Floods along the Sepik River

May 23, 2013 at 7:24 am (Angoram, Chu Leong, East Sepik District, East Sepik Province, Fr Mihalic, Norm Liddle, Papua New Guinea, Peter Johnson, PNG Health, Sara David, Sepik floods, Vivien Liddle)


Recently I accessed Sara David’s blog: midwiferybeyondborders.wordpress.com

Sara is an Australian midwife, and she is doing wonderful work helping and training Sepik River women in all aspects of birthing and child care.

One of her main trainees is Vivien Liddle of Kambaramba Village. In the old days when I lived in Angoram I knew Vivien’s father, Norm.

Vivien managed to get in touch with Sara in Australia and tell her about a terrible flood they were having now in the Sepik River area. This reminded me of the 1973 floods as reported in the above article in the Post-Courier.

I can imagine the difficulties this would be creating for the people, particularly the young mothers.

A look at Sara David’s blog is strongly recommended.

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Norm Liddle, an engaging and likeable character!

February 23, 2013 at 5:31 am (Angoram, Angoram Club, Biography, East Sepik District, East Sepik Province, Kainantu, Mining, Norm Liddle, PNG, Sepik River)

The remains of Norm Liddle's saw mill in Angoram

The remains of Norm Liddle’s saw mill in Angoram

In the course of our lives we all meet a number of people – some readily forgettable and others we might just remember. But there are a select few we can never forget. In this category I would put Norm Liddle!

Norm was that type of Australian, particularly a Queenslander, who I’m afraid to say are now pretty thin on the ground – a man with a wide and varied experience of life and readily adaptable to whatever circumstances he found himself in – whether it was the Australian outback, cutting timber, fixing machinery, serving in the RAAF and the AIF, and living along the Sepik River and the Highlands of PNG; he took it all in his stride. Truly a character!

I first met Norm in 1966 in Angoram. At this time he was living in what was known as the Ex-Service Camp in the far extremities of the town boundaries on the banks of the river. It was there that he had the beginnings of a saw mill.

He arrived in Angoram in 1963. His first interest was to ascertain the timber potential in areas near the Keram River. His junior partner in business at the time was Jeff Liversidge – a man who is still living in Wewak, and is well-known as a sculptor.

A friend of mine once described Norm: ‘as an accomplished musician, skilled taxidermist, reptile hunter, ex-serviceman in both the army and the air force, and pioneer forestry surveyor.’

I well remember Norm in the Angoram Club giving us a rendition on his accordion of Rolf Harris’s The Court of King Caractacus. I must also admit, that on some rare occasions the members hoped that Norm would be like the ladies of the harem of the Court of King Caractacus and just pass by! But seriously we all enjoyed his playing.

Norm was a man that could and would speak with authority on most subjects. In many ways he had an encyclopaedic mind – his facts were not always correct, but in discussions he had few equals. On one occasion he engaged a Spanish speaker in the correct pronunciation of the word, President – Norm insisted that it was El Presidento, the Spanish speaker said it was, El Presidente – I’m afraid the Spanish speaker was correct!

Norm fitted in with the prevailing atmosphere, and the life of Angoram. Some who were less than friendly towards him may have described him as bone lazy. But all credit to Norm, he did survive, even if at times he may have appeared to be only subsisting!

He would make himself available to the odd tourist around the town, and this brought in the odd dollar. One young American woman whom Norm had helped with arranging transport and hiring canoes, showed her gratitude by sending him a packet of marijuana seeds from the States. This was at a time when New Guinea was blissfully ignorant about the drug. Norm planted the seeds near his setup on the river bank and they grew like wildfire. Some said that for a year or so Norm kept himself pretty well stoned! I was told that he was careful not to let the locals know anything about the plant and what it was doing for him.

Norm was a great advocate for a number of local people in the courts, and was instrumental in getting many off after representing and giving legal advice to them – indeed a man of many parts!

His interesting and varied life came to an end in Kainantu in 1986. It was there that, I believe, he thought he was onto a sure thing having found a gold mine that he figured would yield great returns.

Sometime prior to this his personal life took a very happy turn for the better. He met Monika, a woman from Kambaramba, and they became partners. Monika subsequently gave birth to Vivian, their daughter. Norm by all reports was so proud of Vivian.

What else can I say about Norm, he was a character, but a very likeable one, a human man with more virtues than vices!

