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November 2005



The Class of 1962-63, reformed at Port Macquarie in 2002 following an epic search for long-lost and much-scattered people, is now a cohesive group of about 40 who meet or correspond regularly and look forward to regular reunions, the next of which is planned for Brisbane in 2007. The most recent Great Occasion was conducted at the scene of our youthful exploits on Sydney’s lower north shore.

There can be no doubt that the spirit of the Australian School of Pacific Administration lives on in its former personnel and, with any luck, when restored at some future point, the old place will honour those people who, in their time, contributed so much to Australia’s administration of its Territories


Cremorne Junction sits either side of the cascade of motor vehicles that’s Military Road. It’s a commercial strip uncertain of its identity, positioned midway between the old wealth of Mosman’s fine wine and latté set and Neutral Bay’s young professionals who crowd the Bay’s cheap restaurants and expensive bars.

About 30 reunionista are guests of the Concierge Apartments, Cremorne Junction’s only accommodation. The Apartments dominate the Junction with Stalinist sullenness. Our inhabitants report experiences varying from resplendent suites boasting 240-degree harbour views to ill maintained quarters with impassable shower doors, man-eating retractable beds and clunky equipment.



I stride out east along Military Road from Neutral Bay with a sense of growing anticipation. My shadow races towards Cremorne as the sun sets behind me. I reflect on the allure of being with people from your distant past, especially people with whom you once shared a great adventure. People you don’t have to try hard to be with.

The class is largely assembled when I arrive at the hotel Cremorne (‘Fun for all Players’ boasts an attached banner, three storeys high) but the scene in the back bar is muted. There’s a ‘getting to know you – again’ in progress, not so much of the ‘who did you used to be?’ that characterised the first night in Port Macquarie.

I’m so full of joie de vivre (French for chardonnay) that eating is redundant. I give and receive lots of hugs and shake left hands with Henry Bodman, who’s nursing the right appendage after surgery for Dupuytren’s contracture. Most common in people of Scandinavian ancestry, Henry brags.



After the midnight-busting session at the Hotel Cremorne, the 62/63ers gingerly re-emerge at Neutral Bay for Saturday lunch. The mood is decidedly animated, the old groups are starting to reunite and sentiment flows quicker than the beer on ASOPA payday.

Sitting under the expansive spread of the pub’s eponymous oak tree on a perfect Spring day, we forsake a long refectory table allocated for our use by the hotel management for more intimate clutches of 4 or 6 or 8. We’re joined by Leo Carroll (ASOPA 1960/61) and other former PNG identities including artist Hal Holman, lecturer Norm Donnison’s son Phil, himself an ASOPA alumni, and broadcaster Phil Charley and his wife, Marie, a former teacher.

Kerry Argent’s making sure Dave behaves himself and he does this with great discipline until Moose eventually rolls up. I have long chats with Diane & Bill Bohlen, Col & Wendy Booth, Dennis & Ros Burrell and Bill Welbourne. Then I go for a long, long walk.


In the evening it’s off to Raymond’s where anonymous benefactors have ensured the night rollicks along by providing free beverages to the multitude, who are seated at four large round tables. The highlight of the meal is the presentation to Jeff ‘Chappo’ Chapman of a monster bottle of tomato sauce to mark that famous, if apocryphal, Chinese meal 40-odd years ago where Chappo was reputed to have applied said sauce to his sweet and sour pork.
There are no speeches on this occasion, these are being crafted and polished for tomorrow at the Mosman Club, and the night slips easily away. As do I, finding a number of stories I tell to Allan Jones totally incomprehensible.



At the Concierge, the former CEOs board Rosie, a former bus, to traverse that former and once so familiar route down Middle Head Road past the Naval Depot. By the 10.30 starting time everyone is embussed – and there is no delay in departure. Which is just as well as, at 10.30, Mosman is constipated with Sunday morning traffic.

Before departure, Chappo – worried about logistics - asks whether he can park his vehicle midway, at Mosman Junction. I say, yes, no problem, we’ll pick you up on the way, not realising that Military Road is chockers, clogged, so unmoving that Rosie’s driver takes the back way, leaving Chappo stranded like the tomato sauce never arrived.

Abaft of Mosman Junction, I stop the bus and run up Military Road to find my old mate. Then, together, we jog back to the bus. “Not bad for a couple of old fellas,” I offer. Chappo pants assent.
There is a sense of anticipation as Rosie grinds her way down Middle Head’s last steep hill towards those familiar cream huts which way back then represented a great chunk of our lives. And suddenly, ASOPA! It’s a thrill to be back. A sobering thrill because it’s quite early Sunday morning and no fluid has passed our lips yet. That the old place is decrepit and rabbit-ridden is also sobering.

