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April 2005

 

GREAT OCCASION 2: FINALISING THE PROGRAM

ROD HARD [Glen Haven NSW] - Finally some response from the Sydney Harbour Trust. The chap with whom I had been communicating went to ASOPA and had a look at the site late last week. He said it was in poor condition.

It has not been looked after in any way since the Defence Force vacated the premises in 1997. There is no gas available. There are no toilet facilities. Access to water is questionable and most of the buildings are missing part or most of the roof. He said that it was a very unsafe place, and whilst there is a plan in place for refurbishment, there is no time frame and he did not think that we could build our schedule around a function at ASOPA.

A visit and a walk around the grounds could still be a possibility and there are quite nice walking tracks in the area.

THE PROGRAM
Friday 30 September [late afternoon & evening] – Meet, greet and eat at Cremorne Hotel, next door to the Concierge Apartments.
Saturday 1 October [late morning & lunch] – The Oaks Hotel, Neutral Bay.
Saturday 1 October [dinner] – Raymond’s Tai Kwun Garden Restaurant, Neutral Bay.
Sunday 2 October [late morning] – Coach tour of ASOPA and Mosman.
Sunday 2 October [lunch] –Mosman Club, Mosman Junction.
Sunday 2 October [evening] – Hangers on dinner at Mido Restaurant, Neutral Bay.

EDITOR: In next month’s newsletter I’ll be asking reunion participants to remit funds for the three functions. The price list per person (not including beverages) will be: Saturday dinner - $35; Bus tour - $10; Sunday lunch - $35. Total - $80.

GREAT OCCASION 2: WHO’S IN

IN [52] - Dave & Kerry Argent; Bill & Joan Bergen; Henry & Janelle Bodman; Diane & Bill Bohlen; Col & Wendy Booth; Dennis & Ros Burrell; Jeff & Robyn Chapman; Joe Crainean; Bob Davis; Margaret Dwyer, Elizabeth McKenna Lynch & Therese Scott; Sonia Grainger; Rod Hard; Colin Huggins; Justine Finter; Keith & Ingrid Jackson & Libby Lowig; Allan Jones; Richard & Judyth Jones; Dave & Elissa Kesby; Pam & Palle Kruger; Peter & Marg Lewis; Jean Lowe; Les & Margaret Lyons; Ian & Belinda McLean; Maxine Mundell; Rory O’Brien; Howard & Glenda Ralph; Val Rivers; Roger Stanley & Sue Core; Bill Welbourne; David & Lorraine Westover; Bill & Anita Wilson

PAM MAKES PLANS FOR GREAT SOUTHERN EXPEDITION

PAM KRÜGER [Ulstrup Denmark] - Just a quick note to inform you that we have now booked for five nights at the Concierge Apartments under the ASOPA deal. We are leaving Denmark on 16 September and flying to New York. We have friends who live between Boston and New York in a place called Lennox and will stay with them for four days and then spend three days in New York seeing the various sights. From there we fly to San Francisco where we will also spend three nights, arriving in Sydney on Wednesday 28 September.

After the reunion we plan to travel North to Brisbane on the Monday. Any ideas on the smartest, most interesting and, of course, the most economical way to do this would be appreciated. We will then be spending the rest of the month in Queensland going north to Cairns and of course it would be great if we could look up any of the old ASOPA friends on the way. Look forward to seeing everyone at the Reunion and catching up on all the news.

OL SAMTING BILONG POT MAKWARI NA SINA ISTAP GUT

COL & WENDY BOOTH [Port Macquarie NSW] - So what is different from 2004 to 2005? So far, nothing, apart from even more annoying emails from Rycharde and Dubdo. You two blokes seem to enjoy blackening the names of my heros, John Pasquerelli and John Howard.

Pasquerelli was in my group of CPOs in October 1960. After a few weeks at ASOPA, we all hit Moresby following an extremely eventful night flight in the old DC6. An air hostess was assaulted and the plane's interior was damaged by a couple of rampaging CPOs. You can guess who was the ringleader and who was innocent.

