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The Rock-itt : February 2010
Feeling much more confident with Basil's advice under his belt he headed off and eventually landed in Kavieng. Errol in his memoirs described his first impressions of the township this way. "I took ship for New Ireland and arrived in Kavieng, a town in which the cocanut palm is used in scores of ways --palm covered houses, hats and caps modelled of braided coconut leaf, furniture of the palm stalk -- everything touched by copra. The population was picturesque, most were Melanesian, and there were many Chinese and only a few white." The plantation of Matinalawa which Errol was to manage was another day's travel. On arrival he was relieved to find that he had a comfortable little bungalow as his lodgings, which was situated close to the sea shore. Also to Errol's delight the previous manager had left a shelf of various books. Errol always had a love for literature and he knew this would be his solace when he felt the loneliness, and craved for his friends and family. Next morning it was time for Errol to make his presence felt with the Plantation work force which had been assembled together. Errol wore his tropical white attire, including his pith helmet , compliments of the Australian Government. He implemented Basil Hoare's advice and had the Boss Boy instruct the workers to get about the days business. Meanwhile, Errol would familiarise himself with the plantation, going about the place like a man who knew exactly what was going on and even though he didn't, he took note of how things were done on a copra plantation and as time went by he gradually got well acquainted with how the whole thing worked. For quite a while, harmony appeared to exist as the coconut palms flourished and bore fruit, which was gradually harvested and the copra separated from the husk, dried and then packed for shipping. But one night Errol was informed that beriberi had broken out amongst the work force. This is a disease which is brought on by lack of proper vitamins in the daily diet. Also Errol noticed many of the men had wounds on their bodies which indicated that two separate factions who made up the bulk of the work force had been fighting. Errol began taking on the job of cleaning and dressing their wounds with what little medical supplies he had and even tried to stop the fighting going on amongst them. But most of the time the fights were out of pure boredom and no hostilities seemed to come out of it except the blowing off of a build up of steam. Meanwhile, Errol learnt the copra trade, swam in the sea, read books and tried as much as he could to keep himself well and occupied. On one occasion, however, something very disturbing happened, something which would stay in his mind for the rest of his life. Catch our next instalment of "Hobart to Hollywood" to find out what it is. It is almost too horrific to write about so don't miss it. Cutting the coconuts How Errol would have been met each morning by the plantation workers