Interview number 5 at Kokoda, Friday May 23, 2014. Can you start by telling us who you are, your age, and introduce the person that you are going to talk about?
Thank you, I am Lindsay Farari, son of a war carrier, Farari Amopa. Age 59, was born in Ombisusu to a war carrier by the name of Farari Amopa. My father Farari Amopa, and those who supported the campaign through this War, most of them are, I could say, they are silent heroes who are today being recognised, some have not been recognised and have now passed away.
Their contribution during the time that have made what is Australia today and Papua New Guinea. And as third in the family of Farari Amopa, I am proud to present this oral history, and it has been a great honour and privilege that the oral history project have come to Kokoda, that we will air our views, how our fathers went through during those time with ill -quipped, during wet weathers, and carrying weight that was over a man should carry, and I believe that Australia need to recognise these people.
My father Farari Amopa, was an able young man who was in Ombisusu village when war broke out. And officers came recruiting for able men to be a war carrier, and they were taken down to Dobuduru, that's where people were grouped and that's where they started their first project, which was Dobuduru airport, that was the first project of my father and other able young men of Oro Province who used their bush knives, grass knives, which were given by Australians, with their bare hands they cut the air strip down.
While waiting for their assignment their recreation time, he told me that they would, after cutting down and after making air strip and the grass was growing, that's when they'd do recreation weekends, they would normally do relay race, sack bag, three-legged race, they would taught by Australians, and they do 200 metres race and their first, second prize was given was they usually take tobaccoes, salt, soap, and
those days were very important so they normally, sent words to the village and relatives and friends normally would go down and get those bush knives, salt and soap, until there was manpower needed, more carriers needed in Wau and Salamaua. So one morning my father told me that they sat – all the recruited young people from Oro sat down – on the runway, and they were encouraged by the Australians, saying that after this war, if they win, they'll be like white men. This was the motivation that they'd given, and they dress like Europeans, eat like European and sleep like European. People would know how to drive, and this was how they would motivate them, that their work as carrier was very important for this war. So after encouraging them, there was transport down to Oro Bay, or Killerton; that's where they shipped them to Lae, and then my father involved as a carrier, in Salamaua, Bulolo area where times he told me, they were exposed in very cold environment, bare naked, only laplap was given to wrap around, and at times freezing temperatures, but they had to cope out thinking that they one day will sit down as Europeans.
The load that they were carrying was, my father told me that the weight of the load that they took was as high as the shoulders down to the knee height that they could carry. At times there was blisters on their shoulders. Day and night because of time factors they had to bring supplies to the nearest frontline. They had to return the next day, they never had time to rest, moving supplies. When there was wounded they had to carry back.
Until what, another thing happened that they had to move them all back to Popondetta and join the other rest. And I can remember my father saying that there were Australian and American engineers, engineers were at Sanananda trying to bring Australian APC, not a war tank but an
armoured vehicle. Duropa plantation that I still remember that an able young man with some other people from Kokoda, or Orokaiva, my father told me that not in Papua New Guinea history that they splitted a coconut tree, a very stiff trunk, but just to help the armoured vehicle to embark from the landing barge to beach head, my father told me that they split the coconut into half, and they made a platform for the armoured vehicle to roll up on to the beach to roll on because there was a swamp, that was a
probably Sanananda area, Buna area, so that was done. Then I can remember that he said that there was two during that work, he said comradeship was – they were so friendly they shared cigarette together, they ate what they ate they gave them. When there was no food, even they share pawpaws, ripe bananas, which was provided by local people, even, what my father ate they ate, Australian and Americans especially, cooked banana they ate, that's what I was told. Another thing I can remember
among those Australian and Americans engineers who were down at Sanananda, after bridge, make building and bridge, two American engineers who became very close friend to my father. He recalled that one was Luke and one was he call it because of language problem he used to call Siri but it was Shrug, were two American who saw his performance
and they liked him and they became best friends. After the campaign he was told that every thing is finished, we will go away, and after that my daddy came supporting his friends; they came to Kumusi bridge because they were withdrawing, they came with Australian, they snap off the bridge, they were trying to put the wire bridge, the name Wairope originated which my father was involved while they were putting bridge and two Orokaiva people argue, one of them got up and said this is wire, and the other, no this is rope, so this is where the two [?] originated, they call it Wairope one and Wairope two, it originated because of two Orokaiva people arguing over one of them got up and said this is rope, the other one said no this is wire, that is where 'Wire-rope' originated, over the Kumusi bridge, building of the Kumusi bridge, wire bridge. From there, because Japanese were pushing the Australians, so they snapped up bridge, they cross over. Why I said our carriers were hero
because of transportation of cargo, ammunition and sick men was very difficulty, that our carriers, fathers who really totally sacrificed their life, thinking that they'd be one day living like a European, which unfortunately never happened, today, for they be paying for that, their contribution is what has made Australian today and Papua New Guinea. I'm proud to be a Papua New Guinean, and my father was a carrier too, he contributed.