We were met at Jacksons by a local DO (I think named Bob Brown) who immediately gave a talk on maintaining standards! In the midst of Brown's talk, Pasquerelli interrupted with a question about the Pidgin names for various feminine body parts. To everyone's amazement, Brown replied in explicit detail. Pasquerelli was on top and proceeded to behave in such a way that our ten weeks in Moresby were less than totally enjoyable.

Ah, Dubbo, I have found a slide of a person who looks remarkably like you doing practice teaching in a coastal school. I recall some sort of emergency when the bell, an apparently empty wartime oxy bottle, started to give off gas after said "bell" had been rung. Any memories?
And Dick. There is a shot of someone remarkably similar to you standing on a jetty, taken at the same time. Also, a group of people in a canoe heading to Matupit Volcano and some shots of the volcano itself. Can anyone refresh my memory?

Mid January saw son Nigel return from the Solomons, where he is working with RAMSI [Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands] as part of the AFP [Australian Federal Police] contingent. He returned to the Solomons mid February and is currently working on the murder of the young Canberra cop. He didn’t say much about it, but did show us a photo of himself escorting James Tatau, the alleged murderer, into custody. Prior to that he had been gathering evidence for the trial of Harold Keke.

Kara and boyfriend (or is that now partner?) spent a few days in paradise with us (from Cairns) while Nigel was home. After they all left, we had about four days before we headed off to Shanghai for eight days. Sorry, Dubbo, but our four-star suite was quite sumptuous: king bedroom, full bathroom, lounge room with dining annex and business alcove with fax and communications and desk. There were maids and attendants everywhere, including a lift attendant, door attendant, taxi attendant as well as the most helpful concierge desk staff we have ever encountered. It was all very nice. Shanghai is a most impressive city.

Masta Sir Kit, our computer has another dripella sik oli kalim "stuffed". The new one is sitting in a series of cardboard boxes, but can't be hooked up until we recover the info from the present hard drive etc. Might have to call on Roger Stanley for assistance, but am not sure that we can wait until October, so don't be surprised if communication is sparse at times.

An impending excursion to the Hunter in May reminds me of an incident last year. At our final night dinner, when a lot of food was eaten and a little bit of fine Hunter red consumed, a new member of the group confided he had been a schoolie. Talk about training and early years followed. When PNG was mentioned, he commented that he had gone to school with a chap who went to ASOPA and then to PNG ... none other than Kurt Argent! Kurt, your old mate Trevor Davey wishes to be remembered to you! He didn't tell too many secrets!

Olrait! Em tasol tok bilong mipella. Ol samting bilong paradise istap gut. Lukim iu behain.

DICK HELPS CLEAR UP RABAUL PHOTOS MYSTERY

RICHARD JONES [Bendigo VIC] - I visited Dubdy [Dave Kesby] when he was in Rabaul, sometime in the 1960s. He was only a short-time chalkie in PNG, as you know. Like Talker [Ian MsLean], Dubdy served just the bare three years in PNG before scarpering back to Oz.

I think your photos relate to one Easter, in perhaps 1965 or 1966, when I went over to Rabaul on a chartered Papuan Airlines DC3. I have a pic of that plane on the strip near Matupit volcano. Ah, how things have changed as far as the volcano is concerned [see February issue of The Mail]. I know on that trip Dubdy and I took photos of Matupit and also quite a few of Vulcan from the coast road leading down to Kokopo.

DENNIS & ROS CELEBRATE BIRTH OF FIRST GRANDCHILD

DENNIS BURRELL [Whiteside QLD] – Thank you very much for the printed copy of The Mail. I was pleased and relieved when I received it because, being so long without The Mail, I was beginning to think there was something wrong with you. So I am kept informed in the future my new email address is rgburrell@optusnet.com. Have booked at the Cremorne Concierge for Friday 30 September – Sunday 2 October and am looking forward to the reunion, as is Ros.

Well 2004 was a year of happenings. In August we acquired two little black pups, a toy poodle and a Maltese cross, Topsy and Turby. We had a dog but it kept visiting the neighbours and we kept retrieving it from the pound until it became too expensive, so we gave it away. Of course we missed having a dog so we fenced an area around the back of our house as a dog/child yard. We put our pups in the yard and the fence proved completely useless as they learned how to go under and even through it. It’s our first experience with small dogs and house dogs. We are enjoying it and Ros is loving it.

