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

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Journal of Matthew Stirling
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May 3, 1926 : Albatross Camp (Base Camp) ; Mamberamo River

May 3rd

"Work continued making camp."

Work continued making camp. The clearing was extended and already the place is taking form. The hospital tent was put up today and further progress made on the big {p. 47} "Chinese barracks" for storing the food. Work was also begun on the radio installation. Two tall trees are being left standing to serve as aerial towers. It is quite a sight to watch the Dyaks climb. They will jump from a tree trunk to a swinging vine a hundred feet from the ground and are as agile as monkeys in this high work. They have been lashing an improvised ladder of cross pieces to the tree for the sailors to use when they put up the aerial. Our convicts are in their element now getting our personal camp installed. Whether it is affection, or a desire to keep out of the heavy working crew unloading the supplies, is hard to tell - probably the latter is the case. In any event they are most anxious to please and finally are able to be put to some real use. They are very handy at building little knic-knacs [sic] about camp - tables, benches and so forth. With 5 men doing nothing but attending to it, our shelter is already looking quite shipshape.

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