But we’re not too concerned. Its heritage listing offers at least a promise of restoration.
Rod Hard has already arrived to prepare a champagne and orange juice morning tea. In setting up his small table, Rod has tried to satisfy the law by visiting the nearby caretaker’s cottage (front door ajar) and calling, “Good morning! Anybody home!” Whereupon there is a scream, an ominous silence, a fellow escaping with trousers adrift and a revelation, on Rod’s part, that caretaking is a term more ambiguous than it used to be.

Despite stern warning signs that ASOPA is unsafe, the former students of the grand institution venture further and further afield for a thorough inspection of the premises. Let me tell you now, it is not an unemotional experience.


Then back up hill aboard Rosie to the Mosman Club, where the guests of honour are the PNG Association’s Fred Kaad and former ASOPA lecturer Ann Prendergast. The club sits astride the ridge on which Military Road was constructed and command splendid views west to the city and east to Manly and the grog’s cheap, too.

A highlight of the afternoon is a reprise of the CEO Certificate awards ceremony of 1963, in which all in attendance are provided with a facsimile of their original teaching qualification.

Then there are the obligatory speeches. Diane Bohlen offers an eloquent and an poignant tribute to absent friends, especially Helene East and Fr Bill Butcher who have passed on since last we met. Henry, stoically refusing to heed other people’s rules, provides a long and involved character analysis of everyone in the room and all those who could not make the room. So lengthy is his contribution, in fact, that he and Janelle must rush off to catch a plane before the main course, such are the perils of speechmaking.

Then Richard Jones offers an emotional valedictory and urges people to attend the next reunion, which we now know will be held in Brisbane. The last word goes to Sydney stalwarts, Rod Hard and Dave Kesby.


The numbers have thinned by Sunday night, but 17 hardy souls find themselves able to front at Mido Restaurant, the only remaining eating place on Military Road that’s traded continuously since our student days of the early sixties.

Then, as we drift on to Military Road and shake hands one last time, the Great Occasion has come and gone. Until the next time.




DIANE BOHLEN [Daisy Hill QLD] - I really enjoyed the second reunion. I was able to learn more about the people I met last time and strengthen our renewed friendships. Some of the highlights for me.

  • Seeing those people who were not at the first reunion. It was lovely to spend the day with Pam and Palle Kruger walking around Sydney and trying to remember how to get to places we knew well 40 years ago but that now seemed strange and different. It was nice to see Palle and Bill (Bohlen) enjoying each other’s company too.


  • Watching Richard Jones meeting and greeting his mates from 43 years ago was a delight. He was so excited and probably a little merry on Friday night at the Cremorne Hotel. I had to laugh at Judyth saying, “He might be your Dick but he’s my Richard.” I guess this shows her good nature and tolerance of us.


  • Of course, the visit to ASOPA was the definite highlight. A rush of emotion was experienced by all. I even saw a tear in the eye of Rodger Philpott. Like Val Rivers, I felt everything seemed smaller and the buildings closer together. I enjoyed being on the grassed area at the back where some of the girls used to sit for lunch and soak up the view. I can remember Helen Jacob trying to teach me the recorder there. The sports field brought back memories of hockey. I’m pleased to see that the buildings are going to be reused. You must keep us up to date on progress.


  • Meeting Ann Prendergast was a buzz. I remember her being our supervisor on Prac in Lae. It did cross my mind then that she did seem young, as she does now.


  • There were so many interesting talks I had with so many old friends but still missed on chatting with some. So another reunion is important to keep track of everyone. Brisbane sounds fine to me. I’ll help Henry, Dennis, Joe, Huggie Bear, Bill Welbourne and anyone else around town interested in organising the Reunion 3 - The Queensland Affair. We might be able to get Barry Field and Brian White to attend if they are well enough. Maybe even Fluffer, Toms and Molly might make it.

Thanks for making these reunions and reconnections possible. By the way you look great. Well done!


RICHARD JONES [Bendigo VIC] – Got home last night after an enjoyable week in Sydney. Took full advantage of the 33 degrees on the holiday Monday to walk the Neutral Bay and Cremorne harbourside areas, finishing up with the stroll along Cremorne Point to the end - Robertson's Point, I believe. We took our salad sandwiches under the Bridge at Kirribilli and ate them sitting on the grass.

