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February 2005

 

 

 

1962/63 ASOPA REUNION 2005

KEITH JACKSON [Cremorne NSW] - Cremorne Concierge is offering a special deal to cover your stay in Sydney for the reunion [Friday 30 September – Sunday 2 October]. The offer applies to all of you attending the reunion, whether they are ‘62/63 ASOPA or not. You need to book the accommodation yourself - quote ‘ASOPA REUNION’ in your letter, email or phone call.

There are two types of apartments available at the Concierge: self-contained studio units and self-contained one-bedroom units, all with kitchens and bathrooms with washing machine/dryer. The regular daily rates of $160 for a studio and $179 for a one-bedroom unit have been discounted to $119 and $139 under the ASOPA reunion deal – a saving of about $40 a day.

Book your accommodation at the Concierge as soon as possible through:

Email - concierge@theoaksgroup.com.au

Phone - (02) 8969 6944

Post - Oaks Concierge Apartments, 287 Military Road, Cremorne 2090

If you have access to the Internet, visit the Concierge website at: http://www.theoaksgroup.com.au/Site.asp?SiteID=4

 

MICK & TALKER BRING THE RAIN TO BENDIGO

RICHARD JONES [Bendigo VIC] - An ASOPA mini-reunion was held in a sweltering Bendigo on Friday afternoon 28 January, when Michael Wilson and Ian McLean journeyed up the Calder Highway from Melbourne. The purpose– to have lunch with Richard and Judyth Jones.

Although none of us could foretell accurately what the weather had in store that summer afternoon, with the mercury hovering around 34 degrees, five days later rain tumbled down all day across a very wide swathe of Victoria, Bendigo included.

But on that Friday we ate outdoors at the licensed Bendigo Art Gallery café and washed down our food – or at least Ian, Judyth and Richard did – with a glass or two of central Victorian white. The Gallery is just a short walk from the Jones’ abode so Mick’s car was left under the elm trees in Barkly Street.

The Talker had been meaning to make a trip to Bendigo for some time. So, even though pressing meetings with tradesmen at his Melbourne apartment swallowed up a lot of holiday time, he did manage to make the 90-minute trip from the capital on this occasion.

Many of us might have forgotten that Mick spent a fair bit of his time in PNG engaged in a number of occupations well outside the parameters of the Public Service. Apart from a two-month stint filing documents in Konedobu, of course. Which came after the erst of us finished second year and were swanning around various PNG locations waiting for the 1964 academic year to begin.

Mick said he’d been sent to PNG by mistake. “I actually failed second year,’’ he recalled. Before being sent back to ASOPA for another go at second year, the authorities thought they’d better keep Mick gainfully employed.

Another bout with Rossy, Handy Andy, Dick Pearson, ol’ Norm Donnison and Co loomed but, to keep him on his toes before that happy prospect, Mick spent the end of 1963 and beginning of 1964 shuffling files around the Konedobu rabbit warren.

Later he was to drive trucks up and down the Highlands Highway from Lae to Goroka and Hagen. He also worked in the kitchen at Lae’s leading hotel, the Melanesian.

In due course Mick found his true vocation: jewellery design, the craft of the goldsmith and the retailing of the finished products. He now has galleries at Eltham and in Melbourne’s CBD and a successful business.

Of course, Ian still works for the US government’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service in Okinawa. His stint in PNG lasted three years – two at Idubaba Tech on Moresby’s outskirts and a tough year at Kundiawa Junior Tech in the Highlands.

After a pleasant luncheon looking out over Bendigo’s Rosalind Park, Mick and Ian took their leave and headed back down the Calder to Melbourne. And following a couple of tentative downpours the next day, the rain really set in on Wednesday. Ian had said he hoped the visit would bring some moisture to a parched central Victoria – and it did !

 

HELENE EAST REMEMBERED

JOHN BOORMAN [Milton NSW] - I am coming to the tidy up side of Helene's files and would be grateful if you could post to me the copy of The Mail that recorded her death. You could email it if you are able. I last corresponded with you 16 August so it would be the issue after that. It is simply for my files as I intend to keep a folder of her life. (It looks like to might be a big folder.)

John is a cousin of Helene East. You can contact him at 386 Croobyar Road, Milton NSW 2538 or by email on jboorman@iprimus.com.au. I forwarded John the copy of ‘The Mail’ he requested together with four subsequent issues in which you recorded your memories of Helene and your tributes to her. It’s good to learn that her papers are being properly assembled and her life recorded.

