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Papua New Guinea 1962 - 1982. The last frontier.
This book is the story of PNG’s journey from wild colonial exuberance to nurtured independence, entwined with a personal tale of the trials, tribulations and way of life in sometimes remote plantations set in Papua in the 1960s through to the 1980s.
Sorcery and the spirit world are a way of life, cannibalism and head hunting are still practised in a number of remote backwaters, and where not infrequent and sometimes dramatic events challenge the ability of one to master fear and stand firm.
It is also a time when several hundred diverse and isolated tribes including some of the world’s last unknown, speaking one quarter of all planet earth’s languages merging in the space of one lifespan to form one surprisingly homogeneous but troubled nation.
Becoming fluent in the two mainstream languages, the author delves into customs and culture, spiritual beliefs, witchcraft, and sets of personal values and strength of character which are prominent features of the people of Papua and New Guinea.
The book’s Epilogue deals with the destructive conflict within the troublesome marriage between the European concept of rule of law, and the ancient practice of Custom, and what it might hold for the future stability of the country.
Papua New Guinea’s story of transition from colonialism to Independence and beyond is paralleled with the author’s journey interwoven with an entanglement of adventure, romance, isolation, violence, loneliness and sometimes reckless behaviour. It’s a story told against a backdrop of towering mountain ranges, spectacular scenery, violent and precipitous weather and thick tropical jungle, a 20 year episode where time and circumstance have conspired to erase all opportunity for that experience to be replicated, either in PNG itself, or the rest of the world.
Indeed, the last frontier.
Hunting, climbing church steeples, swimming and camping in country NSW were his main pursuits as a child, and when he father dictated he should follow him in a banking career, Denis packed his bags and went to Papua New Guinea in 1962 looking for adventure.
20 years in PNG working in sometimes remote locations, Denis ventured to all corners of Papua, from the Fly River to its West, Mile Bay at the Eastern extent of the mainland, and many coastal and mountainous parts in between. He speaks Hiri Motu and Pisin fluently.
Married to an Australian girl whom he met on a blind date in Port Moresby, their two daughters were born and raised in Papua. The family returned to Australia in 1982 where Denis went on to manage a large agribusiness firm and now lives in Hervey Bay, Queensland.