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July 2005

KEITH JACKSON [Cremorne NSW] - Ingrid and I will be heading to the Sunshine Coast in mid-November for the next Kiaps’ Reunion. These have proved to be very successful events and I’d encourage you to turn up if you’re able. The next one is being held on 13 November at the Kawana Waters Hotel, Nicklin Way, Buddina. Email Bob Fayle at bobheatherfayle@yahoo.com.au

 

KEITH BAIN [London UK] - We had a very enjoyable evening with Peter and Margaret Lewis in London. As you have had an email from Margaret since their return to Australia and we had a postcard from Peter and Margaret from France, I assume that they escaped my cooking with lives intact - although people can take politeness to extreme lengths.

We have been travelling a fair bit recently as Barbara accepts as many speaking and teaching invitations as she can before retirement. In the last few months, we have been to Rome, Lisbon, Cracow and Berne. Barbara has also somehow fitted in a trip to Nagasaki for a one-day meeting.

Unlikely though it seems, my forthcoming trip to Sydney will be my first since 1967. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, our trips to Australia were confined to Brisbane to spend as much time as possible with ageing and then aged mothers.

DAVE KESBY [Berowra Heights NSW] - Recently Elissa and I went to town to the Opera House for a matinee (play that is). When you get to be our age, matinees are a lot better than going out at night. After the play, who should we run into but Sydney’s leading spin doctor, the fabulous Keith Jackson, and his lovely wife Ingrid. We adjourned to a lovely over the top hotel bar with a view toward the Harbour Bridge and we partook of a few ales, talked about the old days, and a good time was had by all. We said our goodbyes and wandered off into the night.

 

HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD]The Mail 87 was up there with your best. Arrangements for the reunion sound tops and, like most others attending, Janelle and I are looking forward to it enormously. A few new faces like Talker McLean add to the anticipation. He writes like a young 'un - will he look like one? Is Val Murphy going to make it after indicating his early interest? Russ Peters and Peter Stuckey proved duds when given the task of lining up a few of the '62 second years.

Barry Patersonsounds his old self, even if conceding ground by cutting out a number of peripheral activities. "For how long," I suggest as a pertinent question. And Brian White saying all the right things for us to continue to hope for his appearance in October.

Phil Donnison mentions Pat Pyers and Paul Brigg. Some of you will have run across Johnny Neitz and will be saddened to hear of the sudden death of his wife, Dell. I ran into Pat Pyers at the funeral and I believed him when he said, "Gotta go, if I am away from my wife for more than five minutes I don't recognise her".

Paul and Margaret Brigg have been close friends since our Rabaul stint. Paul has returned from a year in China and is lecturing in ESL at Griffith part time. He's currently ruing living in "a bloody Queenslander" and looking for a modern air-conditioned unit. He recently became a grandfather when daughter Nicole produced a daughter.

I notice Jean Lowe is making the right noises about attending the reunion. What part of the education world will collapse if Molly doesn't make it this time? Notice Bob Fayle on paper re the kiaps' get together. Ian Robertson and I attended the last one and enjoyed it. It needed a few more chalkies, though.

 

CHARLES CAZABON [Canberra ACT] – I congratulate Phil Donnison on his choice of a father - a truly great and brave man. I attended ASOPA in 1965-66 then spent 1966-72 in Lae and 1972-75 in Goroka. I had two memorable trips to Rabaul including a belated honeymoon. I would be most interested in a screening of Songs of the Volcano. I live in Canberra but my trips to Sydney are not infrequent.

 

LES LYONS [Wattle Grove WA] – I noted responses in the recent newsletter regarding the reunion this year. Unfortunately we have a small or large problem depending how you look at it, in the form of an unavoidable influx of Eastern States relatives during the September school holidays, which prevents us from taking part in the ASOPA festivities. Hence a scratching four months out for Margaret and myself. A pity and we'll miss the gathering but can't be in a two places at once. Things may change but I doubt it and do not wish to delay advising you any longer.

 

RICHARD JONES [Bendigo VIC] - We have just spent an enjoyable few days in Sydney, including dinner on Monday evening for Daria's 26th birthday at the fabulous Quay restaurant overlooking Circular Quay, the Bridge and the Opera House.

