Tree House, Koiari Village, New Guinea

John William Lindt1885 - 1885

Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria
Carlton, Australia

In 1885, photographer John William Lindt (1845-1926) accompanied Sir Peter Scratchley's expedition to the newly-proclaimed Protectorate of British New Guinea. In 1887 he published fifty photographs from the expedition in Picturesque New Guinea. With an historical introduction and supplementary chapters on the manners and customs of the Papuans; accompanied with fifty full-page autotype illustrations from negatives of portraits from life and groups and landscaped from nature.

The expedition, led by Scratchley, then High Commissioner for the Protectorate, set out in 1885, one year after Britain annexed the territory. Lindt described his excitement at joining the crew of the Governor Blackall moored in Sydney on July 15 in the opening pages of this book. He had wanted to visit the island of New Guinea since first sighting it on the horizon during a visit to the Torres Strait in 1868. On arrival in Port Moresby, Lindt immediately sought opportunities to take photographs. His photographic work was facilitated for him by the Commissioner and the resident missionaries (William George Lawes (1839-1907) had established the London Missionary Society in New Guinea since 1874). An excursion inland was undertaken, guided by a government officer and utilising the horses belonging to the mission. On this expedition Lindt bumped into several Koiari hunters, who, having made camp to cook and eat kangaroo, invited Lindt to eat with them. An invitation to visit their village followed.

Lindt took up the invitation, and visited the village of Sadara Makara, which included twenty houses, which he commented looked newly constructed. Four of these were set up high in the tree tops. On the next day, the villagers posed for him. "They stood in groups, took the proper attitudes, and even posed picturesquely, as conscious that they were being immortalized in picture". Through an interpreter, Lindt asked that they ascend into the tree houses, and a group promptly went up: "as if defending their garrison against the attack of a hostile tribe, they ran up the ladders with ... ease ... donned their war coronets and masks, and in full war-paint, armed with shields and spears, went through all the evolutions of Papua defensive fighting" (Picturesque New Guinea page 44).


  • Title: Tree House, Koiari Village, New Guinea
  • Creator: John William Lindt
  • Creator Lifespan: 1845 - 1926
  • Creator Nationality: Australian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Date: 1885 - 1885
  • Physical Dimensions: w1000 x h1310 mm
  • Provenance: Cultural Restrictions Apply. Source: Museum Victoria / Photographer: John William Lindt
  • Type: Image, Photograph
  • External Link: https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/1961437
  • Medium: Black and White Print

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps