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September 2005


KEITH’S DIARY

SPRING DAWNS FAIR. The first day of Spring in Sydney was one of those idyllic days, sunny and warm, such as we all hope will prevail for the weekend of the reunion. September is Sydney’s driest month (that’s why it was chosen for the Olympics) so we’re feeling very hopeful.

ASOPA SHOWS AGE. Walked down to ASOPA this morning. A sign at the front proclaims the old campus is unsafe for human habitation. This is a shame since it will severely limit our access. But there’s a great photo opportunity at the front of the collection of buildings adjacent to the former library.

ASOPA KIDS DO GOOD. The children of some ASOPA identities have provided useful advice in the matter of Brian and Nammie White’s niece, Tasminnie (see below), stranded in PNG. Nigel Booth, who works for the Australian Federal Police, and Helen Bergen, an adviser to Independent Federal MP Peter Andren, both came good with helpful tips and were put in touch with Brian.

CHIPS WALKS TALL. Ahead of the 30th anniversary of PNG independence on Friday 16 September, the PNG Association of Australia hosted a special screening of ‘Walk Into Paradise’, a movie shot entirely in PNG in 1955 and starring then Aussie heart throb Chips Rafferty. The US version of the same film, by the way, was entitled ‘Walk Into Hell’! There were two sessions at Film Australia and the many ex-Territorians who turned up were delighted with the outstanding cinematography which perfectly captured the spectacular highlands scenery in which the movie unfolds. I was impressed with the way then District Officer Fred Kaad, who played himself and who I hope will join us for the Sunday reunion lunch at the Mosman Club, nonchalantly upstaged the great Chips.

SUPREMOS LAST STAND. The small but perfectly formed Sydney reunion planning group, notorious for the brevity of its meetings and the length of its lunches, convened for the final time at Rod Hard’s hacienda at Glen Haven. We went through final arrangements for the weekend and enjoyed our reminiscences. All three of us are looking forward to a great weekend.

 

THE GREAT OCCASION: THE 62/63 ROLL CALL

FRIDAY 30 SEPTEMBER

Concierge Apartments, 287 Military Road, Cremorne. If you intend to check in at The Concierge before 8 am or after 8 pm on Friday, let the managers know beforehand [toll free 1800 006 922] so arrangements can be made for access. Check out is 10.30 am.

Who’s at the Concierge Dave & Kerry Argent, Henry & Janelle Bodman, Diane & Bill Bohlen, Col & Wendy Booth, Dennis & Ros Burrell, Jeff & Robyn Chapman, Bob Davis, Sonia Grainger, Allan Jones, Pam & Palle Kruger, Peter & Marg Lewis, Maxine Mundell, Rory O’Brien, Val Rivers, Roger Stanley & Sue Core, Bill Welbourne, David & Lorraine Westover

Hotel Cremorne, 287 Military Road, Cremorne. From 5 pm onwards we’ll begin to gather at the Cremorne Hotel, next door to the Concierge. A bar is set aside for us to the rear of the C-Lounge on the ground floor and the bistro is adjacent to the bar. Dress is neat casual. For owls, the Night Club and Piano Bar open at 10 pm.

Who’ll be at the Hotel Cremorne. Dave & Kerry Argent, Henry & Janelle Bodman, Diane & Bill Bohlen, Col & Wendy Booth, Dennis & Ros Burrell, Jeff & Robyn Chapman, Bob Davis, Rod & Cheryl Hard, Colin Huggins, Keith & Ingrid Jackson, Allan Jones, Richard & Judyth Jones, Pam & Palle Kruger, Dave & Elissa Kesby, Peter & Marg Lewis, Rory O’Brien, Rodger Philpott, Val Rivers, Roger Stanley & Sue Core, Bill Welbourne, David & Lorraine Westover

SATURDAY 1 OCTOBER

The Oaks Hotel, 118 Military Road, Neutral Bay. The Oaks is a 15-minute walk or five-minute bus ride up Military Road from the Concierge. At 11, we’ll gather there for a drink and lunch. If it’s a fine day there will be an outside area assigned to us under the old oak tree. If the weather’s not so fair, we’ll be located inside the bistro, which offers plenty of eating options - from a simple $5 salad to the big roast.