I enjoyed reading your daughter Sally's yarn in the Oz about Rebecca Wilson's treatment at the hands of Fatty, Sterlo and the (NSW) Footy Show crew. I liked Rebecca when she was on Tony Squire's The Fat ABC-TV program. Don't often read The Oz but spied a copy at a coffee shop in The Strand that day.

Elissa Kesby very chuffed that Queensland won the first RL State of Origin. Dubdy told me she was sitting in her maroon gear watching the Wednesday night telecast. We preferred to take Roy and HG's radio call and had the telly on with the sound turned down so we could hear the comedy routine. See you in September.

 

PHIL CHARLEY [Boronia Park NSW] - The Mail is always interesting reading. I was particularly interested in the last issue to read about my old mate, Phil Donnison. We first met Phil in Goroka in 1970 when he was teaching at Goroka Technical College. He formed a small jazz group and we played at the Bird of Paradise Hotel and various functions and venues in Goroka and around the Highlands.
Phil is a really great acoustic guitarist and jazz singer and also plays a range of other stringed instruments. When we came back to Australia in 1979, he was one of the first people we looked up. I immediately joined his jazz group, The Gladesville Sheiks, which eventually morphed into the Nat Oliver Jazz Band and played at many venues including the Alley Cat Wine Bar in North Sydney, Bevy's Place in Mosman, the Hilton Marble Bar, the Rocks Push and a number of others. We bought Phil's house in late 1979 - and still live there.

 

RICHARD JONES [Bendigo VIC] - Readers will recall that a few issues ago we incorporated in The Mail former Patrol Officer Rick Nehmy’s account of life in today’s Port Moresby. Rick has been serving as a civilian member of Australia’s Enhanced Co-operation Program in PNG. Here’s his latest take of life in the PNG capital.

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Well, here at Airvos Apartments we have now only one empty apartment in our block and have even more South Australians – including several families. It’s great to come home to the sound of kids mucking around in the pool, squealing tyres on the wet driveway, smoke and alarm detectors going off, loud 1960s rock, even louder Nintendos and X-boxes – just like the old days.

After we enjoyed a short break in February, we quickly settled back into our daily routine. Two nights before our return a stolen new 4WD had crashed through our driveway fence, demolishing it. The vehicle landed in the two-metre space between the wall and the apartment beneath us.

Two of the raskols were caught and were uninjured before they were apprehended by our guards and handed to the police. A third sought refuge across the road by scaling razor wire. The only way the 4WD could be removed was by pulling it apart, attaching ropes to the shell and having a couple of labour lines physically pull it over the two-storey high wall.

All the repairs, plus new concrete safety bollards, were completed in a few days – but it was quite disconcerting watching the fence repairers stringing barbed wire with their bare hands. While the fence was down we had two extra security guards permanently patrolling the gap.

We have been through the “we are charging you and putting you in the cells” routine for an alleged traffic infringement then having the charge downgraded to an unreceipted “on-the-spot” fine.

But we were lucky that our situation was benign. It was 10.30 am on a Saturday and as soon as I radioed in to our security provider the two policemen conferred in Motu as to their next move. At this point I responded in Motu, advising that I was extremely sorry if I had transgressed and so on. The incident ended with just a warning being administered and smiles and handshakes all round, but some of our friends have not been so lucky.

Even a Deputy Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Department, a PNG national, recently missed a meeting with my department because he had spent three hours in the cells because of a faulty tail-light.

We are also very conscious that most people, both national and expatriate, don’t have access to the instant security back-up which is available to us and for whom an “on-the-spot” fine is often the only option.

One of the joys of breakfast is reading the local papers. However, our paper seller was held up recently and even though the police arrested his assailants before they got away his day’s takings were not recovered. The papers are worth it – after the Djakarta Embassy bombing one headline read: “No Australians Killed. Howard Disappointed.” A story about the re-emergence of avian flu was headed: “Thailand Confirms Infection Of Cocks.”
However, it’s the classified ads which remind us of the heady days of political correctness. Just after Christmas the Bundy Bear Black Bus was advertising a “Sunday pub crawl” with the final item of the itinerary being: “Back around 8pm. Toilet, vomit, bed”.
Another regular advertiser is an accommodation establishment in Boroko which describes itself as “Quiet, Secure, Discreet” with transit rooms for K35 per hour!

Another delight here is FM radio. We are well served and listen to radio Australia and the BBC world service, and both the Motu station and a Hits and Memories station which play old 60s and 70s stuff.

