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Salamaua township was no dream: it did exist


Salamaua In the 1930s, there was a thriving social life among expatriates, mainly plantation owners, who travelled the territory in light aircraft.

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]


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Brian Barber | Whyalla, South Australia

I have photos of:

1 - bdp (?) boats (small ships) Neptue - Hong Kong Macdline (?) [handwriting hard to read] - Sydney taken Salamaua, 1938-40

2 - MV Surveyor (35-40 ft launch) - what looks like a military funeral, perhaps burial at sea

Judy James

Have just read comment from Mary Etta Parkinson re William Preston Hunter ( Uncle Billie), I live in Australia and my mother in law (Nancy Emma James) was the niece of Billies wife Hazel Eileen Grigg, if she would like to contact me my email is jolly.james@bigpond.com I would love to find out more about Billie.

Bernard Corden

This prompted me to search for Phillip Bradbury's book entitled "To Salamaua "
It contains some fabulous maps of the area and I have climbed the track on the headland past the isthmus and observed many of the graves and Japanese war relics.
I have also swam out to the headland from Haus Guria on the ocean side. It brings back many fond memories.

Mary Etta Parkinson

After 87 years wondering what happened to Uncle Billie we have found he was in Bulolo. We found this in James Sinclair's "Golden Gateway".

“A bowls club was formed in 1956, with Bill Hunter as first president. Hunter remained in office until April 1961, when he collapsed and died of a heart attack while playing bowls.

"William Preston Hunter first came to Morobe District in 1929, and worked for both NGG [New Guinea Gold] and BGD [Bulolo Gold Dredging] before joining the AIF on the oubreak of war—he was also a veteran of the Great War.

“Bill Hunter returned to Bulolo after the war, and was one of the initial supporters of the Golf Club. although bowling was his favourite sport. Golf was still widely played. . . .”

I'm wondering if anyone else has some documentation or reference of William Preston Hunter or his wife Hazel Eileen Grigg Hunter. Thank you for all your posts.

Percy Pang

Nice to read some 'stori' about the glory days. I am inquiring about a man or more accurately a legend. He was a European/Australian I believe, who would always fish on a small reef near the LGFC not far from the mouth of the Markham.

Always catching fish by rod and spear and handline and arrow. He was referred to from Asim to Labu as "The Great White Hunter".

One day he caught a small marlin by rod and reel at his favorite spot. The last I heard he drank so much rum to celebrate this rare catch that he went spearfishing in the dark off Voco Point to, as legend has it "give some parrot fish a hiding", and never made it back to shore.

An old friend said he faked his own death and even claims to have seen him in Cairns airport years later, drinking of course a stiff rum and cola. Have you heard of about Anthony?

Murray McCrea

Well hello Jack Bradford, you posted this in September of 2010.

I recall wandering amongst wrecks of planes, ships and wartime relics and would love to hear from anyone who can share some stories and put together a past that has been somewhat lost without record.

My name is Murray McCrea and I was one of those who ventured the wrecks with you, your older brother Ralph and your sister Sally.

I have great memories of fishing for blue fin tuna, swimming, motor bike riding, collecting amo, diving on the Beacon Reef, and exploring Salamaua with you guys. An excellent time in my life.

Martin Kaalund

I thought that Wally Hooke,PNGVR,trader then coastwatcher was buried at Yapunda, Sikau Rive Nuku.

He was murdered at Yakamul. Was his body carried to Yapunda after death (possibly this was his base camp)?

Or am I confusing Wally Hooke with Charlie Gough, who is buried at Yapunda? I remember a grave. Possibly Father Fabian OFM told me it was Wally Hooke?

Jean Madden

My father Daniel Madden was a surveyor with the Administration from 1928-39. During this time he was in Wau, Rabaul & Kavieng. I was born in Wau (1937).

He made many trips into rugged areas. My uncle, Anthony (Tony) Corlass was employed by Carpenters & became a coastwatcher during the war. My father surveyed the road from Kavieng to Namatanai.

My uncle Tony Corlass and others lead a line of native bearers through the jungle to relieve the seige at Wau.
I don't know which year that was.

Wallace J Younger

I would like to add one further comment to my short article on Sister Majorie M McDonald.

When she joined the Army she went to Melbourne for special training and her group was sent by train to Sydney to board the Centaur for PNG.