Who’ll be at The Oaks. Dave & Kerry Argent, Henry & Janelle Bodman, Diane & Bill Bohlen, Col & Wendy Booth, Dennis & Ros Burrell, Leo Carroll, Jeff & Robyn Chapman, Phil & Marie Charley, Bob Davis, Hal Holman, Colin Huggins, Keith & Ingrid Jackson, Allan Jones, Richard & Judyth Jones, Dave & Elissa Kesby, Pam & Palle Kruger, Peter & Marg Lewis, Rory O’Brien, Rodger Philpott, Ann Prendergast, Val Rivers, Roger Stanley & Sue Core, Bill Welbourne, David & Lorraine Westover

Raymond’s Tai Kwun Garden Restaurant, Grosvenor Street, Neutral Bay [near corner of Young Street]. At 7 pm we’ll gather for dinner at Raymond’s. The easiest way to get there from Military Road is to walk down Young Street (midway between Neutral Bay Junction and The Oaks) and turn left at Grosvenor Street. Raymond’s is just a 20-metre walk from the corner. Raymond has put together a splendid banquet including Peking duck, chili pepper calamari, black pepper steak, spicy prawn and pine nuts, snow peas and broccoli, a fruit platter and fried ice cream. You’ll pay for your own drinks.

Who’ll be at Raymonds. Dave & Kerry Argent, Henry & Janelle Bodman, Diane & Bill Bohlen, Col & Wendy Booth, Dennis & Ros Burrell, Jeff & Robyn Chapman, Dick & Numa Clarke, Joe Crainean, Bob Davis, Rod & Cheryl Hard, Colin Huggins, Keith & Ingrid Jackson, Allan Jones, Richard & Judyth Jones, Dave & Elissa Kesby, Pam & Palle Kruger, Peter & Marg Lewis, Rory O’Brien, Rodger Philpott, Ann Prendergast, Val Rivers, Roger Stanley & Sue Core, Bill Welbourne, David & Lorraine Westover

SUNDAY 2 OCTOBER

Concierge Apartments, 287 Military Road, Cremorne. At 10.30 the Mosman Bus Company’s coach will draw up at The Concierge to ferry us to Middle Head and the old ASOPA campus. Rod Hard is arranging cooling beverages while we inspect the ancient ruins of our youthful folly. Unfortunately we can’t gain access to the grounds, apparently the buildings are unsafe, so we’ll have to be content with the view from Middle Head Road. After a brief sojourn, We’ll be off again at about 11.30.

Who’ll be at ASOPA. Dave & Kerry Argent, Henry & Janelle Bodman, Diane & Bill Bohlen, Col & Wendy Booth, Dennis & Ros Burrell, Jeff & Robyn Chapman, Joe Crainean, Bob Davis, Rod & Cheryl Hard, Colin Huggins, Keith & Ingrid Jackson, Allan Jones, Richard & Judyth Jones, Dave & Elissa Kesby, Pam & Palle Kruger, Peter & Marg Lewis, Jean Lowe, Rory O’Brien, Rodger Philpott, Val Rivers, Roger Stanley & Sue Core, Bill Welbourne, David & Lorraine Westover

Sunsets Restaurant, Mosman Club, 719 Military Road, Mosman. By 11.30 am, we’ll arrive at the Mosman Club for the reunion lunch. There’ll be pre-lunch drinks in the bar until 1 pm. Then we’ll move into the dining room for a choice of fried calamari and salad of sweet & spicy chicken for entrée and roast of the day and Atlantic grilled perch as the main. A cash bar will operate at Club rates with wine priced from $11.50 up, tap beer $2.30 and soft drinks $2. You can get a glass of port for $2.50. The formal end of the lunch is at three but you’re welcome to stay on at the Club if you wish.

Who’ll be at the Mosman Club. Dave & Kerry Argent, Henry & Janelle Bodman, Diane & Bill Bohlen, Col & Wendy Booth, Dennis & Ros Burrell, Jeff & Robyn Chapman, Dick & Numa Clarke, Joe Crainean, Bob Davis, Rod & Cheryl Hard, Colin Huggins, Keith & Ingrid Jackson, Libby Lowig, Allan Jones, Richard & Judyth Jones, Dave & Elissa Kesby, Pam & Palle Kruger, Peter & Marg Lewis, Jean Lowe, Rory O’Brien, Rodger Philpott, Ann Prendergast, Val Rivers, Roger Stanley & Sue Core, Bill Welbourne, David & Lorraine Westover

There will be a few speeches:

1 – Welcome and certificate ceremony: Keith Jackson2 - Absent friends: Diane Bohlen
3 - ASOPA 62/63: Henry Bodman
4 - Valedictory: Richard Jones
5 - The last word: Rod Hard & Dave Kesby

Mido Restaurant, 144 Military Road, Neutral Bay. Mido is one of the few institutions, apart from us, to survive the years since our ASOPA days, being opened by its present owner in 1962. It is famed as the place where Jeff Chapman asked for the tomato sauce to accompany his sweet and sour pork.

Who’ll be at Mido. Col & Wendy Booth, Dennis & Ros Burrell, Bob Davis, Colin Huggins, Keith & Ingrid Jackson, Peter & Marg Lewis, Rory O’Brien, Rodger Philpott, Ann Prendergast, David & Lorraine Westover

NEWS FROM OUR FRIENDS

BRIAN WHITE [Meringandan QLD] – I’d like to appraise you of the situation of our orphan niece in PNG, Tasminnie Tavari. She was with us, despite great immigration difficulties, for two years until the end of 2004, when she was refused further visas and had to go back to PNG and a rather unstable family situation.

We have tried all this year to bring her back, but with no luck. Just to talk to her or get letters through is almost impossible. The Holy Name School in Toowoomba is leading a rally of support this week to try and push the issue further, and Nammie and I have been interviewed by our local Toowoomba Chronicle and featured on the front page.

I wonder if my former colleagues from ASOPA could lend us support by signing the web site petition. It would be a great help and we would appreciate the assistance.

Could you publicise this for me please, Keith? We have a wide coverage here but to go back 40 plus years to former PNG teachers would be a definite advantage.

Tas's mother was a teacher of repute in Milne Bay and other areas. I actually taught her at some stage of her primary schooling and we supported her through a lot of her tertiary education, which, as you remember, was difficult to obtain in those days.

Tas wants to be a teacher too. She is quite a sophisticated girl, not a 'village girl' in any sense of the word, and has always had her sights set on a good education and being a teacher like her Mum. We feel that, if she cannot come to live permanently with us, she will be denied these opportunities and her future will be very limited. If you could lend your weight, it would be a big help.

So, please, all you Asopians, support my wife and myself in this venture. We are feeling quite desperate.

Asopians and their friends were quick to respond to Brian’s call for support by adding their names to an on-line petition to bring Tas back home. If you haven’t done so, I’d urge you to go to http://www.bringtasminniehome.com and endorse the petition, which at last count contained over 400 names and many supportive comments.

COLIN HUGGINS [Albion QLD] – I was disappointed to read in The Mail that Ian McLean will not be at the reunion. I was looking forward to seeing whether he had changed as much as the photos depict.

At the first reunion at Port Macquarie I hardly recognised anyone and, in the street, would have walked past the majority of our Asopian mates as if they were complete strangers. Not in my wildest dreams would I have recognised Keith Jackson, as was obvious when I arrived at Wauchope railway station after an horrendous trip from Brisbane by train.

Actually the only people I did recognise were Lorraine Bell (Westover), David Westover (who has not changed one iota), Peter Lewis and Brian Smith. Hardly a great percentage! One shouldn't boast but everyone seemed to have easily recognised me!

I'm staying for the reunion period with Dennis Staunton who lives at Manly on the hill near the Cardinal's Palace (which is now a catering and hospitality college). Dennis, if you remember, was in Law at Sydney University and he and I went to College together at St Joseph's, Hunter's Hill.

Good old Brian Smith seems to have disappeared off the radar screen after he had a stroke after the first reunion. I had been invited down to where he lived and never got there, which I am now quite sorry about. Brian and I shared a donga for a short period when we were first posted to Dregerhafen.

We were there before the school year started and spent almost 100% of our daylight hours swimming in the Dregerhafen Bay. Ah, such bliss in those early days. I think we both thought we were in paradise until a certain Edith Hatt arrived and put a quick stop to our blissful existence. Edith had this silly idea that we would be better employed sharpening pencils and arranging books for the forthcoming school year. It's no wonder that Brian took off as far as possible from Dreger and Edith and settled on Daru.

RICHARD JONES [Bendigo VIC] – Like your goodself we have been busy with a grandchild this year. Our eldest daughter Miranda and son-in-law Jason have Ava Mercedes as their first child, born in early March. When we get to Sydney next month Ava will be a tad more than 6½ months old.

On another front, our old mate Allan Jones has reviewed a book for the September issue of Una Voce. The book in question is Oscar X-Ray Calling by Betty Scarlet and is a story about Albert and Betty Scarlet, missionaries in PNG from 1962-71. Al Pal has recently become a subscriber to the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia.

See you in Sydney. We will be staying with our younger daughter Daria and her partner David in Newtown for at least a week once the ASOPA reunion celebrations are over.

ALLAN JONES [South Brighton SA] – I have met with a youngish PNG guy here at Flinders University, namely Killion Lukara. He is trying to locate ex-PNG teachers Brian and Elizabeth Webb. According to Killion, Brian was head of Malabunga in about 1986. Any information generated via The Mail would be appreciated. If there is any reader who can help, please notify me and I will forward the letter to Killion at Flinders Uni.

ANN PRENDERGAST [Waverton NSW] – Many thanks for The Mail and my apologies for not being in touch for so long. I have been cleaning out cupboards and came across a copy of Vortex. I thought some of the contributors may have lost their copies and needed it for their personal collections. I will see you at the reunion and congratulations on your excellent organisation.

COLIN HUGGINS [Albion QLD] – Perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill but on the Sunday we go to the old stamping ground ASOPA campus, we after that are dropped at the Mosman Club for the official lunch.

It is quite possible that some of us may dress appropriately for the walk in the jungles of Middle Head but that mode of attire may not allow us into the Club. I presume that the Mosman Club is probably a businessman's preserve and certain decorum is required (not the jeans and jogger set).

I spoke with Ingrid who said that it was allowable to be leisurely but didn't think that sneakers/joggers and sleeveless and collarless shirts would get through. I'm relieved that it is not coat and tie as I would not have particularly enjoyed struggling through the scrub of Middle Head dressed to kill.

JEFF CHAPMAN [Canberra ACT] - Sorry for the late advice - things had been pretty much up in the air until very recently. Robyn and I are booked into the Concierge for the Saturday night. We are staying with our daughter on the Friday and Sunday. See you then and many thanks for your great and continued efforts with The Mail and the Great Occasion.

PS, Did I really want tomato sauce with my sweet and sour pork? Ugh! Might it have been soy sauce for the fried rice? Dave and Kerry Argent swear that it was the former, but could you ever trust a bloke who drove a Morris Minor?

SUSAN DENHELD [Sue Lega] [Woodend VIC] - Dear Keith and all the gang. What a reunion you have planned! I had hoped to join you all and renew the old acquaintances but unfortunately not to be this time - again. Your newsletter is always a happy time spent reading about and remembering times gone by and then catching up with current news of all classmates.

I do get to Sydney occasionally - time seems to be so short and rushed even though my intentions of saying hello are on the agenda, I will keep trying. Procrastination is my middle name. I have been meaning to email you all and say ‘Hi’ but, anyway, here I am at last and hope to keep up the contact now I have finally typed the words. My new address is 1 Christian Street, Woodend, Victoria, 3442. And the new phone number is 03 5427 2774.

To all who attend the reunion, have a great time retracing the steps and memories of yesteryear. Congratulations to you Keith on such a wonderful job producing the newsletter and congratulations to all who work so hard on making the reunions happen.

JUSTINE FINTER [Mapleton QLD] - Very much regret to inform you that circumstances prevent me from joining your good self and that wonderful group of people for the reunion. I was so looking forward to catching up with as many as possible this time around but that is not to be.