Along the Kokoda Trail, even the dead and wounded, today maybe we can tell positively enough that Australian, American they have helicopter – Iriquois to transport evacuation ordered, but unfortunately they would carry ration from Ower's Corner, distribute it down to Kokoda, then carry the wounded back again to Ower's Corner, and from Ower's Corner, was transported by horse and people down to nearest road that they could be shifted.
Until the war was withdraw, and they all went back again, and those Australia engineers who became best friend to my daddy, they promised to take him and they fulfilled. And when their ship came for withdraw they took my father down and they were about to on board the ship, and two of the brother, who are dead too, they went and cried and you mustn't go, otherwise you mightn't return, so my father after all his commitment and sacrifice with the Allied forces he now made to America, he stand up from there, and he came home. And I am the fourth, third in the family, and my father had warned me how terrible war it is, and how humiliation, turmoil that they go through, even he as a carrier he went through that, and to keep my father's legend been in the army,
as an carrier I went into Papua New Guinean force as a military field and I have experienced what is it. And ten years, Bougainville crisis, I went through myself, I know what war is like. I've fulfilled what my father told me to be a soldier and how to sacrifice life for the country. Today, conclusion, I am proud of what my father has contributed, to what is Australia and what is Papua New Guinea today and to be what I am. Thank you.
You said your father came from Ombisusu. This was before the war came here. Is its name still the same today?
Before this recording? Ombi.
So your father actually came from Ombi village, which is known today as Ombisusu.
What is your reason for taking part in this project? This interview?
I want to make known to Australia government and Papua New Guinea government and even people to know that our war
carriers are hero, they have contributed. One way they support this campaign by transporting ammunition, food, evacuating wounded, that's why I came, so I could make known, that this history will go down, that this will be passed on to future generations, that war carrier doing even greater work, despite they have never been a PIB or a policeman at the time.
This story you just told, those of us who are gathered here, have you told it to other members of your family, for instance your children?
My children know, because when I was in Port Moresby, my dad flew several times to stay with me in Port Moresby. Because my children used to ask questions over what type of weapon that time he had seen because my little son, the last born, Jonathan was around with me was always asking because normally I carry carbine, short carbine M16A2, A1 I think, A2; so he compare with now, but my days were different, they carry Bren gun and 303 and Bren gun. He would tell my children.
Have you ever told your story to a magazine or a newspaper?
No. Until this - this is the first time.
This is your first time?
I thought that it was very important to have made known, white people are told this to know that there are war carriers who have contributed, and they have never been represented until today. There are some people who were window curtains: they have been awarded.
Lindsay, what made you join the army? What was your reason for joining the army.
I've told my father, you've been a carrier but I'll be a soldier. And I fulfilled it. He knew therefore that I fought. And I raised flag with Jerry Singirok on Panguna hill, .. village, Panguna. Papua New Guinea flag.
So you took part in a war? And finally, what do you think about wars? What is your opinion of war?