Fortunately for her, their train was held up due to the flooding of the railway, and the Centaur sailed from Sydney without them.

Sadly the white painted Centaur bearing a large red cross under full lights was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine off Caloundra just north of Brisbane.

Wallace J Younger

Hi there. I have enjoyed reading the posts above relating to Salamaua.

At the start of WW2 my aunt, who at the time was a theatre sister at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, Sister Marjorie M McDonald QFX35251, served with the 22nd CCS (Casualty Clearing Station) in Lae, Madang and Sala maua, as well as in the Atherton Tableland of north Queensland.

She is pictured in 'Khaki and Green' on page 139 with a group of her comrades having a leave break, horse riding somewhere in PNG. She is second from the right in that picture.

She later served at the Greenslopes Military Hospital, Brisbane.

Fay Jones

Trying to trace Colin Wilkinson, husband of Joan, divorced.

I have her ashes and she wished to be with Colin. She passed away at 92 years in Sydney, Australia, never remarried.

Joan was forever devoted to Colin. Can you help?

Kathlyn Williams

Very nice to see your item, John Moran Johnson. I also was born in Salamaua hospital (on 2 November 1936). My family had said I was the first European born there but obviously it was not so.

My father Laurence L Williams worked for Burns Philp and was transferred there in 1935. Mother joined him as soon as a house could be obtained and they were married 6 July 1935.

We stayed in Salamaua until chased out by the Japanese. Mother, Katie Idriess sister to Ion L Idriess the author of "Gold Dust and Ashes", and I were able to go by sea but Father flew out somehow and arrived in Australia after us.

I would have liked the opportunity of a return visit and I'm sad to hear that the land is being washed away.

John Moran (Moss) Johnson

My name is John Moran Johnson. I was born at the Salamaua hospital on the 6 December 1934. My father was Thomas Stanley (Stan) Johnson. My mother was Violet Elizabeth (Vi).

My father was an engineer at gold mine at that time. We moved to Alexhaven in 1937 where my Dad was a mission pilot with the Catholic mission there until the war forced the family to return to Australia.

Welcome to PNG Atttiude, John - KJ

David Miner

The waters immediately around Salamaua are very shallow with lots of coral clear water there, but mostly the Huon Gulf is muddy from the outflow of the Markham River.

As Lae has deep water near the wharf it is more suitable for a port than Salamaua ever was.

Before the kunai was cleared there was nothing to indicate that Lae would have been anything except jungle, although there was flat ground suitable to hack out an airstrip. That was how it became established. Post independence the Lae
drome was closed and re-established at Nadzab.

In my days in Lae [1970-1973], I used to leave my office in Mataram Street and motor to the drome five minutes before my scheduled flight, and be last on the DC3 or Piaggio or Twin Otter going to the Highlands or Madang. It was like you would catch a bus down south.

I was secretary of Lae Yacht Club and owned my own power boat for fishing. We fished Larbu Lagoon (still lined with abandoned US landing craft rusting away), Salamaua and the outlets of Busu River, Bupu, Bubom, Bulu, Buap, Buhem and the reefs off Cape Arkona.

A group of us took extended voyages on our boats to Lasanga and the Fly Islands on the way to Morobe.

I have the deepest respect for the pioneers of the district (and all of New Guinea and Papua) but the poor diggers who fought there deserve out highest gratitude.

A terrible place to get sick or wounded, and so many were very young as the war cemetery headstones testify.

Ross Wilkinson

Hi Margaret - Your father's name was raised in relation to a book being written by Philip Selth. He was making enquiries regarding a number of former PNG people who were associated with JJ Murphy, the subject of the book.

Norm Richardson made enquiries on your behalf so I guess much of the information is there. However, there may be readers of this site that are not subscribers to the ex-kiap site so good luck.

Margaret Wood

My father (Charles Cecil Wood) lived in Salamaua in the 1930's and left when the Japanese attacked. I believe he was a public servant.

Since he died in 1957 I have very little information about his life in Salamaua or how he got out of Salamaua and made it safely to Port Moresby.

The debate about life in Salamaua is interesting but leaves many questions unanswered. I will certainly follow up some of the references in the posts on this site. Any more information would be appreciated.

Jack Bradford

Hi Keith - I was very interested in the comments about the "old Salamaua". I can well imagine the description of those early times.