Judyth and I caught a ferry to Balmain East on Tuesday when the family returned to work and did the walk up Darling Street, stopping off at many little cross streets to see historic homes including Hampton Villa where Sir Henry Parkes once lived. Our daughter, Daria, had downloaded ‘Famous Sydney Walks’ from the Internet, that's how we knew where we were going.

Saw the Aussie movie Look Both Ways at the Verona Cinema in Oxford Street on Wednesday. Incidentally that new Greg Andersen restaurant, Sugaroom (in the old CSR building on the water in Pyrmont), was spectacular. Cocktails, food and vino were great.

Fantastic to see so many people from our course. Judyth and Elissa were amazed to hear we hadn't seen a great number of them since November 1963 when we first headed off to PNG.

Congratulations to Sir Roderick, Dubdy and your goodself for all the hard work in organising the weekend. Roderick didn't want to take all the credit himself and insisted I include you other two! Back home in central Victoria we have the heaters on. No more sunny Sydney weather down here.

Twice during the ’05 Reunion members of our party heard this famous phrase. The whole Colin Huggins bus pickup saga at Port Macquarie in 2002 makes sense now. Over a couple of pre-dinner drinks at The Oaks on the Saturday evening, Colin said during the entire two years we spent at ASOPA he had never seen, let alone been introduced to, the Port Macquarie bus driver, Col Booth. No wonder, quoth Colin H, that he had no inkling about the identity of the 2002 bus jockey when he lobbed into the northern NSW hamlet’s railway station.

Then at the Mosman RSL Club after I had regaled the assembled troops with tales of the ubiquitous Mick (sorry, Michael) Wilson, Peter Lewis uttered the same words. “I don’t recall Mick at all during our time at ASOPA,” said the doughty former Northern Territorian.

Mind you, I suppose I shouldn’t say too much. Even though handed a copy of the rugby league match report from the First Year versus Second Year cadet chalkies’ imbroglio, I have no recollection of ever penning the said article.

This question was a frequent preface to another recurring theme during the weekend. When we were wandering the grounds of sad, dilapidated ASOPA on the Sunday morning, old mates were asking: “Whatever happened to so-and-so?”

We’ve managed to establish that rellos of the elusive Ted France, aka Horsebox, are domiciled on the Apple Isle and the Argents have promised to contact them. So maybe we won’t be asking in 2007: “Whatever happened to Horsebox?”

Light was thrown on the “Whatever happened to Ronnie Reisener?” query when it was revealed he may have been a school cleaner somewhere and had made it quite clear he wanted no further contact with any of his 1962-63 classmates.

Allan Jones put his finger on this sudden surge of enthusiasm for the relocated former South Melbourne AFL club. He said he was happy enough that his beloved Adelaide Crows had beaten hated crosstown rivals Port Adelaide Power on the second week of the AFL finals series. Never mind that the Crows had finished minor premiers and didn’t even make the 2005 grand final. Al was just grateful that the Crows hadn’t gone down to the Power in Week 2, and was magnanimous about Sydney’s success.

Dave Kesby was still delirious with joy about the Swannies’ success and didn’t want to hear that they had ‘just fallen over the line’ twice during the finals series - against Geelong (on the last kick of the night) and then again in the grand final against the West Coast Eagles.

But in the best spirit of Aussie sportsmanship we just smiled politely through gritted teeth and hoped that someone – anyone – would start talking about the upcoming NRL grand final between Wests Tigers and the North Queensland Cowboys and cease regaling us with stories about the bloody Swans.


ANN PRENDERGAST [Waverton NSW] - I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the reunion. Thank you Keith and your "small but perfectly formed” Sydney reunion planning group of Rod, Dave, Elissa and Ingrid for making it such a success. I came home after the dinner on Sunday night thinking what a wonderful group of people I had spent the weekend with. I felt very grateful that it was possible for me to be there and share in what I thought was a very special time. I have been thinking that ASOPA must have been a unique institution to have produced such a great group of people. Thank you again. It was a great reunion.


BILL WELBOURNE [Mt Cotton QLD] - Congratulations Keith on the effort put in by you and the team and for making ‘The Great Occasion’ a great occasion. How did you manage to choose such perfect Spring weather? I took your advice to walk down Murdoch Street and stroll around Cremorne Point, past 6 Bromley Avenue where we boarded during our first year at ASOPA and I cooked those fabulous athletic meals that contributed to the man you are today. So good was the weather and the walk that I did it four times during the two day stay.

