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Thursday, January 22, 2015

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.

In more recent years I also found the book based on the radio series and containing 224 pages of informative text with many archival photographs, newspaper clippings and a detailed index but nothing could ever replace those wonderful audio cassettes - until just now when I found them as a downloadable 17-hour audiobook on Amazon's www.audible.com (click on PLAY AUDIO SAMPLE).

Of course, I immediately bought it!