I am the son of Keith Bradford, and from the early 1960s he and wife Alma made Salamaua a weekend haven from Lae along with other well known families in the Lae district.

It was an exclusive getaway and a paradise enjoyed by a few (along with the locals) every weekend. In that time arrival was by boat.

I recall wandering amongst wrecks of planes, ships and wartime relics and would love to hear from anyone who can share some stories and put together a past that has been somewhat lost without record.

I was fascinated to read the past of Salamaua prior to mine, which has now relegated myself to that of a "newcomer" so to speak.

Bruce Copeland

Phillip Tarlington: You wrote of the grave of Colin Tarlington at Salamaua that you believe was destroyed in the war. That may be so.

But there are three head stones on the grassy fringe above the beach on the isthmus about 300 metres up from Salamaua on the Samoa Harbour side.

The grave you seek may be there.

Phillip Tarlinton

My dad, Cliff Tarlinton, was a bank officer with the Bank of NSW in Salamaua in the mid 1930's. Cliff returned to Australia in late 1938.

He certainly enjoyed his time in Salamaua and had many photos of the gold rush period that occured in Wau-Bulolo.

My Mum Joan (Daphne Urith) Tarlinton was also in this area from the early 1930's. Joan had come to Wau in 1931 and married Colin Ferguson, from Sydney, at the District Office in Wau in January 1931.

Colin was a pilot and was employed by WR Carpenter. He flew Wau-Lae on many occasions. On a return trip to Wau in September 1935, he flew his plane into Black Cat Ridge and was killed.

He was buried at Salamaua and WR Carpenter had a headstone placed on his grave. I believe this cemetery was destroyed during WW2.

Joan personally knew the Leahy brothers and their exploits. Photos of Wau airfield indicate that there must have been quite a few planes in this area during the early 1930's.

During 1934 Colin and Joan returned to Adelaide by ship and picked up a Dragon 84 and returned via Melbourne, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairns and Port Moresby to Wau. Joan was believed to be the first lady to fly this route.

She remembers the period in Wau as a very hectic social time and spoke of the hospitality of the local people.

I would appreciate any information with regard to this period as I am trying to trace the story of Colin Ferguson.
Phillip Tarlinton - 22nd April 2010

Bruce Copeland

Today's 'The National' newspaper of PNG reports the sinking of the Salamaua isthmus, the result of global warming.

The isthmus is now very narrow and will soon be covered by the sea. The site of the old Salamaua town is slowly disappearing.

The report advised that Salamaua had the first Bank of New South Wales outside Port Moresby, and the first Chinatown.

Bruce Copeland


I am pleased to read of the acquittal of Julian Moti who has suffered at the hands of the Australian Federal Police.

The judge found there was abuse of process by the AFP. The family of the plaintiff was actually receiving money from the AFP.

Now we have a teacher accused of paedophile activity and abuse of trust as a teacher in PNG. He is now out of reach in North Queensland. What nonsense is this?

Bruce Copeland

It is very sad to contemplate the sinking of the Montevideo Maru in a war situation. The sinking of this ship is distressing in the desperate loss of human cargo locked below decks. It must have been hell broken loose when the torpedo hit.

I have been aware of the another ship that was strafed by allied fighters off the north coast of New Guinea in which a large number of clergy were killed.

This one was kept quiet perhaps because of embarrassment at attack at the hands of allied pilots. And the missionaries had kept quiet over the years.

Both attacks had one factor in common. With the destruction of the Japanese navy at Midway and the Coral Sea, the Japanese realized that the naval sea lane to Osaka was under constant American surveillance and threat.

Already the Montevideo Maru had been torpedoed in July 1942. Japanese may have decided to use civilian ships and sneak up to Japan through the Philippines disguised as merchant shipping.

Allied pilots would have been directed to look out for merchant ships traveling under a hidden Japanese flag. Foreign merchant ships in the Pacific area would warrant a second look and not be given the benefit of the doubt.

Perhaps clergy on board the other ship were meant to be hostages to ensure safe passage. But it did not work. Allied fighters had located and strafed the ship killing clergy lying in lines on the deck, many in their white cassocks. There are no reports known of the fate of the ship after that.

Those who study the war in New Guinea have to realize that the Japanese did not stop at Vanimo. We know that there were the Japanese hospital caves on Biak Island, destroyed at the end of the war with patients still in their beds. Type 'Biak caves Japan' into Google.

