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Video clip synopsis – In 1938 Jim Taylor lead an epic 15 month exploratory patrol through the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Year of production - 1989
Duration - 4min 1sec
Tags - civics and citizenship, environment, maps, Pacific region, Papua New Guinea, sustainability, see all tags


Journey Back in Time

How to Download the Video Clip

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About the Video Clip


Journey Back in Time is an excerpt from the film My Father, My Country produced in 1989.

My Father, My Country
In 1938 three Australian patrol officers – Jim Taylor, John Black and Pat Walsh – set off on an epic journey into the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Their purpose: to make contact with 'stone age’ tribes who knew nothing of the outside world and explain to them that their lives were about to undergo incredible change. Fifty years later, Jim’s daughter Meg retraced her father’s steps and met people who remembered the day the patrol arrived. Meg’s observations are combined with excerpts from her father’s journal to provide a personal and poetic narrative about an extraordinary meeting of cultures.

A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with the National Geographic Society.

Curriculum Focus


Geographic knowledge and understanding
Geospatial skills

In Level 5 Geography, students have the opportunity to

  • Use a variety of geographic tools and skills, together with an inquiry–based approach, to investigate the characteristics of the Asia–Pacific region.
  • Explore how and why, over time, human and physical interactions produce changes to the characteristics of regions.
  • Investigate environmental issues.

Other Links to VELS
Physical, Personal and Social Learning
Interpersonal Development – working and learning in teams, values as social constructs, resolving conflicts
Personal learning – ethical considerations, manage own learning
Civic and Citizenship – personal identity, knowing rights and responsibilities as a citizen, social justice. Appreciation of Australia’s role in the global community.

Interdisciplinary Learning
Opportunities for enhancing

  • Communication skills
  • ICT skills
  • Higher order thinking skills
This material is an extract. Teachers and Students should consult the Victoria Curriculum and Assessment Authority website for more information.

Background Information


The indigenous peoples of the Highlands of what is now Papua New Guinea (PNG) were not known to the outside world until the 1930s. Gold prospectors discovered that the highland terrain thought to be too inhospitable to be inhabited, was in fact teeming with an estimated one million people.

Although European explorers visited the island of Guinea in the sixteenth century, it was not colonised until the late 19th century. The large island was divided — the Dutch controlling the west and the Germans and British controlling the east. The southern section of the island (annexed by the Queensland Colony in 1883), became a British protectorate in 1884 and in 1905 was passed to Australia as the ‘Territory of Papua’. German New Guinea was occupied by Australia in World War I and mandated by the League of Nations to Australia in 1920. In 1947, the Territory of New Guinea was placed under Australian rule under the international trusteeship system by the UN (United Nations).

Today, the western side of the island, Papua, is a province of Indonesia. Since independence from Australia in 1975, the eastern side of the island is now called the independent nation of Papua New Guinea.

What this potted history doesn’t tell us is the human experience of colonisation. Colonisation has had a huge impact on the lives of the Papua New Guineans as well as on the lives of those who colonised. Australian Jim Taylor ventured into the Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea in 1938 as part of a government patrol. The mission was to explore and bring the people of the region under government control. Taylor was mindful that his patrol would have a profound effect on the people of the 'stone age’ tribes who had never before seen white men. Fifty years later his daughter Meg retraces her father’s 15-month journey through some of the world’s most inhospitable terrain. Her father, whom she describes as 'a great man of history,’ died the year before her journey. This video clip introduces Meg’s journey retracing her father’s steps as she reflects on the impact of ‘First Contact’ on the indigenous people.

Classroom Activities

  1. Using data from the video clips and an atlas, describe the journey led by patrol officer Jim Taylor. Include as many geographical features as possible, including landform, vegetation and distance traveled. Using the video clip and an atlas try to trace the patrol officers’ route from Mt. Hagen to Sepik.
  2. Use this resource and the diary entries mentioned in the video clips to write a diary as if written by one of the patrol officers in 1938. Mark each entry on your map and include a small drawing showing a feature of the local environment.
  3. Why do you think it was so important for the daughter of one of the 1938 patrol officers to retrace the route taken by her father over 50 years ago? What do you think she meant by, “the spirits will be settled”, as a reason for her expedition?
  4. How do you think the region has changed since the 1938 journey? What sources of information might give you data about these changes?

Further Resources


Go to Pacific Stories Learning for Interactive Compass Map with facts about the Pacific region.

For interview transcripts, books and references for this Digital Resource go to Pacific Stories, choose My Father, My Country, select INDEX, and go to MORE INFORMATION.