 

JUSTINE BACK TO THE TOP END

JUSTINE FINTER [Mapleton QLD] – After replacing my computer with an upgraded model I’m still having a few hiccups, hence I’ve been forced to revert to the old ‘cursive’. Thank you ever so much for forwarding The Mail. It’s greatly appreciated. Very interesting reading from some of our ASOPA globetrotters.

I was very much saddened to hear of Helene’s passing. I had planned on visiting her on my trip to Darwin but that was not to be. Not only was Helene a sophisticated and talented lady but she had a great sense of humour. I discovered this at our last reunion when she and I talked till the wee hours of the morning and laughed so much my sides ached.

In late October we took a trip to Darwin to be with our son, Bill, who had a knee reconstruction. We decided to trial our cub-camper at the stops along the way and travelled the inland highway via Longreach. At Barcaldine the hospitality of outback country folk came to the fore when the park owners had free damper and billy tea on offer. Live entertainment was provided by locals – one reciting bush yarns, another giving renditions of some of Slim’s favourites.

Our daughter-in-law (still employed by the PNG government) joined us in Darwin with our two-year old grandson, Lenny. We had a great time catching up. Lenny’s other grandmother communicates with him in Pidgin. I had to smile when he spied his grandad in his birthday suit and announced: “Poppy arse nuttin”.

Darwin has a beautiful harbour with a fish feeding tourist attraction. We visited there with Lenny. On the high tide, fish of all shapes and sizes come in to feed on bits of bread thrown to them by visitors. Lenny got so excited that his dad had a hard time trying to keep him from jumping in to grab the fish.

There are some beautiful places of interest and some good fishing spots around the Darwin coast. Dundee Beach and Crab Claw Island were two we visited. The access roads, however, had many corrugations and with so much rocking and rolling I feared all my teeth would fall out and the vehicle break into bits (slight exaggeration!). Litchfield Park was a great spot for a picnic. The waterholes were certainly popular with the temperatures well over 30°.

The Northern Territory Wildlife Park, a few kilometres from Darwin city, was most interesting and a worthwhile visit. The re-creation of natural habitats for the animals in the large bird aviary gives the visitor the impression of being in an open area rather than an enclosure. The park contains many other attractions including an aquarium. Camping at Tumbling waters was very relaxing, though the peacocks made you aware they were residents as well.
*******

At last I have managed to access my email. It has taken me all this time, since Christmas. I posted my handwritten version yesterday. I was sick all over Christmas with the current virus that is circulating. I would love to attend the reunion. I have to return to Moresby to fulfil some family cultural obligations in August so it’s a matter of time for me. I'll keep you posted as the date draws near.

We had our property on the market but had a change of heart. I do love the peace and quiet and I really don't mind sharing the place with the wild life. I do not mind furry animals as long as I do not have to touch them. The tiny wallabies that come out to graze at dawn and dusk are cute and every now and then we glimpse a fox. There's a variety of birdlife including red-browed finches, rainbow lorikeets, regent and satin bower birds, doves, king parrots, black cockatoos, white cockatoos and others. There was an echidna but I have not seen it of late. It could have overdosed on ants as the anthills are still on the increase. Bill likes to feed the butcher birds. I love to watch them dive and catch the feed in mid air. The beaches are only an half hour drive away. This year we hope to use our camper more and frequent as many water-front campsites.

 

BILL COASTS THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD

BILL WELBOURNE [Mount Cotton QLD] - My computer has been out of action due to a power surge, which crashed the mother board. HP took 3 months of trial and error to work this out.

The big storms and rains that swamped Brisbane late November caused further trouble when I failed to negotiate a swollen creek that covered the road leading to the Gold Coast Motorway. Teenage boys on surfboards quickly appeared from nowhere to take advantage of riding these newly created and rising rapids. My sole occupant, a teenage girl, had requested a lift home from an o'nite party. As my car was about to float away she merely purred, "Oh, what do we do now?" "Swim, honeybun," I thought, but her dress would have provoked interesting camera footage.

Thankfully, with youthful enthusiasm, it was the bare-skinned board boys to the rescue. On higher ground and a couple of calls from my mobile I was back home minus my car which was towed to the RACQ depot to await its fate. Within a few days it resurfaced at an auction yard and I was racing off to buy a new Camray with the paid out insurance cheque.

It’s tough when you live on acreage without a car, especially when your once loved second car on loan to your son-in-law could now be classified as an neglected bomb. Brakes on bare metal, rubberless tyres and misfiring sparks is not my idea of safe hitch hiking for the painful two weeks ahead. Hasty repairs were needed and quite a bit of shanks pony.

