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The River is my Highway

A New Zealand Forest Ranger in the Jungles of Borneo


Living and working in the remote Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG), Ross Lockyer had never heard about Indonesia. Yet in 1973, he was offered a forestry supervisor’s job based in Samarinda, Indonesian Borneo, and fell in love with the place on his first day.

Ross worked on the rivers and in the remote jungles of Indonesian Borneo for the next five years, quickly learning local languages, immersing himself in the Indonesian way of life, and learning the ways of the mighty Mahakam River and the Makassar Straits on which he spent most of each working day. 

Compared to pre-independence PNG, living in isolated Samarinda seemed like the height of luxury to Ross, although coming from sparsely populated PNG, Ross’s first experience of Samarinda was a true assault on the senses with its crowds of people, dozens of mosques, crazy drivers, and myriad overpowering smells. Yet overlooking the city was the new and illustrious Lamin Indah Hotel, which boasted a classy bar and restaurant and attractive and sophisticated female staff from Java, in particular the beautiful Lestari—surely a Java Princess!

The third book in the adventurous series about Ross’s life, The River is my Highway brings to life a whole new series of exploits, including provoking and then assuaging a local war, single-handedly destroying village ablution facilities with a speed-boat and facing a barrage of nasty consequences, hunting local wild-life in the most committed way imaginable, loading log-ships at sea, smuggling hi-fi gear, searching for log pirates, and fronting up to the Dayak Queen. Between escapades, Ross somehow finds time to get married and start a family.

This book includes some 75 photographs from Ross’s vast collection which richly illustrate his writing.

Get ready for more colourful, laugh-aloud yarns from the master story-teller who brought you An Accidental Bushman and Cannibals, Crocodiles and Cassowaries. Once you start reading, you won’t want to put this book down!

022 Mahakam River kampung house.jpg
029 towing log rafts out to logship, Muara Berau 1.jpg
077 Yuwono, Ubaedy & me, Banjarmasin 1.jpg
050 contractor's log raft and camp upper Mahakam River - enhanced.jpg
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