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Seeking patrol officers who were based at Nomad in PNG

Village in Western ProvincePETER DWYER | The University of Melbourne

SINCE 1986, my partner and colleague Monica Minnegal and I have been doing anthropological research with Kubo and Febi people who live in foothills and lower mountains north of Nomad in the Western Province.

The Febi live in the heartland of the LNG project’s Juha well-heads and our recent research, since 2011, is looking at the impact of the project on their lives.

We are currently writing a book that deals with this research and, to understand the history of contact in the area, we have been reading old Patrol Reports from Nomad. They are, as you might expect, fascinating.

This has given us lots of splendid detail up to Independence in 1975. We know that some expatriate kiaps stayed on in PNG after that time but have no information about the Nomad patrol post after Independence.

That is, we don’t know whether Nomad continued to be staffed by expatriates and whether patrol reports continued to be submitted to the PNG government after that time.

We would like to track down some of the Patrol Officers who were based at Nomad in the years before Independence and ask whether they could help with information.

RI Barclay and LA Meintjes were at Nomad in the early 1970s. Barclay wrote a wonderful report in which he poetically discussed the ‘hazards’ of patrolling – ants, wasps, leeches, slippery logs, etc. WR Patterson and WA Cawthorn were at Nomad in the late 1960s.

We have done a fair bit of internet searching but have not tracked down any recent information about these four men.

We wondered if your readers might have any information or contacts for them and others who were based at Nomad in those years.

If you have any information which may assist you can contact Dr Peter Dwyer at [email protected] or respond with a comment to PNG Attitude



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Mike Stanford

My name is Michael Stanford and I was in Nomad River in 1970 as part of a French seismic crew cutting long reconnaissance seismic lines into the jungle.

We had a Beechcraft Baron aircraft crash into the jungle on a flight from Balimo to Nomad River. Many of my friends were killed in the crash and I remember them fondly today.

I arrived in Nomad River in a Skyvan aircraft with a load of camping equipment. On arrival I checked in with the kiap who I believe, if I remember correctly, was Robin Barclay.

Robin arranged to get some labour to help offload the aircraft and when they arrived they were dressed in red laplaps and some had handcuffs attached to one arm only.

I asked Robin why some of the labourers were dressed in red laptops and handcuffs. He replied calmly, blowing in and out of the big moustache he had, that the ones with the red laplaps were in for murder and the ones with the handcuffs were in for murder but had eaten their victims.

That was my introduction to Nomad River I spent many months in the jungle camped with the natives.

I continued working within the oil industry for the remainder of my working life and always will remember Nomad River that gave me a lifetime of experience.

Clare Atkins

Bruce Knauft,Anthropology Dept at Emory University visited the Gebusi, a sweaty days walk from Nomad, in the early eighties and visited regularly since. Hope he is still around because he would be very helpful.
I was there in eighty one when he and Eileen Cantrell were living there. I was working for the National Cultural Council as an artefact buyer. Nomad was run by a helpful National and seemed to consist of a school, a jail and an airstrip that was visited about every two weeks weather permitting, it was not always permitting. I got stuck there for a week reading two copies of the national geographic and talking to the school kids.

Sandra Barclay

My name is Sandra and I was married to Robin Barclay and lived with him at Nomad River from 1969 - 1973. I was the first white woman to travel on a 40 day patrol throughout the whole Biami area in late 1969. Most of the Biami men and all the women had not seen a white woman before and were amazed at my long blonde hair. They did not know whether I had come out of the ground or out of the sky as I was so white. If you would like to know more and Rob Barclay's whereabouts please contact me on my email address:

Col Young

I was stationed at Nomad (mostly at Obeimi Base Camp) in 1967-69 with Jannis Daras-Wells initially and later with Rob Barclay.

From your comments, I think Rob referred you to the article in the September 2012 issue of Quadrant magazine, on our joint patrol to the Adumari area.

Jannis is now deceased but Alan Johnson (prior to myself) is contactable. It was an interesting area. I have copies of a number of Nomad reports you may access.

Phil Fitzpatrick

I was at Nomad 1970-71 and patrolled north. My time there is covered in my book 'Bamahuta: Leaving Papua' (Pandanus).

Craig McConaghy, Geoff Smith and Robin Barclay were there at the same time. Craig will know what happened after 1975.

To get the addresses of other ex-Nomadians go to the ex-kiap website. There's a gatekeeper password to get to the address list but it's easy to guess.

Link is:

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