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February 2006



Friends of BRIAN AND NAMMIE WHITE are holding a benefit for the family in Toowoomba three weeks from now. Graham Deck, of the organising committee, says: “Brian is a wonderful person and the small amount we are putting in to assist him and his family is nothing compared to what he has put into our community and Holy Name school in particular.”

I’d encourage those of our readers able to afford a donation to the White Family benefit to send it through the post to Cecily Fitzpatrick, Mater Dei Catholic Primary School, 53 Curzon Street, Toowoomba Qld 4350 or to make an internet transfer as follows:


Bank - Heritage Building Society
BSB - 638 060
Account No - 010 244 204
Account Name - White Family Benefit Association

BRISBANE IS THE HOME of many ex ASOPA people and the last month or so has witnessed a ferment of activity to identify where personnel from various CEO courses between 1957 and 1962 have ended up. A number of volunteer coordinators have raised their hands and are beginning to locate their erstwhile student colleagues.

THE OLD ASOPA SITE, which over recent years ahs fallen into a decrepit state, is on the verge of having some real money spent on it as the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust begins a two-year program of bringing it back to an habitable state. The big remaining question, though, is how the site will be used once brought back to health.

GIANPAOLO (GP) PERTOSI, a former ABC television producer and advise to the Trust, is keen to see the old ASOPA gain a new life as the Centre for Community Engagement, a training facility for community developers. This certainly seems a worthy and appropriate function for this venerable institution and, on behalf of those of us who spent a scintillating part of our lives there, I’m assisting GP and Ric Flowers, a senior lecturer in education at University of Technology Sydney, in their efforts to identify a suitable institution to sponsor such a project.

GP tells me that he sees ASOPA in its 21st century format as “a learning gateway for community developers, facilitators, mobilisers, coordinators, change agents, igniters, motivators, animators and volunteer community workers located at the historic site of one of Australia’s most important training institutions”. Quite a goal. But one well worth pursuing to keep the traditions and history of the School alive.



ASOPA 1962/63: BRISBANE, 12-14 OCTOBER 2007

HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] - On Sunday 12 February, Diane and Bill Bohlen hosted the second meeting of the Queensland Chapter to advance plans for Event No 3. Quite a lot of correspondence had been flying around with suggestions and preferences. This, along with anymore that comes in, will be considered in arriving at the final timetable and range of events.

For those who might have liked to consider the Gold Coast – stiff! The Queensland Chapter gave it a unanimous thumbs down, so we are looking at metropolitan Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast. Metropolitan Brisbane is ahead by a nose at the moment but Diane has a star who designs and plans events for groups such as ours and, when she returns from overseas, her recommendations will form the basis of discussions for meeting No 3 (2 pm Sunday 23 April in leafy Fig Tree Pocket). The agent will be asked to come up with Southbank and Sunshine Coast resort packages.

Justine Finter sent in a standard proposal from Rydges Oasis Resort in Caloundra to give us some idea of things that have to be considered if we site the event at a resort. Obviously there would need to be a lot of negotiation to come up with the package but room fees and charges virtually for scratching oneself mean a lot of work for someone (Diane’s friend, probably).

What we achieved at the meeting was the establishment of firm dates - 12, 13 and 14 October 2007. This is in the middle of the suggestions (August to November), is not high season and should be the first or second week of NSW school holidays, which will suit Rod Hard’s ankle biters (and any grandchildren who might make it).

While no firm decision has been made, the focus for programmed and ancillary events was on Southbank. This can and will be changed if a majority decides to go somewhere else. In arriving at the following tentative program, limited mobility and finite finances were kept in mind.

FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER. Revellers arrive (maybe by airport rail to nearby Roma Street) and settle into digs, take in the Southbank vista, river and city skyline (half a kilometre away). Early arrivals can walk to the City Mall and note how Brisvegas has developed into the most liveable city in Oz over the past decade.

6 pm - Meet and greet at a Mecca close to digs. Reserved area, cash bar and evening meal. (There will be guardrails around the band). Dress: Queensland formal – jock strap and thongs.

SATURDAY 13 OCTOBER. Morning free for golfing Asopians bused to Indooroopilly course. Open to Asopians of all years. Coordinator: Les Lyons. Others can walk to the city, museum, entertainment centre, take a Rivercat ride to the University and down to Hamilton and back to digs. Walk the bridge (mini version of the Harbour Bridge walk): Diane Bohlen to coordinate. Abseiling at Kangaroo Point can be organised for the adventurous: Bill Welbourne to organise.

12.30 pm - Brisbane version of Sydney’s The Oaks counter lunch. Other ASOPA years in town invited to share this one. This will be a first class meal at one of the following: The famous Regatta Hotel where Sigrid Thornton’s mother chained herself to the bar rail and demanded drinks in the bar with the fellers. The equally famous Brekky Creek Hotel (the last place in town which still serves beer off the wood…enormous, tasty steaks). The Norman Hotel which has steaks to compare with the Brekky Creek. Sirromet Winery, an upstart new kid on the block. Gourmet meal and maybe a bit much to really enjoy the evening meal.

7.00pm - Evening meal and formalities following cocktails. We hope that this will be in a dedicated room situated at our digs so all we have to do is tumble downstairs. Dress will be ultra Brissy formal – long socks and stubbies. Also looking at a river cruise if we can’t get the facility we want at our digs.

SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER. Early birds get an opportunity to view Brisbane from hot air balloon. Not so early birds take Rivercat to Riverside Markets – a must do for shopaholics. Culture vultures to the museum, a five-minute walk. (This could be golf morning too if Les reckons Sunday is better than Saturday.) Discussion group meets: Rodger Philpott and David Westover to coordinate.

12.30 pm - Gambaro’s seafood. ‘Nuff said. Farewell to early leavers.

7 pm - The Vietnamese Restaurant, Fortitude Valley. Traditional delicious oriental meal for final reminiscences, cry into beer and wonder who is going to set up Event No 4 and where.

So that you know who is responsible for this early step toward another great weekend, the following were present: Diane and Bill Bohlen, Joe Crainean and luvly Kathryn, Barry Field, Bill Welbourne, Col Huggins, Dennis and Ros Burrell and Henry MacD Bodman.

Mary(Justine) Finter with a birthday for her grandson to cater for, Therese (Margaret McKenna’s beautiful sister), Barry Flannery, and B.P. White missed Dennis Burrell’s exquisite gourmet nibbles and Diane’s fruit tray and ‘sinker’.


DAVID KEATING [New Farm QLD] - Our plans for a first reunion of our group are coming together well. I am being ably assisted by Ron Antoine, Bob Schultz and Di Harwood (nee Withers) here in Brisbane. Have also had great support from Gaye Speldewinde (nee Zimitat) in Canberra, Liz Gregory (nee Keegan) in Melbourne, Bob Jenkins in Bunbury and John Maksimas in Gympie.

We now have contact details for 32 of the 52 CEO’s who graduated in 1962. We also have contact details for three of our lecturers. We will be going alone with our reunion and the likely time for our gathering will be late August 2007. The search is on for Rod Andrews, Allan West, Keith Berry, Erica Ardill and Lyn Wilton.

You can contact David at P.O. Box 73, New Farm, Queensland 4005 or by email at [email protected].

HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] - Dave Keating and Ron Antoine are still looking for the following members of the Class of 61/62. Information of any kind will be appreciated, no matter how old it might be.

John Hey, Sydney
Rod Andrews
Merv Duncan
Dick Robinson, Perth (one for Val Murphy)
Keith Berry
Sean D'Arcy (NT cadet)
Terry Hewitt, Fiji
Erica Ardill
Roslyn Smart
Margaret Upton
Shirley Sibbritt
Lyn Wilton
Coralie Joyce
Leslie Percival

RICHARD JONES [Bendigo VIC] – I see that Dave Keating hopes to get the 1961/62 group together in 2007, some 45 years after they lobbed in PNG after completing the ASOPA course. I have suggested to Henry Bodman that some of the E coursers who are Brisbane-based (and nearby in Australia's Deep North) might consider coming along to the 2007 reunion functions for the 1962/63 group.

MARGARET WILLINGTON - I would like very much to go on your mailing list of ex-Asopians. For many years, in my idle moments, I would wonder what had happened to the mob of 1961/62. I am still feeling stunned after Gaye Speldewinde contacted me on Saturday last. Can't believe this reuniting has happened. Wonderful!

Margaret can be contacted at [email protected]




NAMMIE WHITE [Meringandan QLD] - We would like to thank you for your support and your emails regarding our situation. We have received many emails but Brian has been unwell and has not been able to reply. We have run into a hiccup with the return of Tas from the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby they seem less than willing to forward the forms for her medical examination. I hope to fly to PNG as soon as possible to bring her back but that is the hold up at the present time,

CECILY FITZPATRICK & OTHERS [Toowoomba QLD] - Our dear friend and colleague Brian White and his family have been facing an enormous battle for many months. Brian’s cancer has continued to plague him, while he and his wife Nammie have tirelessly fought two governments to secure the “just & safe” return of their niece Tasminnie from PNG. Thankfully, Tas’ return to Australia is imminent, but both of these challenges have understandably taken their toll on Brian and his family, both financially and emotionally.