Murphy's law stared me in the face as I had Richard, my travel companion, arriving from Jersey (UK) a day after my new car delivery. "Look for a silver Camry; not the green Avalon, Richard." We had a planned trip to Victoria for the Commonwealth Youth Games in Bendigo from where Richard would sent sports reports to BBC Radio Jersey.

Arrangements also had to be made to get Pam, who is very unsteady with her health, into high-level disability care centre. Then responsibility for my teenage granddaughter was tested to extreme. She was testing the boundaries at school and then had her mobile phone stolen from her friend's bedroom. She thought that life sucks and then suffered a severe bout of depression and was admitted to hospital.

I was off for a well-earned break. We hired a car from Melbourne Airport and travelled along the famous Ocean Road scenic tourist route into Mt Gambier, South Australia. We had followed the 'shipwreck coast' where many a canvas sail had gone aground before the days of lighthouse and telegraph. We sampled some superb wines at Coonawarra where Richard managed an interview at Rymill, an historic winery with two rearing bronze horses at its entrance ... one a colt the other a filly to typify its horse-loving founders.

We o'nited at the Grampians and in the morning took the loop of its exciting view points including the peaceful MacKenzie Falls where recently an unfortunate group of non swimmers tragically miscalculated. Please note there is an award winning pastry cook next to Post Office at Halls Gap... YUM!

At the mineral springs capital of Australia at Daylesford we enjoyed morning tea with the Mayor in his parlour. I noted the Eureka flag of Southern Cross was flying because it was celebrating the liberties won following the gold miners uprising against the harshly imposed mining laws 150 years ago. The Mayor and his shire had just agreed to team up with Jersey on a cultural exchange and so Richard scored another scoop interview for BBC Radio Jersey. I couldn't help but be amused at the contrasting thoughts it provoked. Daylesford is often used in movies of historic and wild west scenery and Jersey often used in movies for it very metropolitan and Berjerak police scenes.

Finally we got to Bendigo and the Games, which were exciting for Jersey because their small team of 12 managed to score a gold and silver in swimming and a bronze in athletics. One of the highlights was the Opening Ceremony which was largely an historical pageant accompanied by excellent singing. With much clanging of symbols, firecrackers and smoke, the Chinese of gold era ancestry brought out Sungloo, the largest Chinese dragon in the world ...over 100 metres.

Our trip to Bendigo included the tram journey which explained its historic buildings and then going deep into an old goldmine, no wonder they died young in the dust and grime. The highlight of our trip had been the journey through time, like opening up the pages of a history book.

The purpose of this message is to advise that I would love the company at the next reunion and I look forward to catching up.... unfortunately just me, because Pam cannot travel.

 

HENRY MEETS MR CHIPS

HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] – Another good Mail and good to see the interest it is attracting from outside the direct 'inner sanctum' members. We might need a few extras if our attrition rate continues to double annually - as it did in 2004.

Took off to Victoria for Mum's 90th and had a top time with family and friends. While you lot were 17 and 18 when you arrived at ASOPA I spent those couple of important years in the NE of Victoria and a number of the "wild young lads" got together for a look at each other 45 years down the track. Pretty reassuring really and certainly the memories haven't suffered too much with plenty of retelling of juvenile but fun events of that time...mostly Young Farmer based. Did I mention it was a Milawa/Markwood mob, so when I say John Brown was one of the crowd you'll understand that the wine on the night was particularly pleasant.

Janelle and ambled back to Brisbane via Canberra and rand our favourite ex Canberra Grammar Deputy Head of School [Bob Davis] for a meal and catch up. That our old mate Bob has got used to life without the school hours is best illustrated by the fact that he "shouted" Janelle and me the meal .... can't remember when that last happened.

 

VAL’S NEW YEAR RESOLUTION IS TO REUNITE

VAL RIVERS [Burra SA] – I’m still in the old fashioned world of using the mail for The Mail. My only New Year resolution is to attend the reunion in September/ October. Include me in the accommodation package at the Cremorne Concierge Apartments as a single.

Always interested to read the bits and pieces of mainly eastern states people, especially their travel. Sonia (Grainger) paid a visit to Burra last year and I took the opportunity to watch the reunion tape which I had vowed not to watch until another ASOPA person was with me.

Even in Burra I have heard about the state of the NSW railways that Dave (Kesby) raised in The Mail 82. best wishes for 2005.

 

SHORT TAKES

MARG & PETER LEWIS [Windella Downs NSW] - All is well our end and we had a family Xmas and caught up with friends for New Year. We are leaving for Europe and Ireland on the 11 April and will be back mid May. We are looking forward to the reunion and will participate in the planned activities. Peter's eye is on the "slow mend" and he is able to read again, which is great.