Perhaps clergy were being taken to Biak and the hospitals that were becoming desperately short of resources. They could have been killed in Wewak. But they were not.

What was the background to the Montevideo Maru? Was it a Japanese ship? Montevideo is in Argentina. Was it registered in a foreign country to evade attack? Was it a foreign ship seized by the Japanese at the outset of war?

The submission 'Time for Recognition' contains much information on the Montevideo Maru which pre-war had been used to carry Japanese migrants to South America and was a Japanese built and registered vessel. Also, as the eagle-eyed Colin 'Huggiebear' Huggins has pointed out, Montevideo is the capital of Uruguay. "I just checked Google to make sure it was still in Uruguay's control and the Argentinians hadn't overrun the place!" commented the good Huggins - KJ

Don Hook

Bruce Copeland mentions a "kiap and coastwatcher" named George Hooke who was killed by the Japanese near Aitape in WW2. I think he's probably referring to Wally Hook, a recruiter and NGVR member, who was killed at Aitape. By coincidence, my father's name was Wally Hook. He was a member of 1st Independent Company and one of the lucky ones to escape from Rabaul. As far as I know, the Aitape Wally Hook is not related.

Bruce Copeland


I have an uncle Norm Poole who used to work for Thiess Brothers. After the war, he was involved in clearance of war material in the islands from

As a small boy with an insatiable desire to hear stories, I would listen to him talking of working on Biak Island off the north coast of West Papua. There they found two large hospital caves.

The entrances were closed by concrete by the Americans. The caves were opened by Thiess Bros workers to find complete hospitals underground. On beds were skeletons of soldiers and skeletons of medical personnel in white coats lying on the ground.

When the Americans arrived, the Japanese stayed under ground so barrels of gasoline were rolled down into the caves and set alight. Fireballs would kill whoever was below.

Then the caves were sealed.

Bruce Copeland


(1) the deaths of the many clergy captured by the Japanese and put on a ship at Wewak. The
ship was buzzed by allied aircraft and the
clergy were brought up and made to lie down on the deck. The aircraft turned and strafed the
deck killing many priests,brothers and nuns.

(2) the execution of kiap and coast watcher
George Hooke by the Japanese at Aitape. He
would come in to see his son and wife but
was betrayed to the Japanese and executed on
the beach. I knew his son who was in a bilum
carried by his mother as she stood by her
husband as he knelt on the sand.

(3) Father Ray Quirk of the Franciscans told
how he used to take groups of boys and girls
to Jayapura to get supplies in the 1950s. On
one trip a number of Japanese came out of the
jungle and surrendered to them. He took them
to the Dutch authorities in Jayapura.

Bruce Copeland

Malum Nalu, who has pages on Google on the subject of Salamaua, advises that it was the main port and airstrip for the goldfields of Wau and Bulolo during the gold rush days of the 1920s and 1930s.

It was headquarters for the all-powerful New Guinea Goldfields Ltd, had its own shops liked the famed Burns Philp, New South Wales and Commonwealth banks, named streets, hospital, bakery, theatre, bars where characters like the legendary Errol Flynn once strutted his stuff before becoming a Hollywood legend, and was a famed port of call for swashbuckling gold miners from all over the world.

It was here that expeditions into the undiscovered hinterland – including the famous exploration into the Highlands of New Guinea by the Leahy brothers and Jim Taylor – were launched. Rivalry between Salamaua and Lae for the capital of New Guinea following the demise of Rabaul in the 1937 volcanic eruption was legendary.



John is correct. With the advent of the aeroplane as the principal means of access to Wau and Bulolo, Lae became the principal administrative centre and cargo port for the area quite early on, particularly the years you mention. In fact, when Rabaul fell to the Japanese, the administrative headquarters and the office of the Administrator for the Territory of New Guinea was shifted to Lae.

These details are all recognised in a number of historical texts such as Gold Dust and Ashes by Ion Iddriss and John Cooke's Working in Papua and New Guinea 1931 - 1946.

In fact the administrative centre was initially Morobe Patrol Post where Levien originally administered the area from.

In terms of the social outings you describe, I have never read or heard of them. Like others I agree one or two may have occurred but they were certainly not the regular soirees that your original post implies. It was just not possible for the reasons the others outline.