The atmosphere of this reunion was different from the first. It was like a family gathering ... no need to puzzle over facial recognition after forty years; we had not changed much in the two years since Port Macquarie. We simply engaged in a talk fest and forget the shock of chemical changes in our appearances ... for better or worse. But the question remains for those of us who have not caught sight of the Talker, whom I believe is somewhere locked up in an American concentration camp on Okinawa: what will he look like? Hope they see fit to release him for the next reunion. And as for Molly, will we be able to persuade her to forsake her lifelong dedication to Education to make a reunion on home turf in Brisbane 2007?

A first appearance at our reunion event was Pam Kruger nee Mahoney. I spoke at length with her congenial hubby Palle and finally inquired the whereabouts of his Pam. I had been looking about for a mini Wonder Woman look-alike whom I once escorted to Newcastle in my Holden ute. And there she was. Gone was the jet black shoulder length hair similar in style of our Princess Mary export to Denmark; instead I find a short replacement of Danish blonde and wearing glasses.

As the Friday evening bar talk lulled and Richard 'Dick' Jones drew breath to query the evening meal, I chose a table and I entertained his delightful wife Judyth and Mrs Dubbo, Elissa, and for the next hour we swapped notes on cooking and upcoming tours ... the Kesbys to New Zealand and me to Antarctica. Dick would make casual appearances to our table before flashing off again to the bar to engage in animated conversation with a trio consisting of Keithy, Henry and the Moose. In the meantime at an adjacent table another group of hungry Asopians sat down, ordered their meals and bogged in.

Finally Dubbo, who loves Elissa tremendously and feeling the need for more than liquid sustenance, decided to join us. A touching love story followed of how both he and Elissa had made it as a result of their decision to buy a taxi. It meant that Elissa would return to work as a secondary school teacher and Dubbo would leave education to drive a taxi. Still no Richard, so we ordered our meals. To be fair, Richard then acted as a drink waiter and supplied us with wine while we ate our meal.

Near the end of the evening a band appeared. But unfortunately their music was suddenly interrupted by an unprepared clash of cymbals. Moose, probably on his way to the men’s, stumbled over the stage and upended their instruments as he sprawled lengthwise and struggled valiantly to get up. Rory O'Brien, whose face changed colour when he witnessed The Great Fall, dashed over to assist Henry in bringing Moose to a more perpendicular reconstruction, which wasn't easy. The shocked instrumentalists resumed playing in more muted tones after a recovery break. Moose rediscovered his glasses, shook off the incident and rejoined Henry at the bar. This was a memorable moment reminiscent of earlier days. To me the reunion was off to a good start.

Lunch at The Oaks we decked out under the magnificent oak tree in splendid springtime weather. It was here that I unearthed the disaster of Rory's first prac teaching experience. He had a group of Grade 6B dimwits and for his opening salvo into teaching he decided to bisect an angle. The trouble is they didn't know what an angle was. Not the best of starts for Rory, but his lessons were salvaged by the support a bright new kid who apparently had ended up in the wrong group. Somehow the affable Rory won them over and, when it was time for him to leave, they tearfully presented him with a gift-pack - a packet of cigarettes, tobacco and lighter. As Rory reflected upon the thought that counts, the bright boy sidled up to him and whispered, "By the way, Sir, I think they stole it." No doubt, Rory was entertaining negative thoughts about teaching.

So what happened to Rory? He eventually gave away the drink, gave up smoking and became grounded 500 clicks from nowhere on a cattle station well away from women. My aghast look provoked an uproarious giggle from Rory when I inquired was there anything else in life worthwhile. That was when I realised that this reunion was the answer. This was his family and our family, united and forged by historical events.

At the final farewell luncheon Henry teased Dick about being 65 and the fourth surviving elder of our group after Les and Jean. I kept very quiet now that my 66th is well behind me. It was wonderful to meet and swap notes with one of our favourite lecturers, Ann Prendergast. Thanks to all who made this event A Great Occasion.


HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] – A lifetime memory and one which will make my old age the harder after you've all left this mortal coil. Nostalgia is great so long as there is someone else with whom it can be shared. Keithy, Rod Hard and Dubbo did a marvellous job and everything went without a hitch. Some of us paced ourselves better than others and made it to all functions - 5 or 6 of them. Others didn't and had to lay up on a couple so they could front a later one.

The Friday night was clearly a time of excitement with everyone looking forward to the first contact in some time and, for a few (like Richard the Dick Jones), a long time. A few got a start and were in great form when the mob arrived. Good mixing but, as always, the little cliques of old gravitated towards each other and there they were just like the old days. All looked pretty good to me though the Moose has never been bigger - obviously his scare has worn off, which is a good thing because in watching his step he became a pretty boring bloke. Not on Friday night!

