Fiji’s Underground World

Rod Ewins recalls… 

I didn’t know anything about the subterranean complex in Suva, but it makes sense. What I DID know was that the Fiji Museum moved a lot of its stuff into subterranean storage during the war scare and as a result, because of the wetness in the Suva area, most of the fibre material they had (including virtually all of their old masi) got mildewed and some rotted, all beyond help. So they actually have rather a poor collection of old fibre material. If they had been a bit smarter they would have sent the stuff to the dry side of the island, where it could have remained for years without perishing. I know when my family moved from near Ba to Suva when I was a kid, we were all horrified by the way everything in sight grew mildew — even our shoes if we didn’t wear them for a few days. All of which should have been within the mental ability of the bureaucrats to figure out, but obviously wasn’t.

– Rod Ewins, Just Pacific.

Mike Gosling remembers…

As a kid growing up in Suva, Fiji post World War II, we used to enter the subterranean soapstone caves that housed the two 4.7-inch naval gun battery (with a 9,600 metre range) on Muanikau Hill to protect the Suva Harbour entrance. This battery was in preparation  for the threat that Fiji would be the next objective in the seemingly irresistible Japanese drive south. In December 1940 two 6-inch naval guns replaced  the 4.7 -inch guns at Muanikau Hill, which were then diverted to Bilo Battery to protect the inner harbour of Suva. George Towson was the officer commanding the batteries.

The Muanikau Battery caves were a stones throw away from where we lived in Muanikau, and where we kids played postman’s knock, far from the glaring eyes of parents. The rules were that we divided into two groups – a girl group and a boy group. One group went into the darker section of the cave, which was called “the post office”. To play, each person from the other group individually visited “the post office”. Once there, they got a kiss from everyone in the dark cave. They then returned to the lighted entrance. Once everyone in the first group had taken a turn, the second group went into the dark cave, and the game began again. Unfortunately for us boys, parents got word of our antics and the Battery caves were sealed!

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