I spent nearly 14 years in PNG with the first 6 in the Morobe Province and have studied much of the history of the early development and the war time history to back our other correspondents here.

Bruce Copeland


There is much to interest the trekker on the Black Cat Track. At the Salamaua end, there is the tour of the old town and the battlefields of the war. The villages of the coastline around Salamaua are clean and lying next to clean sand and blue waters.

Lokanu Harbour would make a great anchorage for the night. It is deep with shelves of coral reefs close to shore, great for snorkelling. Ridges of the world war 2 battles are only the distance of 1 hour walk.

On the other end, the Kaiseniks and Biangais can
show tourists the Edie Creek gold fields, the Bulolo gold mining, the Kaisenik massacre site and the battles between the Australians and Japanese for the Wau airstrip.

It is an area steeped in colonial history. But there must be a Black Cat Track Authority to oversee the whole track from Salamaua to Wau.

Bruce Copeland

I wish John Fowke would be a little more specific. The facts stand. Salamaua was the main town on the coast next to Port Moresby and

Fowke focuses on 1930. I am talking about Salamaua from 1930 to 1941. It was the social centre. How did people arrive? They could not come by speed boat. There was a splendid airstrip.

Please ask him to be more specific. He may not know just because he quotes a book or two.

Colin Huggins

Well I guess all the fuss about the 1969 "Lawn Tennis Championships" at Pindiu is just a fading memory.
Salamaua - which these days no longer exists - is the topic.

Hyannis Port, Monte Carlo - good God, those two places, wouldn't have stood a chance against Salamaua. Jay Gatsby and his friends would have had a great time in the 30's at Salamaua. How does that song go? "The rich get rich and the poor get poorer, in the meantime, in between time, lets all have fun".

Robin Mead: I just hope that on your visit to play volleyball, that you were in "white attire"? Very naughty if you weren't!

John Fowke: Had to have a laugh at your comment of the planes flying into Salamaua for social soirees in the 1930's - the wealth of the planters is amazing for those long ago days.

I have seen photos of Salamaua of 1937 vintage and there was a remarkable airstrip, so I suppose in 1930, when these "social whirls" were going on it was achievable, but really so difficult to believe.

Salamaua did have a remarkable history and that we should all respect, pity the PNG Government couldn't promote the place and re-build - it would be for many tourists a real "Mecca".

Bruce Copeland: "Melbourne Cup Day." Social whirl for the ABC race broadcast in the 1930's. What was the radio reception like in those days? It was atrocious in the period I was in the Morobe District from 1964-69!

Still you have, Bruce, enlivened some stories.

Robin Mead

Further to the discussion about Salamaua, the attached link and photos from the Australian War Memorial may be of interest, as they give a sense of a very critical period in history:


NB Regarding the picture depicting Newton's attack on his final flight, the caption for some reason mistakenly refers to him as "W.Nelson".

Robin Mead

I only made one trip to Salamaua, as part of a madcap social whirl (I jest) and, yes, we did play badminton (actually it was volleyball)!

I remember walking along the isthmus and trying to picture what it would have been like when it was the administrative capital. Yes, a pretty place, and yes, hard fought-over, the site of many wartime attacks and casualties, battered to bits except for the concrete Bank of NSW vault.

Bill Newton VC was shot down there, captured and later beheaded by Japanese forces.

The outline of the old airstrip was readily discernible from the air, heavily overgrown and apparently prone to waterlogging – I think being in proximity to the Frisco river. So much history… and yet with respect to everyone involved, I don't really see it as being the Hyannis Port of pre-war NG.

Aircraft were scarce and expensive even then, and there was a significantly smaller number of expatriate people who would have been rather more isolated, and, not being necessarily all that well-off, made different financial decisions; aspirations would have been different.

I think that such aerial socialising as has existed down the years – such as sometimes getting a group together to fly to a function – has been much more a part of the later postwar environment where the means and feasibility, as well as the will, would have been more apparent from time to time.

Nevertheless, Salamaua undoubtedly has a rich and interesting history, as this debate demonstrates.. we can all learn.

John Fowke

Sorry, Bruce Copeland, but in this instance you are talking complete and unadulterated crap.

Read any report of Salamaua pre-WW2 - books such as Des Martin mentions, reminiscences of Kiaps of the thirties such as JK McCarthy, and Jim Sinclair's recent book on Morobe Province and its history.

