FIFTY years ago today, on the bar of the Chimbu Club, appeared a single sheet of paper under the rough-hewn masthead, Kundiawa News.
The newsletter had been typed on the back of a kiaps’ census form – and it was a joke perpetrated by me, at the time a 19-year old schoolteacher.
The main story, under the headline ‘Kundiawa Scandal Rocks New Guinea’, related how this small isolated township had become notorious worldwide because of some outrage which the item never made clear.
Over succeeding months, however, the Kundiawa News developed beyond a put-on to emerge as a fortnightly 16-page newsletter recording the events, tribulations and issues of the Chimbu (now Simbu) region of the PNG Highlands.
Under the stewardship of Murray Bladwell and me, it published 50 issues over a period of two years before we were both assigned to other places and other duties.
Now, half a century later, the Kundiawa News is a museum piece but it remains a detailed and often intimate record of the expatriate lifestyle during that period of Australia’s administration of what we called “the Territory”.
The originals of its 50 issues (its circulation peaked at more than 200 copies with a couple of specials printing about 500) are now with the National Library in Canberra, offering researchers a glimpse into the mindset and attitudes of Australian colonisers in the mid-20th Century.
Over the next two years, PNG Attitude will bring you regular insights from the old Kundiawa News and take an occasional look at Highlands’ life and times 50 years ago.