"By Aeroplane to Pygmyland" Accounts of the 1926 Smithsonian-Dutch Expedition to New Guinea

Interpretive Essays

Browse Photos and Film

Expedition Source Material

About this Project

expedition source material

Journal of Matthew Stirling
Select a Date:
Select a location/subject:
Current Date and Location/Subject:  

December 13, 1926 : Albatross Camp (Base Camp)

December 13

The last few days in Albatross camp were spent in packing and loafing. The Dyaks have learned to play football and do so every evening. They have their own rules, however, and such matters as using the hands on the ball offsides, etc. mean nothing in their game. Toman Kirip came around one night rubbing his thighs and remarked that work on the mountain trail was nothing compared with this. They are busy making us presents carved from wood - little canoes, coffins, etc. They can make a perfect miniature canoe, sideboards, carved prow and stern and all in a few hours. The Dyaks are very anxious to get our old shirts and pants and shoes, which I hate to see them wearing as it takes away about 500% of their good looks when they put on such unfamiliar trappings. The Takutemesa too visit the camp every day and pick up odds and ends. When wearing an old cast off undershirt and a pair of pants, they take on about as degraded a look as one could imagine in a human being. However these articles of clothing are the delight of their hearts. On December 9 three whoops on the siren announced the presence of the "Albatross" and the "Wega" below the point at the anchorage. The next couple of days were spent in loading and on the morning of the 11th we weighed anchor and turned down stream. The Wega is the Governor General's boat, and is a fine little ship. On board her were van Leeuwen, le Roux, Stan, Dick, Prince and I, together with {p. 308} Dot and Dash, our short and long radio operators, belonging to the navy and Saleh and van Leeuwen's mantri. The Dyaks are all with us too. The military detachment and the convicts are aboard the Albatross. We left ahead of the Albatross and about 4 P.M. ran aground near Kirchwen island. We put out a kedge anchor and tried to haul ourselves off, but the rope broke. We then put out another anchor but the ship would not budge. The Albatross came up but could do nothing as it is a treacherous place in the river and there is no room to maneuver. We spent the night on the bar with plenty of mosquitoes as visitors and in the morning tried again to get off without success. The Dyaks were put to work shifting the cargo and at 4 P.M. of the 12th we worked off the bank into deep water again. It was too late to start on so we anchored for the night of the 12th with more mosquitoes and early the morning of the 13th were under way again occasionally passing through patches of thick fog. About noon we passed through the mouth of the river. The west monsoon is blowing and as we looked east and west along the coast a great surf was booming on the shore with the wind whipping the spray to the height of the tree tops. At three P.M. we were out of sight of land.

CreditsPermissionsMore Expeditions & Voyages