TNG was the remote colony of a recently-freed remote colony, itself still struggling to attract investment capital from the Motherland and elsewhere. There was very little to attract wealthy dilletantes to PNG in those times, as its history shows only too well.

There was no White Highlands, no Happy Valley, no Jay Gatsby lookalikes - with the possible exception of Errol Flynn, but he was both poor and scruffy, and very stingy, during his TNG/Papua period.

And, definitely, privately-owned, small aeroplanes were very few and far between in TNG in this era. To say that they were used by planters to avoid using bad roads is simply an admission of a complete ignorance of the conditions of life of the period spoken of...

Have a cup of tea and a good lie down before writing again, Bruce Copeland; and, whoever and whatever you are, do keep to subjects you know something of.

Colin Huggins

I refer to an article written by Patrick Smith in today's 'Australian' entitled 'Kokoda as a training drill is obscene' [page 36]. Mr Smith, having won many awards for his reporting, is no lightweight.

I am hoping that the report on the Hawthorne AFL club and its strange motivation antics is placed on this blog for all to see.

As for Salamaua and what it was like in the Jay Gatsby days of the 1930's, well the participants would have to be at least in their 90's and I doubt they are still around.

Nevertheless if you can find photos of planes lined up at Salamaua in the early 1930's, we will all get a surprise.

What a wonderful tourist attraction Salamaua could become - idyllic beaches, great reef diving, with the WW2 wrecks, golf courses and resort hotels.

Then, maybe, the Jay Gatsbys in beautiful attire may return as tourists. One can only hope! So many paradises for tourism in PNG have all gone up in smoke!

Oh - thanks to Bruce Copeland for clarifying the Kaisenik and Kiapit mix up.

Bruce Copeland

Thanks to Mr Huggins for your response on the social scene at Salamaua in the 1930s. I stated there were dozens of small aircraft on certain weekends that arrived at Salamaua for social events: perhaps Christmas celebrations, New Years Eve and Melbourne Cup Day.

Mr Huggins points out that circa 1930 there were only a few aircraft in the territory and these were the more heavy types. We may recall Junkers flown by pilots like Pard Mustar carrying machinery to the goldfields.

In the 1930s, the aviation industry produced light aircraft like the Stinson. Plantation owners bought such aircraft rather than risk the roads.

The social set that came to Salamaua flew in. Whether or not there were dozens of aircraft on the strip may require eyewitnesses or photographs.

Salamaua was definitely the social centre for well to do expatriates in mid 30s to early 40s before the war. In the 20s, it was a frontier town supporting the Edie Creek goldfields.

In the 1930s, miners bypassed Salamaua and flew into Wau as mining was taken up by the commercial interests. Salamaua entered a new era of the social well-to-do.

It had the best beaches along the coast unspoiled by the mud of the Markham River. Blue waters lapped the shore and there were fields of coral.

Colin Huggins

Kaisenik is not Kiapit - both different routes from the coast to the Wau area. Thank God for that!

In the 1930's Salamaua was an unhealthy place due to malaria - so I doubt if planters planes were lined up a la Scott Fitzgerald stories of the idle rich on any airstrip at that place!

Where did all these private planes come from? How in heavens did they keep the Moet cold? A good Jay Gatsby story but really unbelievable. I think Des Martin wins on that one.

“Men wore white trousers and shoes, sleeveless cardigans and boater hats. Women wore long white dresses." Salamaua must have been a tropical heaven.

Still it is interesting reading even if rather fanciful.

Des Martin

I don't want to denigrate Brude Copeland's essays on Salamaua but reckon a couple of comments are warranted.

Firstly the story of the gold rush was well documented by Ion Idriess in his book 'Gold Dust and Ashes' published in the 1930's. The story of the early gold seekers, like Sharkeye Park and others, doesn't need retelling.

Two such, Bill Royal and Bill Money who both went through their hard won fortunes, were known to me when I was a Kiap in PNG post WW2.

I also doubt that dozens of light aircraft were to be seen parked in rows for a weekend social whirl circa 1930.

There were a limited number of aircraft in PNG in those far off days. A few commercial biplanes and later the Junkers carrying supplies to the company that took over the gold fields, BGD [Bulolo Gold Dredging].

CJ Levien was not just an Administrator. He was the Kiap there who later left the government service and was instrumental in establishing BGD.

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