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30 March 2016

Taim Bilong Masta


Back in 1983 (or was it 1984?), when I flew into Adelaide from Saudi Arabia to finalise a grain shipment to the Middle East, I took time off to visit the local ABC Bookshop and discovered a couple of dozen cassette tapes of the ABC radio series Taim Bilong Masta, produced by Tim Bowden and first broadcast in 1981.

It was the distillation of 350 hours of tape-recorded interviews with Australians and Papua New Guineans who had been involved with Australia's colonial administration which ended with self government and independence in 1975. The result was a superb 24-program social history, so evocative of a time and place, revealed through a tapestry of voices from those who lived through it. These were first-hand accounts of the pre-war history in the early 1900s, the masta-boi relationships, the gold rush and the exploration of the highlands. In it, Australian men and women who spent so many years living and working in Papua New Guinea before independence in 1975 could be heard again, telling their own stories.

Of course, I bought the whole set and for years after I listened again and again to those tapes until they had worn out. If you ever see them on CD, please let me know as I would like to buy them.

Although nothing could ever replace those wonderful audio cassettes, I have found the book based on the radio series which contains 224 pages of informative text with many archival photographs, newspaper clippings and a detailed index. I add the book in pdf format to this blog for all of you to enjoy:

Click here to open TAIM BILONG MASTA in a separate window

Peter Goerman, Webmaster


P.S. During my time in Camp 6, the postcard shown below was one of the hottest sellers in one of those little "shops" run by some enterprising fellows in their dongas in Camp 6.

In one donga, they had even suspended both beds from the ceiling so as to have more floorspace in which to display their wares. And, of course, there were sly-grog places and others which showed flicks of both bad quality and taste (the term 'x-rated' had not yet been invented).

And a carpenter operated the ALI BARBER shop near the boozer which did a roaring trade as he was the only barber - well, hair-remover - in the camp. The photo below shows this webmaster BEFORE he had any damage inflicted on him.