Sudden death of our son Jeffery Nathan
The poverty of PNG’s 6-question census

A gripping memoir of a nation’s birth


Timeline Papua New Guinea: 1949-1975 by Bill Brown MBE, a photographic memoir of the development and birth of a nation. Available free for viewing at YouTube here

Brown family 1966  Michael  Pamela  David & Bill
The Brown family in 1966:  Michael,  Pamela,  David & the Great Man himself

NOOSA – A couple of years ago, Bill Brown emailed me a link to a project he was working on and which was nearing completion.

Timeline Papua New Guinea: 1949-1975 is a slide-based memoir that traverses PNG’s critical years from the early post-war period to 1975, the year of its independence.

Bill’s career shadowed PNG’s journey - first as a junior field officer charged with the task of unifying and bringing democratic governance to the colony’s 860 tribes and finally as a respected district commissioner.

Bill had an important insider’s role in the rare narrative of the birth of a nation and also, as an inveterate photographer, the imagery of those years.

Timeline Papua New Guinea tells a story of 25 years of PNG under Australian administration and how life was then,” Bill told me

“I’m airing it because I think it adds to the history of Papua New Guinea.

“More recently, I thought it might help Papua New Guineans understand the colonial years.”

The slide show is a reflection of Bill himself – well organised, precise and factual.

While I have not yet trekked through the entirety of Bill’s monumental and historically important video, what I have seen so far is an authentic account of Pax Australiana - a time when young kiaps administered a relatively short period of monumental change with a maturity that mocks the efforts of today’s politicians to effectively administer anything much at all.

I’ve seen enough of Bill’s beautifully curated production to understand the unique perspective it offers to PNG’s late colonial period, including the insight into how quickly Australia was able to bring independence to the ‘land of one thousand tribes’.

The memoir also pays tribute and to the courage and flexibility of the people of PNG in adapting themselves to a new kind of governance that existed above the authority of the clan and tribe.

“It's a terrific piece of work,” said my son, Simon (born Taurama Base Hospital, 1966, and now of Microsoft, Auckland), who Bill and I called upon to provide the technical assistance required to render the original video from a somewhat unwieldy 741.3 MB to a sleek 234.5MB without any loss of fidelity.

Bill’s production is now safely stored and readily available on YouTube through this link.

“It’s now public and anyone with internet access can watch it,” Bill told me.

Simon Jackson
Simon Jackson

“I can't thank Simon enough for his guidance and for taking the time to upload the original to YouTube. His solution was truly remarkable.”

“The grainy black-and-white aerials that my brother took from a Norseman flying into Tapini are a tad grainier, but maybe that's okay.”

Bill also pays tribute to the images contributed by other photographers, recognised in the credits at the end of the production.

By the way, Pamela and Bill celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary just a few days ago, and on behalf of PNG Attitude and its readers, I offer them compliments and admiration at this truly magnificent milestone.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Bernard Corden

Many thanks for putting this collection together. The sections covering Bougainville at Kieta and the Sepik were fascinating.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)