See: https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2008/09/08/komuniti-monthly-newsletter-angoram-community-centre/

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Komuniti, monthly newsletter, Angoram Community Centre

September 8, 2008 at 7:32 am (Bob Mackie, Commentary, David Wall, East Sepik District, Fr Fons Ruijter, Norm Liddle) (, , , , , , , )

Vol. 1 No. 1 January 1973

Angoram- – – then, today, tomorrow     Paul Niaga

Too little is known about the sub- district of Angoram. The expatriates who have lived in Angoram come and go barely leaving notes and records that could go down in the sub- district’s history. As a human interest feature, Komuniti  has interviewed four old-timers who have seen the growth of the town over the last ten years.

Bob Mackie, a labor recruiter in his heyday has seen Angoram in the ’50s; Norm Liddle, a sawmiller and trader has been here in the ’60s; Fr Fons Ruijter, Angoram parish priest and Dave Wall, malaria area supervisor who both came here in the ’60s.

The stories of these men have found their way in the archives of Angoram’s past carried on today and perhaps tomorrow.

Bob Mackie:  In the ’50s, there were no motor boats and motor vehicles. There were only one or two stores which sold brown rice, tin fish and other general merchandise goods. I remember in those days, the locals were not allowed to drink beer. And one of the most prevalent crimes was rape. Other than that, the town was relatively peaceful in the ’50s.

As for racial discrimination, I have not seen any such thing.


Norm Liddle:  I have been here since 1963 and I have not seen many changes take place. Economically, Angoram is still the same. I think the people should be trained and given skills in producing basic products.

I have no opinion on racial problems. I think such problems come from people who teach hatred for each other due to trivial differences.

Political awareness in this country to day is still nil. In the first election, Bill Eichhorn stood as a candidate and lost. If he had campaigned well, he would have won easily. Until now, the people have no idea what elections are all about.


Fr Fons Ruijter:  Angoram has improved a little since the ’60s. The trade stores have improved and increased in number. The public servants’ houses are far better than in those days. The airstrip has been renovated. We in the ’70s have a local government centre now. The artifacts and crocodile industries have now grown to surpass the sawmill industry.

In the ’60s, the majority were working for private enterprises whereas now, most are administration employees. This why I think Angoram has turned into an administrative town in the ’70s. The cream of the town’s income come from there.

There is a higher level of political awareness in the ’70s than in the ’60s. There are more political meetings now where people can watch and listen. Radio stations also hasten political awareness.

After self government, I think race relations will be pretty good in Angoram. Many jobs will be localised leaving just a few Europeans working here. Once self government is achieved, race relations will not be a great problem.

But after self government, Angoram will remain economically the same. Incidentally, I must say that the majority of Angoram  residents living by the river banks will have to move to where the source of income is. To have more prospects of economic growth, the local people I think should take interest in Gavien projects, cultivate the land gradually by growing rice, coffee, coconuts from now and onward.


Dave Wall:  I first came to Angoram in 1965. I have witnessed two House of Assembly elections, five different ADCs, four medical officers, three school headmasters and three old expatriate families who have gone away. Having assisted in the survey of the Land Settlement Scheme in Gavien, I have seen the development of some agricultural blocks in this area. And yet, I don’t think the physical growth of Angoram has been remarkable. It is only by remaining as a government station that Angoram can have bright hopes of prospering. It is only Angoram’s economic viability that will guarantee and insure its future.

As far as political awareness is concerned, I am optimistic that more and more people will participate in government activities. The increase in the Sepik student population is encouraging. One good example of the ability of the Sepik people is Mr Michael Somare who emerged as this country’s chief minister.

If the government will be run by sensible leaders like Mr Somare, the development of Papua New Guinea will be assured.

Deborah Ruiz Wall, Editor / Paul Niaga, Managing Editor / Pius Balai, Pius Kinok, Herman Leni, Reporters/

Catholic Mission, Publisher /    Komuniti is the Angoram newsletter published monthly to disseminate information and encourage discussions on important issues as a public service to the community. The opinions expressed therein are not necessarily of the staff.

See: https://deberigny.wordpress.com/2008/09/11/chief-minister-michael-somare-visits-angoram-feb-1973/#respond

Letter from the District Commissioner

Deborah Ruiz Wall looks at Angoram in 1973


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