"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:  

May 14, 1926 : Albatross Camp (Base Camp) ; Mamberamo River

May 14th

Lots of activity today, building barracks, etc. The Dyaks have finished their big house and have topped it off with an elaborately carved wooden ornament at either end. This {p. 64} morning Hans, Prince and I got in the motor boat and went upstream around Havik Island and then downstream to the first bend below camp, Hans looking for the best place to take off. As the river is surrounded with mountains here, it is not so easy. We saw a lot of crowned pigeons that could easily have been shot, if we had brought a shot gun with us. They seem quite tame. Last night a big tree that was floating down the river lodged in the stream right back of the aeroplane float in about the worst place possible for the plane. We tried to move it with the two motor boats but it could not be budged. A long heavy rope was then attached and about 200 men got on the other end on shore and it was hauled out in short order. The motor boats then towed it out in the middle of the current and let it drift downstream. Drifting logs are the worst menace there is to the plane. As many of them are just submerged and as the water is very muddy, there is no chance to see such a log. The water is still dropping quite rapidly and banks are beginning to appear all along the river. Today we selected our cargo for the plane and tomorrow morning Hans and I are scheduled to make our exploration flight to the Upper Rouffar. The weather today has been very bad all day, practically impossible for flying. Unless tomorrow is better, the flight will have to be postponed. Our chief difficulty will be to make a safe landing and come to shore with no one to help us. The results of this flight will have an important bearing on the future of the expedition. {p. 65}

CreditsPermissionsMore Expeditions & Voyages