Born in 1900, Robert Richmond Bell – known as ‘Rick’ to his family and friends – left his home state of Queensland for life in Papua New Guinea at just 20 years of age. It was there he joined the crew of photographer and adventurer Frank Hurley, on his expedition up the Fly River. Rick worked as an engineer on Hurley’s boat, the Eureka, and travelled with the explorer to Lake Murray as part of the first expedition of white explorers to the area.
Through reading old newspaper articles on Trove and examining memorabilia kept by Rick’s family, Lynette learned of Rick's involvement in the Fly River expedition and also about Frank Hurley's book on the subject, Pearls and Savages: Adventures in the Air, on Land and Sea in New Guinea (1924). Searching for the book led Lynette to learn of the existence of a documentary, Pearls and Savages (c1921), which in turn brought her to the NFSA.