My recent trip to Moresby to fulfill cultural obligations was hectic to say the least as I had to pack a lot into the short time I was there. Will fill you in with details of my time there at a later date.

Once again so sorry I will miss out on a well prepared plan for what appears to be a fun filled reunion. My thanks to all those involved in the planning.

GLENDA RALPH [Newport Beach NSW] - Howard was involved in a motor vehicle accident approximately ten days ago, sustaining serious abdominal bleeding. Things seem to be finally improving, but he still remains in hospital. Howard has asked that I contact you and hopes to be well enough to attend. I will keep you updated as to his progress.

MICK WILSON [Eltham VIC] - Sorry I have been away on holidays with the grandchildren in Qld for the last two weeks. Unfortunately we will not be able to attend the reunion. Drove around the old ASOPA area at Middle Head recently and was amazed by the opening up and restoration going on. I hope you all have a great time and look forward to attending the next one.

ANN PRENDERGAST [Waverton NSW] - Many thanks for your letter and again I want to say how impressed I am with your organisation. I went to see Walk into Paradise and stayed for a drink afterwards but we were outside with the smokers so that is perhaps why I didn't see you. I spoke to the film star, Freddie Kaad, prior to the opening, but he was surrounded by autograph hunters afterwards, so I didn't get a chance to say good-bye to him or Gaynor. He told me later that he had seen you and was that he was thinking of coming to part of the reunion so I sent him details by email and, just in case he didn't manage to get his computer open, I put a copy of your On the Eve of the Great Occasion in the mail to him to-day.

I've given all my Papua New Guinea books, material and my thesis on the London Missionary Society in British New Guinea to the Golding Centre for Research in Women's History, Theology and Spirituality in the Institute for the Advancement of Research at the Australian Catholic University. Some of your contacts might be interested in the information I received from them last week - "There is a mission history conference being held in Canberra in July next year, titled 'Mission and Empire'. They are inviting papers on missionary outreach and how this interacted with the spread of 19th century empires. PNG would make a good case study, as the missions there preceded the imperial takeover."

You may have seen the article Alan Ramsay wrote recently in the Sydney Morning Herald on the anniversary of the murder of the Anglican Missionary Sisters during the war - this seems to indicate that there is still a great interest in Papua New Guinea among some people.

RUTH FINK LATUKEFU [Newport Beach NSW] - Last night there were well over 100 people crowded into the Nelson Heather Centre, North Narrabeen to hear Jeff McMullen talk on Syndrome X- the new Black Death which was basically about the crisis in indigenous education and health, especially in the Northern Territory. He claimed that this year around 10,000 indigenous children were born, many with mothers only 13 or 14 years old, and that illiteracy rates in some communities are as high as 93%. Geoff now works in conjunction with Ian Thorpe’s Fountain of Youth Trust which aims to develop health education and literacy among the young, with special focus on Aboriginal communities. Their website is www.ianthorpesfountainforyouth.com.au and they are currently raising money to send books to indigenous communities where literacy is so low. The project is called Australian Readers’ Challenge www.readerschallenge.com.au

I was shocked at some of the information he gave, on what surely must be a serious decline in education and health over the past forty-five years since ASOPA trained teachers (to whom I remember lecturing in 1960) were being sent to Northern Territory schools, and in their time there were many innovative educational efforts. There seems to be a shortage of skilled teachers as well as health professionals and it made me wonder if among some of your ASOPA network there are those who went to the Northern Territory and who may have some valuable advice for people involved with the current situation. In Australia we seem so often to be “reinventing the wheel”, completely ignorant of the past or ignoring what has been learned, of ten by costly failed experiments. I am sure some of the ex-ASOPA teachers with their valuable field experience can contribute to the current debates and throw more light on why this educational catastrophe has come about. That is why I thought I would contact you, as I know you will shortly be having a get together of the ASOPA ‘oldies’ (for me they are still young) and some of them may be interested in doing something about Jeff McMullen’s efforts to raise public conscience and awareness.

