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Christmas 2005



JUSTINE FINTER [Mapleton QLD] – I did promise to fill you in on my trip to Moresby. I'm not sure why but this time around I did not feel as nervous as I had been in the past. The day after my arrival we received news of the passing of an elderly aunt at Elevala village. On this occasion I was able to catch up with some relatives I hadn't seen for a long time. The approach to the village has changed in that there are market stalls occupying a long strip and with so many people milling around it takes a skilful driver to slowly negotiate the vehicle through to get to the houses.

On the first weekend it had been pre arranged to erect the headstone and have our deceased father's Miro gabu (literally "dirt burning"). It involves the burning of the clothes of the deceased. Relatives are given the option of selecting any items of choice with the remaining being burnt with a portion of a pig. Although I knew this happened I had not witnessed it myself as I was away at boarding school so I felt a bit strange having been given the task of presiding over procedures because of my status of being the eldest in the family. I was of course surrounded by coaches. What was so nice was when there were mistakes made I was readily forgiven due to my long absence of things cultural.

For the uninitiated the subsequent activities may be very involved. I spent the following week making preparations for the major event- the feast. Traditionally a bunch of betel-nut is offered to those selected to participate usually, kin folk. This time one of my younger siblings sent out computer print-outs! Provisions were made of pigs, garden produce, staple grocery items of rice, flour and sugar with the addition of dishes of cooked food on the day of the feast. Usually there is an exchange of these dishes of cooked food. My greatest fear on such occasions is that some should end up with their own food.

For security reasons (threat of raskols) we could not have the traditional continuous night-day dancing groups and confined it to one small group performance for a few hours during daylight. Those dancers promised a 5am start so I was up early waiting in anticipation. I forgot they were operating on PNG time- ANYTIME! Dancing really began at 10am. Distribution of provisions began after the main pig was killed at a nominated time. Since the surviving family members consisted mainly of females. I heard the comment "McLeod's Daughters" - I'm not sure of the connection? Believe it or not, my flight was an early morning one the following day. I retuned home totally exhausted but pleased at least I had fulfilled my cultural duties or at least I hope so.

Moresby, at the time of my visit was very hot and dry. Driving around the town appeared to be a risky business especially when drivers were often trying to avoid the many potholes and forced to drive on the wrong side of the road. To their credit I observed many approached with caution hence not as many accidents as might have been.
The on-again, off-again sale of our property is definitely off. After reading the for sale advertisements placed by the real-estate agents we decided to stay put on our mountain retreat.

It was good to catch up with some of the Queensland ASOPA group at the Bodmans in leafy Fig-Tree Pocket. The Christmas parties have begun in earnest. I really can't keep up with the pace. Do hope your Christmas is filled with joy and peace and the New Year brings you continued good health.

HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] – The Burrells, Bohlens, Bodmans, Justine and Huggiebear met in Fig Tree Pocket and made progress made toward a 2007 event in south-east Queensland. “Bikie Boy” Crainean chickened out at the last moment when his lady love suggested he might be a lot happier with her on the pillion seat than Huggiebear. The same Huggiebear was a much more relaxed contributor to the meeting as a result of a ride the 37 Norman Street on four wheels rather than two.

We wanted to keep the options open for input from the other 50 odd who might be interested, so nothing is set in concrete and is unlikely to be for a month or three.

The successes of Event 1 and 2 were our guides to how Event 3 might go. We discussed things under the headings of who, when, where, what and why (statement of aim consistent with our Educational Principles format)

Who? My suggestion that we might widen this one to have contact with other years wasn’t received with any enthusiasm so we’re looking at the ASOPA inner sanctum again for Event 3. Having been in touch with a few movers and shakers of other years (some of whom are half inclined to wind up enough energy to do a ‘Booth job’ on their year members), I will let them continue what has been started and further down the track when we’ve decided the When category might let them know when also and if we happen to be in town at the same time we might have an ‘Oaks Lunch’ for all comers

When? We heard a number of suggestions at Event 2 including Rod’s wish that the venue be ankle-biter friendly. Because we also heard that there are a growing number of retirees who must watch the shekels, our timing will need to be not high season. We think August in Queensland will still be an attractive place for winter bound Mexicans so we’re looking at that period. Note for Rod: We would choose the week nearest school hols if that would help but need to keep away from school hols as far as costs are concerned.