In the September holidays, we took the pups by car to Townsville to see our first grandchild – Freyja, who was born on 7 September. We have been lucky enough to see her a number of times as Nikki and Zac have brought her down to Brisbane twice as well as staying over Christmas. We are going to Townsville to see them again at Easter.

I am still teaching at Kallangur Pre-School with no plans as yet to retire. Ros has been working hard in the yard. Her activities have made the yard “easy care” for when we are too old to do the hard work. The place is looking terrific but it has taken a lot of effort.

Well Keith, I’ve been on the machine [CPAP, see below] for nearly a year. Thanks for your help and advice. It’s made a read difference: I no longer go to sleep while driving; I can stay awake while playing a story tape to the kids; I sleep less hours; and I have far more energy. The only drawback is that I now stay awake during school staff meetings.

EDITOR: Dennis and I both have a condition called obstructive sleep apneoa, in which the airways collapse during sleep. As it gets starved of oxygen, the brain automatically snaps into wake mode – which can happen as many as 250-300 times a night without conscious knowledge. The result is an extremely fatigued human being who will often nod off during the day and who is highly predisposed to other ailments such as stroke or diabetes.

A simple Australian-invented device know as CPAP [continuous positive airways pressure] pumps air through the nose and solves the problem by acting as a kind of airways splint. Trouble is you have to hook yourself up to it whenever you sleep. You get used to it, though, and I can assure readers it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.

REMEMBERING CHARLES ROWLEY

ANN PRENDERGAST [Waverton NSW] - I want to thank you for continuing to send The Mail and my apologies for not responding before this. I find it very interesting to hear what everyone is doing. Dave and Elissa Kesby’s visit to Harlem reminded me of the time I spent there many years ago. I was pleased to hear about the reunion plans for September-October and hope to come.

Have you ever seen anything much written about Charles Rowley? There were a few things in Quadrant when John Kerr dismissed Whitlam but I've seen nothing else. I'm not sure of the influence he had on students but I think most members of staff would consider him to be one of the most influential people in their working lives.

EDITOR: Charles Rowley deserves a biography. He was a wonderfully understated and inspirational man. Like many readers of The Mail, I was privileged to be taught by him, in my case at ASOPA and UPNG. But, while there may be no book yet, Charles is far from forgotten. For example, in his inaugural lecture at UPNG last April, the new Professor of Political Science, Allan Patience, said:

“I note, in passing, that the Foundation Professor of Political Studies in this University, the late Professor Charles Rowley, was one of the great advocates of the Australian Aborigines. His three-volume account of the destruction of Aboriginal society remains a classic reminder of the continuing failures of governments at all levels in contemporary Australia to address the plight of Australia’s First Peoples.

”It is a humbling experience to find myself occupying the Chair that Professor Rowley initiated; it would be a fitting memorial to that dignified and gentle scholar to name the chair after him.

“May I also recall that Professor Rowley was well aware of the shortcomings of Australia’s colonialism in this country. His two excellent books, ‘The New Guinea Villager’ and ‘The Australians in German New Guinea’, are scholarly critiques of colonial intrusions in this land that were humdrum at best, frequently intellectually irresponsible, and, at worst, ethically contemptible. My critical remarks about this system are a pale reflection of Professor Rowley’s more cautious and less condemnatory scholarship – I recommend his writings to young Papua New Guineans today.”

That’s high – and deserved - praise. In fact, I was fortunate enough to be at Charles’ inaugural lecture when he founded the chair at UPNG.

And Melbourne academic Robert Manne, who pens a weekly column for the Sydney Morning Herald, wrote in his introduction to ‘Whitewash’, a recent collection of essays about the “history wars”:

“Rowley’s trilogy [on the Aboriginal people] represents one of the great scholarly and moral achievements of Australia’s intellectual history. With its publication and absorption into the nation’s bloodstream, Australia became a significantly different country.”

So this great teacher and friend is still alive in the academic mind. And that’s comforting to know. I wonder what he would have thought of Keith Windschuttle?

BLAST FROM PAST LEFT BILL A DRINK SHORT

BILL WELBOURNE [Mt Cotton QLD] - Have you ever opened a time capsule? Full of surprises and the unexpected and the forgotten. It is the forgotten that prompts me to send this urgent email to offer my apologies for not having replied to your aerogram dated 15 January 1970.

I was urged to open my old 1960's suitcase which was fastened by a sole hinge and buried in the corner of my walk in robe under some old athletic gear, dare I say unwashed since my last race in the World Masters two years ago in Melbourne. (That in itself is a painful story of injuries which now preclude me from Masters athletics.) The reason for the urge to open this time warp was a newspaper add wanting to value and buy stamp albums … even up to a million dollars! Wow!

All those first day PNG covers I had carefully collected during the sixties now had meaning. My nest egg. Oh bliss! What would I do with this anticipated windfall? I just knew that old bag of mine contained heaps of stamps buried among my archival material.

The clean sheets on my bed were not spared from the dust covered old suitcase as I unclipped its sole hinge. And there they were, probably a hundred first day covers squeezed up with an amazing amount of long forgotten personal junk. This included the feathered carcass of a bird of paradise that I thought I had disposed of before it went undetected through customs.

All my PNG teaching reports and certificates from ASOPA and NSW were there. Rolled up in a scroll was my university degree along with technical qualifications such as wool classing, completed before I went to ASOPA, and other course work since then. Aquaculture, French, owner-builder, guitar, computer, poetry appreciation. I was the only male among a dozen or so ladies who attended this course. They made such a fuss over me, wonderful way to meet women.

Other bits included my mum's baby clinic book on my progress for my first year, my high school reports, birth and death certificates (not mine), together with details of scouting, athletics and significant church events such as family baptisms; confirmation and my wedding certificate. I even found a telegram accepting me into ASOPA and all my old pay slips and PNG bank books and statements. A few old photographs appeared of family, ex girlfriends and me as a baby. There were postcards including one of a naked full breasted Polynesian maiden sent home to shock my mum from when I represented PNG in the South Pacific Games in Noumea. How come it ended back in my port?

I quickly glanced at some of these letters which revealed a satisfying personal history, largely because I always made a point of destroying the bad ones. Suddenly I stopped in my tracks when I saw one from you Keithy addressed to:

Mr & Mrs W. Welbourne,
C/- District Education Office,
RABAUL. EAST NEW BRITAIN
PAPUA NEW GUINEA.
AUSTRALIA

A twinge of nostalgia gripped me as I poured over its hastily written contents, which I now quote:

S.S. "Francis Drake"
______________________Dominion
FAR EAST LINE

15th January 1970
At Sea – Japan

Dear Bill & Pam,

I'm writing this very much on spec - not knowing whether you'll be back from leave yet.

At present we're on a cruise for 6 1/2 weeks - Manila, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Guam & Rabaul - & in a fortnight are due to arrive at lovely Simpson Harbour.

We're scheduled to be in Rabaul on the 28th January and if you're around we'd like to see you & perhaps have a few drinks aboard ship.

We'll be leaving the "Francis Drake" at Rabaul & flying on to Port Moresby perhaps the following day - having spent the night at one of your first-class pubs.

I've decided to leave the ABC to join Admin Radio & entertain a slight hope of being posted to Rabaul - which after 6 years in the Territory, I've never seen but heard so many good reports about.

The ship dry docked in Hong Kong & we had a glorious 8 days there ("glorious" being something of a synonym for "expensive").

I trust you are all well & Sue & I look forward to seeing you in Rabaul.

Regards,
Keith Jackson

What can I say? A missed opportunity and a chance to have a few drinks with my college boarding mate during my first year at ASOPA. Sorry mate! I don't know how your letter ended up in my archives but somehow it filtered in. In fact I had left Rabaul for Australia on special leave to complete my university arts degree in Queensland. One thing is for sure after this thirty-five year time warp and neglectful response ... it's my shout at the next reunion.
As for the stamps, they're hardly worth a cracker and would scarcely pay for the first round of drinks. I usually end by saying "cheers and best wishes" but on this occasion I prefer Henry Bodman's: Cheers and Beers.

