Saturday, 13 May 2017

The Hagen-Sepik Patrol between 1938 to 1939

by BARBARA SHORT

March the 9th 1938 a government patrol set out from Mount Hagen in the New Guinea Highlands. It comprised three European patrol officers lead by, Assistant District Officer James Lindsay and a large number of New Guinea native Police and over 200 carriers and support team and a handful of native cooks. This is the first time a venture so large had been assembled in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea no one had ever seen the like.

 It resembled an invasion force, the expense was somewhat of a concern to the Australian Administrator, General Sir Walter McNicoll stationed in Rabaul. The expedition, called the Hagen-Sepik Patrol, the goal was to explore the geography and the population of the huge stretch of unexplored territory which lay between Mount Hagen and the Dutch border. It was not totally unknown in the 30s, occasional Papuan government officers, gold prospectors, missionaries and others had left an obscure criss-cross of their struggled passages.

 But the general nature of the country, the mysteries of the drainage systems of its great rivers and numbers of its populations remained almost blank. The expedition covered some 3000 kilometres, almost all of it on foot. They did not return until 19th June 1939 fifteen months away from civilization.






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