James (Jim) Sinclair CSM OBE D.Litt, passed away in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast on 9 October 2017. Jim Sinclair was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992, an honorary doctorate from the Australian National University in 1999 and a Companion in the Order of the Star of Melanesia in 2008.
Born 1928, Jim at the age of 20 joined the administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea as a Cadet Patrol Officer. He conducted extensive exploratory and pacification patrols in Morobe and the Southern Highlands, opening the Koroba station in 1955, the Lake Kopiago base camp in 1956 and exploring then uncontrolled areas as far as the Strickland River. Between 1969 and 1974, he was the last Australian District Commissioner presiding over what is now Eastern Highlands Province until retiring in 1975, the time of Papua New Guinea’s independence. He then became a full-time author and a prolific recorder of PNG history.
Jim’s significant contribution to Papua New Guinea was not only as a kiap, but also through his nearly 40 highly respected books on PNG. As Andrea Williams of the PNGAA says: “An extraordinary legacy … a history of which Australia can be tremendously proud.”
On a personal note, Jim was a frequent visitor and most welcome guest in my home in Lae and in Goroka as he travelled to collect and collate his extensive histories of PNG. I am grateful for those days.