JEAN TRAVEL PLANS PERMIT A REUNION APPEARANCE

JEAN LOWE [Croydon NSW] – Thanks for your continuing communication. I liked the picture of ASOPA with ‘The old Pacific training centre’ caption. When others write about retiring it makes me realise just how ancient I’m getting – not that I feel it! My trip to the UK and France is now firmly set from 1 August to 28 September. Seems like something I have to do before mental and physical deterioration set in and the will evaporates to take myself on an unstructured adventure.

As my return will be early on Friday 30 September so I feel I can’t commit to anything except the lunch and bus trip on Sunday 2 October. From past experience I’m usually off the planet for several days after an extended period overseas and the long trip home in cattle class.

I was interested in Dave Kesby’s trip to New York. I was there in 2002 and found the YMCA near Central Park was relatively cheap (then, anyway, with 51 US cents to the Australian dollar) and you had private rooms even if the bathrooms were quite a hike. We decided that the Youth Hostel was just a bit too confronting, although we used them throughout Canada (all private rooms).

I am trying to work out the cheapest way to live and get around without breaking the bank. In the UK and France I’m visiting the ‘ancestors’ – mainly in Derbyshire and Normandy.

FIRST WHIFF OF GRAPESHOT SIGNALS 500 REMATCH

COLIN HUGGINS [Albion QLD] – I have noted with a certain amount of mirth the words of the Moose one in the last Mail – “ Perhaps this reunion might give Dave Argent and I sufficient time to complete the 500 massacre we had embarked upon in Pt Mac etc”

Good Lord, fellows, please explain your meaning of the word “sufficient”. Do you think the Finschhafen champions, Val Rivers and Col Huggins, intend playing you for the rest of our lives until you have a “lucky win”. The reunion is not going forever!

Who is this fellow, Bob ‘Moosey' Davis? What's he on about? Massacres, what massacres? If there is going to be any 'blood" on the floor, it won't be the blood of Val Rivers or yours truly. The champions of Finschhafen are chafing at the bit to wreck havoc upon the 'imposters'. Let the war of words commence. Ah! I smell victory from here in sunny Brisbane and I'm sure that the one from Burra SA [Val Rivers] has the same scent wafting upon her.

The cold climatic conditions of Canberra and the former land of the Danish Princess Mary are obviously troubling the “greying” matter of the Mooses & Argents of this country.

The phone has been running hot between Brisbane and Burra as my colleague and I go into whoops and shrieks of uncontrollable mirth over the audacity of these two “wouldbe’s”.

I’m pleased to see that a medical practitioner will be in our midst at the second reunion, viz, Dr Howard Ralph who will be able to dispense any medical requirements that the two fellows may require. Such a pity the Rev. Dr Barry Paterson will not be in attendance to give spiritual relief to them also.

The Finschhafen champions will blitz you faster than Erwin Rommel’ panzers did to the opposition on their race to the English channel in 1940! You two ‘wouldbe’s won’t have time to blink.
Don’t worry, Moosey and Dave, we’ll also be supplying the rule book to stop any possible funny business and to give you some sort of fair play chance, we’ll let you nominate the referee with of course our privilege of veto!

In all good spirits and anticipation of a complete blitzing of the “wouldbe’s” or should I say the ones who live in the land of Peter Pan, Tinkerbell and Captain Hook!

VAL RIVERS [Burra SA] – An update on my reunion plans. I am booked into the Concierge, arriving in Sydney on Thursday at 2 pm and departing on Sunday at 6 pm. It seems that I will be able to take part in most arranged functions, so ably put together by the planning group. Colin [Huggins] also tells me I have to be in fighting form for a card contest. So be it!

