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December 2006




Return to PNG

By Henry Bodman

The Mail 105 definitely up there with the best as evidenced by your readers’ enthusiasm. Like most people, the Rabaul segment hit a chord with me even though it is only five years since I was there to see for myself. Having done that I don't need to go back. But my old memories of the place hit the screen before those of devastation, and that’s the way I want it to be. First time I have heard of an underwater threat in Rabaul. What are the details?

Bob Jenkins (1961-62) was recently in touch trying to get material to his old stamping ground at Tufi, which he recently revisited. At one stage in the 60's Bob and I used to correspond (the common ground of being Rules players in Sydney at one time). I was able to remind him of the ‘bombing’ raids to which he and station cohorts subjected passing lakatois at cliff bottom. Bob tells me the frangipani tree under which they used to sit, drink, talk and ‘bomb’ remains 40 years later. Keep up the great monthly.

Keith Jackson writes: Just south of Vulcan, a new volcano, which the locals call Togirgir, is forming. Although it’s still underwater, people in Rabaul talk of Vulcan and Togirgir as looming threats.


By Diane Bohlen

Wow what a Mail. Thank you so much for keeping it going. Well done! It’s official I'm retiring next year after first term i.e. Easter after which I'll have a term of long service leave. Then pinis!


By Jean Lowe

Thank you for continuing to send The Mail each month. As I have no Internet connection I rely on the newsletter. It has taken me a while to decide whether to go to Brisbane next year. However, it’s about seven years since I’ve been north of the border and I have some catching up to do with people around Brisbane, both friends and relatives. I was interested in your visit to what was Rabaul. I spent some time there in hospital and it was my last contact with Papua New Guinea. I would not want to see it now. Your description of Samarai and its decaying remains was poignant – as was the story on Tufi and its fjords. I was further over at Safoa, destroyed many years ago by a cyclone.


By Peter Christo

I read some of your web site on East New Britain and Rabaul. I was there in 1987 as a soldier retracing the steps of Australian soldiers. It remains in my mind as one of the most wonderful experiences. I am thinking about another trip there and am interested in what happened after the eruption. What is there now? I write the site and was wondering how I could use its ability to raise money for something worthy in the area. I'd welcome your opinion.

Keith Jackson writes: Rabaul is a disaster area and, if it wasn't for the wharf, there wouldn’t be much left. The Gazelle, however, flourishes in its customary way: cocoa, coffee and copra prices are buoyant; vanilla is down a bit. Kokopo is emerging as a pleasant town and will be even better when the trees mature. The Tolai people are happy, well dressed and have money to spend. The houses look fine. And the kids are being educated, which isn't always the case in today's PNG. On the other hand, public spaces and monuments don't get the attention they used to in the old days, with the exception of Bitapaka, maintained by the War Graves Commission.


Vic Parkinson

By Roy Clark

I was in Orange recently and called on Vic Parkinson. He is 90 years old and is in a retirement home - Ascot Gardens, 83 Spring Street, Orange NSW 2800. He uses a wheel chair and a walking frame and can, with the help of the furniture, move around a little in the room. I was only able to spare about 30 minutes to stay and talk to him in his small one bedroom unit, however I felt he would have liked to talk all day.

Vic asked about any former ASOPA people with whom I may have been in touch and I was able to mention a couple I had contact with lately. I am sure he would appreciate a card or a note at the retirement home address.

After we got over the hellos and the quick description of his symptoms he rapidly got on to the state of the world, the mess in Iraq, the state of Australia and its run-down infrastructure, corruption in government, etc. He espoused some of the remedies I’ve heard Kevin Rudd mention recently. So we covered a lot in a half hour talk and he seemed to enjoy the company. He recently read a book by Professor Bob Walker (Professor of Accounting at the University of Sydney) listing the many billions and billions of dollars worth of infrastructure flogged off to the private sector by Australian governments. Vic was appalled. So, if you do contact him, those are just a few topics about which I’m sure he’d be interested in hearing your views and remedies.


Croweater Jones puts in top year

By Allan Jones

The year is almost over and I look back and wonder whether I made the best use of it. I am most grateful that my health continues to be excellent. My volunteer work as a DVD lesson writer for an NGO continued. It is rewarding to know these lessons are being well received in target developing countries. On the home front I continue to help at a nearby nursing home, remain an active member of several clubs and maintain contacts with Adelaide’s PNG community.