 

JESSICA DAVIS [lil_jesska_69@hotmail.com] - I was browsing though Google images and typed in my grandad's name "Bill Welbourne" and stumbled across a picture of him with a little girl. Well anyway you labelled the picture as him with his daughter. Well in fact the picture is his grand-daughter(my cousin). Her name is Stephanie. Just letting you know so you can fix it up.

 

DON WILLIAMS [Taylors Beach QLD] - I would very much like to attend your mob's reunion this year if for no other reason than to catch up with yourself and Ingrid and, naturellement, 'Wicked Richard' (Jones), who is probably the most prolific of my email correspondents. Unfortunately Bernie and I have scheduled a trip to the UK, Ireland, Spain and Singapore (in that order) around that time and we just won't be in Oz. You can't help bad luck I suppose!

On another tack I wonder if any of your lot know anything about the current or (recent) previous whereabouts of a former kiap called Peter Kerr - Mumeng among other places I think. Peter married Geraldine Chan (one of our mob) in the mid 60's and it would be really good if we could track them both down prior to our next reunion. Would be grateful for any info your network may be able to offer. Hope you all have an absolute ball in Sydney in springtime.

People with information on Peter Kerr can contact Don at don_berniew@bigpond.com

 

CHARLES CAZABON [johncharlescazabon@hotmail.com] - I am enjoying the ASOPA files very much. I arrived in TPNG from ASOPA in 1966. My first posting was at Bugandi High School. My wife Margaret and I lived on the school grounds in a beautifully maintained house, Les and Margaret Lyons having been the previous inhabitants.

I read with interest a message from Jeremy Blue in your December 04 letters. He wanted information about his father Les Blue. I knew him well. I think Les Lyons may have known him as well. Anyway, I wrote to Jeremy's published email but my message refused to move. Perhaps you could publish this and he might respond.

 

PAUL OATES [boonah.vista@bigpond.com]- As an ex kiap, I have some good memories of ASOPA. We visited ASOPA and Middle Head over Christmas 2004 and were very disappointed to find the site slowly falling apart. I suppose however, that terminology applies to me as well.

The fortifications were however very well maintained. Is there no move to have ASOPA created a museum open to the public? This might inform some of our younger people of what Australia's history in the Pacific and NT was all about? Of course, it's easy to say and hard to do. Always very few volunteers when it comes to restoration works. I see the Harbour Trust now is responsible for the site.

 

KELLEYANN BART [Launceston, TAS] - I was just browsing thru the internet to locate record of teachers from Australia who taught in PNG secondary schools after independence between 1980s to 1990s, and came across your website. It is very interesting and I began to read and learn about so many things that happened before I was born in PNG.

I was particularly interested finding a teacher of mine who taught in the Gulf Province, specifically Kerema High School in 1982 and taught English Subject. Now that I am temporarily living in Tasmania, I wish to locate his whereabouts. Do you think you can help?

He was known as Mr. Daniels from Queensland and his partner was Ms. Smith. We never got to learn their first names coz that was not supposed to mentioned by students. I completed Grade 10 in 1985 but Mr. Daniels and Ms. Smith had already left PNG... Any assistance you would give in searching for them would be appreciated.

Kelleyanns’s email address is mekeoman@bigpond.com

 

DIANE BOHLEN [Daisy Hill QLD] – I have emailed the Concierge Apartments to book for the weekend from Thursday 29 to Sunday 2. I also managed to get frequent flyer seats for the trip. I always find this difficult because I usually only fly in school hols when they don't allocate FF seats. Anyway we're coming. I am looking forward to seeing the old college and surrounds.

 

GLENNIS KORSMAN [ex-Lae-ite:] - Thank you for a wonderful web site. I am dropping you a note to ask about one of the daring gentlemen I ran into in Garina. His name was Les Hicks. I often wonder what happened to him. I was working at the tea plantation at the time.

If you know of Les’s whereabouts or movements after PNG, you can contact Glennis at glennis@allstate.net.au

 

RETURN TO THE ISLANDS REGION

RICHARD JONES [Bendigo VIC] - Writing in the December 2004 issue of Una Voce, South Australian correspondent John Kleinig outlined what he’d seen on a recent trip to Papua New Guinea.

IT IS VERY EASY to become disoriented these days after a fortnight or so in PNG. The country has always been a land of spectacular contrasts and nearly 30 years after independence the contrasts appear even more spectacular.

The expatriate population is understandably only a fraction of what it was pre-independence. In all the centres, including Port Moresby, lack of maintenance is a major problem.