If you are of my vintage you may agree that that particular music died around 1975. The Chinese restaurant near where I work has a stack of 1960s background loops. In one half-hour session we heard “Tell Tommy I Love Him”, Chubby Checker doing “The Twist” and the Rubettes singing “Sugar Baby Love”. Bliss.

And we recently went to a function where a really great three-piece band played all 60s and 70s stuff, only to eventually realise that one of the musicians was Buruka Tau, ex-Yothu Yindi. Great stuff.

Now that the footy season is with us we are overwhelmed with options especially with the free-to-air channels coming from all across Australia in different time zones. It’s great, especially watching Carlton win (or Collingwood lose) three times in three hours.

The Moresby Arts Theatre has had a couple of good productions recently – ‘A Mid Summer Night’s Dream’ and then the Mrs Richards episode from Fawlty Towers. It is also showing “chick flicks” (their description) on Tuesday mornings and is introducing Thursday night movies for a while, plus two Saturday matinees. But we missed the director’s cut of ‘Apocalypse Now’.

Last time I wrote I mentioned that, despite security warnings, we used the mini-street market near us (at the bottom of Lawes Road) for fresh fruit and greens. Well, shortly after that we stopped there and a very courtly and elderly Papuan gentleman approached us and said: “It’s not safe to stop here. I will walk around with you while you shop, and then take you back to you car. But please don’t shop here again.”

So we haven’t. In this same area one night recently an armed gang attempted to hold up a family on their way home. The wife accelerated away while her husband attempted to look after the kids, but luckily no weapons seem to have been discharged.

We have also recently had a police/gang shootout outside the offices of the Post Courier, with a raskol shot dead. It was apparently the same gang that hijacked the top Moresby cop’s car the day before. This leading policeman was extremely angry at the lack of respect shown to senior officials, especially as he was in uniform.

In mid-April after some wild weather we were buffeted by a severe afternoon storm. Locals said they hadn’t seen anything like it. Our street was temporarily blocked at both ends by fallen trees but they were quickly cleared away.

The next morning a clean-up crew was clearing fallen trees from our block and I watched a worker in bare feet, no helmet or shirt, using his chainsaw while standing on a thin branch. He was straddling the razor wire. It brought tears to my eyes.

This article on life In Port Moresby today was published in the June edition of ‘Una Voce’ – the official publication of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia. The PNGAA’s web site is at http://www.pngaa.net.

 

SCHOOLING IN PORT MORESBY TODAY

There are international schools in Port Moresby for children up to Year 12. The main school has internationally trained teachers and is considered to be of good quality. Students are both expatriate and PNG children. There are also small International schools in a number of provincial centres, including Alotau, Lae, Madang, Buka, Goroka, Kiunga, Kimbe, Rabaul, Mount Hagen and Popondetta. In Port Moresby there are five International Primary Schools and one International High School. Each of the primary schools has a slightly different character:

• Boroko East has Kindergarten through to Year 2, with some 450 students aged 3–9. This is the junior section of the Korobosea/Boroko East School.

• Korobosea takes those children from Boroko East at Year 3 through to Year 10. Enrolment is from age 8-14. There are 660 students of which 97% are from PNG.

• Gordons is almost exclusively for PNG children whose parents wish to pay for a higher standard of education and the opportunity for their children to take international examinations. The school goes from Kindergarten through to Year 6 and has approximately 500 + students.

• Murray International School (combined with Ela Beach Primary School). In 2004 these two schools merged and the Ela Beach site closed down due to falling numbers. The pre-school through to Year 8 are now situated on one site at the Murray School location. Murray school has the largest proportion of expatriates and is the recommended school for children of Australian High Commission staff.

• St Joseph’s International Primary School is an international school for the Catholic community of Port Moresby although they will accept children of other faiths if there is space. As a means of supporting their own Church members the fees are kept deliberately low and so this school is always over-subscribed. The school is not a member of the IEA because it has to retain its independence in order to retain a strong Catholic ethos. It does, however, follow a broad-based international curriculum and has a high rate of academic success.

• The Port Moresby International High School (POMIS) is situated in East Boroko has 700 students of more than 20 different nationalities and takes students from Year 7 through to Year 12. The school offers the PNG curriculum, the ACT school certificate, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and the International Baccalaureate in Years 11 and 12. Approximately 70% of the students are from PNG.

Notes from SAGRIC International Pty Ltd - an international project implementation and technology transfer company.