Dispela Kantri Bilong Mi, Nau! Queensland Annexes New Guinea
New Guinea is a land of magnificent, mountainous scenery and luxuriant jungles, of beautiful birds of paradise, where chewing betel nut and talkin Tok Pisin or having a sing-sing in the highlands is the thing to do. Many a white man has slashed and stumbled along the well-worn tracks of the indigenous natives in search of wealth and adventure.
Some military men spent the better part of their manhood perched on forlorn and precarious mountain ridges hoping the conflict of nations would end so they might return to Australia but only to lose their life.
This book is an attempt to tell the story of those intrepid traders, pearlers, and fishermen who braved the waters of the southeast coast of New Guinea and adjacent islands in pursuit of wealth. Who spent their short lives, not only dodging reefs and bommies but displaying exquisite diplomacy in bartering with Papuans to avoid losing their heads over trade.
There is not a lot of academic literature on the history of British New Guinea. Indeed, very little has been written on Anglo-European contact with the indigenous peoples of this area, the Papuans, during the latter part of the nineteenth century. The period under study is not noted for large white settler invasions of tribal homelands for economic exploitation. The frontiers of this particular colony might be described as the missionary frontier, the mining frontier, and the trader frontier. The reader needs to keep squarely in his mind the difference between a trader frontier and a settler frontier. The settler is an invasive body seeking to enter and use tribal lands for economic purposes. The settler can be short term like miners extracting minerals and leaving or long-term settlers seeking to assert ultimately exclusive title and sovereignty over the occupied land.
The threat of loss of life on the colonial frontier of British New Guinea was real and ever-present. To the complacent and unwary, their fate was preordained by the ceremonial taking of their head and their mortal remains forming the principal ingredient of a village feast.