Bamahuta: Leaving Papua by Philip Fitzpatrick
By Philip Fitzpatrick
It's on the subject of the time while Papua and New Guinea territories will achieve independence from Australian rule and and a tender police cadet, kiap, Philip Fitzpatrick reports a sector in transition. it truly is an environment he interprets to this compelling account of the interval he served as a patrol officer in Papua New Guinea.
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Extra info for Bamahuta: Leaving Papua
The bathing place was at a point where a small stream entered the Ok Bilak. The stream must have flowed underground or was spring fed because its water was unusually clear. Just above us was a large flat rock around which the vegetation had been cleared. This was the place where the villagers collected their drinking water. Below this lay a deep but narrow pool, ideal for bathing. The stream pushed itself a few metres into the Ok Bilak, which, although clear now, would become muddy if it rained upstream.
We made ourselves comfortable on the log and two old ladies appeared with a kettle of tea, mugs, a plate of sweet potato and, of all things, a chequered tablecloth. Bolivip is 2222 metres above sea level and about 2222 metres higher than Olsobip. The extra altitude was reflected in the superior quality and taste of the sweet potato. ‘This is good,’ I said to Kasari. ‘So is this,’ he replied holding up his mug of black tea. I took a sip of my own tea; it was strong and well sugared. ‘Tell the ladies their kau kau and tea are excellent,’ I said to our young interpreter.
I had also brought along a collection of maps, some printed and others hand-drawn. The printed maps were at a 1:250,000 scale and exhibited a lot of white patches bearing the caption ‘obscured by cloud’. There was also a warning that the maps had been drawn from aerial photographs and the reliability of topographical information was ‘poor to fair’. At that scale anything but major blunders would be insignificant anyway, I thought. I pondered this for some time, since the area most due for a patrol, the Murray Valley (no doubt named after the great Papuan Administrator, Hubert Murray) seemed to consist of more white than green.