James Lindsay Taylor

James Lindsay Taylor (1901-1987), Australian Administration officer, explorer and farmer. Taylor was born in Sydney and educated at Sydney Technical High School and the University of Sydney. He served in the Australian army in France during World War I and in the New South Wales police force from 1923-25. In 1926 he became a patrol officer in the Australian Mandated Territory of New Guinea. He was Inspector of Police in Rabaul from 1928-32 and Assistant District Officer from 1931-42. In the 1930s he played a major role in colonial exploration and contact in the highlands.

In 1933 Taylor and Michael and Daniel Leahy, in an expedition jointly sponsored by the Administration and the Bulolo Gold Dredging Company, became the first Europeans to enter the central highlands and to explore the Chimbu (now known as Simbu) and Wahgi Valleys. During this expedition he met Masi Pisinga, leader of the Biaman Senglap clan, whose 16-year-old daughter, Yirima, he later married. In 1938 the Administration asked Taylor and John Black to lead an expedition to explore mountainous country between Mount Hagen, the Dutch and Papuan borders and the Sepik River. Accompanied by 20 police and 230 carriers, and aided by aircraft and radio, they spent 15 months in 1938-39 exploring the country between Mount Hagen and Telefomin. At Hoiyevia, near the Papuan border, the party split into two to take separate routes to Telefomin. Taylor set up a radio camp and airstrip at Wabag, then followed the Strickland River, where he almost drowned, and crossed the Sepik watershed to Telefomin where he met Black. Taylor and Black again took separate routes. Taylor traveled down the May River to the Sepik, by boat to the mouth of the Sepik and back to the headwaters of the Karawari, from where his party walked for two months through mountainous country to Wabag. He then went west to Hoiyevia, recrossed the central range, and returned to Mount Hagen. Taylor’s strategy was to follow, where possible, existing tracks and make friendly contact with villagers whom he then used as guides. During this lengthy patrol Taylor and Black covered much country previously uncontacted.

Taylor served as a Major with the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit during World War II and was Director of Native Labour from 1945-46. From 1947-49 he was a District Officer in the highlands. In 1950 he and his wife established a coffee plantation near Goroka in the Eastern Highlands where he lived until his death in 1987.

More on James Lindsay Taylor: http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/taylor-james-lindsay-15678

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