Friday Flowers: Return to the past

A couple of years ago I posted this story and as it has such vibrant tropical flowers I thought I’d share it again.DSC_0064

Back in 2012 I planned to upload 365 photos over the year, with each image as a stand-alone “event”. In the end I posted on 173 days, but uploaded 466 photos, and couldn’t resist adding commentary to most. DSC_0033

This post included some of the photos we took on our 2012 trip back to Papua New Guinea when we mainly visited Alotau and Samarai. We wondered how many of these magnificent hibiscus were descendants of my mother-in-law’s 1960s hibiscus collection, some sourced from as far away as Hawaii.

Red Hibiscus at Samarai

Red Hibiscus at Samarai

And to place them in context, this is the view from the house the family lived in on Samarai. Sadly the house is no more. If you want to read more about our experiences on this sentimental return voyage, you can read them on this link to my other blog, Family History Across the Seas.

81 In front of Cass place

I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine and happiness to your day.


Visiting Samarai: The Protestants and the Catholics

I’ve previously posted images of the Catholic church, which is still functioning and the Anglican church which has fallen into disrepair. Perhaps it’s indicative of the influence of those particular religions in Samarai, whereas over the northern coastline from Milne Bay, the Anglicans held sway at Dogura.

The United Church building at Samarai is still in use.

The United Church building at Samarai is still in use.

Today we see the United Church building at Samarai. We’ve always been amused by this because to this day, the Presbyterian-Methodist combination in Australia is still “Uniting” whereas in PNG it’s been “United” since the 1970s. 

The Catholic church, side view, showing the tempting view of the ocean.

The Catholic church, side view, showing the tempting view of the ocean.

I’m also including a side view of the Catholic church which we’ve visited previously. It’s hard to imagine how people kept their concentration on worship with views out to the water: perhaps it was inspirational or perhaps just a distraction to wonder if the fish were biting.

Visiting Samarai: The Memorial Hall

The Memorial Hall was the venue for balls and socials for the small group of people living on the island of Samarai….if those walls could talk.

The Samarai Memorial Hall

The Samarai Memorial Hall

In front of the building you can just see a memorial: this was erected on the 50th anniversary of Gallipoli, 25th April 1965. Peter’s parents were probably there but he was at boarding school.

The gun and Gallipoli memorial.

The gun and Gallipoli memorial.

The Gallipoli memorial.

The Gallipoli memorial: this would have been of significance to my mother-in-law whose uncle died at Gallipoli.

Visiting Samarai: the old school and houses

This photo shows the old primary school at Samarai which has particular significance to my husband’s family: his mother taught in the small, low-level classroom to the left of the two storey building.

The old primary school at Samarai, now out of use.

The old primary school at Samarai, now out of use.

Also in the background are the old houses which used to accommodate the senior staff of Burns Philp and Steamships Trading Company, both businesses of some significance in times past.

Steamies and BPs housing and the concrete remains of the Samarai Club.

Steamies and BPs housing and the concrete remains of the Samarai Club.

The concrete stumps are all that remains of the old Samarai Club and the billiard table. 

Below: the old headmaster’s house.

The old primary school headmaster's house, Samarai.

The old primary school headmaster’s house, Samarai.

Visiting Samarai: the wharf

This is the old government wharf at Samarai in late 2012. It’s hard to believe that only a few decades ago this was a busy hub for maritime activity, not to mention the Catalina flying boats that flew in near here. The island in the background is Logeia.

001 govt wharf

Industrial beauty

This Shell depot lies forgotten and untended in Samarai. I liked the industrial beauty of it.

The old Shell depot Samarai

The old Shell depot Samarai

I was struck at the time by the stylistic similarity to a much more glamorous structure on the far side of the world.

The stairs around the turret of the Mespelbrunn castle in Bavaria.

The stairs around the turret of the Mespelbrunn castle in Bavaria.

Down the street – Samarai, PNG

Well as you can see I’ve lapsed once again with getting my images uploaded. I think the secret is to post every two or three days. I’ve now got three other blogs on the go (family history, books and local history) so they’re keeping me pretty busy.

However I’ve also committed to following the 2013 A to Z Challenge. In 2012 I did this on my Family History Across the Seas blog but this year I’m going to post using this blog, Tropical Territory. My response to the series will be all about places in the Top End of Australia (mainly the NT Top End and sometimes northern WA or central Australia, NT) – a travelogue and photologue of some of Australia’s perhaps less well-known places.

In the meantime I’m going back to posting photos of our recent PNG trip. I’ve still got heaps of NT photos but I for one feel like a change. So join me as we walk down what used to be  the main street of Samarai for many years. It could get quite busy with the arrival of cruise ships, freighters and the Catalina flying boats.

When we visited Europe for the first time in the early 1970s, the only people who had any idea where PNG was, were the Greeks, precisely because their ships had come along that route.

Street Samarai1 copy

As you see the main street now looks rather deserted though in fact there’s still an active community on the island. It’s “just” that many of the services have gone.

The Old Steamships store

The Old Steamships store

Mr Cassmob remembers the day when, as a small boy, he heard voices under their house. On inspection he discovered a couple of women from one of the cruise ships happily searching through his family’s shell collection, blissfully unaware that they were trespassing on his family’s property and garden. They enquired in rather staccato English, as if they were talking to the village idiot, how much the shells cost. He decided to sell them and make a bit of pocket money,but you have to wonder about people, don’t you?!

27 Old BP Store1

Burns Philp (BPs) and Steamships Trading Company both had thriving stores on the island and it was from them that our groceries and hardware were shipped, on order, to Alotau. The buildings remain but are essentially unused. The BP store is now being used like a market to see betel nut (buai) and sweet potato.

Although Mr Cassmob worked at these places during his school holidays he was remarkably sanguine about their current state of inactivity.

A controversial memorial: Christopher Robinson

This memorial stands near the playing ovals on Samarai Island. Largely neglected, and probably totally ignored, people pass it daily. There is a highly controversial story behind this young man’s death, which I’ve briefly relayed on my Trove Tuesday post on the other blog.

35 Christopher Robinson34 Christopher Robinson close up

All that remains – Samarai PNG

These photos are part of Mr Cassmob’s family heritage: the site where their house was situated when they lived on Samarai. Sadly the house is no more, nor are the others that were their neighbours. Now the new neighbours are the Council offices. There is nothing left of the BBQ or the hibiscus or……just the memories.

The site of Mr Cassmob's family's home for about eight years in the 1960s.

The site of Mr Cassmob’s family’s home for about eight years in the 1960s.

Our family has heard various tales about their life here, one of the more amusing being how their cat would use the crab holes in the sand for his toilet.

81 In front of Cass place

Wouldn’t you like this view, looking out to sea from the house and across to Logeia Island then down to the wharf in the other direction.

All photographs are copyright Pauleen Cass 2012.

Looking to the left of the house, towards Deka Deka, the small island on the left, past Logeia.

Looking to the left of the house, towards Deka Deka, the small island on the left, past Logeia.

Samarai’s Old Anglican church – PNG

The old Anglican church on Samarai is derelict these days, which is a great shame given its interesting architecture.016 Anglican Church Samarai

As you walk down the street you do get the feel of a heritage place, or even a ghost town yet it didn’t feel depressing as we feared it might. It’s hard to imagine now that this tiny island was once a hub for trade around PNG and also for shipping to/from Australia and points north.

018 Anglican Church and street Samarai

If the interior of the church was safe enough to enter, you would have a magnificent view over the water.

020 Anglican Church ruins

All photographs on this blog are © Pauleen Cass.