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Industry Reviews " In town and down the road War, a watershed in race relations The civilising mission Matters of sex Making a space for women Appendices Bibliography Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved. In Stock. A River with a City Problem. The Fatal Shore. Born in ? What else happened? It was still strict for the first few years after the war, but very gradually things began to change. One of the first big tea parties I went to—Dorry [Doris] Groves took me to it—the ladies all wore gloves.
Women and children first: the evacuation After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, various rumours and alarms circulated in Papua New Guinea: I can see Kevin in between one of his flights. He was lying on the bed listening to the wireless. I said 'What are you so serious about, Kevin? He said 'Pearl Harbour'. I said 'What does that mean? He said 'I wouldn't be surprised'.
I went to the kitchen and I said to Nance 'Kevin's telling me terrible news'. She ran into the bedroom. He was just lying on the bed. It was a very casual way of living up there. That was December, about the 18th. In the late s she moved to Wewak when her husband started a freezer business there, chartering food supplies and storing them in a freezer works. In the Bulolo which brought in the food supplies for the business was commandeered by the Allies and Bob went prospecting in Bougainville. Mollie and the children stayed in Wewak. Her brother-in-law, Kevin Parer, encouraged her to come and stay with his family in Wau.
It was from there that she was evacuated, eventually arriving in Melbourne.
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The Parer family have a long association with New Guinea, mainly as mission workers and business entrepreneurs. In New Guinea Ray Parer took out a miner's right in the Upper Watut and this financed his various flying concerns; his unwillingness to charge unlucky miners being a major cause of their financial failure.
Ray Parer, and his brothers, Bob and Kevin, lived in Wewak during the s. Damien Parer, a cousin, captured the Second World War on film, including the battles along the Kokoda trail and the work of the Papuan bearers. So numerous and well-known were the Parers in New Guinea that they were likened to a 'tribe'.
The administration believed that the Japanese would bomb Rabaul and the other towns, perhaps send ashore a marine party to destroy airports, ports, and radio stations, and leave. The administration's plans were to send the civilian population bush during this period, with enough provisions to last the week or so of Japanese presence: The assumption was that once all the facilities were put out of action that was all we'd see of the war, apart from blockading.
Kavieng fell before Singapore, and people tend to forget that. There were two or three different plans of action worked out which I knew pretty well at the time because I was the District Office confidential typist and I had to type out umpteen copies of them. Some of the missionaries believed they would be allowed to carry on God's work even if there were a Japanese invasion; some were scornful: a 'What can the Japs do to us?
When the evacuation of the women and children was finally organised, there had been Japanese air activity over the Territory for some time. Pat Murray remembers a Japanese aeroplane which came so low over Kavieng that she could see the pilot's face. The women were brought to Rabaul or Port Moresby, by air, road or boat. John Poole, living on a small mission station at Kalas in the Baining Mountains. Jean was evacuated with the European women and children 16 Australian Women in Papua New Guinea from Rabaul in December ; her husband lost his life when the Montevideo Maru was torpedoed.
Jean was awoken by a police boy at midnight to say that she must be packed and ready for a truck to take her to Rabaul two days' hence. Her parishioners came with gifts of eggs, taro, pawpaws and bananas. The school boys carried the Mannerings' luggage the five miles down to Malabonga Hospital, whence a bumpy truck ride took them to Rabaul, although they had to walk up the slippery hills as the truck could not climb them loaded: All the white women from the district were gathering in Rabaul to board the boats.
The volcano was erupting with pumice. The women were crowded in the mission houses and other houses in Rabaul. We had to get our documents for leaving and then all the women went on board; two boats filled up with women. I was on the MacDui, it was absolutely crowded. They even had mattresses in the music room on the floor for people to sleep on. The women with children had to dry their napkins and clothes in the passage ways.
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My mother and father didn't know I'd left New Guinea until I walked in the door. The Katoomba which was fitted up with temporary sleeping for women and children, sailed to Australia from Port Moresby. Prudence Frank describes the boat journey: We received our evacuation notice to board the Katoomba on 18th December, We were allowed to take one suitcase. We all thought the authorities were mad and we would be back in three weeks. I put flowers in the vases, put out my best cut glass on the morning table, bedspreads etc. We were later told to stay in our homes till the wardens came for us as Japan had announced over the radio that the women and children were leaving Port Moresby.