RADIO BOUGAINVILLE DAYS REVISITED

PAUL HALIKAN [Buka PNG] – Greetings from Bougainville. It is nice to know that you are still around and I hope this note finds you well. I am back in the village and, as Carolus will probably have told you, I started an FM station – fully computerised, of course. I can’t believe I’ve come this far from the days of reel-to-reel and turntables. Of course we still have a turntable to play the old 45s. It’s hard to get good music these days. I suppose we have no choice but to change with the times. But it sure is nice to listen to music from our era.

After you left Radio Bougainville, I stayed on for a few years then, in 1976, got a three-year contract with Radio Australia - thanks to you and Mike Dodd for the good training you gave us. I came back from Australia and joined Radio Bougainville until 1984, when I resigned to go home and get into the plantation business. I was doing very well until the crisis erupted. I went into hiding – I can’t believe I’m still alive after all the hardship.

In 1997 I joined a commercial radio station, which was my first taste of computerised radio, and it sure is easier than sitting behind the controls of Radio Bougainville.

When you were in Kieta you had Simon and a daughter whose name I cannot recall [Sally]. I knew Simon well because he used to join me in the studio on Breakfast. How is Simon? He must be married now with a couple of kids [he is!]. I turn 50 in April. Got another 50 yet. Ha, ha!

PORT MORESBY REVISITED – 30 YEARS ON SECURITY IS KING

RICK NEHMY [Port Moresby PNG] - The title of this article [‘The view from the Athens of the Antipodes, Adelaide on Airvos, aka the Airvos apartments’] comes from the discovery that, of the current nine Enhanced Cooperation Program staff in our Port Moresby apartment block, five are Adelaide boys … and to make matters worse, two of the others are Melbourne and Collingwood supporters respectively.

Our apartment block is on a sharp corner of Airvos Avenue, near the National Broadcasting Commission sign, which has been there since at least the mid-70s. We overlook the new Yacht Club (opened in 1999), Hanuabada, Tatana and to our right is the Australian Government compound.
To the extreme right is Government House and quite early some mornings we can hear amplified Pidgin coming from that general direction – we assume it’s either genuine political speech making or peaceful protest.

The Aviat Club is almost directly below us to our right and the mango tree is still alive and thriving. Across the bay is the Napa Napa refinery, with its smoky refinery flame going 24 hours a day.
There are 12 apartments in our complex and best evidence reveals that the block was built for Australian defence personnel in 1984. Consequently, each column of four has identical apartments. It’s a four by three block, but the three columns are of different standards, as befitted army rank.
The apartment block has a communal pool, barbecue area and children’s playground, full fencing with razor wire, three guards during the day and a fourth with a dog at night.

We have an option of having a security guard accompany us if we wish to go anywhere, but Di and I are yet to take up the offer. There is also a full-time gardener who is often working when we leave for the Yacht Club at 0525 each morning. The range of physical security systems is quite overwhelming – besides the bars and grills on widows, we have security systems, which include both audible and silent alarms, separate distress signals and of course, burglar alarms. However, all the alarms set off so far have been as a result of our unaccompanied male colleagues burning their dinners and setting off the smoke alarms.

Within each apartment is a solid door, which creates a separate internal safe haven. We also have two-way radios which we are supposed to carry at all times. The apartment block and grounds have security lighting everywhere so at night we live in an eerie twilight, where it never ever gets really dark.

Our (new) car is almost impossible to steal if we are not in it, and has a GPS locator in case it is stolen, but the retrofitted security system did not mesh well with the central locking. Consequently we have a three-stage manual locking and unlocking process to remember each time we use the car and one of the door locks is already malfunctioning.

We have our standby generator and water supply and, when the city was without water recently for two weekends (planned shutdowns), we were fine. It took about four weeks to get our phones connected and I am on dial-up. I understand broadband costs about K770 a month while the mobile phone system operates on prepaid cards. After only 18 months this has filled its 50,000 limit. The company wants to expand to 200,000.