JUSTINE FINTER [Mapleton QLD] - I would most certainly like to offer my support for Brian and Nammie. As a Papua New Guinean I have some understanding of the situation they are in. I’ve just returned from a trip to Moresby and was amazed at family members who without hesitation took on the responsibility of raising children of relatives without having to sign any adoption papers. Having lived in PNG you know there are no orphanages as this has been the practise for a long time and is considered part of the cultural norm. Maybe an anthropologist would best explain to those in charge of the situation and make them realise she is truly a part of the family and therefore should be returned to be with them in a loving and caring environment. I'm sorry I am still not as good with the computer but getting a bit more confident. I do wish Brian and Nammie every success and pray they get a favourable outcome. Please pass on best wishes and I will try to get in touch with them myself.

PAM AND PALLE KRÜGER [Ulstrup Denmark] - Pam and I have acquired a new email address palleogpam@hotmail.com. We will be travelling the coming two months but can be reached with a hotmail and we promise to log on to the net frequently. Best regards to everybody.

ROY CLARK [Sydney NSW] - Thanks for the details of your well organised reunion. I did not join the staff of ASOPA until 1965 (1965-71). So as I do not know any of the names on your list I will decline your kind invitation with thanks.

I was talking on the phone to Athol Berglund earlier today; I think he was on the ASOPA staff in 1962-63. However, he has Parkinson's disease and says he does not go out to functions these days. He may be interested in your very newsy bulletin, so I will try to send it to him.

Almost a year ago I was in Orange and called on Vic Parkinson, who also has Parkinson's disease. Vic said he was 86 and contacted Parkinson’s six years ago. He also said he does not go out much these days, except around Orange. Anyhow thanks again and hope your reunion goes well.

LUCY SMITH nee Baroa [Sunnybank Brisbane] - I have just read with interest Rick Nehmy’s account of stumbling over my grandfather’s grave in Alotau. My mother Arimita Baroa (nee Mark) is the eldest daughter of Mahuru Mark. My grandmother Mrs Silepa Mark (nee Frank) is still alive. I feel very proud and honoured as I have recently travelled to Alotau to visit my family. There is a lot of history in Alotau. I always hoped someone would do a documentary of some sort in Milne Bay. I am sure there are a lot of Australians who will be very proud of PNG during the good old days (before Independence).

GAYE SPELDEWINDE nee Zimitat [Mawson ACT] - A few of us (four females) who were all Cadets in 1961/2 met in Canberra recently. Some of us are still in contact with others from that era. Wilhelm Speldewinde did the long course in 1962. Don’t think there are that many EOs who married POs who are still married! Everybody’s ears should have been burning when Lyn Osborne, Shirley Coffin, Caroline Enge and myself start talking about all sorts of things!

DAVID BINGHAM [djbingham@ozemail.com.au] - Gaye and Wilhelm Speldewinde told me about the site. I will traverse it eventually but put me on your list. I was a Northern Territory Teacher-in-Training at ASOPA in 1960-61. I was the first to receive a certificate to teach Aborigines (because my name starts with B). We were TIT's not CEO's. I taught in PNG from 1966-74.

DAVID DONALDSON [Adelaide SA] - Came across the site by googling “Admin College”. I spent ten days at Middle Head in October 1964 before taking up the new job of registrar at the very unready, even notional, Administrative College in Port Moresby. Heavens, that’s forty years ago! We had great times. Good luck to all the ed people. And to your own endeavor.

GRAEME O'TOOLE - I was a student in the 6th E Course at Malaguna Teachers College, Rabaul in 1963. I recently read your ASOPA website when searching for info on the old E Course with the aim of setting up a website for communication between former students some of whom I am sure you came across in PNG. The site will include a message board mainly to allow an input of contact details and brief summary of PNG experience and afterlife for anyone interested in such access. I have set up the beginnings of a web page and an email address.

I have memories of ASOPA people in PNG who were a great help especially in teaching in Port Moresby. Their names unfortunately evade my memory. Congrats on your site. I'm sure it offers many a meaningful opportunity.

You can contact Graeme at ecourserabaul@yahoo.com.au and visit the brand new E Course website at www.geocities.com/ecourserabaul. There are other E Course relevant web pages at a site created by Albert Mispel (1st E Course) at www.mispelit.com/ecourse/index.html

KLAUS TAMM [Canberra ACT] - You won't know me, but I also studied at ASOPA in 1962. I went up there as a kiap originally but decided in 1964 that there wasn't much future in that. I transferred to Education, and they paid for me to study as a teacher at ASOPA in 1964-65.