In October I went to England and France: 2 weeks working at the NGO’s London office, 2 weeks in France and 1 week in Cornwall. Highlights in France were the Louvre (2 days, wish it was 2 months), Bayeux Tapestry, Normandy landing beaches & war cemeteries, Orleans, Angers, Rouen, the Loire and Monet’s house and garden. In Cornwall I swam topless in the cold sea (others had wetsuits!) and made a comeback to cycling after a 50-year layoff!


Death of John Beagley

By Hugh Greer

After ASOPA 1968-69, I went to PNG 1970 and returned to Australia in 2004. I now live in Cairns and work for Caltex. The purpose of this note is to inform you of the death of John ‘Beakley’ Beagley. John was at ASOPA in 1967-68 and had various postings being well known in Bougainville, Rabaul and the Mortlock Islands. He died on 27 November at Cairns Base Hospital after a long illness.


Annual Peterkin art prize

Bob Davis sends a clipping from the Tweed Sun (23 November 2006) about former ASOPA physical education lecturer, Les Peterkin– “Deciding who to paint for her entry in the tenth annual Les Peterkin Portrait Prize for Children was a bit of a dilemma for Reba Ide. The talented Grade 3 pupil in the end decided her nanny was the one. This year’s Les Peterkin award attracted 1000 paintings and drawings done by children from 19 Tweed Valley public and private schools. The Les Peterkin award encourages the teaching of art in schools and promotes the value of children’s art”.




Contact David Keating at PO Box 73, New Farm, Queensland 4005

1960-61 AND 1962-63 REUNIONS: BRISBANE, 12-14 OCTOBER 2007
Current information about Brisbane ’07 at


Reunion planning in full swing

By Colin Huggins

We are now committed to a contract with Sofitel Brisbane based on a minimum of 180 people at the reunion dinner. In addition to Asopians from 1960-61 (50 starters) and 1962-63 (50+ starters), other classes – including 1969-70 – are organising tables for the event. 1960-61 – firm expectation of 50 starters

Because of the numbers involved, Sofitel or Novotel reservation staff will implement a system for tracking reunionistas from different groups (ASOPA, E-Course, lecturers, kiaps) who book into either hotel or who will be attending the official function at the Sofitel. People who have booked accommodation at the hotels should have by now received written confirmation.

The next meeting of the Brisbane reunion organising committee will be held at Paul Brigg’s home (57 Douglas Street, Greenslopes) on Sunday 25 February.


Registrants: 1960-61 - Dick & Jo Arnold; Paul & Margaret Brigg; Andrew & Susan Cameron; Dorothy Livingstone; Dick & Kay Rentoule; Bill Stenning; Margaret Whittingham. 1962-63 - Henry & Janelle Bodman; Bill & Diane Bohlen; Colin & Wendy Booth; Dennis & Ros Burrell; Jeff & Robyn Chapman; Joe & Kathryn Crainean; Bob Davis; Barry Flannery; Sonia Grainger; Rod Hard; Colin Huggins; Keith & Ingrid Jackson; Richard & Judyth Jones; Dave & Elissa Kesby; Peter & Margaret Lewis; Jean Lowe; Les & Margaret Lyons; Ian McLean; Rory O'Brien; Barry & Janine Paterson; Roger Philpott; Howard & Glenda Ralph; Val Rivers; Roger Stanley; Bill Welbourne


Program: Friday 12 October - Evening: Meet & Greet at the Sofitel. Saturday 13 October - 7.30 am: Golf Day (see story below). Lunch: Southbank or Riverside are within walking distance and also offer a Rivercat opportunity. Evening: The major Sofitel function will cost $95 a head including a three-course meal and beverage package. Keith Jackson will be master of ceremonies and nominated representatives from each year will be afforded the opportunity to address a few brief remarks to the gathering. Bill Bohlen will produce create a video of the event. A bank account will be put in place to enable participants to make this and any other payment. Sunday 14 October - Lunch: Southbank or Riverside. Evening: The Bow Thai farewell function is likely to cost $30-35, not including drinks.


ASOPA golf day tournament

By Bill Welbourne
This will be a fun day with all levels of golfing prowess catered for and prizes for various categories. We encourage all Asopians (teachers, kiaps etc) to enter, whether or not you have had a triple bypass or are a complete novice. Also eligible are E-Course and former educators who worked in PNG.