I think war is not made by the common people. It is political and religious and innocent people suffer. The global war that people fight today is not by business people or anything else, no, it is politicians and religious war that people are fighting throughout the world today, that history has proven.
[INTERVIEWER - JA]:
Alright your stories are very, very interesting and it looks like your dad is one of the engineer and you been follow in his footsteps. Just want to get back to you. Do your father, did they contribute to building of Kokoda airstrip, Myola and all that - did they do contribution in here or did they serve only on the Salamaua or Morobe side?
Thank you for reminding me. Ebei airstrip was built by one of the Australian sergeants. Once I can remember I flew into Asimba in 1992 after Bougainville operation I came home and took my R and R, and then one of the Hagen students was a geologist in the university. He told me about gold rush in Aikora, Asimba so I flew in 1992, and then I was then while my father was still alive I came back again by that aircraft and I went down. I slept and he told me, 'My son, I never told you that there was gold in Ebei River'. There was one of the Australia sergeants, engineer who was building the Ebei airstrip, and he told me, 'After war finish, I will come back and this is gold', and in those days my father experienced silver and notes, so when you got the nuggets and you talk about money, my father never believed that. Until that time he told me that story, that Australian sergeant went away and never came back, so he said when I went to find gold, stone money
until now, I'm telling you the story about the Australian sergeant who built Ebei airstrip. In fact my father was an ordinary village young person but he was recruited, enlisted for labourers, sorry , carrier, war carrier that's why he was energetic and he had capability so he was building bridges and setting foundations for armoured vehicle to roll over the beach at Sanananda and Buna.
[INTERVIEWER - JA]:
Why the reason why I am asking you this, because like the pathways, before the war there has to be airstrips built and roads done, because without this you won't be receiving any ammunitions or any rations so that was important part of the carrier that your dad was in so very thankful for that.
Thank you. In fact, the airstrip out here built with bare hands and shovels and spades and wheelbarrow was Doboduru and Ebei.
[INTERVIEWER - JW]:
Lindsay, you describe vividly and you told us a story of a difference between wire and rope, and how that name originated. What was the name of that surrounding that became known as Wairope, can you be able to tell us some information?
My father told me that because they tried as much as possible to build up ammunition and some food ration across the Kumusi bridge, that were based there, and that is where they were putting the wire bridge across with the Australian engineers, and that is why two Orokaivans argue, one friend said no this is rope, and the other one said, no this wire, wire rope, and the Australian engineers said 'Wire-rope' and they called that place this.
[INTERVIEWER - JW]:
Thank you. The actual place, was it Ajeka, and what does Ajeka mean?
That I wouldn't know, I never ask about that, but
[INTERVIEWER - JW]:
I have heard, done some local history of that area and Maclaren knows, 'with my wife', or 'I'm sleeping with my wife', Maclaren?
I'm raising this with you Lindsay because our younger generation has learned the names of what has been established and created, and they have pushed aside this Ajeka, which has a very, very important record, particularly between the father and the mother and the relationship, the bonding, the love that our parents used to name some of these local places. Ombisusu, and others. So thank you for that information.
Lindsay, when the carriers returned to the village after the war, were they looked at as champions, heroes, maybe? Were they given any special positions in the village? Did your father tell you anything of that sort or did you hear it from someone else?
After the war my father came home, they were trying to rebuild back Kokoda station, so my father was employed, and then he worked around Kokoda building up the places, Mamba and Kokoda station, until he got married, and then he went back home and settled. At Ombisusu, that's where he raised us up.
When did he leave this world?
About 2002, he died.
How big a family did he leave?
We are four boys in the family.
His grandchildren of today?
I've three children.
Together with your brothers, that would be roughly what? Twenty grandchildren, fifteen grandchildren?
“Lindsay Farari - Oral History interview recorded on 23 May 2014 at Kokoda Station, Northern Province, PNG,” Voices from the War, accessed September 23, 2023, https://pngvoices.deakin.edu.au/items/show/291.