We were later taken to the ship, there were also Europeans from Singapore on board. We slept on the deck even though some of us had cabins because it was too hot below. All we had to look forward to was the bar to be opened. We would all queue up. Mollie Parer describes Moresby and the trip down: The next 'plane arrived [in Moresby] and it was the women from all over the Territory, from the labour wards, and they weren't allowed even to bring their nappies. Just imagine it.
Some were Passages to Papua New Guinea 17 vomiting, some were sick, and some were trying to write a note to their husbands and giving it to the pilot: 'Would you please give this to my husband'.
They were crying, oh it was dreadful. It was a frightening voyage because the captain told us to wear life jackets all the time as he said there would be raids and mines and so forth. We went a roundabout way and I think we went near Thursday Island. On Christmas Day the captain lined up all the children and gave each one a shilling and a bottle of soft drink.
Marjorie Murphy and two other young women were left in Port Moresby until Christmas Day, because the administration chose to evacuate German missionaries ahead of them. We are left here, just the three of us' and Frame said 'Look, you heard what they did last night'. These troops had not exactly rioted but they'd got a bit out of hand. They were a bit mad because the baker didn't have any pies, they smashed his window. Frame said 'Can you see what would happen if we brought German missionaries in here? Then from Cairns to Melbourne by train.
Marjorie Murphy was particularly keen to escape the sexual harassment of the troops: But we had to be careful because of the many soldiers stationed in Moresby at that time. With the sun behind you, you'd walk into the hotel, and they would whistle, and call 'Go out and come in again' because they could see through our dresses. So we were being very careful. Pat Murray describes the evacuation in a letter she wrote to her brother shortly after leaving New Guinea. The women were to gather at Ulapatur near Namatanai. Heavy rain and a strong north-westerly buffetted the family as they drove to Ulapatur in open trucks, where the Paulus, a Catholic Mission boat, was to pick them up: When we got to Ulapatur there was no sign of a boat and the weather was terrible.
The schooner simply couldn't get there and was hiding out at the Duke of Yorks. We sat and waited for it, all day from 10 o'clock to S p. There were 27 women, 18 Australian Women in Papua New Guinea 13 kids and assorted husbands and other menfolk. And the accommodation was one copra shed, empty but rather leaky, and two very old leaky sak sak boys' houses. Also the Catholic mission house to which the father invited anyone and everyone but it was on the very top of a frightfully steep climb of well over feet and pelting rain and slippery with mud too.
So most of us didn't tackle it. We had quite a lot of kaikai with us, sandwiches, biscuits and so on, and the Kong who runs Ulapatur plantation kept up an almost continuous supply of boiling water for tea so we didn't do too badly. But we were so wet.
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The kids were marvellous, there wasn't a single howl out of the whole 13 and none of them even quarrelled. Five were tiny babies and even they didn't cry. Isabel Platten, one of the twenty-seven women, remembers: We sat miserably on this miserable beach in the rain. The only people who had thought to bring any tea or sandwiches were Connie Brereton and me. So we shared with all the other women and their youngsters. They were all planters. It was with a sense of relief we learned that we would not be travelling that day. We went back to our own homes to cook Christmas dinners and have a precious few more days with our husbands.
Those who did not live close by bedded down at Joe Kenny's pub in Namatanai, and returned to Ulapatur at 4 am the next day. The weather cleared, but only temporarily and by 8 am it was clear the storm had set in for the day at least: So we went back to Namatanai again and this time Kenny more or less expected us. The government secretary in Rabaul said to Greg Benham, the Patrol Officer, on the phone 'What's wrong with all these damn women, are they all scared or what? The women from here have gone and the weather's just as bad over here.
What's wrong with them there? They can't swim to Rabaul'. The evacuees spent their time organising a belated Christmas party Passages to Papua New Guinea 19 with the handful of Independent Company troops stationed in Namatanai. The next day the New Ireland women finally made their escape, as Pat Murray's letter recounts: 'On Saturday morning we set off for Ulapatur for the third and last time.
