Inside the CrocodileWinner of the GOLD award for non-fiction in

the Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2015


Inside the Crocodile: The Papua New Guinea Journals

A rare insider view of the most culturally diverse nation on earth.

While the author copes with crocodiles under the blackboard and sorcery in the office, survives near-fatal malaria, mollifies irascible politicians and an ever-changing roster of bosses, humour and human truths emerge like passing flights of birds of paradise.

Five years on a development project in the rugged West Sepik province of Papua New Guinea more than fulfils Trish Nicholson’s desire for a challenge.

aerial isolated airstrip by the SepikRemote valleys are reached by tiny planes landing on airstrips cut with grass-knives and squeezed between mountains. Students build their own schools, babies’ weights are recorded in rice bags and women walk for days carrying produce to market.

Trish tells their stories and shares her life in this ‘land of surprises’ – including the hair-raising Oksapmin to Kopiago trail, and Frisbee, the dog she inherits.


Vine bridge over the Strickland River
Vine bridge over the Strickland River


Extract from The Australian (also posted by its authors, Keith Jackson and Phil Fitzpatrick, on their website PNG Attitude)

‘Nicholson kept a daily journal during her five years in PNG and this along with an ­unusually perceptive eye guide a lucid, candid and entertaining narrative through a series of adventures, challenges, barriers and hurdles that would represent a lifetime’s ulcer-inducing travail for your typical public servant.

Fortunately Nicholson was resilient and possessed a well-developed sense of humour, useful traits for anyone working in PNG then and now.

Inside the Crocodile is a captivating travel memoir. It’s also a well-crafted insight into the official mechanisms and cultural characteristics that drive and sometimes blight a remarkable country.

The book is a good read with a serious edge that will be of special interest to people with experience of PNG … Above all, it is an alluring and accurate account of a country important …’ Read the whole review here:

From review by Anne Stormont on her blog Put It In Writing and on Goodreads:

‘There are accounts of many dangerous moments – in tiny aeroplanes flying low over high peaks, of jungle hikes involving rickety bridges over deep ravines, and of her own brush with death due to malaria.

There’s a real TV documentary feel to this book – so clear and vivid is the writing. You feel as you read that you’re experiencing life in this jungle landscape, including the appearance of the eponymous crocodile.

This is a superb account of a brave and resourceful woman’s time in one of the world’s most remote and challenging locations.’ Read the whole review here:

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Inside the Crocodile