The twelfth issue of the Kundiawa News appeared on 26 June 1964 and ran to 15 pages. The cover price was one shilling and, for the first time, subscription rates were advertised - at 10/6 a quarter including postage. Amongst the great amount of news, features and social and sports items, was the intelligence that His Excellency Herr Ritter, the German Ambassador to Australia, was expected in town. The newsletter’s voluntary staff had increased to seven including two outstation correspondents, Rick Hill at Gumine and Dick Broomhead, later to become a Qantas captain, at Chuave. And a hard-hitting columnist was appointed…..
JOURNEY INTO THE UNDERWORLD
Last Saturday week I accompanied a team of speleologists from Goroka and Kundiawa on a unique expedition deep inside the mountains to the north of the town. Under the leadership of Goroka club president Dave Cole 15 Goroka members spent three days exploring the caves – just a few of the thousands which riddle the limestone mountains throughout the highlands/
The Kundiawa party included Keith Buxton, Harry Lake, Steve Brady, Pauline O’Connor and Graham Breman. After what seemed an interminable walk, we finally reached the base camp in a large cave as the crow flies about three or four kilometres to the north of Kundiawa. The cave to be explored was one which the local people state extends two miles into the mountain and it was hoped that it would lead right through the mountain to an outlet on the other side.
To reach the cave entrance we crawled 100 yards up an 80° slope to be confronted by a gaping black hole. Just as we arrived, four black-faced dirty-clothed adventurers emerged from the bowels of the earth to inform us that the cave petered out after about a quarter of a mile. Not disheartened by this news, Dave Cole decoded to look for himself and, with another member of the Goroka team, invited Buxton, Breman and myself along.
After donning miner’s helmets we clung grimly to the safety rope and descended to the floor of the cave. The darkness was so intense that it seemed almost possible to cut through it. Slowly we made our way along the cave, beneath the looming hulk of giant stalactites and amidst the intricate sculptures of thousands of years of flowing water. Then the cave ended.
Retracing our steps for a few yards we found a narrow opening – just big enough to let a man through. Was this the opening that the earlier team had missed? “It continues on,” Cole shouted gleefully and, becoming amateur contortionists, we twisted our way through the narrow opening into the stalagtitic jungle on the other side. Beneath the light of our lamps, we gazed on this veritable wonderland of stone. Minute mineral fragments in the limestone glittered back at us as we made our uncertain way through this underground forest.
There is only one word to describe what we say – magnificent! Each chamber in the seemingly infinite chain of caves was different, whether glistening with mineral fragments embedded in the wall, characterised by huge columns of stone; delicately patterned, water chiselling, or massively pervading a religious air as a huge cathedral. Leader Cole stated he had never before seen such magnificent formations. If this cave was illuminated, what a tourist attraction.
A mile into the bowels of the mountain, the tunnel finally finished in a hole that a small boy could climb through. Frustration. It is a distinct possibility that this cave goes deeper still. And then we’re on our way back. The light at the cave entrance appears blue and then, dirty and dishevelled, we’re out of the cave’s musty air, clambering down the hillside and soon walking back to the roadhead. This is an experience you don’t forget.
SERIOUS PROBLEMS IN THE GUMINE
At the last meeting of the Town Advisory Council, Councillor Kuman Dai expressed deep concern over the lack of assistance afforded the Gumine area. He stated that the Gumine people do not think that two schools are sufficient for a population of over 40,000. The Chimbu Division as a whole has suffered for years from the lack of schools and the problem is particularly acute in the Gumine.
The south side of the Marigl needs work with explosives to secure a good road and an extra overseer is need for roadworks, particularly to blast stones. The Gumines urgently require an agricultural officer to help with the many farming problems. Coffee is not doing as well as expected because of seemingly unsuitable ground and lack of skilled advice. This problem will be alleviated to some extent with the visit of an agricultural officer to Gumine for one week each month.
(This critical column will become a regular feature of the Kundiawa News. The opinions expressed in it are those of the writer and not necessarily those of the editor and staff of this paper. For gregarious reasons, the identity of the columnist will not be revealed.)
In this, my first attempt at bringing various points of interest and criticism to your attention, I should like to devote the majority of my remarks to matters concerning our own Chimbu Club. Firstly, who is the noted gentleman in our community who, having spent a total of 16 months here, has amassed the grand total of two days on bar duty and, on one feeble excuse or another, continues to evade doing his rightful share of this duty, thereby forcing other members of our menfolk to temporarily stand in for him?
Surely this ‘civic minded’ person must realise that, if all our male members behaved similarly, our Club would cease to function. Dear friend, do you not think that if all members are equally sharing Club facilities, it would be wise to “pull together”? Think about it anyway.
Secondly, due to past catastrophic happenings at our Club, I feel that being a ‘member’ Club, the members should be informed more regularly of the financial state of the Club by more frequent general meetings or by notices following a committee meeting (rather than occasionally hearing of the odd item from one committee member or another).
Lastly, is it not about time some definite standard was set on music for Club functions? I think most of you will agree that this matter has been a rather sore point on more than one occasion. How about a pooling together of records belonging to members for the purpose of taping them and giving a more general selection? Just a suggestion.
From Club to Art. Top marks to the organisers of the Education Art Show at Gon last week. This is the sort of thing we could have more of. A most enjoyable and interesting display. Hope you enjoy reading my column, which is based on a belief that constructive criticism invariably makes for improvements.
TOWN ADVISORY COUNCIL ‘INDIGNANT’
Members of the Kundiawa Town Advisory Council expressed indignation at their last meeting when informed of an allocation of £22,000 for a four mile stretch of road in the Rigo Sub-District. This costly, small section of road will serve only a small population.
Comparisons were drawn between this and the Chuave-Nambaiyufa-Elembari circuit (population 20,000) and the Kundiawa-Gumine-Koge road which allow motor vehicle access to a huge 50,000 population. Both of these important feeder roads are in a critical state of disrepair quite out of proportion to their economic value. Much coffee is grown in these areas.
These criticisms by the TAC only serve to emphasise the fact that for its size, economic potential and political significance, the Chimbu would be one of the most neglected areas in the Territory. It is believed that Chimbu MHA’s Pople (Gumine), Waiye (Chimbu) and Siwi (Kerowagi) haver also pushed the road question in the House of Assembly. If these three and Chuave member (Yauwi) reached an agreement and concerted their efforts there is no erason why road improvement in the Chimbu should not go high on the priority list.
NO WATER SHORTAGE NEXT YEAR
In an interview with District Officer Laurie Doolan it was stated we don’t expect any water shortage next year as it will be alleviated by a new reticulation scheme which should be installed early next year. Earlier this eyar a PWD engineer examined the question of water reticulation for Kundiawa. Should this plan be augmented, adequate water should be available during the dry season.
In contrast with the above statement, the present water shortage is causing some concern to local residents. Water is being carted regularly to several premises on the station whilst it is reported that other tanks are “light on”. If heavy rain is not forthcoming the position could soon become acute. As from Monday last all rersidents were notified that all carted water will cost £3 a load.