It has been said and written that the Australian territory of Christmas Island is the Galapagos of the Indian Ocean. It’s natural beauty, dramatic coast line and amazing wildlife cannot be overstated. To be able to sit under a waterfall washing away your life’s cares in the middle of a stunning rain forest landscape is simply magical. It is just one of many great nature based experiences to be had on this very special and unique island.
However, there is another aspect to Christmas Island that isn’t immediately evident because it has been largely ignored and yet it is half the story! And that is its historic human experience; the stories of the lives, the trials and tribulations of those earlier men and women who lived and laboured on this spec in the Indian ocean.
So many old stories and sites of this unique Isle are faded, lost and forgotten. The information about some of these can be found in books, documents, archives and in stories and memories from the islanders and ex-islanders themselves. But, it is all so scattered and can take quite an effort to unearth it all.
And, it’s an unfortunate fact that, for whatever reason, historic buildings and sites have not been preserved and valued as they should have been. The island hides well its early and also World War II Japanese occupational history; in some cases, quite literally. The jungle and tropical climate eventually reclaims all that is forgotten and neglected; the old Christmas Island Club, former Mandors’ Quarters and Japanese sites are cases in point. And yet, despite this, there are still gems to be discovered and so many places to explore.
To be able to stand on a spot and know what and who was there before, of events that have passed, enables one to feel the true essence and spirit of place.
I don’t want to reinvent the wheel; there are some excellent books that have already been written about Christmas Island. What I do want to do however, is bring together and highlight in the one place, all those scattered miscellaneous gems of really interesting information, early photos and stories that may otherwise have remained buried in an archive, a newspaper article, book or memory. And, for everyone to know that apart from the crabs and natural attributes there is another whole aspect of Christmas Island that should be remembered, told and preserved.
You may leave the island, but it will never leave you.
This is an ongoing project and the word “Archive” seems very grand. This is just a little archive, for a little island, in a little corner of the internet. Whether you are planning to visit Christmas Island, already live there or just want to know more, I hope the information on this website will give an extra insight and appreciation of this unique place.
Author of “Christmas Island Archives” and “The Roebourne Bank Murders” websites.
“Part of the European Settlement, Flying Fish Cove” c1909
© William MacDougall. University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Medical School thesis and dissertation collection