Where? We looked at Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast. The one thing we all agreed upon is that the Gold Coast has passed its use by date. Obviously, if there was a big push from the 50 we would reconsider that. Justine is going to look at the Sunshine Coast, considering a couple of requests that it all be under one roof. We have some reservations about that and wonder if we can find the right place at the right price, but will try.

We have established that current prices of $150 a double a night are around the mark for the sort of facility we want. There is also an arrangement that would make $90 per night possible at very nice standards. These are today’s prices and we haven’t started the haggling, which can be promoted our way with a large number of rooms involved. Diane has a friend who is a specialist in large group functions and she’ll let that person loose and we’ll see where it leads.

What? We liked the ‘meet and greet’ Friday night at both previous events and will look for an appropriate place with an area exclusive to our mob for a third dose of the initial g’day function. The Saturday lunch will be based on The Oaks event and, if there is support for it, this is the occasion when other years might be let know where we are.

Saturday night we’re looking for something on the Brisbane/Maroochy rivers or the Gold Coast canals for this one. If we find the right facility and PA system this would also be the speech segment. Facilities exist in all places – Gold Coast, Brisbane and Sunshine Coast.

Sunday lunch. With speeches out of the way we thought another relaxed laid back Queensland oasis where people can breeze in and out and those leaving can make their farewells. Sunday evening. We think the Chinese restaurant has worked well and will look for the right Queensland one to impress the Mexicans. Open to alternative suggestions, of course.

Discussion groups? Reports say that the Admiral Westover and Rodger Philpot got warmed up on the Sunday night in Neutral Bay and a few liked the idea of an opportunity for discussion groups to be added to the agenda. Those present could be persuaded, based on the interesting chat to which I have already referred. We passed the buck here and reckon if Rodger and the Admiral can come up with the formula we will build it in.

Other. Bill Bohlen kindly offered to put the events on video again which offer was quickly accepted. How about photo display boards to be available at selected events of the weekend on which everyone can place photos of 1962-63 (and later)? I think this could be a very interesting and amusing feature.

That’s pretty much it, Keithy. Can you get something into The Mail encouraging input from readers and we’ll take it from there. Cheers and beers.

You can contact Henry at [email protected]

DIANE BOHLEN [Daisy Hill Qld] - We had a good session at Henry's place yesterday. I'm sure he will fill you in on the details. He and Janelle supplied us with plenty of cool drinks and some hard ones too. Janelle, Ros Burrell and Justine Finter provided delicious snacks.

We threw lots of ideas in the ring and they mostly all sounded good, although those present were unanimous in giving the Gold Coast the flick. None of us like it there, but Henry will probably include it in the options in a survey he will be sending out.

ALLAN JONES [South Brighton SA] - Hoping this finds you well as I am here. For me the year has been busy and enjoyable. I devoted time to my roles as program director of my Rostrum Club and secretary of my Short Story Writing Club.

More importantly (to me!) I increased my output of lessons (volunteer work) for Starfish, a London based NGO. Starfish has the lessons translated into various languages, made into interactive DVDs and distributed to developing countries. In October Starfish brought me to London for a month long workshop. Exhausting but a lot of fun.

At the end of September I was in Sydney for a weekend for the reunion of the ASOPA graduates of 1963. It was great to catch up withhold friends and colleagues. Some not seen for 42 years.

During the winter I was able to attend the Crows home matches to cheer them on. Also went to some of Sturt’s games in the SA comp. Have a wonderful Christmas and much joy in 2006.

PS, the Mighty Goofy is fine! She has just had her annual vet’s check up and passed with flying colours. Seems she is determined to outlive me!

PHIL CHARLEY [Boronia Park NSW] - I've just got around to reading Prof David Gillison's account in The Mail of his time in the Eastern Highlands in the 1970s. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks again for keeping me on the mailing list.

TONY KENDAL – I am seeking information on my sisters. They went to school in PNG from 1957. They were the daughters of John Herbert. John raised my sisters when mom left him in 1952. John raised my sisters, a 3 month and 20 month old baby, on his own in PNG. A remarkable feat indeed. If you have any information on them it would be welcomed.