Got an email the other day about your group, so here I am. Did my teaching at Madang, mainly in Bogia and Saidor. Good times they were too. At the moment I do some relief teaching. When I came back to Australia in 1972 I joined the ACT police Force, but later transferred to Education. Did a degree part time at CCAE and ended up teaching mathematics in Canberra at Y11/Y12.

Klaus was one of the ‘missing’ Asopians Don Williams was trying to locate before the 1964/65 reunion last year. You can contact Klaus at his email address - turbobeemer@yahoo.com.au

PRE-PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENT

‘Meeting the challenge: Australian teachers in Papua New Guinea pre-independence, 1955-75’

Gail Burke has edited a collection of reminiscences from Australian expatriate teachers in PNG from 1955-1975. Their experiences grew out of the policy of introducing universal primary education in the then Territory. In addition to the anecdotes, the book includes a substantial historical account of education before Independence. Many of the contributors’ names will be recognizable from training at ASOPA, shared times on outstations or from the big smoke of Port Moresby.

Meeting the Challenge will be available in October with all profits channeled through Rotary International in support of aid projects focused on the welfare of the children of Papua New Guinea. The price is to be advised but all enquiries can be directed to Gail Burke at PO Box 1224, Kenmore QLD 4069 or phone 07 3374 4894.

LETTER FROM PORT MORESBY

As the Confucian curse says, we are living in interesting times. By the time you read this, the Enhanced Co-operation Program may well be striding forward or may have been consigned to the dustbin of history – or a bit of both.

At the moment we don’t know whether we will still have jobs in a few days time. I am actually being stopped in public and asked by people who previously knew me only by sight (but clearly know that I am ECP) about the future of the ECP, and already the cleaners at work, with my prior agreement, have started taking possession of my office trinkets.

I am also getting a lot of requests for my car, followed by requests for my laptop. Sadly, I have to explain that these are the property of the Australian taxpayer.

Other than that, life goes on here. We spent the last week of May until the end of June in Canberra and were very happy to get back to the heat and humidity of Port Moresby. We are noticing the changes with the ECP police gone – roadblocks are suddenly springing up everywhere, with the police soliciting donations to ‘bring back ECP’, or for cold drinks, or whatever, usually from single occupant vehicles.

Seat belt wearing is becoming a primary focus and non-compliance results in on-the-spot fines.
Di had her small leather wallet stolen recently. After the hassle of cancelling credit cards, replacing her driver’s licence (or facing an on-the-spot fine at a road block) and so on, we received a call from a woman who had found all of Di’s cards and papers from her wallet in a small vinyl purse on the floor of a PMV.

We tried to press a reward on the finder, but to no avail. The most difficult card replacement was the American Express card and after a horrendously long and expensive phone call to the listed number, taken by an Indian-accented ‘Raoul’, the promised return call didn’t eventuate. Perhaps Raoul didn’t believe us. He kept asking: “But in what country exactly is Papua New Guinea?”

After a decent interval we called the Sydney office where a very cheerful and friendly soul interrupted our explanation at the mention of Raoul’s name and said: ”Oh, I will patch you through to him now.” Click. But we got there, and Di has her new AE card.

We have decided that, as our time here is probably very limited, we are going to go away every second weekend. We went to Tufi and stayed at the Tufi Dive resort – very nice, and as far as I can work out, the central building is where the Assistant District Commissioner’s house used to stand. A great spot and very relaxing.

Our next excursion was to Madang. Although booked to travel on a Friday afternoon Di had a seat but I didn’t, even though we were on the one booking and my Air Niugini Executive Club membership is supposed to guarantee me a seat anyway. We got there early Saturday morning, and our preference for a waterfront apartment couldn’t be met. Rough seas Friday night had damaged two of them!

Sunday morning we caught a bare 14-foot fibreglass hull with a 75 hp motor to the Jais Aben resort. The boatman’s name was Jonah – rather fitting as his technique of conquering the rough seas was to attempt to bounce from wave crest to wave crest on full throttle!