Provincial offices, schools, hospitals and roads are generally in need of major upgrades. In most cases it would be cheaper to rebuild rather than repair.

Kavieng bears little resemblance to a once sleepy, but welcoming town. The airport has recently suffered the loss of 530 metres of its six-foot high security fence while at the same time somebody vandalised 27 of the strip’s landing lights.

But out of town stands the most magnificent fisheries training centre funded by the European Union where local people are taught new and inventive ways to fish.

A few minutes by banana boat from Kavieng is Nusa Island Resort, built and operated by the three adult Keene children. Originally from Adelaide, their parents Rob and Libby Keene managed plantations throughout PNG during the 1960s and 1970s. The popularity of the resort is based on the easy access to surfing, diving and canoeing and the opportunity to live in a village-style environment.
The three younger Keenes have been active in helping the locals to gain funding for malaria control, the upgrading of fresh water supplies and a school on the island.

Another South Australian, Pam Christie, is the owner and guide of Papua New Guinea Trekking Adventures. We met her at Alotau in Milne Bay where she was exploring new trekking possibilities. One afternoon she appeared at the end of the day after walking for nine hours in the nearby Stirling Range looking for the remains of World War 2 aircraft.

Rabaul is slowly making one of its familiar comebacks after the devastation of the 1994 eruptions. Tavurvur (Matupit) stopped erupting in February, 2004, and now only the occasional puff of gas can be seen. Trees and grass are starting to grow again and frangipani blooms are everywhere.

The town is now regaining much of its original beauty and the new road from Kokopo to Rabaul, funded by AusAid and built by Queensland contractors, is truly magnificent. There is a section which remains unsealed because of disputes, but that is but a hiccup compared with the condition of the road just two years ago.

Most other roads on the Gazelle Peninsula are barely driveable, but the Chinese Government has provided much-needed funds to rebuild the Kokopo to Bainings road.

We were visiting a friend at Kerevat at the time an expatriate from the Rabaul vulcanology station was kidnapped by escapees from the gaol. The executive director of the PNG Growers Association was assisting police by co-ordinating attempts by locals to help them in the recapture of the escapees. Fuel for provincial vehicles is always in short supply.

The kidnappers were eventually found, one was killed while the others were being hotly pursued. They were without their weapons which they had left in an isolated bush hut. Apparently this was a rare victory for the police.

The war cemetery at Bitapaka is in pristine condition and has never looked better thanks to a new management system and a young Australian horticulturalist who has the contract to manage the war cemeteries at Bomana (Port Moresby), Lae and Bitapaka.

Despite the ongoing stories about massive corruption and the endless problems, Papua New Guinea is still a country where many of the people remember the contributions of the Australians. As you leave the country, you feel that things will get better.

Una Voce is the quarterly journal of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia. Its website is www.pngaa.net

 

NEW BOOK ON PNG TO BE LAUNCHED IN ADELAIDE

VALERIE WAYTE [Canberra ACT] - Pandanus Books have just published Phil Fitzpatrick's Bamahuta: Leaving Papua - a fictionalised account of the adventure and dynamism of the pre-independence years, as seen through the eyes of a young patrol officer. I thought you and your members may be interested to learn about the book and attend the launch which will be held in Adelaide on Thursday 10 March at the South Australian Museum. Please contact me if you need further information.

You can contact Valerie at Pandanus Books, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University: email valerie.wayte@anu.edu.au or phone (02) 6125 1470.

BAMAHUTA: a poignant farewell that was made by the thousands of Australians who departed the territories of Papua and New Guinea following independence. Among them were the kiaps — the patrol officers. In the coastal villages, the remote mountain hamlets and the burgeoning new towns, they were responsible for exploring the country, introducing the rule of law and acting as a catalyst for political and economic development.

Bamahuta recreates the adventure and dynamism of the pre-independence years as seen through the eyes of a young kiap. Loneliness, friendship and romance sharpen a growing social and self awareness. The result is a unique perspective on the drive to independence and its consequences. Capturing nostalgia for the past and uncertainty about the future, this is a story about growing up and moving on.

Inspired by the books of Jack Hides, Ivan Champion and JK McCarthy, Philip Fitzpatrick went to Papua New Guinea as a Cadet Patrol Officer in 1967. He left in 1973, on the eve of Self-Government, with mixed feelings about Australia’s contribution to Papua New Guinea’s future. Philip has spent many years working as a cultural heritage researcher among Aboriginal people. Since 1997, he has made regular trips back to Papua New Guinea and undertaken work in the oil and gas exploration industry.