If you are able to assist, you can contact Tony at [email protected]



To round up 2005, let’s review the year in the words of the contributors to the pages of The Mail. Keep those letters and emails rolling in 2006 as our newsletter rolls into its fourth year and towards its centenary issue.

“In Mandarin, Happy New Year is translated as Gung Hay Fa Choy” - Ian ‘Talker’ McLean

“So what is different in 2005? So far, nothing, apart from even more annoying emails from Rycharde and Dubbo. You two blokes seem to enjoy blackening the names of my heroes, John Pasquerelli and John Howard” - Col Booth

“Last time at your place I really enjoyed talking to Alexander Downer's sister and brother-in-law. At that time they were all scared of Latham. That turned out to be a fizzer” – Dave ‘Dubbo’ Kesby

“Mick Wilson said he’d been sent to PNG by mistake: ‘I actually failed second year’, he recalled” – Richard Jones

“I was much saddened to hear of Helene’s passing. Not only was she sophisticated and talented but she had a great sense of humour” - Justine Finter

“I'm afraid I shan't be at the next reunion. I always was an anti-social bastard” - Keith Bain

Dubbo Dave Spends 61st In Youth Hostel Near Harlem. That’s the headline we want for The Mail” - Dave Kesby

“The Sydney Harbour Trust chap with whom I had been communicating went to ASOPA and had a look at the site late last week. He said it was in poor condition” - Rod Hard

“It is the forgotten that prompts me to send this urgent email to offer my apologies for not having replied to your aerogram dated 15 January 1970” - Bill Welbourne

“Who is this fellow, Bob ‘Moose' Davis? What's he on about? Massacres, what massacres? If there is going to be any blood on the floor, it won't be the blood of Val Rivers or yours truly” - Colin Huggins

“We sailed towards the sunset and turned left when we saw land” - Dave Westover, asked how he navigated across the Pacific to Australia

“Nudist beaches. There is widespread concern about some unsavoury practices at Obelisk and Cobblers beaches” – Newsletter of the Mosman Headland Preservation Society

“At the age of fourteen, Rabaul cast a spell over me - it was like living in a story from The Boys' Bumper Book! I fell in love with the place and vowed to return” – Phil Donnison, son of Norm

“We first met Phil (Donnison) 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 venues around the Highlands. Phil is a great acoustic guitarist and jazz singer and also plays a range of other stringed instruments” - Phil Charley

“I’ve been kept busy while she’s been away with work, two spoiled pooches, a week old bantam chick, nine 4-week old chickens (the fox got one), two bantams and three geese. I’m also expecting to receive four ducks any day now” - Dennis Burrell

“As we had a postcard from Peter and Margaret (Lewis) in France, I assume they escaped my cooking with lives intact - although people can take politeness to extreme lengths” - Keith Bain

“I find it hard to imagine Keith in the kitchen a la Jamie Oliver” - Colin Huggins

“I ran into Pat Pyers at the funeral and believed him when he said, "Gotta go, if I am away from my wife for more than five minutes I don't recognise her" – Henry Bodman

“Maybe I don't really exist and I'm just a figment of our collective imaginations” - Ian McLean

“Enjoying having my son Adam home from Uni before he flies to Hong Kong during semester break. It will be his first cross-cultural experience apart from going to Fiji, his maternal homeland” - Joe Crainean

“John Howard must be having problems with his industrial relations legislation. I see he’s employed Sydney’s leading spin doctor, Keithy Jackson and company, to tell us how good it is for us all” - Dave Kesby

“Our orphan niece in PNG, Tasminnie Tavari, was with us, despite great immigration difficulties, for two years until 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” - Brian White

“I offer my support for Brian and Nammie. As a Papua New Guinean I understand their situation. 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” - Justine Finter

“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” - Susan Denheld

“I've given all my Papua New Guinea books, material and my thesis on the London Missionary Society 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” - Ann Prendergast

“Last night well over 100 people crowded the Nelson Heather Centre, North Narrabeen, to hear Jeff McMullen talk on Syndrome X, the new Black Death - the crisis in indigenous education and health, especially in the Northern Territory. It made me wonder if, among 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” - Ruth Fink Latukefu

