Sinclair, James Patrick

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Sinclair, James Patrick

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  • Dr James (Jim) Sinclair

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Dates of existence

28 April 1928 - 9 October 2017


James Patrick Sinclair was born in Dubbo NSW on 18 April 1928. He attended Dubbo High School, Sydney Grammar School and the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) in Sydney. In November 1947, he Joined the Department of District Services and Native Affairs, Administration of Papua New Guinea. After attending an orientation course at the Australian School of Pacific Administration he proceeded to Papua New Guinea in August 1948 as a cadet patrol officer. He also attended the No 4 Long Course at ASOPA in 1953 - 1954. From 1948 to 1975 he served successively on many stations as a patrol officer, assistant district officer, deputy district commissioner and district commissioner. He was the last Australian District Commissioner of the Eastern Highlands District, 1969-1974.

During his service James Sinclair conducted extensive exploratory and pacification patrols in Morobe and Southern Highlands Districts. He opened the station of Koroba in 1955, Lake Kopiago base camp in 1956 and explored the then Uncontrolled area to the Strickland River until late 1958. He married Janece Marie McGrath in January 1959 and had three children. He subsequently served in charge of the Wau, Finschhafen and Lae Sub-Districts before moving to the Eastern Highlands in 1968.

James Sinclair retired in August 1975 following Independence in Papua New Guinea. He returned to his previous hobby of writing on Papua New Guinea history, which became a full-time occupation and he has since published more than 30 books. His first book, ‘Behind the Ranges’¸ was published in 1966 and told of his exploratory work in Morobe and the Southern Highlands. In 2013, several publications edited by James Sinclair were ready for publication, including publications about Peter Fox, A Lloyd Hurrell and John Middleton. Jim died on 9 October 2017.

Honours: James Sinclair has been awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1992; the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the Australian National University in 1999; and a Companion, Order of the Star of Melanesia (PNG) in 2008.


Papua New Guinea

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Patrol Officer; author

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Created by Christine Bryan on 19 May 2014; Biographical history prepared by James Sinclair, June 2014




Fox, Professor J J, ‘James Patrick Sinclair citation for an honorary degree’. Canberra: Australian national University, 1 October 1999.

File Note, James Sinclair, [List of] published books and [biographical details], June 2014. ANUA file 547

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