Book Reviews: September 2007

Bombs to beef: Development of Dumpu Cattle Station, Papua News Guinea by Barbara Jephcott
Windows of New Guinea, Road to Nationhood: West Papua Debacle by Harley Dickinson
Tubuan and Tabernacle by Mary Mennis
Australia’s Forgotten Frontier by Chris Viner Smith

Bombs to Beef, Development of Dumpu Cattle Station, Papua New Guinea by Barbara Jephcott
ISBN 978-1-921151-57-6, 178 pp. Printed 2007 by Community Books Cost: AU$25 incl postage within Australia. Please contact the author at: ‘Yundah’, M/S 28, Warwick. QLD 4370 Ph: 074-613516

This self-published family history may not entice the general reader, and – typical of its genre – lacks skilled final editing, but it covers every kind of detail anyone could want about the establishment and development of Dumpu Cattle Station in Madang’s Ramu Valley after the war by veterinarian Barbara Jephcott and her husband, the late Bruce Jephcott. There, with its attendant challenges, they also raised their family. Among the details of station finances, business partners, buying and shipping cattle, beef sales, labour management, pasture improvement and assistance for the local smallholders, there are very many brief and unexpected gems and insights into ‘outback’ expatriate life in those years. It’s a useful addition to PNG’s postwar history.

Windows of New Guinea, Road to Nationhood: West Papua Debacle by Harley Dickinson
ISBN-13:9780646462875 Published by Harley Dickinson 2007 64 pages coloured paintings, photographs and maps A4 Soft cover Cost: AU$30 plus $5 postage within Australia and $10 postage overseas Available from Harley Dickinson, Box 103 PO Bannockburn VIC 3331 Ph: 03-5281 7218

This self-published book is an impressionistic collection of a life of eighteen years service in Papua New Guinea. Fifty acrylic paintings are featured throughout the book along with a short narrative including a little history on each. Photographs and maps are included in the collection.
In the Epilogue, Prof Jack E Richardson AO states: ‘His collection of acrylic paintings, illustrated in this book, is representative of his considerable skill as an artist of longstanding. They gather more meaning because, in a simple expressionistic style, they capture the essential and mystical features of the Papua New Guinea landscape…His paintings and photographs give glimpses of life in the communities as he saw it as early as fifty years ago.’

Tubuan and Tabernacle by Mary Mennis
ISBN 978-0-9750346-6-8, 265 pages, A4, soft cover, photos incl, Published by and available from Lalong Enterprises, 11 Jethro St, Aspley, QLD 4034, Phone: 07-3263 6327 or . Cost: AU$35 plus postage of AU$5 within Aust and AU$8 to PNG.

This year is the 125th anniversary of the New Britain Mission and this book gives a broad picture of the mission history from its beginning in 1882 until 2007. It is about two priests from the Rabaul area Most Reverend Benedict ToVarpin, CBE, and Rev Father Bernard Franke MSC CBE. Benedict To Varpin grew up in the Tolai society with all the traditional tribal customs including that of the Tubuan Society, becoming a priest in 1971, Bishop of Bereina in 1980 and Archbishop of Madang in 1987. Fr Franke arrived from Germany in 1928 when he was 26 years old and spent the following 50 years in New Britain ministering to the Tolai, European and Chinese communities, both on remote mission stations and in Rabaul.

Australia’s Forgotten Frontier by Chris Viner Smith
ISBN 978-0-646-47541-7 Printed by SOS print+media. Price $14.95 incl p/h. Available from PO Box 394, Curtin, ACT 2605 or

In 1961, at the age of nineteen, the author joined the Department of Native Affairs as a Cadet Patrol Officer in the Papua and New Guinea Administration and served in various Districts including the Gulf, Western, Northern and Bougainville. His book, Australia’s Forgotten Frontier, is written in an honest and unembellished style and Kiaps will recognise many of the stories as familiar to their own experiences. It is an anecdotal slice of history about the responsibilities the Kiaps undertook in the 1960s. It includes stories of situations and experiences on patrol and serving at the PNG/ West Irian border; and interesting stories of meetings with the many nasties inhabiting Papua New Guinea; the reptiles and insects. In the closing chapter the author points out his concern about the Kiaps doing the dangerous groundwork of policing and yet, unlike uniformed officers, they got no recognition within the PNG and Australian police honour system.
In addition to their limitless responsibilities, as Officers with the Department of Native Affairs, the Kiaps were also Commissioned Officers of the Royal Papua & New Guinea Constabulary, with the rank of Sub Inspector; they were issued with a certified warrant card but had no uniform or badge of office. With their loyal indigenous police, policing was carried out until an area was brought under control which then allowed the expatriate uniformed police to move in and take over police duties. In the chapter “Seeking Recognition for all Kiaps” the author tells how he challenged the Federal Government, without success. He wanted acknowledgement that Kiaps were different to the expatriate regular police and that they should be recognised for the rather amazing things they did in the early post war years including controlling the International border with the Indonesians and maintaining law and order in an Australian Territory under extreme conditions; thus assisting Papua New Guinea towards Self Government and ultimately Independence.
In the 60s/70s, the sensitive information on border work by the Kiaps was classified by the Administration’s Division of Intelligence and Security, so little was/is known of the work the young Kiaps carried out and their responsibilities. In 1964, as a twenty two year old Patrol Officer, the author was posted to Weam, in the Western District of Papua, situated near the Papua New Guinea/West Irian border. He points out the variety of working situations he experienced from being confronted by the Indonesian Army as they crossed the Papua New Guinea border and being locked up by the Indonesians over the border in Merauke, to visits from ASIO, the Australian Army and Sir Paul Hasluck.
The author served in Papua New Guinea from 1961-1971 and had the experience of a lifetime which would be the envy of many adventurer. It is an interesting and enjoyable book for all people to read and the only “embellishment” is the unusual and attractive presentation of the soft cover book and the inclusion of the numerous and colourful and very descriptive photos.
Nancy Johnston

Leave a Reply