We get a basic satellite TV package covering Australian free-to-air, plus some Asian channels. But we pay more for an extra eight channels including various movie and sports channels. The provider shows a new movie each night at around 7.30 pm and it’s repeated later in the evening. We saw the new Bridget Jones movie just before Christmas but the quality isn’t always the best.
DVDs range from around K20 or so with VCDs from around K12. Very popular are the three-in-one themed DVDs for about K65 – i.e. Terminator 1, 2 and 3 or three Matt Damon movies. I should note with free-to-air TV, ABC is beamed from Queensland, Seven is Imparja from the Northern Territory, Nine from Perth and so on. You need your wits about you if you want to tape a program which starts at 7.30 pm.

Di and I head off to the Yacht Club at 5.30 every morning – Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Di attends aerobic sessions while I jog the two breakwaters (I estimate a full lap as being somewhere around 2.8 to 3 km). Tuesdays and Thursdays we walk the breakwaters together, along with a crew of regulars. We are joggers/walkers on the streets, but for us the Yacht Club is close, easy and safe.

I am trying to swim at the Aviat Club a couple of times a week and trying to keep up the squash. Some of my colleagues have joined up with various squash competitions and others are playing golf. The Golf Club is guarded by Sepiks, some of whom carry bows and arrows.

There are no movie theatres left although some films are shown from time to time at the Arts Centre. But, as always, there is great eating out. In terms of health. touch wood, neither of us have suffered any problems. There are various medical options around – Dr Glen Mola is still practising, Dr Jim Jacobi has retired here in Moresby and there are various hospitals and clinics including a 24-hour hospital and a medivac service. My GP is an Indian cardiologist and my physio is a Chinese GP who worked with the Chinese Olympic team for 20 years. Medicine in Port Moresby is truly multicultural.

Almost everything is available in the big supermarkets, but at a price of course. The big two are Andersons Harbour City (next to the Yacht Club) and Boroko Foodworld (in Gordons). Then there are the Malaysian-owned RH hypermarket and the SVS and Stop And Shop chains. One of these in North Waigani boasts a fresh food market inside the fence and we are told it is a “safe” market as, when it first opened, a few pickpockets were caught by Highlands sellers and immediate justice imposed – the pickpockets had their fingers chopped off.

We visit small fresh food markets occasionally, but not the big two at Koki and Gordons - even though ECP police now patrol the Gordons market. Fresh meat and seafood is readily available and at very good prices. Our Christmas Tiger prawns cost K25 per kilogram. Despite security warnings to the contrary, we also use the mini street market near us (the bottom of Lawes Road) for fresh fruit and greens.

In the supermarkets the Highlands vegetables (when available) are fantastic, but we have yet to bring ourselves to pay K15 for a punnet of Australian strawberries.

A lovely delicatessen recently opened in the Airways Hotel. This hotel overlooks the airport and is down from the Gateway.

We recently visited my old provincial headquarters at Alotau for a short break. It was great. Alotau is thriving and very peaceful. We did a day trip to Samarai and Kwato but not on the air-conditioned ferry which screens a movie during the trip. Samarai was a little depressing with only one shop and a small trade store operating. The club has gone but the RSL Hall is still there. The sub-district office has also gone, but nearby a new District Headquarters has just been built. Samarai was clean and tidy, if a little overgrown, and looked just a tad tired.

We also took in a day trip across the bay and walked from Gwawili to WagaWaga (repeating the first walk I ever did in PNG). We snorkelled on the wreck in the little bay there. On the walk we crossed a recent landslide which took out eight houses and at Daio Mission I spoke with Dorothy Tobesa who fairly recently retired after 31 years in the Public Service. In 1970 I had posted her original Public Service job application for her. She took one look at me and recognised me immediately. It made my year. I also saw Mahuru Mark’s grave near Gwawili – he died in 1995 at the age of 93. He had served as council president for many, many years. It was one of four graves near a new church. Another grave was that of a young soldier killed during the Bougainville conflict.

On our way back across the bay I managed to fall out of the boat – only my second time ever. The first location happened only a few kilometres away, but separated by a time frame of more than 30 years. Very embarrassing.

EDITOR: This article first appeared in the March 2005 issue of ‘Una Voce’ newsletter – the official publication of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia. Rick Nehmy is a former Patrol Officer now serving with the Australian Government’s Enhanced Coop