there so different from modern life. I would feel a little like Robinson Curuso if I visited them back then.

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