Richard Thurnwald and Thomas James Rodoni in the Upper Sepik 1914

New Guinea Tribesmen circa 1914 - 1915

Telefolmin men from the highland valley near the source of the Sepik River, Papua New Guinea, September 1914. Image by Dr Richard Thurnwald

A small number of an historic hoard of rare images taken in German New Guinea at the outbreak of WW1 are now understood to have been looted, by an Australian military expedition, from German ethnologist Dr Richard Thurnwald.

And so, another intesting chapter in the life and times of Thomas James Rodoni (1882-1956) and his fellow troops in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) has now emerged thanks to Dr Barry Craig, Senior Curator, Foreign Ethnology at the South Australian Museum.

Following the launch of Rodoni’s digitised photographic glass and film negatives in the freely accessible Rodoni Archive, Dr Craig commented on the site’s pages in May/June 2015 that he had recognised that a number of Rodoni’s images had not been taken by him, but, in fact taken by a German ethnographer Richard Thurnwald possibly in Sept-Oct 1914.  He stated:

“Thurnwald had returned from his exploration to the source of the Sepik, apparently leaving his photographs at his base camp, and set off up the Sepik again in November to explore the Sand and North Rivers (the latter as far north as the Bewani Range). While he was away, the AN&MEF arrived (with Rodoni) on the Nusa and took all of Thurnwald’s boats, his engineer Theodore Fiebig, and supplies, collections, notes and images back down the river, eventually to Madang. When Thurnwald returned to find his camp ransacked, he went down river in a paddle canoe, sustained by a few cans of beans, and reported to the police station at Angoram, and then went on to Madang where he was befriended by Captain Walter Balfour Ogilvy, the District Officer there. Thurnwald then attempted to get all his things back but it took many years and not everything was returned. It seems these images in possession of Rodoni were part of the looting.” – Dr Barry Craig Wednesday, 20 May, 2015 at 10:57 am

Dr Craig published The Fate of Thurnwald’s Sepik Ethnographic Collections, and it was interesting to finally be able to locate a small portion of the collection, after a hundred years, that had been lying in a suburban garage and lost to the world.

We invited Dr Craig to prepare an article on this story, in order that these images could have their original provenance properly reassigned, which he did, with the assistance of Dr Christine Winter.

We thank both Dr Barry Craig and Dr Christine Winter for permission to publish their work that recounts the story of the images, and the locations in which they were taken.

The following two articles can be downloaded to your desktop, ipad or mobile device.

Richard Thurnwald and Thomas James Rodoni in the Upper Sepik Region of New Guinea 1914
[15.2 MB PDF FILE]
by Dr Barry Craig, Senior Curator, Foreign Ethnology, South Australian Museum and Dr Christine Winter, ARC Future Fellow – Matthew Flinders Fellow, Flinders University

The Fate of Thurnwald’s Sepik Ethnographic Collections [8MB PDF FILE]
By Barry Craig, South Australian Museum, Adelaide (1997)

(Reproduced with kind permission of the publisher)

These papers are also published on the The Upper Sepik-Central New Guinea Project pages

Cranky Handle Rally


Our colleagues, the Hunter Valley Vintage Farm Machinery Club Inc. will be hosting the

Cranky Handle Rally

20th & 21st August 2016

at Richmond Vale Railway Museum

Located in the historic Richmond Main Colliery site,

Leggett’s Drive (B82, Richmond Vale

4km south of Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley, NSW

In association with Richmond Vale Railway Museum, an invitation for all with a love for old machinery and equipment, to see engines, tractors, trucks, cars, machinery, bikes and memorabilia, at the 2016 Cranky Handle Rally.

See a large display of vintage agricultural machinery, lovingly restored while some remain in their “working clothes“.

Stationery engines, tool collections, tractors, trucks, cars and bikes from yesteryear, on display at the Historic Richmond Vale Railway Museum. Inspect the mining museum in the old Administration Building, view underground mining equipment and enjoy a train ride to Pelaw Main.

Offering ample parking, canteen facilities, toilets and parents room, picnic areas and disabled access.

For further details contact the Show Organiser:

Peter DRAPER – 02 4966 2813 OR 0418 673 816


Vale George Davison

George Davison

George Davison ( early 1960’s). Photograph courtesy of Barry Howard.

Vale George Arthur Davison


The UON Library’s Cultural Collections team is saddened to report the passing of Mr George Davison, who kindly made his collection of photographs from his time in the mining industry available to us and permitted us to publish them.

Mr Davison was a mine worker in Myuna and Newvale No. 2 Collieries.  After his retirement, he was for some time the Curator of Richmond Vale Mining Museum on the site of the former Richmond Main Colliery.

We extend our sincere sympathy to his family and friends.

George Davison

George Davison as Curator of Richmond Vale Mining Museum. Photograph courtesy of Barry Howard.

Shade: Artists of the desert


Shade Artists of the desert

Artists of the desert

EXHIBITION: 6 July – 6 August 2016

The University Gallery

Remote desert communities in the heart of Australia are home to some of our country’s most successful artists. Beginning in Papunya in the early 1970s with the exploratory transfer of ceremonial mark making onto board and canvas, there emerged an explosion of works made using vibrant acrylic paints, potent symbology and diversity of line and form. This unique contemporary art movement has now been active for over 40 years.

Contemporary art from these regions illuminate the unique experience of the desert: its light and shade, its contours, its gifts and adversities, its deep running songlines and sacred beauty. Artists render themes connected to place and belonging in ways that bring Country, Tjukurpa (Law), creation stories and the landscape, to life. Places of both sacred and everyday meaning are embodied in vibrant articulations that shimmer with colour and power.

Drawing on works from the University Art Collection, Shade celebrates this richness through paintings that range from across the Central and Western Deserts, to Kintore, Yuendumu and the Kimberley region. The University Gallery will, in conjunction with the artists of Warlukurlangu, have paintings for sale during the exhibition.

Please join us for the exhibition opening at the University Gallery to be launched by Una Rey:

Wednesday 6 July from 5.30pm