The weather was fine and the Paulus was waiting, also the Teresa'. Because they had missed the MacDui, Isabel Platten and Pat Murray were flown down to Cairns, where they joined Marjorie Murphy and many other women on the long train trip down the coast. According to Pat Murray there were good meals at convenient stopping places, VADs Volunteer Aid Detachment on the trains and nurses and doctors at some of the stations.
The Red Cross and Country Women's Association met the women at various stations with refreshment, changes of clothing, and, at Rockhampton and Gympie, took the babies off for a bath: They dashed up to all the carriages as we pulled in: 'Any babies? John was very amused when Norman Ashby was carried off Norman Ashby was actually seven, but he was very small; he looked about four. John thought it was hilarious.
But Norman gave him a look and said T m getting a bath out of this, don't worry'. The poor kids were very startled and almost all yelled loudly. A few took it complacently but you can imagine the uproar. There were about 90 of them. The German babies were the most inconsolable as they couldn't understand a word the poor girls said when they attempted to calm them down.
A number of women lost all their possessions as a result of the evacuation. Mollie Parer tells her story: At first we were told we were going to Salamaua and could bring our personal possessions. The second advice told us we would fly to Port Moresby early next day and to bring only forty pounds and I think fifteen pounds for each child. Kevin got special permission to fly his wife and her three children and me and my four to Moresby. I took Lactogen and things like that. We had to look round the home: 'Surely we're not going to leave it all behind'. But we had to, everything left behind, photos particularly.
Because the weight of say a piece of silver would be the weight of a baby in the 'plane. The morning came and Auntie Teresa was staying with her daughter Mrs Owen, who had seven children. Doreen Owen was Damien's sister. Auntie Teresa had given her only daughter most of her silver. She was going to take a dear little sterling silver jardiniere, it was at the door. She picked it up and someone said Everything's got to be weighed'. Our first lady in Wewak, Lynette Townsend, was already down in Melbourne because her husband had finished his time there.
Later she said to me 'I felt so guilty that I hadn't lost any of my possessions. I felt I couldn't see you'. She just kept ringing me up all the time and sending me parcels. She didn't want to see me. She said one of her friends had a breakdown over the evacuation. Dixie Rigby, a patrol officer's wife, tells a similar story: When Reg got back Japan had already invaded. He was in Lae and the Japs just simply swept right across and got as far as Lae.
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They walked out of Lae across to the hills above Moresby and relief parties were sent out to them. Everything that we had was destroyed, scorched earth policy. They pushed them into the sea, our refrigerators and beautiful china. We lost everything and we didn't have anything. Reg walked out in a pair of trousers and a shirt, a tin mug and a razor.
Everything personal we lost. I was rather disturbed about that because in we'd gone back to England, and we went to Germany for a holiday. And we were there when all these 'Guns before butter' and things like that. But my mother had given me some very beautiful china and glass, which I took back to New Guinea, and it all went. John Murphy packed Marjorie's case for her: John kept coming to me and he said 'Don't worry, I'll pack all your trousseau, I'll pack everything. The Neptune is coming in to Salamaua and I'll label it down to you'.
He stacked camphor wood boxes with our stuff. Then he came to me 'These are very valuable patrol reports. You'd better take them out, they'll be handy for the army'. So in go the patrol reports. And then the Pidgin-English dictionary. So I've got about that much in the suitcase, so I put in a sweater and my golf shoes and that was all. I remember being very very calm until I went down to the garden and I'd had a hell of a time trying to grow parsnips and now I was growing parsnips.
And I said to John 'I won't be here to eat the parsnips'. I remember howling about that. Women are silly aren't they? Isabel Platten's story had a happier ending. Passages to Papua New Guinea 21 Being refugees meant, of course, we had between us one suitcase of clothes and very little money. To our delighted surprise one day a consignment of cases arrived. Gil had packed much of our personal effects, including household linen and, best of all, my sewing machine. Word had come to him that a Burns Philp ship would be calling and would take on any personal luggage.
The ship took our luggage to Port Moresby, dumped it on the wharf there where it rested quite a while until another ship picked it up and got it to Sydney. Some way or other it eventually arrived, intact, on my doorstep. To me one of the minor miracles of war-time and a tremendous help to the household.
The mission sisters stayed behind with the men. Many were captured as prisoners of war, spending the war in Japan. The men who were captured were killed by allied fire on the Montevideo Maruy on their way to Japan. Until their capture, the mission sisters continued their medical work, adapting themselves to the circumstances: Dec women and children were sent from New Guinea: all the native people in residence at Vunairima were sent to their villages except the New Ireland people.
