Collection PHOTO 46 - Photographs: Papua New Guinea 1966-1988

Grave of Lt.-Col. [Lieutenant-Colonel W.T.] Owen [39 Battalion].  Bomana War Cemetery Cross of Sacrifice.  Rotunda in background.  Bomana War Cemetery "In this monument are recorded the names of officers and men of the British Commonwealth of ... Bomana War Cemetery, from Rotunda "An Australian Soldier Of the 1939-1945 War. Known unto God" Grave of 16 yr. [year] old Pte [Private].  Bomana War Cemetery Bomana War Cemetery Stone of Remembrance Bomana War Cemetery General Store, June Valley Papuan Village, 50 miles east of Port Moresby (Kemp Welch R.[River]) Javarere
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Photographs: Papua New Guinea 1966-1988


  • 1942- (Creation)

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2290 35mm slides and photographic prints scanned to digital format

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Bill Gammage was born in 1942. He arrived in Wagga Wagga, NSW, in 1951 after living about 2 years in Orange and about 7 years in Sydney. He went to Wagga Demonstration School and Wagga High School. During his school years, he worked in a range of jobs including a market garden, a cordial factory, and as a farm labourer. From 1961 he was a regular employee of the Heckendorfs of “Mountview”, Lockhart, during the long Christmas holidays, working mainly on the wheat harvest.

In 1961, Bill went to the Australian National University (ANU), Canberra. In 1964, he completed his Teachers’ Certificate at the University of Sydney and in 1965 his honours year in History at the ANU.

In 1966, Bill went to Port Moresby to teach history in the preliminary year of the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG). At the end of the year, he returned to ANU to do his PhD on Australian soldiers in the Great War. With his PhD finished, Bill travelled the world for a year.

On return from his travels in 1971, Bill worked for 5 months as a research assistant for Ken Inglis, Professor of History at UPNG, then accepted a job teaching Australian and Papua New Guinea history in the History Department at UPNG. In February 1972, he and Jan married and went to Port Moresby.

At the end of 1976, Bill left UPNG and joined the History Department at the University of Adelaide, teaching Australian history. From 1987 to 1990, he was Senior Research Fellow in Pacific History at the ANU, and from 1996, he was in the Humanities Research Centre at ANU, where he remains today as Adjunct Professor. He continues to supervise post-graduate students.

Bill’s books include The Broken Years: Australian Soldiers in the Great War (1974), An Australian in the First World War (1976), Narrandera Shire (1986), The Sky Travellers: Journeys in New Guinea 1938-1939 (1998) and The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia (2011). He has written articles, including on Papua New Guinea, and worked as a historical adviser/consultant on films and documentaries. He was a member of the Council of the National Museum of Australia for three years. He contributes to the work of the Australian Dictionary of Biography and the National Library of Australia’s Oral History Unit.

In 1987 Bill was made a Freeman of the Shire of Narrandera, in 1991 he became a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and in 2005 he was awarded the Order of Australia (AM). Several of his books have won prizes, most recently in 2012 The Biggest Estate on Earth won seven prizes, including the Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History and the Victorian Prize for Literature.

Archival history

Digitised and listed at the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau by Jan Gammage, from 2012-2014.

