New Guinea exhibition – memories of the 1970’s

JMCousteau, Francois Brenot, Dr Jean Gilliard

The current Papua New Guinea display part of the 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7) at the Queensland Art Gallery brought back memories of my time on Wuvulu in the 1970’s. We were there to develop an exclusive diving resort, similar to the game parks in Africa. It was all part of the development plan by the Cousteau Society to develop an eco-tourism resort. Wuvulu lies North of Wewak on the northern coast of New Guinea, near the border with Irian Jaya. It’s an underwater mountain lying almost on the equator and has a long history of European contact.
Sepik sing-sing01
There were Sepik labourers on the plantation and they danced a sing-sing for us on our arrival. They prepared the hats they wore for the sing-sing from cardboard and wood and spent days in preparation dancing and singing into the nights.

Wuvulu Carver01

I was hoping to see some Wuvulu artefacts. I have seen a unique bowl on eBay which was nothing like anything I saw in the 70’s and was probably much older. Not that its a criticism of the exhibition which I found inspiring enough to write about and resurface some memories from an interestiing past which was way ahead of its time.

The Pepperdine University Project Ocean Search Wuvulu which followed, inspired me to go back to university and study marine biology and write a book about Australia underwater. (see It also inspired me to the focus of market power as a means of changing poor environmental practices, a model which has come into its own with the advent of the internet and programs such as `’


“It’s probably the best day since he passed away, just knowing that it’s probably the last thing I will be able to do for him” — a father of a fallen peacekeeper.

This is big. Avril’s 41,000-strong petition to have her son Jamie and 47 other fallen peacekeepers recognised just won — the War Memorial Council this week unanimously voted in favour of adding their names to the Roll of Honour.

“The day that the AWM granted our Peacekeepers the right to go on the Honour Roll was a significant day to my family and to my son Jamie. I know that he would want his name alongside his comrades who have lost their lives serving their country. This victory is something we needed to do for Jamie and all 48 Peacekeepers.”

It’s been an astounding journey. Before starting a petition on, she spent years sending letters to Ministers of Defence, Prime Ministers and MPs — yet they turned her away every time.

This time, something different happened. She posted a petition on, then thousands of people began sharing it on social media — and her story was picked up by some of the country’s biggest media, including The Project, Today Tonight, ABC News,, The Australian, Channel 7, 9 and 10 nightly news.

Through the petition, she connected with other families of people killed on peacekeeping missions, like Sarah McCarthy and Peter Pridue. The Greens, Labor and Coalition all backed a Senate motion in support of Avril’s campaign. And by the time the War Memorial Council was making a decision, an amazing 41,000 people had signed her petition — forcing them to add peacekeepers to the War Memorial in Canberra. 

It’s an incredible win. And just like thousands of other people who’ve won using, Avril had never started a petition before. Be part of Avril’s celebrations by sharing her win on Facebook — and remember you can start your own petition on here.

Thanks for being a part of this,

Karen, Tony, Nathan and the team

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Images from the exhibition in the Gallery of Contemporary Art.

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