Fiji 1999 - what we did and saw

Having left Fiji in 1985, I returned in 1999, with daughter Katherine, for a conference. I was keen to revisit the houses we'd lived in. This was the first one, Quarters 232, Grade IV, in Muanikau, a suburb just across a road and a stream/drain from the USP campus. Before we bought a car (which we didn't realise we'd need) I walked to work.

The other house was close to the first, but inside the USP site, and designated [Married Quarters] MQ10. It was built during WW2 for the officers of the New Zealand flying boat squadron, and I liked to think that our house was that of the commanding officer, being right in the highest corner of the site.

I didn't feel I should get very close to either house, so these photos are taken from a discreet distance.


Jenny, however, was there in 2015, and took this photo from a bit closer.

But I suppose I should show you some snaps to justify my being in Suva at this time, so here I am at the conference, with, from left, John O'Carroll (unfortunately blinking at the moment), Sudesh Mishra, and someone unknown.

And here's Katherine, in the middle of the group. She fitted in as a helper of some kind.
I believe that might be Anupam Singh on our right.

Here I'm at a reception in the University Bure (which was later blown away in a cyclone) with Alaine Chanter. I bought my tropical shirt in Target in Fremantle.

Getting back to nostalgia, another thing I wanted to see again was the Orchid Island Cultural Centre.
One of the things to see there (as well as traditional handicraft) is local wildlife, like this poor turtle, removed from its watery home for the photo.

Katherine, holding two iguanas. I assume this is the more common, green banded Fijian iguana, genus brachylophus. There is a bit of a mystery as to how they got to Fiji, probably from South America. Dr John Gibbons found the more unusual crested iguana in 1979 while researching this one. Unfortunately, John, with whom we used to play tennis (see below) and his wife and young children (as I recall) were all drowned when a small boat capsized when attempting to cross a reef.

Another place I enjoyed visiting when we lived there is Pacific Harbour. This is a site constructed for tourists, intending to give some idea of traditional Fijian life. It was closed when we were there in 1999.

Another shot of Pacific Harbour. There is also a golf course and restaurant there, so it wasn't entirely out of business. I think it's also the nearest place to Suva you can go for a swim on a sandy beach.

Our hotel was only a short walk across Albert Park (where Charles Kingsford-Smith landed in 1928) from Thurston Gardens, the Fiji Botanical Gardens.

The clock tower, with the Fiji Museum behind and Katherine in front.

In the Garden is a particular coconut palm with a significant lean. I got Katherine to take a photo of me as far up as I dared to go in 1999.

The intention was to replicate a similar photo which was taken in 1983, when I got much further up the tree. I hope it's the same one.

Eleanor is climbing up to join me ... maybe.

We use to play tennis on a Sunday here, at what we called Suva Point, tho it's not really.

Apparently no longer a tennis club, it's looking a bit uncared-for. This is the pavilion, in which we kept nets, balls and so on - behind the door you can dimly see underneath.

The Fiji Arts Club, the focus of so much of our fun, is looking pretty run-down, but then it always did: and it's a tough environment for buildings. The sign you can't read on the building says THE PLAYHOUSE.


Again, Jenny took some better photos when she was there in 2015. This is the front entrance.


This is the side, from up the hill. Cf. Katherine's photo from 1999 above.


And this is Jenny's photo of the inside of the FAC.

This is meaningful only to me: my first office, at what was then Extension Services, University of the South Pacific.

The same building in 1985. That palm grew quite a bit in fourteen years.

Garry Gillard | New: 21 November, 2010 | Now: 1 July, 2017