We continue our occasional series on websites developed by Australians who worked in Papua New Guinea in colonial days. Peter Salmon’s Ex-Kiap project was the first of these, launching in February 2003. It has 185 registered users, mostly ex-kiaps, who have posted a total of 2,385 articles on the site. It has developed as a true mine of information about colonial PNG and events thereafter.
Peter [left] is fortunate to have a number of correspondents who post frequently and often controversially, and who offer informative and provocative reading. Arthur Williams from Cardiff in Wales has posted 394 times. And Paul Oates [right], from Boonah in Queensland, with 402 posts, is a most prolific and entertaining correspondent, as well as being a damn good writer. Try this for size:
"Quickly my young friends called me down to where they stood in about two feet of water on the sandy top of the reef. At first, all I saw was a brown thread, corkscrewing through the water. Then the water was alive with them. As the tide came in and the water came up to my waist, hundreds and then thousands of worms arrived until they clouded the water. Some worms were as long as a foot and some only three to four inches. The worms were about one sixteenth of an inch in width and came in two colours. Some were rusty brown and some azure blue. I could feel the worms sliding around my body and as it was not a pleasant feeling, I joined a young team in a nearby canoe."
The commanding heights of discussion on the Ex-Kiap Network are in a section entitled, in that perfunctory kiap-style way, ‘General’. This is defined as “critiques, commentary, discussion, dissertations, dummy spits, essays, memories, opinions, personal reflections (don't worry about the selective memory syndrome kicking in), public affairs, reflections, sprays, theses, thoughts”. Anything but ‘General’, you’d think. There’s also an ‘Editor’s Corner’ for Peter’s occasional effusions, a useful ‘Books & Publications’ section, obituaries in ‘The Last Patrol’ and plenty of news (mainly about reunions) and photographs (many of them rare and well worth a look).
The tone of the site is conservative, most of the more prolific writers blame many of PNG’s problems on Gough Whitlam and seem to imply Australia should still be in charge today. But this is a vastly entertaining and informative site and is a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in PNG – past and present.