The tournament will be held at the Victoria Park Golf Course, five minutes from the heart of Brisbane at Herston Road, Herston. Transport from Sofitel and Novotel can be arranged for the 7.30 am start on Saturday 13 October. The event will be a Mixed Ambrose 4 ball over 9 holes. Partners will be assigned by draw. Regular golfers should indicate current handicaps while others should indicate whether they are regular social players or estimate how many times they have played: a) more than 10; b) less than 10; c) never. The entry fee will be $4 and the green fee for nine holes is $16.

Contact Bill Welbourne at [email protected]




Rex Thomas

Dick Clarke writes: Have you ever heard from or contact with an ex ASOPA graduate by the name of Rex Thomas. I met him when he was at Kaparoko PTS in the Central District in 1967. He was very helpful when my mother visited that year... we had to stay overnight on our way to Hood Lagoon. I really would like to say hello and thankyou again for his kindness

You can contact Dick at [email protected]


Vic Parkinson

Roy Clark writes: Vic Parkinson is 90 years old and has Parkinson’s disease. He is now in a retirement home - Ascot Gardens, 83 Spring Street, Orange NSW 2800 - and would like to hear from ex-ASOPA people.


Matt Foley

Henry Bodman writes: Matt Foley would appreciate any contact from people he knew in PNG. Be ready to remind him of who you are. He lives at 15 Flamingo Key, Broadbeach Waters, Broadbeach QLD 4218.


Money for the Gazelle

Peter Christo runs the website and is wondering how he can use it to raise money for something worthy in the Gazelle. If you have any creative ideas contact Peter on [email protected]




Four weeks on the road in Turkey

By Richard Jones

It’s said that the small things which happen on your travels are often the events most likely to endure in the memory. I’d heard about the experiences of other men at a barber (berber in Turkish) but had to be there to really appreciate the full procedure. The scissors and comb routine across the hair was pretty standard. So, also, the No 1 cut around the beard and moustache. But the final flourish took the cake. Watched by a bevy of small boys, goggle eyed outside one of Konya’s barbershops, plus the tea man who brought not one but three tiny glass cups of steaming Turkish tea, the barber whipped out his throwaway cigarette lighter.

Whoosh. Into the right ear aperture goes the tiny flamethrower. As quick as lightning the barber is around the back of the chair. Whoosh, again. This time the left ear is subjected to the same operation. That singed odour in the air is your own. Miraculously, the smell of burnt ear-hair lingers just a few seconds before the barber splashes the cologne around and the whole thing is over.

Trying to explain this later to a group of young Western males didn’t seem to gel. Then the penny dropped. Not until we reach a certain age do we males grow ear hair. So what else remains after a month in Turkey? St John the Baptist’s skull and (I think) right arm, wrapped in gold leaf. They are on view in one of four Treasuries situated at the old Ottoman Sultans’ Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. The Prophet Mohammed’s sword and scabbard are also in the Palace. Emeralds the size of cigarette packets adorn a sultan’s turban.

Also the ruins of Troy, just south of Canakkale on the Aegean seaboard. To tread the same ground 3000 years after Achilles, Ajax, Ulysses, Helen of Troy, her lover Paris and other Greek heroes, is breath-taking.

Ephesus, or Efes as the Turks call it, where St Paul wrote his epistle to the Ephesians, is a site of tremendous historical significance. Perched high in the hills overlooking Ephesus and the city of Selcuk (where Elissa Kesby spent her period of hospital rehab) is the Virgin Mary’s house. All that remains of the building where Mary might have lived in her final years (37-45 AD) is a few stones. They form part of the foundations of the present tiny chapel, which attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims each year.

Below, accessed by a winding road, stand the remains of important Ephesus buildings such as the Library, the Temple of Artemis and the magnificent 50,000 seat Roman Theatre. There is a smaller 25,000 seat theatre at Aspendos on the Mediterranean coast and it’s rated as the finest intact Roman ampitheatre in the world. These theatres are used today. Our guide proudly told us that Shakira had recently performed at Aspendos.

Then there was Perge, another Greco-Roman city accessed like Aspendos from the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya. Its Roman baths with the separate cold, tepid and hot pools are the best remaining in the world.

The Romans were masters at constructing aqueducts and underground systems for pool heating. But if a member of Roman nobility needed the marble toilet seat warmed before venturing forth, how was this achieved? By a slave occupying said seat for a few moments, that’s how.
Turkey was proclaimed a secular state in the 1920s by its great leader, Mustafa Kemal, known as Ataturk or the Father of the Turks. He had served with distinction as a lieutenant-colonel as the Turks held the Gallipoli in 1915. By war’s end he was a general. I knew the Turks suffered considerably more casualties than the rest of the Allies but the figure puts their dead soldiers at a staggering 85,000.

Although you hear the regular muezins’ calls to prayer throughout Turkey, Islam is strongest in central Anatolian Konya. The city’s restaurants, and one we visited was ranked in the world top ten a few years ago, serve no alcohol. No matter, shepherd’s lamb-on-the-bone, served in a good-sized earthenware bowl, was succulence personified.

Konya is the home of the Whirling Dervish sect. Its founder was an Afghani, Rumi, who lived in the 1200s AD. Today the Mevlana Museum containing his huge tomb is topped with a striking fluted turquoise dome – one of Turkey’s signature sights. Unfortunately the religious festivities featuring the Dervishes were not due until December so we missed a performance.

There were many other splendid sights, watching from our fourth floor hotel balcony as the Queen Elizabeth II steamed out of Kusadasi was one. Kusadasi, on the Aegean, is not only cruise ship haven but also the city from which one makes day trips to Ephesus and the Virgin Mary house. Here we met an exemplary taksi driver (there is no ‘x’ in Turkish) named Ibrahim Yumusak. Ibrahim took us under his wing, offered us good deals and made sure we were taken to the local bus company for the sixth leg of our seven-stage coach tour around his country. For 60 new Turkish lira (about $57) he drove us to the Virgin Mary house and Ephesus, didn’t seem too bothered by our penchant for spending hour after hour wandering through the ruins and then bobbed up again to drive us to the bus terminal the next evening.

Ibrahim was a mine of information. I hadn’t realised 100,000 Armenians now call Turkey home and there are sizeable minority populations of people from Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and other central Asian nations. We encountered only one spiv among the taksi driving fraternity and the coaches were a revelation. The inter-city coach system has modern Mercedes plying back and forth all day and, it seems, all night. The prices are reasonable, tea and cakes are served at frequent intervals and there are regular stops. We used seven inter-city coaches during our month in Turkey.
Three of the hotels where we stayed had been converted from Ottoman Empire period houses. Our boutique hotel in the capital, Ankara, had only six guest rooms and was entered from a laneway. Once the bell was rung, the door into a private courtyard was opened and there was this splendid and private mini-hotel.

I can’t finish without remarking on the privilege of being on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 11 November for Remembrance Day. Enterprising Turkish tour operators run Anzac House (I kid you not) in Canakkale: a four-storey backpacker haven with knowledgeable guides running tours to Troy and the battle zones. We did our own thing in Troy but decided to take a mini-bus tour with 14 others on Remembrance Day.

We took the regular vehicular ferry across the Dardanelles and drove through the hills to Anzac Cove. At 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month, tour guide Murat and two of our small party laid a wreath as we gazed out across the water. One of our number read a prepared address reminding us of the significance of the day and down we went to wander on the shingles and sand of Anzac Cove.
Later we went to one of the beachside cemeteries where Simpson – the Man with the Donkey – was buried along with hundreds of others and then up the steep hills we drove to Lone Pine cemetery. We were all handed a red carnation to place on the headstone of our choice before heading towards Chunuk Bair, the highest point of the peninsula held by Mustafa Kemal and a command post he never lost.

The trenches the Turks and Anzacs occupied 700 metres above sea level are separated up there by just the width of the modern road – that’s how close they were by August 1915. We could walk in what’s left of the trenches on both sides and peer into wire-meshed tunnels. Murat, a fit 30-something, told us the best he’d done backpacking from Anzac Cove to the highest point the Aussies and Kiwis reached on 25 April 1915 was three hours. On 25 April, the first Anzacs were up there in one-and-a-half hours, lugging 303 rifles, all their provisions and digging tools before they were pushed back. It’s an astonishing place to visit. One that, when seen, will never be forgotten.