“Perhaps I'm making a mountain out of a molehill but on Sunday we go to the ASOPA campus and after that the Mosman Club. 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” - Colin Huggins

“The Class of 1962-63, having reunited 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 and correspond and look forward to regular reunions. The most recent was conducted at the scene of our youthful exploits on Sydney’s lower north shore” – Keith Jackson

“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” - Diane Bohlen

“At the first reunion at Port Macquarie I hardly recognised anyone. One shouldn't boast but everyone seemed to have easily recognised me!” - Colin Huggins

“Did I really eat tomato sauce with my sweet and sour pork? Dave Argent swears I did, but could you ever trust a bloke who drove a Morris Minor?” - Jeff Chapman

“The mood is decidedly animated, the old groups are starting to reunite and sentiment flows quicker than the beer on ASOPA payday” – Keith Jackson

“Near the end of the evening a band appeared. But their music was interrupted by an unprepared clash of cymbals. Moose, probably on his way to the men’s, stumbled across the stage, upended their instruments, sprawled lengthwise and struggled valiantly to get up. Rory dashed over to assist Henry bring Moose to a more perpendicular reconstruction, which wasn't easy. The reunion was off to a good start” – Bill Welbourne

“(Dave) Argent was large and the braces didn't work in keeping the trousers up but he had a ball” – Henry Bodman

“Howie (Ralph) survived yet another life threatening experience - a motor accident this time. He hit a kangaroo and was more concerned about the animal than himself. He fell off the roof at home just before Port Macquarie. We wonder what he'll pull before the 2007 event” – Henry Bodman

“Rory's first prac teaching featured a group of Grade 6B dimwits. Rory won them over and, when it was time for him to leave, they tearfully presented him with a gift-pack - cigarettes, tobacco and lighter. As Rory reflected upon their thoughtfulness, a boy sidled up to him and whispered, "By the way, sir, I think they stole it" - Bill Welbourne

“Rod (Hard) has tried to satisfy the law by visiting the nearby caretaker’s cottage and calling through the open front door, “Good morning! Anybody home!” Whereupon there is a scream, an ominous silence, a fellow escaping with trousers adrift and a revelation, that caretaking is a term more ambiguous than it used to be” – Keith Jackson

“Henry (Bodman), 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” – Keith Jackson

“The visit to ASOPA was the highlight. A rush of emotion. I even saw a tear in the eye of Rodger Philpott. Like Val Rivers, I felt everything seemed smaller and the buildings closer together” – Diane Bohlen

“He might be your Dick but he’s my Richard” – Judyth Jones

“Colin (Huggins) 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” – Richard Jones

“I don’t recall Mick (Wilson) at all during our time at ASOPA” – Peter Lewis

“Handed a copy of the rugby league match report of First Year versus Second Year cadet chalkies, I have no recollection of ever penning said article” – Richard Jones

“I do volunteer work with the blind society checking original texts against the Braille read by a blind person. We had a request from some AFL player, known as Sos, from Carlton club. Eminently boring with minute details of the 350+ games he played” – Jean Lowe

“Richard (Jones) 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!” – Dave Kesby

“When we were walking around the ASOPA buildings some of us actually saw Warwick the rabbit hopping around and he darted under one of the steps. Can't leave the old place it seems” - Joe Crainean

“ASOPA is a war zone with rabbits taking over. Buildings have been left unattended and no maintenance for some years now. Still it was pleasant to be on site and remember the good times there” – Colin Huggins

“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” – Jean Lowe

“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” - Bill Welbourne

“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” – Rod Hard

“The whole weekend was beautifully orchestrated and the certificate presentation a masterful touch” – Joe Crainean

“The atmosphere of this reunion was different from the first. It was like a family gathering” – Bill Welbourne

“I came home after the Sunday night dinner thinking what wonderful people I had spent the weekend with. I think ASOPA must have been a special institution to produce such a great group of people” – Ann Prendergast

“Gail Burke’s edited collection of stories in Meeting the Challenge put on record grass roots experiences that will be hard to ignore in future years. It’s been put together with no personal agendas as an enjoyable record of real life at the coal face of colonial administration” – Henry Bodman

"Things are on the move at the ASOPA site. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has allocated funds to bring the old college back to some form of respectability and work will take place over the next two years” – Keith Jackson