In Madang we were expecting a bit of action around the Governor’s House (next to the Coastwatchers’ Memorial, opposite the Coastwatchers Hotel) because of the sacking and replacement of the Governor the day before.

But the gates were open, the chooks were wandering around and all was calm and serene. We were lucky we weren’t staying at Smugglers (owned by the Governor or former Governor depending on your point of view) as its power had been cut off three weeks earlier for more than K300 of unpaid bills.

Then in Parliament a question was asked of the Speaker, as he had just authorised the payment of K500 to Smugglers. He explained it was an outstanding debt from a Government booking there from more than five years ago. Interestingly, earlier that week the Speaker had been at odds with theGovernment as to exactly who the Governor was.

We were amazed at both the quantity and quality of fresh produce at the Madang town markets and we explored the recently fenced ‘old’ cemetery in the town centre. The standout was a freshly painted grave with a new plaque. It was the grave of a World War 1 serviceman and presumably the grave is maintained by the Australian War Graves Commission, the organization which does such a magnificent job of looking after the Bomana War Cemetery near Moresby. We also saw the AWGC’s handiwork in a couple of places during our recent visits to Milne Bay.

We are planning a trip to Ambua Lodge, 20 minutes out of Tari, an apparently delightful spot, but I still have a conceptual difficulty with visiting the Southern Highlands at my own expense for pleasure.
Our phone has been out of order since a few days after our return, so no phone or internet at home – and the Telikom technicians are on strike and threatening to shut down both the landline and mobile networks. We also did a tyre in one of the Lawes Road potholes as well as having someone back into our car. Plus our hot water system went on the blink, all within a few days of returning.

Things are in full swing preparing for the 30th anniversary of Independence. Our building has had all the gardens re-landscaped and they look terrific. We are in Morauta Haus, next to the abandoned ‘pineapple’ building and opposite the old central government offices, also abandoned. The Prime Minister’s office is on the top floor, and presumably a lot of the VIP action will take place there.

Potholes are being filled in, line markings renewed, rubbish cleared – but only along certain main roads. I am not exactly sure who is coming (those of you present on 16 September 1975 may recall the unscheduled arrival of 110 Filipina dancers with Imelda Marcos on her private Boeing) but we understand that the Royal representative will be Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, except that she doesn’t arrive until September 28th.

And Jimmy Barnes is performing at the Country Club (used to be something else … a Chinese restaurant/club ... out near the old Kone Tigers’ clubhouse) around that time. Princess Anne AND Jimmy Barnes – it’s all too much.

I have previously waxed lyrical about our car security systems, which totally protect the Australian Government’s asset when not being used but in our belief significantly endanger the driver and passengers when the car is actually in use. Recently two ECP spouses (let’s call them Sue and Ann, to protect the guilty) neither of whom has been here for very long drove to the airport in a car Sue was ‘minding’ to pick up some unaccompanied luggage.

After an hour of driving around the airport to find the one person who was authorised to release the baggage they finally collected it and set off home, only to have the car stop, the door locks fly up and down, the lights flash and the siren sound. The immobiliser and the rest of the security system had kicked in. Within seconds the car was surrounded by a curious mob, faces pressed up against the windows while Sue tried to get the car started. She was also trying to contact her husband on her mobile phone, which for some reason would not let her make outgoing calls.

In the meantime Anne, who had a severely bruised elbow from trying to hold down the door lock, was pretending to use her radio as, in reality, she didn’t know how it worked. Eventually a gentleman from the nearby Avis depot got to them and convinced our intrepid pair he could help them.

He called Sue’s husband and they worked out that Sue had accidentally stepped on the immobiliser button under the floor mat. He then drew a big circle on the floor mat, told Sue not to touch inside the said circle, and off they went. We are all sworn to secrecy as Ann’s husband is never to hear about this.

She had told him she didn’t need instructions about how to use the radio! She believes her calmness under pressure was the result of years spent as a dole officer in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley.
Well, if this is my last article: farewell, aione, bamahuta and lukim yu.

This article, Rick Nehmy’s third in his series on present day Port Moresby, appeared originally in the September issue of ‘Una Voce’ – the official journal of the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia. The PNGAA website is at www.pngaa.net