Wednesday, December 19, 2007


My school was probably 100k from Kerema the District Headquarters where my boss the District Education Officer lived. During school holidays teachers were told to stay at their schools and not visit Kerema.

A friend, Albert, had a school close to the government station at Ihu and we were both a bit upset that we couldn’t hit the big smoke for a few days. I guess the DI thought we would get drunk and embarrass him. Being so isolated we thought that his ruling was a standard throughout the Territory, but unknown to us it was just his idea. Bastard! Not that Kerema was a metropolis; it had a primary school, a high school, a bush material District Office and a club about the size of the average room. It was however, certainly better than spending two weeks in a one-roomed SOQ listening to Peggy Lee’s ‘Lost Loves’ on a battery powered turntable.

There were about 40 Europeans on the station and a few of them had gone troppo. The first time I visited Kerema I saw a young cadet Patrol Officer walking down the dirt road eating a large drumstick which turned out to be part of his dog. He was soon repatriated south.

I bought a really old motorcycle and one weekend decided to go to Kerema along the beach. Beach trips had to be planned around the tides. Even then there were creeks, rivers and headlands that were major obstacles to a young traveller. At rivers there was always a village with a Ferryman to take you across the river for a stick of tobacco. Trade tobacco looks like a piece of liquorice and the locals pare bits off with a knife and roll it into newspaper to make a cigarette. I imagine lung cancer is rife these days after decades of smoking that tarry stuff in newsprint.

Kerema didn’t actually jump with joy at my visit and after an evening of drinking at the ‘Club’ I bunked down at a teacher’s house and headed back to Arehava the next morning. The next time I visited Kerema was by coastal boat to catch the TAA Catalina to Moresby on leave.

Pics: Catalina in Kerema Bay. Barge taking passengers to the plane.

Writing this, I have rekindled my desire to return to Papua New Guinea for a visit, but I won’t be doing any young-fella stuff travelling by myself along beaches. The locals are a bit too violent these days.

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