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PMB Photo 46 is a collection of 2291 photographs Bill Gammage took of Papua New Guinea subjects over 22 years from March 1966 to September 1988. It can be divided into four sections.
The first section (March to November 1966, August 1968, and March 1970) has about 200 photos. The subjects include: June Valley and the first Preliminary Year of the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG), the Administrative College (Adcol), the buildings at Port Moresby Showground which served as university lecture theatres, students, staff, rugby union football matches between the university/Adcol team known as Aduni and other local teams. Town (Port Moresby) subjects include Fairfax Harbour, the seaplane hangar area, Koki market, Girl Guide Shop, Cuthbertson Street, House of Assembly, Ela Beach, war memorials, Anzac Day, and the suburb of Boroko. Outside Port Moresby subjects include Bomana War Cemetery, Idlers Bay and the villages of Porebada, Hanuabada, Kapa Kapa, and Lea Lea. In the hills behind Port Moresby, subjects include Crystal Rapids, Sirinumu Dam, Hombrom Bluff, Sogeri, Rouna Falls, the Kokoda Trail monument, Owers Corner, Uberi and Goldie River. Other subjects include the Kokoda Trail from Kokoda to Templeton’s Crossing and the Menyamya sub-district of Morobe. Among the people photographed are Tony Voutas, Peter Metcalf, Hank Nelson, Peter Munster, Thomas Tobunbun, Ken Inglis and Leo Morgan.
Complementing the photos of this period are two chapters - “Moresby 1966” in Australians in Papua New Guinea 1960-1975 and “The Boy from Boort” in a book of the same name (both published in 2014) and the article “What Kaindi Expects” published in Nation, Sydney (No. 210, 14 January, 1967).
The second section (February 1972 to December 1976) has about 1500 photos. They show people and places in nineteen of the twenty provinces - Central, East Sepik, East New Britain, Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, Western, Gulf, Morobe, Madang, Milne Bay, Enga, New Ireland, Manus, Southern Highlands, Bougainville, Simbu, Northern/Oro, West Sepik/Sandaun and the National Capital District.
Subjects include men, women and children, agriculture, cash crops, plantations, mines, infrastructure (roads, bridges, airstrips, communications towers), buildings (houses, offices, spirit houses, schools, aid posts), sing-sings, pig kills and exchanges, mission stations, environment (rivers, mountains, volcanoes, landscapes and seascapes), flowers, birds, animals, insects, and suburban life in Boroko including that of single men from the Highlands who wanted jobs in town. Their story is told in “The Men from Gono” (Overland, Winter, 1975). Other articles include “Moresby or the bush” (Current Affairs Bulletin, 50 (11), April 1974), “Tinmanmale of Taunsip” (Oral History (PNG), 3 (5), 1975 (with Rabbie Namaliu)), and “Maclay comes to Gorendu”, ( Oral History (PNG], 4 (1), 1976).
Other subjects include UPNG, graduations, the Goroka Show, the Hagen Show, the Port Moresby Show, Anzac Day, and the Independence celebrations of 1975. Sites relating to both traditional warfare and to World Wars 1 and 2, individual graves, cemeteries, memorials and plaques, are also subjects. Included among the headstones and memorials photographed are the grave at Lagui, Salamaua, of Corporal Anis of the Native Constabulary Branch of the New Guinea Police, and a memorial to Baros of Sirovi at Kieta. Headstones for Victoria Cross (VC) winners are those of Fijian Corporal Sefanaia Sukanaivalu at Bitapaka near Rabaul, and Australians Private BS Kingsbury at Bomana and Flight Lieutenant Bill Newton at Lae. The sites at which two VCs were won - Mission Hill at Wewak where Private Ted Kenna won his VC and the ground at Sattelberg up which Sergeant “Diver” Derrick attacked - are also subjects, as is the sign marking the place where Mavis Parkinson and Sister May Hayman of Gona Mission Station were executed.
Research trips including to Bulldog Landing, Misima and Woodlark Islands, Wau and Bulolo, East New Britain and New Ireland are subjects. Complementing the photos of the East New Britain and New Ireland research trip are “The Rabaul Strike 1929” (Journal of Pacific History, Vol 10, No. 3 (1975)) and the Australian Dictionary of Biography entry on Sumsuma. The trip to Misima and Woodlark contributed to Hank Nelson’s Black, white and gold: gold mining in Papua New Guinea, 1878-1930 (ANU Press, 1976). Walks are also subjects and include Kaintiba to Menyamya, Kosipe to Tapini, and (by others) Efogi to the Koiari access road.
Among the people photographed are Ken Inglis, Tony Voutas, Hank Nelson, Elton Brash, David Hegarty, Jim Fingleton, Mike Manning, Chris Gregory, Mary Jane Mountain, Michael Somare, Gough Whitlam, Rabbie Namaliu, Kateo, Manning Clark, Dymphna Clark, Peter Munster, Nora Brash, Zedekia Ngavirue, Bertha Ngavirue, John Kaputin, Margaret Loko, Martha and Grandma George, Albert Speer, Rhys and Dorothy Healey, Bill Standish and John and Tim Moresby.
The third section (July 1980 to December 1985) has about 200 photos. Subjects include Port Moresby, the South Pacific Arts Festival, the Eastern Highlands, Chimbu, Western Highlands, Enga including Porgera gold mine, East Sepik, Western, Madang and Gulf provinces. Among the people photographed are patrol officers and explorers Jim Taylor and John Black and their wives Yerima and Dawn, and Sione Latukefu. John Black was also photographed with explorer Ivan Champion. See Australian Dictionary of Biography entries for Taylor, Black and Champion.
The fourth section (September 1987 to September 1988) has about 370 photos. The main subject is field research for work on the 1938 Hagen-Sepik Patrol. In part, this work involved retracing the route that the patrol had taken, plus visiting provinces from which police or carriers were recruited. Copies of photos taken in 1938, most by Pat Walsh, were shown to relatives and other people along the route and also helped locate key sites on the 1938 journey. People who took part in the patrol, mostly as carriers or police, were interviewed and photographed. Sites include the camp site at Hoiyevia, the Strickland Gorge crossing, the Telefomin camp, and Porgera gold mine. Recent developments in the area including the newly opened mine at Mt Kare are also photographed.
Among the Papua New Guinean subjects are policemen Bus of Yuringo, Manus, and Kowuwu of Aro, Morobe, cook Aire Onesa and carrier Sepeka both from Lower Bena, Eastern Highlands, Nifinim at Telefomin, West Sepik/Sandaun, and Suni at Olsobip, Western Province. Kwarima Ubuma of Hoiyevia is photographed as is Meta near Mt Hagen and Mainch of Karo near Ramdi. Meg and Daisy Taylor are also photographed.
A film My Father, My Country was produced in 1989 and the book The Sky Travellers: Journeys in New Guinea 1938-1939 published in 1998 (Melbourne University Press). Other related publications are a commentary ‘John Black’s “Anatomy of a Hanging: Malignant Homicidal Sorcery in the Upper Markham Valley…”’, (Journal of Pacific History, 33 (2), December, 1998) and an article “Sorcery in New Guinea, 1938 and 1988”(Journal of Pacific History, 41, June, 2006).

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Bill Gammage, Canberra, Australia

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Access this title at PMB Member Libraries or by purchasing it directly from the Bureau:

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Bill Gammage's papers are held at the National Library of Australia, see:

The National Library of Australia also holds an audio interview with Dr. Bill Gammage by Susan Marsen in the Oral History section of the Library, ORAL TRC 4912, see:

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