A popular social venue was Salamaua. On some weekends the airstrip saw dozens of light aircraft land. Rows of aircraft would wait for owners to complete the weekend social whirl.
Men wore white trousers and shoes, sleeveless cardigans and boater hats. Women wore long white dresses.
It was an exclusive club at Salamaua. The riff-raff were kept away by the simple fact they did not have an aircraft. It was socially unacceptable to arrive by row boat.
The richer Lae expatriates had their own weekend houses at Salamaua in which they would hold dinner parties and play tennis or shuttlecock.
But World War II brought Salamaua’s heyday to an abrupt end. There is little sign of the Shangri-la beach that saw mining in the 1920s and the social whirl of the 1930s.
American archeologists located the settlements of the early pilgrim fathers by identifying changes in soil caused by house posts. The town of Salamaua is still there under the sand and grass.
I have seen a photo of Salamaua. It’s no dream. It was there.
Writing this report makes me nostalgic. When I lived at Igam Barracks, the expatriate social whirl was so important. Now it is nothing. Just a memory.
“We had joy. We had fun. We had seasons in the sun. But the wine and the song, like the seasons are all gone” [Terry Jacks, 1974]