Revs Me Arthur, Pearson and Trevitt were trying to arrange transport for them but not able. We closed the Stewart Hospital to people except for those living on the station, as it was too much of a target for the Japanese planes flying over us very low, every afternoon. We built an emergency hospital at Malmabeon in a concealed area where we had a supply of things and intended to put any patients there if nee. Howard Pearson always drove me. We did this till the Japanese invasion. When some of the soldiers were escaping they wanted my husband to go with them. But he felt he had to stay with the people.
Then my husband and two other missionaries walked down to give themselves up to the Japanese, when they knew the Japanese were coming up to where the house was. They were all put in a camp and they worked on the wharves in Rabaul until they were put on the Montevideo Maru to be taken to Japan, the one that was torpedoed off the Philippines. Gil Platten and Rev. Rodger 22 Australian Women in Papua New Guinea Brown escaped, but they were the only two missionaries who did, the others were lost on the boat. The Chinese in Kavieng, as elsewhere, were not evacuated to Australia: After they invaded in January , the Japs rounded up the Europeans and put them in the Kavieng gaol, and gave them a pretty hard time, pretty rough treatment, and not much to eat and no contact.
A lot of the Chinese were sending in stuff to them to help them. What they used to do was make little packages and stick them under the bottom of the lavatory pans, which was the only way into the camp. Apparently they were caught at it and poor old Leslie Foon Kong and Wong Fong were both tortured and killed by the Japs for helping Europeans. Dreadful business. We left Sydney on the 12th November I think it took us three weeks to get there. Included in his duties was conducting services for the Japanese in the War Criminal Compound.
He joined the Methodist Mission some months later, his army contacts and experiences helping with the purchase of vehicles and the mission boat, the Talai. They were stationed at Ulu in the Duke of Yorks, Gordon's job consisting mainly of skippering the Talai and managing the mission-owned coconut plantation. In they returned to Sydney for a short period.
Jean Mannering describes the devastation caused by the war: Rabaul had been pounded so thoroughly, they even had to resurvey it to find out where the streets went; it was just rubble. And it kept getting bombed all through the war years. When I went back, there was no wharf left. Our boat pulled in against an old wreck that was half on the shore, and that acted as the wharf for some time. All around the place there were wrecks of ships, wrecked vehicles, it was just a mess of rubble. The Papua New Guineans were very happy to see the Australians come back after the war, because they'd had a very bad time under the Japanese, particularly the people in New Britain and the Duke of Yorks.
The Japanese had burned down their churches and burned their hymn books and Bibles and forbidden them to have meetings of any kind. Some of them had been beheaded and they were tortured and filled up with water and jumped on; strung up by their toes. The Japs would come and take their gardens and the people would have to go and hide in caves. They said they'd never have lived only God made nut trees bear out of season and they just had to try and survive on that. All their little children died during the war years because they couldn't cook food for them, the Japs wouldn't let them light fires.
So when we went back after the war we noticed a big gap, there were no children from about eight years down, except a few new babies. I sat and talked with lots of these women. One woman told me how she had four children and she just had to sit and watch them die one after the other. Saimon Gaius buried his two little boys.
Then when John was born about a year later, that's their eldest that's alive now, they called him John To Warmari, because he was a love gift after losing the other two. The Catholic Missions suffered as much as the Methodist: The mission as I found it bore still all the marks of a cruel war. We had lost 54 sisters in a tragic way—37 in the strafing of a Japanese warship by Allied 'planes and later in Japanese captivity in Hollandia through hunger and disease. A group of 17 died on a Japanese warship, being shot and thrown into the sea. The mission lost in this way its two Bishops, many priests and Brothers.
Other denominations and civilians lost members too but less because smaller in number. All housing was of the most primitive construction for everyone. Food was a problem since we had as yet no livestock of our own. In some ways we lived directly from the bush—bread being a notable exception. Next to nothing could be bought in Madang at first but all gradually changed—though it took many years. Housing, food 23 24 Australian Women in Papua New Guinea supplies sent in from the Highlands, getting our own livestock. However the Australian government soon began to provide good adequate medical supplies to all hospitals making them less dependent on overseas help.
