A Most Interesting Experience
by Chief Warrant Officer
S. H. Hall - CEC - USNR
in the
British Solomon Islands


Way back many moons ago, men were evil and did cowardly things and did not obey the laws of the tribe and their Chiefs. So one day the God became angry and cried out in his anger so loud that the Earth shook and huge fires burned for many days on the North end of Big Florida. Then after the God had become quiet again, He spit huge quantities of water down on men and since then He sends water down from heaven to let men know He still is there.

Among the head hunting tribes in the Florida and Tulagi areas of the British Solomon Islands, a great annual religious festival was held to worship the great Water God of the mountain. A large number of Natives from all the surrounding Islands gather on a certain shore point of Big Florida Island. Then they trek inland by trails to a village which was held to be a sacred place. Here they would set up housekeeping for the duration of their stay. Here the routine consisted of dancing, sports and feasting, besides time out for paying respects to the great God of the mountain, who spits forth water from the heavens.

Hearing of this Legend and of the annual religious pilgrimage, which had been discontinued on the arrival of the Japs, from a Native Chief, I immediately came to the conclusion that there must be some sort of a waterfall on the island, although all information we had from British sources stated that no falls or rivers were on these islands. Water was one of our prime necessities and most of the water for Tulagi had to be hauled in. When I brought this tale and my suspicions to my C.O. he immediately assigned me the job of making a personal investigation.

I made arrangements for the Chief to guide us to the little village. So the Chief, myself, and a Chief Petty Officer from a neighboring battalion, who was also interested, set out one beautiful day. It was a trip into raw jungle, where no white man had ever been before. We found a beautiful falls, as I suspected, but very unusual, the water actually coming from the Top of the hill. Evidently a volcanic eruption had taken place and opened up four large springs on the mountain which cooled the lava stream that had flowed down one side of the mountain. The water stayed in this lava stream all the way down and thus we had absolutely clear water. An almost sheer drop of 200 feet finally brought the water to the base of the mountain.

I was assigned a project to make a survey and map and locate this waterfall, also to make up a complete report on the feasibility of running a pipeline from the falls to Tulagi for ship and Island drinking water supply.

Editor: This pipeline rates a mention even in modern day tourist guides to the Island, like Lonely Planet's Solomon Islands.

Survey party landing on shore of Florida Island. Note heavy mangrove growth which prevented boat from getting closer than about 200 feet from shore. Water under root mat about 2' deep.

Party crossing roots to shore. Note lead man who is still on the roots. All equipment and etc. had to be portaged over these roots. Swamp muck and tide water below roots. This is as close as it is possible to get in to shore. This mangrove thicket in some places is a mile wide.

Heading into the jungle. Had to cut our way through the heavy foliage until we hit the Native Trail. Hardly enough light for pictures. Should have had flash bulbs, but no one dreamed of such a condition. As you can see from the bright patches it is bright sunlight overhead. This trail had been blazed by me on two other occasions. You can imagine the original trip.

Crossing a clearing. Note lush jungle growth. The carpet of ferns. Jungle creeper has completely covered the tree stump. Long solid leaves are banana leaves. We found some ripe ones on our original trip. The little feathery palms just to the right on side of hill are young coconut palms. Note clean straight trunks. Ferns are all over the clearing. They grow everywhere here - all sizes and all shapes.

First glimpse of the falls. Some idea of the lushness of the vegetation. You are directly in front and not more than 100 feet from the falls. The noise from here was something. Note depth of growth around lone surveyor. You cannot tell what the ground is like underneath. The vines and ferns cover everything that is left inactive.

Survey party at foot of falls. Note volcanic bed of stream. This lava hard as flint rock. The foliage has been cut here so that the instrument may be used.

Party reaches top of lower drop. Note temporary pipeline run in for ship service. Picture taken from hillside next to falls. Note sheer drop in foreground.

Looking down from the top of lower falls. View taken from rock in the falls some 50 feet or so up the falls. Camera man really took a chance here. Had one H... of a time getting him and his camera back to the banks of the falls.

From the top of the lower drop looking up. Note rugged terrain and lava bed.

Still going up. This view looking up from top of last picture. Just before reaching the top of the falls.

Natural reservoir at top of main falls. At an elevation of over 200' it made an ideal place to start the pipeline. The water was carried over 3 miles without using pumps.

Steep banks all around. Natural cleft in rock formed reservoir. Water crystal clear. Note lava rock under water left foreground. Rear of pool next to cliff very deep

Looking upstream from reservoir. Steep banks either side. Off to the right a small clearing full of rocks. A most beautiful spot. A real bum party site. Water quite deep. Dotty La Mour would really fit in this scene, but alas No Dotty.

Still going upstream. Literally miles of the most beautiful water completely surrounded by jungle. Yet the water stays in its own little bed of hard lava that had burnt the pathway down the mountain years ago. Solid jungle on either side. The beauty of this spot beggars description. Brilliant colored jungle blooms all around. Jungle too thick for good photography.

Stream flowing through a regular tunnel of jungle growth. Some places it was almost dark due to lush growth. Another wild and beautiful scene.

One of the springs at the stream's source, elevation some 900 feet. Where did the water come from? Your guess is as good as anyone's. There were four main springs similar to this. Solid jungle all around, no sign of life but birds and the inevitable lizards. The water came out of the lava beds in all places, which started at this point.

Note lava rock formation in foreground. This was our guide and we followed it up instead of cutting our way through the jungle.

Map by the editor: