I lived in Lae 1971-74 and 79-83 when flying in the Army. At that time it was the most beautiful place on earth with crime mainly restricted to petty theft and of course drunken brawls in the bars. Our two daughters went to school in town with no fear for their safety. The lawns and gardens were all immaculate.
I have visited on and off over the years and seen the deterioration into a hell hole of corruption and crime. Beautiful country, pity about the people.
I drove the Highlands Highway, where our truck driver goes in the doco, a number of times and it was never perfect but better than today. Even then the "rascals" would come up behind the trucks as they were grinding up the Kassam Pass out of the Markham Valley and open the back to start chucking stuff out. if it was possible the transport companies would put big stuff beside the door to make it harder for them. Taughtliners with gates also made it harder but now it is just containers, often with the doors tack welded.
The drivers were too frightened to stop and just kept going hoping to get to the next village before the truck was empty. At least in those days the police responded and made arrests. I suspect now the police are partners in the operation.
I have landed at the strip the Kiwi pilot goes into many times.
Lae airfield in the 1970's. Our 183 Recce Flight Army Aviation were based in the buildings near the large aircraft on lower left.
The grass was like a bowling green. no rubbish and the golf course, just visible above the pond at the top, was voted the best in the entire Pacific, including Hawaii. Avenues of magnificent Rain Trees , a small zoo (all animals killed or eaten) and Botanical Gardens (bush now).
Here is the same place today. As well as looking like a s...-hole the 2m tall Kunai grass disguises the rubbish strewn across the whole place. The buildings and hangars have all been stolen and the magnificent avenues of 100 year old rain-trees have all been chopped down and the Australian taxpayer forks out hundreds of millions to this corrupt mob every year.
It is not well known but for two years during the early 1930's Papua New Guinea (mainly Lae) carried more airfreight than the whole rest of the world combined flying the big floating gold dredges in pieces up to Bulolo
This photo is taken at Lae airfield about where the numbers 32 are on the runway in the top photo
Here is Lae during WW2 getting the treatment and the aftermath.
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A mate of mine used to be the Engineer on cargo ships bringing superphosphate from places such as Nauru to Australia and New Zealand. He said that when the British or New Zealand authorities ran the towns and mines, the towns were immaculate, with freshly painted houses with well tended gardens for the workers. The people were neatly dressed in clean clothes and the shops were well stocked with produce from around the Pacific.
Within six months of administration being handed back to local authorities, streets were littered with rubbish and shops had very little stock.
After a year or two, the houses were shabby and overgrown, junk was everywhere and shops were empty.
The industry no longer exists and the workers have no work and no money.
I have my shoulder to the wheel,
my nose to the grindstone,
I've put my best foot forward,
I've put my back into it,
I'm gritting my teeth,
Wrong on the millions,looks like billions now,with no possibility it will ever be repaid.....the Raskols at the top are playing us against the Chinese......which is no contest ,the Chinese arent stupid enough to lend any thing without much more in return........Guy I know was saying the famous Lambo Limos are unsaleable due to the stink of soiled interiors.......the PNG govt is now getting quotes on complete interior refits.
There seems to be a bit of interest in this subject started by Swishy.
Here is a bit more historic stuff.
This is a photo taken about 1980 coming in to Lae. Compare it with the photo above from the same direction with all the containers on the runway. Typical well-supported Australian country town showgrounds on bottom right. The two ponds are gravel quarries that the engineers used to resurface the bomb damaged runway and town roads in 1943.
These two photos are taken only 6 months after the bombing photos above after Lae was taken by the Australian 7th Division (with the 9th coming from the East and the 6th coming from the south). How good are the engineers both American and Australian to have the whole place cleaned up, buildings repaired and roads rebuilt in such a short time.
The first one looks across the runway to where all those destroyed Japanese aircraft were lined up - all gone and the place looking beaut. The second one just swung a bit more to the left looking at the end of the runway and across the bay to Salamaua.
This was taken about 1980 over Lae. PNG Defence Force Air TRansport Squadron. I was Squadron 2 i/c and driving the Nomad this day behind the DC-3.
This was taken about 1971 when I was a pup flying Pilatus Porters in Lae. Japanese Zero in the jungle on the hill behind town.
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