Argent was large and the braces didn't work in keeping the trousers up but he had a ball. Howie Ralph and his nice wife, Glenda, were in good form, Howie having survived yet another life threatening experience - a motor accident this time. He hit a kangaroo and was more concerned about the animal than himself. You will remember that he fell off the roof at home just before Port Macquarie. We wonder what he'll pull before the 2007 event, which will be in Queensland.

Joe Crainean is the same enthusiastic feller and keeping company with a new woman. Of the girls Diane (Speakman) Bohlen, Wendy (Bignall) Booth, Margaret (McKenna) Dwyer and her two sisters, Pam (Mahoney) Kruger and her European husband, Palle (nice guy), Jeannie Lowe turned up for the formal lunch on the Sunday, Val Rivers and Lorraine (Bell) Westover still looking good. The Grainger girls were in the vicinity but not up to attending the functions.........not sure of the details.

Col Booth, Dennis Burrell, Chappo with nice wife, Robyn (new to us but has 20 year old children), Colin Huggins there in all of his glory, Allan Jones in good spirits and preparing for yet more travel, Peter Lewis also there (did you know he will be 70 next birthday?), Rory O'Brien looking hale and hearty and had a great time, Roger Stanley with hisn wife Sue who didn't come to Port Macquarie, and Bill Welbourne alone as wife Pam is ill.

On the Saturday lunch we went to The Oaks which the veterans knew quite well in 1962-63. Top spot and Leo Carroll from the year ahead of us was there. Norm Donnison's son, Phil, was also there.

At night a Chinese banquet put on by one of Keithy's confreres. Ann Prendergast (staff...literature) was there and still looking good at 70.

The formal dinner was a top one with Ann again present and Fred Kaad, a legendary DC who survived an air crash but is wheel chair bound.

Well done, fellas, even if you did nearly snuff out half of the attendees. I won't be looking for another weekend like that one for a week or three.


DAVE KESBY [Berowra Heights NSW] - It was great to see everybody. Highlights for me were having a good long yarn to Colin Huggins and Rory O’Brien. Probably the biggest thrill of all was to bathe in the reflected glory of people saying how hard I worked to put the show together – which was all bullshit because Rod Hard and I were in the shadows of the Sydney’s greatest spin doctor, Keith the Fabulous Jackson. That was the best thing, getting reacquainted with Keith and Ingrid and Rod and Cheryl. In the late afternoon of our lives, it is good to have old friends. I think Keith did a great job. It was good of Rod Hard to provide the sumptuous refreshments on Sunday morning – also great that Rory O’Brien, the long serving teetotaler of our group, providing lovely white wine on the last day. Good on you Rory.

It was also great to meet again with Richard and Judyth even though Richard resolutely failed to sing ‘Cheer, Cheer, the Red and the White’ and made a woeful rendition of his own mighty Cats anthem – couldn’t remember the words! I promised him when the mighty Geelong finally win a flag, no one will sing more loudly than me. Good on Diane Bohlen, we loved the email, singing old time tunes brought a tear to the eye. Henry has snared a spot in the pantheon of the toastmasters to the rich and fabulous – congratulations! So a great weekend. Look forward to seeing you all again – QLD, ACT or Dubbo, whatever you prefer.


ROD HARD [Glenhaven NSW] - I thought that I would touch base just to let you know that I was not a reunion casualty ... although I have no doubt there are a number who should realise that they are not in their prime any more (from an alcohol consumption viewpoint).

Having to drive over the weekend certainly restricted my intake, which was a good thing, but it also restricted my ability to take part from a participation perspective. Port Macquarie was good in one way in that by being no more than a half mile from all events, one could participate more fully.
Again it was great to catch up with old mates and recreating friendships with some who, at college, were mere acquaintances was certainly a plus.

Henry's idea about Brisbane in July 2007 certainly goes down OK with me and if it was in the NSW school holidays it would be even better as I would take the family up to a resort so that they would have something to do other than watch lot of old farts sit around and reminisce about matters which mean absolutely nothing to the modern youth.

It was a great weekend, and whilst I got sick and tired of driving up and down the M2, I certainly pulled up very healthy.


PETER LEWIS [Windella Downs NSW] - Many thanks for all the hard work in putting the reunion together. Good to see everyone joining in and having lots of reminiscences. The different venues allowed people to move around and converse easily as well as bringing back many memories. Food was good, maybe too good as we ate very little after we returned home. Walking to venues was excellent for talking and working off the excess weight!

Nice to catch up with Pam and Palle Kruger after so long. All speeches were well presented; it was a shame the Bodmans had to leave when they did. Sunday morning was excellent when we were greeted with refreshments and pastries on the lawn at the college. We look forward to 2007.Thanks again to everyone who assisted and made it such a memorable weekend.



ALLAN JONES [South Brighton SA] - Well done to you and your fellow organisers. It was great to meet up once more with so many old mates. Those who could not make it this time, I hope you can get to Brissie in 2007. Lukim yu.


COLIN HUGGINS [Albion QLD] - I had a great time at the 2005 version of the reunion. The venues were very good, especially the views from the Mosman Club. The mind can only boogle at the real estate value of that venue!

It was great seeing Pam (Mahoney) Kruger and meeting her husband. Pam still has the pugnacious jaw, which she used on numerous occasions to put me in my place when I tended to make very late nocturnal visits to her and Helene's flat on the Mosman wharf area. However I do think that I have now been forgiven as Pam I believe was and is a very understanding and forgiving person.
ASOPA is a war zone with rabbits taking over. I mean that literally. Buildings have been left unattended and no maintenance for some years now. It was still pleasant to be on site and remember some of the good times there.

It will be interesting as to what we in Brisbane can come up with in 2007. I already have got my mind working and have places in consideration. Many thanks to your team for all the work that you put into the 2005 reunion.


JEAN LOWE [Croydon NSW] – It was difficult to reconnect with the physical ASOPA, as much had changed over the years and, like the thorns and tangles surrounding Sleeping Beauty, the gardens had taken over. The memories and comments of fellow CEOs did help.
I’d just returned from nearly nine weeks in Europe and was struggling to cope with the southern Spring after the northern Autumn. Reconnecting with the 1962-63 class was much less difficult and I thoroughly enjoyed the Sunday bus trip and lunch and look forward to further get-togethers.
Thank you to all who contributed. I can even forgive Henry for placing me in category 2. I won’t say where I would have put him! Has anyone any photos, my camera was being repaired?




HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] - Queensland is to be the next one, in 2007. There was support for the whole thing to occur in one resort with all domiciled under the same roof. Can do, if that is the consensus. Obviously we would make it an easily accessible place as close to the beach as possible - though must consider pensioner status of the many. If I have anything significant to do with the exercise I will be expanding it to include 1961-62 and 1963-64 years. I believe the new faces will ensure we don't travel over the same worn ground occupied by our last two reunions. Comments and suggestions welcomed so we can get a survey out and get cracking on the nuts and bolts. Keep 2007 (maybe July) in mind for third get together of 1962-63.


DIANE BOHLEN [Daisy Hill QLD] - Sounds good to me, a reunion in SE Queensland. I would be happy to help out if necessary. Under the one roof, resort style is a great idea. I, also, thought somewhere in South Bank might be suitable as it is in walking distance from restaurants, entertainment, jogging tracks, swimming and BBQ areas and not far to the city. Also close to CityCat, train and bus. I guess cost will be a big factor in the equation.




BOB DAVIS [Stirling ACT] - I have had a bit of a medical hiccup. Shortly after my arrival on the Tweed I was admitted to hospital and subsequently diagnosed with pulmonary embolisms (blood clots) on my lungs. I was in hospital for the better part of a week and one of the seemingly incessant tests revealed that I have a rather large aortic aneurism that requires urgent surgery.

I had intended to pen a few thoughts to Keith for his post reunion edition of The Mail but I find it difficult to think about much else except my own medical predicament - I'm such a selfish bastard!


HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] - Murray Bladwell coaxed 60 or 70 people with PNG teaching connections to the Educaton Officers’ show at Brisbane’s Jindalee Hotel. Keith Jackson came up from Sydney, Johnny Neitz was there as was Bill Welbourne, Dave Keating, Ron Antoine, Ian Robertson, Bob Brownlie, Roger Hunter and Mal Miller and many others. The highlight of the day was the successful launch of Gail Burke's book Meeting the Challenge.

Meeting the Challenge - Australian Teachers in Papua New Guinea Pre-Independence 1955-1975 [$20 plus $5 postage within Australia]. Enquiries: Gail Burke, PO Box 1224, Kenmore QLD 4069. All profits from sales of this hardcover book will be channeled through Rotary International in support of aid projects focused on the welfare of the children of Papua New Guinea.

I the 20 years leading up to Independence, a leaflet entitled Careers with a Challenge represented the entire background information supplied to potential officers of the Public Service of the Territory of Papua New Guinea. This slender publication supplied no detail of life in our future home but its title was certainly spot on.

Reminiscences of challenge, success and failure in PNG translate into very readable books and are a source of great satisfaction to those who, during the colonial administration, put a lot of themselves into the country’s development.

Already, only 30 years after Independence, we have seen the history of the Australian contribution to PNG twisted into almost unrecognisable forms and it is fortunate that there are still those, such as Harry West, around to suggest alternative views which might add a little balance to those who would like to play with words and even the truth.

Books such as Gail Burke’s edited stories in Meeting the Challenge can put on record grass roots experiences that will be hard to ignore in future years, when students and academics might like to push an original and imaginative version of Australia’s contribution to the welfare and future of Papua New Guinea. Gail’s collection has been put together with no personal agendas to interfere with a record of lives as teachers from 1955 to 1975. It is simply an enjoyable record of real life at the coal face of colonial administration. The result is a collection of very human experiences which contrast beautifully with each other in suggesting the aura of the times and the commitment of the story tellers.

How many times have we all gathered with our friends and reworked our classic stories of humour, pathos, challenge and achievement during our years in Papua New Guinea? And how often have we realised what a unique opportunity we had to make a mammoth contribution to the future success of Papua New Guinea as a nation? How often have we heard, or stated ourselves, that “This should be on paper somewhere”?

Well, folks, as the “tropics in the sky” claims more and more of those with the ability to create that record, Gail Burke is to be congratulated on putting together an example of simple everyday life experiences during the days of pretzels and beer. It is to be hoped that others will latch onto the simple formula and produce similar books, possibly on experiences of life as a kiap or didiman, for example.

In Gail’s book you will find the range from uproariously funny through desperation, violence and challenge to pride and satisfaction. Many of the scribes will be known to you from shared times on outstations and meetings along the path of nation building.

That the profits from the book will be sent to the scene of expatriate PNG teacher effort gives Gail’s book and personal effort real credibility.

In Meeting the Challenge Gail’s husband, Clarrie, has provided historical snapshots which set the larger scene for the stories that follow. It is a useful précis for the reader not familiar with Papua New Guinea between 1955 and 1975 and will also be a reminder of much for those who have let that part of their lives slip into the mists of time.

Gail suffered a severe stroke some years ago and is wheelchair bound. With Clarrie’s help and guidance, she has overcome all of her extra challenges to produce for us an enjoyable reminder of times gone by and to illustrate why so many can be, and are, proud of their colonial contribution, in whichever field it might have been delivered.

GAIL BURKE [Kenmore QLD] - We enjoyed catching up with you at the reunion. Clarrie says he wished he had had more time to talk to you during the lunch, but when he was free you were occupied.

So pleased to have your positive reaction to the book, and so sorry that it was not available for your ASOPA reunion. Have to wonder what might be the consequences if your young charges should think that the Chimbu greeting was more touching than the comparatively mundane Aussie fashion, and that its introduction would make your office relationships more up close and personal. A number of people have mentioned how much they enjoyed your stories.

Entirely agree with your sentiments about Murray and Henry's efforts. They have been simply marvellous with their advice and physical efforts during the rise and rise of the book. We hope that, in the final analysis, we can give their Rotary connection a sum of some significance towards the aid of PNG children.


BRIAN WHITE [Meringandan QLD] - Nam has just returned to Toowoomba after spending nearly three weeks in Port Moresby attempting to obtain DNA testing from Tasminnie's putative father. This did not eventuate because, although he was initially agreeable to having the test done, at the last minute he did not turn up at the hospital.

While the reason for the trip to PNG was to initiate the DNA test procedure, the time was not entirely wasted as we have commenced discussions about adoption with the Welfare people in PNG and hope that this will proceed through the court in Port Moresby quite quickly, thence to the Welfare Department in Australia.

In addition, Nam was able to spend time with Tasminnie, who flew to Moresby from Popondetta with her aunt. This time together did Nam the power of good as she was getting into a very depressed state of mind about Tas and how she was faring. Tas is now back in Popondetta, armed with all her books etc for the new school term. Thanks to all who are adding their names to the petition. Please keep doing so - it all helps, and encourages us no end to see the number grow day by day.

