Thursday, September 18, 2008

Joske's Thumb

from w
Out of Suva is a noticeable volcanic plug called Joske's thumb because that's what it looks like. Here are two sketches with it in the background - one from Tamavua - a brief stop when Peceli went to an ATM machine, and the other from Sukuna Park in Suva. Don't know if those boats are just friendly or so old that no one bothers about them.

Did you know that Sir Edmund Hillary couldn't climb Joske's Thumb?

I found this story on - Forum - Sir Edmund Hillary and Joske's ThumbNear Suva there is a volcanic plug called Joske’s Thumb. ... I assured myself, I'd return to Fiji and complete the climb of Joske's Thumb." ... - 36k -

Joske’s Thumb in Fiji

A little known story about Sir Edmund is that his early climbing attempts in Fiji were unsuccessful. Hillary was conscripted into the New Zealand Air Force during World War II. While in service he was posted to Suva, Fiji. Suva was New Zealand’s main flying boat base in the Pacific. The base was at Suva Point in the suburb of Vatuwaqa. These days, it is a favourite place for picnics during the day and an occasional drinking party at night.

Near Suva there is a volcanic plug called Joske’s Thumb. Some people call the Thumb, together with a hill that leads to it, the Sleeping Giant. The photo shows the Sleeping Giant from Suva Harbour. The red arrow points to Joske’s Thumb.

On their first attempt, because of the heavy undergrowth, Hillary and his friend did not even reach the base of the Thumb. On their second attempt there was heavy rain (a common occurrence in Suva) and they took some hours to reach the base. Hillary subsequently wrote "Our hearts sank. The rock face above us was an enormous overhang and looked quite un-climbable. We had come up the wrong side - underneath the ball of The Thumb."

They followed a ledge but soon found their way blocked. "Bitterly disappointed at being rebuffed I was much too conscious of the 400 foot (122 metre) drop below me to take any more risks - and I hadn't much confidence in our length of clothes line (referring to their improvised climbing rope). The Thumb had beaten us again." But then he went on to add, "Some time in the future, I assured myself, I'd return to Fiji and complete the climb of Joske's Thumb."

Sir Edmund’s return to Joske’s Thumb

Hillary later climbed to the top of Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world at 8,848 metres (29,028 feet). But, he never forgot his disappointment at Joske’s Thumb. In his later years he returned to Fiji with some mountaineering friends and several of his grandchildren. Although there was concern that his health might not be equal to the climb, he climbed right to the top of Joske’s Thumb and down again. This was well reported in the Fiji newspapers and other media.
Now who was Mr Joske?


cieart said...

Accordig to Wikipedia, "The peak gets its name from Mr Adolph Brewster Brewster, who had later changed his name to Joske's. The Brewster family were noted for their pioneering work in establishing the sugar industry, including the importation of machinery for Fiji's first sugar mill."

However another website ( says that Adolph Brewster Brewster was formerly Adolf Brewster-Joske and lived in Fiji from 1870-1910.

There is also a Joske Street in Suva behind ANZ's main branch.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Helli Cieart,
Thanks for visiting our blogsite. That's interesting about Brewster/Joske. As Brewster, he wrote books about the hilltribes of Viti Levu, but I didn't know he was also known as Joske. I wonder if the Fijians have a name for this srange looking hill.

nzm said...

When I was in NZ over Christmas last year, my father gave me a whole lot of papers to read through which were mostly about our family and contained letters to the Editor of the Fiji Times written by my grandfather.

I seem to recall one of them had info about the naming of Joske's Thumb in it, but I'm afraid that I can't remember the story now.

Blackjack Books said...


Bladerunner said...

I believe an Australian by the name of John Referendum Hayes was the first "White" man to climb Joske's Thumb, I believe there is a Suva Newspaper aticle supporting this account pre. 2nd WW?, could someone verify this please?.

Lars Hansen said...

i am trying to organise a hike up there this weekend but i am having trouble getting the contact details for the village. would you have a phone number to call them on by any chance?

Anonymous said...

I am confused. My Great grandmothers uncle is Adolph Alen Joske and his father was Alexander Joske. I believe that is who it's talking about and the family name has always been Joske (maybe he changed it to Brewster?) Can anyone shed some light?