A Sister does not choose her destiny, but rather has an obligation to obey the church's decrees, even when aged SO and not in good health. Sister Aquilonia was born in a small German village, and worked with the International Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Spirit in Holland and the United States, where she obtained postgraduate qualifications.
In she was appointed Provincial Superior of the New Guinea mission with its headquarters in Alexishaven. She was responsible for the sisters and their work from Lae to Aitape, from coastal to highland stations. It was often the tropical tales told in church or mission literature that drew women overseas. She went to New Guinea with the Sisters of the Holy Spirit in , teaching for five years in Alexishafen, then in nearby Madang for three years, at Manam Island for six years, and the Sepik for seven years.
In she became the head teacher at Alexishafen and trained the local sisters of St Therese, retiring in due to ill health. Many of the women who went as Sisters to Papua New Guinea responded to a calling. But only women with the appropriate training were welcome after the war. Joyce Walker supplemented her triple-certificate nursing qualifications with additional courses in tropical medicine and anthropology; Dorothy Pederick moved from Perth to Melbourne to do the midwifery course the mission required.
Both Joyce Walker and Dorothy Pederick grew up on farms, and believe this made them practical and adaptable to the mission's spartan lifestyle. All the nurses slept in tents when they first arrived, while houses and hospitals were being built. They used packing cases for furniture and: We bought jeeps; you could buy a jeep for twenty-five pounds in Passages to Papua New Guinea 25 those days and it was beaut to run around in.
There were a lot of army comfort funds, Red Cross supplies, in dugouts on mission sites. So we got all the army medical gear together we could and we loaded our jeeps up and we got through some supplies from the Director of Health, Dr Gunther. They let us have arsenical compound which was an ampoule injection, six injections once a week given intravenously over six weeks would cure yaws which was rampant in those days.
The Japs had neglected all medical procedures and nobody in the Territory, indigenous people, had had any medical help. So they were just a mass of yaws and ulcers and malaria and all sorts of diseases. We'd load up our jeep and we'd go out and sit in a village, get a room from one of the native people. We'd put our mats down and live with them for a few weeks until our jeep load of supplies ran out.
It would be six weeks because we'd have to give them an injection a week intravenously for yaws. By the time all our treatment was done and our jeep needed replenishing we'd go back to our tent and load up again and out we'd go again. We did that for many months until there was trafficking in the Pacific. After about a year, we were able to get more supplies, and no longer had to live on native foods, pork and beans and dehydrated foods left behind in underground stores by the army.
I accepted and arrived in Port Moresby early November. I was the fifth white woman to return. We lived in a hostel and went by jeep to the mess for meals. Our food mainly consisted of bully beef and silver fish herrings. He was a gentleman of military stature with a sincere desire to better the life of native people. Single women made their own decisions, perhaps guided by God, prompted by friends, or pushed by failed love affairs.
Married women almost always went to the Territory because husbands chose to go. Pat Andersen reflects on the absence, not only of choice, but even of the idea that she might have a say, when her husband decided to go to Papua: In my husband Neville said he wanted to go to Papua with the London Missionary Society. We'd not been married very long. I was mixed in my feelings towards going—I think I went at least partly because I was married to my husband.
That's what wives did in those days. I don't think I'd made him aware of that. I think I just went, but it was certainly exciting. It was new country, it was frontier country, it was quite a different sort of experience from life here.
Pat Andersen completed a social work degree in the early s, but had to give up her work while at Kikori in the Delta country. She gave birth to two children in Papua before the family returned to Australia in 19S3. The romance of the tropics Pat Murray thinks to herself when she first sees Papuans on the wharf at Samarai: 'Yes, that is what it would be like'. Dea Birkett's 'Victorian Lady Explorers' also experienced a sense of dejd vu on arrival: impressions of 'complete familiarity' 'I knew the place so well' 'yet more fantastic and delicious than our baby minds could ever have imagined'.
Under glass covers were groups of colourful stuffed birds; another case captured and held still the beauty of butterflies and the strangeness of insects; the walls were adorned with spears and other weapons. The shelves were full of travellers' tales. Preparation for the tropical experience was in these ways made possible from the 'plethora of visual and written images of exotic places and peoples'.
The romance of the tropics was a blend of adventure, beauty, and danger: all of which signalled difference. But there would be more than one difference. If somewhat prepared for the difference between life in Australia and life in Papua New Guinea, these women were rarely prepared for the difference between their imaginings and the mundane actualities.
Evelyn Cheeseman tells the story of one such woman, the lonely malaria-weakened Mrs Field, wife of a small plantation owner. Although a university career had been planned for her, the 'lure of the South Seas changed her destiny, fostered by books, magazines and films. Mrs Field's reality was to be different. We had the hills, the mountains, the woods, the forests and you had the sea. I've never forgotten those beautiful sunrises and sunsets we had. And to wake up at first light and see the dawn coming up. I never felt so near to paradise. The quality of the beauty there, the serene peace and quiet of it all, it was marvellous.
Daisy Symonds speaks of her walks with Mary McLean in the cool of the evening in India, enjoying the 'fields of waving green paddy' and the 'most gorgeous sunsets'. That strange morning and evening light has never ceased to fascinate me. It was luminous and it was lovely. If you were in a canoe at night, it was beautifully peaceful, and you'd get phosphorous along the bottom of the canoe, 28 Australian Women in Papua New Guinea phosphorous on the paddles.
On the river banks, huge banks of trees with fireflies in them would all wink on and off. It was fabulous. Many more people gained their images of the tropics and its peoples from novels and travelogues than from the texts of Social Darwinism, to be discussed in Chapters S and 7.
Likewise Henry Lawson was to be described as 'the Australian Kipling'. These writers represented a 'fantastic invasion' from the wilderness at the Empire's rim, questioning the moral certainties of imperial rule. It was both a popular women's romance set in an exotic land and a vehicle for disseminating the values of imperialism.
Grimshaw's novels told readers how to understand the intersection of race and sexual relations; she confirmed the superiority of the white gentleman. Black men peopled these stories as either wild savages or faithful, childlike servants; black women performed only a sexual role. As educational vehicles in days when boys and girls received very different sexual trainings, tropical fictions fell into two distinct genres.
Boys grew up on adventure stories, but girls and women were moulded by love stories. Thus Ann B. Murphy compares Huckleberry Finn and Little Women as the two great stories of American self-disco very. Huck's journey is an escape from the constraints of civilisation and dependency on women. His first escape is down river, but his final escape is 'lighting out for the "Territory" ', the frontier. The resolution of her journey requires that she stay in a domestic space, although her professor husband allows her the separate identity of a writer.
The end of women's adventures is marriage, at home as well as in the colonies. Passages to Papua New Guinea 29 Rider Haggard, a popular turn of the century colonial adventure fiction writer, wrote for 'all the big and little boys'. Haggard assures his readers in the first chapter of King Solomon's Mines, 'I can safely say there is not a single petticoat in the whole history'.
Fenn's Bunyip Land, an Australian boys' adventure story set in New Guinea, describes the passage to manhood of Joe the protagonist, joined by three companions, Jack, a working-class lad, Jimmy, 'a native gentleman', and a doctor friend of the family. Tested by a fight with a crocodile, Jack worries that he will never have a beard and muscles, never be a man.
Joe cheers him with the news that the doctor said 'he is sure he should never have borne it so bravely as you'. Joe's adventures convince him: 'Yesterday I was a boy, now I am a man'. On the return voyage, the captain says to Joe, 'Well, you have growed'. The story moves on, beyond its 'natural' conclusion at the end of the adventure. Joe goes to England for his education and returns to find Jimmy 'just as he was when I left home, faithful and boyish and winning'. Similarly, while Jack achieves a workingclass manhood in muscular strength, Joe achieves a middle-class manhood in education.
Errol Flynn, in his biography My Wicked Wicked Ways, is less coy about his relations with women; but then he is not writing for boys, big or small. He describes the swashbuckling adventures of a white male who conquers, albeit in different ways, the raw materials, local men and women of Papua New Guinea. During the course of his adventures, Flynn has sexual relations with three indigenous women, described principally in terms of their physical 30 Australian Women in Papua New Guinea attributes. Maura had 'a waist you could span with your two hands. Naturally my ambition was to spend as much time spanning it as I could'.
Flynn later discovers 'physically a female is a female the world over'.