There are now well over 600 names on the petition asking the Australian Government to “bring Tasminnie home” to Toowoomba. Many of these people are Asopians, the most recent being Jean Lowe, and this is a wonderfully supportive response. If you haven’t added your name you can still do so at


JUDY (PETERS) DUGGAN [Mudgeeraba QLD] – Hope your second big reunion went well. Just stopped by the website hoping for a report but it was too early. I always find some snippets of interest though. Good to see Dave Bingham checking in. I remember him well. Perhaps he knows what became of the two girls who went with him to the NT - Heather and Mary. I am still in regular contact with four of the females from our batch – Colleen Keena (nee Riley), Margaret Whittingham (Walters), Carolyn Newton (Jones) and Dorothy Livingstone. All returned to Australia and stayed in the teaching game until their recent retirements.

My old friend Colin Huggins often harkens back to events from his Dreger days. He might be interested to know that our mutual colleague, Edith Hatt (Asopa 1959-60), is alive and well and living in Byron Bay. He will recall that she and I shared a donga at that time (more than 40 years ago now) and we have stayed in touch.

Gaye's comment on the EOs who married POs was interesting. There were two of us in the 1960-61 batch and we are still married - Carolyn Jones met and married Tom Newton at Ialabu, while I married Dan Duggan in Bougainville. Lyn Tabart (Asopa 1959-60) married Richard Giddings and they are still together too - living in Tasmania.

I enjoy the website - plenty of nostalgia when one feel like having a wallow.


JEAN LOWE [Croydon NSW] –My recent overseas holiday wasn’t a tour, or even a holiday, but rather a journey of connecting and reconnecting and of discovery. Months of sifting, sorting, planning, fitting together and pre-booking produced an itinerary covering Cornwall, Derbyshire, North Wales, Dublin, Lille in northern France, north Italy (Casentino Valley and mountains), across to Lyons in France and a meander across to Normandy. Then it was ferry to Portsmouth, the New Forest, London and finally Sussex and home via Brunei.

I went with my sister and we used a variety of transport: planes, ferries, trains, buses, cars and an enormous amount of walking. We met up and stayed with friends in England and Italy as well as using youth hostels, B&Bs, hotels, monasteries and Formula I’s in France (all exactly the same as if you were returning to the same place every night). On our last night we stayed at a lovely old pub, The Bear, in the very attractive village of Burwash in East Sussex and lashed out on a pub dinner after all those affordable take-aways.

It will take months to process it all and disentangle all the information and impressions. Things that stand out. The blessing of the village well at Barlow in Derbyshire (an ancestral village). The ruins of Dolwyoldelan Castle in north Wales, built by one of our ancestors. The Georgian house in O’Connell Street, Dublin, where one great-grandfather was born. My uncle’s grave in the beautiful war cemetery (1914-18) at Outresteene in northern France. Visiting the Franciscan Monastery of La Verna in the Apennines of northern Italy. Seeing the wonderfully reproduvced 40,000 years BC cave paintings in Aquataine as well as the Bayeux Tapestry and Monet’s garden at Giverny in Normandy. Finding the remains of the fortress built in 1073 by an ancestor Wm de Braose (Lord Bramber) at Bramber in west Sussex.


JIM TONER [Darwin NT] – “Perfect weather. Perfect company. Our old rooms in The Old House. And the men that were boys when I was a boy, shall sit and drink with me”. Such was the report from the organiser of the last Reunion of my mob (the fabled '52-54s) at our old college by the banks of the Thames. I can only wish your mob as happy a weekend at Mosman. And with three McKenna sisters for the price of one, how can you miss? Good luck to all superannuated school masters and marms.


JOHN HOBAN [Sydney NSW] - Loved the website. I am a Cadet Education Officer 1960-61 and went to Rabaul, leaving in 1965 then joining the Army. Thanks for the memories.

You can contact John at [email protected].


ANDY CONNELLY [Sacramento USA] - Greetings from California! I'm a graduate student in Anthropology at Cal State University, Sacramento. I'm currently working on a thesis on the Trobriand Islands, mainly involving the story of Patrol Officers. I've been reading patrol reports from 1911-1969, lots of fascinating stuff. I recently learned about ASOPA and found your website.

I've realised that the story of ASOPA is an important part of the story I'm trying to tell. What I'm wondering is whether you might know where I could track down curriculum information for Patrol Cadets over the years, and whether you know if the curriculum varied for PCs and teachers. Not likely that this stuff is available online but its worth a shot. Also if you know anyone, POs or teachers, that was stationed at Losuia that I might get in touch with. Any assistance would be appreciated!

I spent a year in Oz back in '88, six months in Sydney working at The Italian Village Restaurant at Campell's Cove and commuting down to Oatley (near Hurstville). I unknowingly cruised past ASOPA countless times on the Manly ferry, and the picture of your old campus on Middle Head brings back fond memories. I hope your reunion went well.

You can contact Andy at [email protected].