Brian’s contribution to Catholic Education and especially to the Holy Name community for more than 23 years has been one of dedicated commitment to all the children in his care and to his colleagues. Such loyal commitment shown to us by Brian for so many years urges us now to offer our support to him and his family.

A benefit dinner for Brian’s family, as well as a welcome home for Tasminnie will be held at St Saviour’s Callaghan Centre on Saturday, March 18th at 6pm. All funds raised from this combined dinner dance and auction will be placed into a fund for the White family.

  • We realise that you may generously wish to support Brian’s family and this can be achieved by:
    attendance at the benefit dinner by former colleagues and friends of Brian & his family
  • Making a donation directly to the “White Family Benefit Association” Fund
  • Donating items suitable to be auctioned during the dinner

Time is of the essence, therefore, if you and your family could urgently discuss if it is able to support us in our endeavor to support Brian it would be greatly appreciated.

Brian unselfishly gave of himself to help others for so many years, and we as friends of Brian, wish to follow his lead and repay an enormous debt. In anticipation of your generous support and prayers, we thank you.

You can email the White Family Benefit at [email protected]

BRIAN WHITE [Meringandan QLD] - Through the kindness and support of people in our community, Tasminnie is finally being welcomed back to Australia. Details on her return have yet to be finalised. Plans are in the works for a welcome back celebration. Please share the good news. Many thanks to everyone who joined our petitions, attended the rally and provided the support that has resulted in Tasminnie's return.

It is so very encouraging to us to realise that there are so many people who care about our situation and are ready to raise their voices when an injustice is being done. Every day that passes is another day of worry and uncertainty about the outcome. We look on Tas as our daughter, and have now been nearly nine months without her in our home. Can you imagine the stress this causes our family members each day?

HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] - You've created a monster here and I wonder if you anticipated the interest The Mail would stir up. That it is being enjoyed is very obvious and I know that that will add to your enjoyment of organising and managing this intriguing monthly production.

For the next issue could you slot in a mention of Gail Burke's book on PNG teachers, Meeting the Challenge. The response so far has been enormous and Gail reports being down to the last 100 copies - either collector's items or a reprint needed. Those who would like to get one of the last 100 should contact Gail and Clarrie Burke at [email protected] or at 24 Cromwell Close, Brookfield, Queensland 4069.

Chalkies will recognise the names of most of the contributors - a number of whom are regular correspondents in The Mail. Try these for starters: Nick Bricknell, Bob Clark, Noel Henderson, Keith Jackson, Pam Quartermaine, Bill Welbourne, Mal Miller and Diane Withers. There are 28 contributors in all and the experiences recorded ware not unique to the writers...many teachers will remember and enjoy these typical PNG experiences which range through the snakes, ghosts, sicknesses and near death experiences which could only happen in PNG.

Congratulations again on a stimulating read every four or five weeks. We both know there is enough material still to come to see us all out. Great to see the researchers making contact and no doubt many will get invaluable leads from your readers.

LES PETERKIN [Tweed Heads NSW] - I met up with Leyland Minter today -haven't seen him for quite a while. We chatted about ASOPA for quite a while. Leyland was not aware of The Mail so I offered to give you his email as he would like to receive it. It is [email protected]. Leyland lives in Byron Bay (Ewingsdale to be precise) and is a successful coffee producer as well as he has several other irons in the fire. He said to mention that if any former Asopians are travelling through Byron to be in touch and they will receive a free sample of his very excellent coffee, which I happily sampled today.

I loaned my video of my Papua New Guinea 8mm films to someone in the group and can't remember who has it - so would you please mention it in The Mail as it might prompt someone's memory to please return it to me.

I met up with Dave Keating and Ron Antoine last weekend in Brisbane. We had a good long chat and reminisce. Dave is doing very well in rounding up the 61/62 folks for their reunion next year.

Leyland has been added to our mailing list. And remember to get that PNG video back to Les.

ROSALIE DEVERELL [Albany WA] - Just discovered the ASOPA website. I taught in PNG in various places from 1969 to 1976. With government schools in Wabag and a short while in Port Moresby. I didn’t attend ASOPA but my husband Bob did in 1960 or thereabouts. Had great times with Terry and Mary Giles on Bougainville. Last knew about them in Brisbane. I' m sorry to say I lost Bob on the 14 July 2005. Just beginning to decide I must travel on without him. Recently I have been looking some of our PNG gear and really enjoying living some memories with sadness and pleasure. Bob really would be enjoying photos and comments. We had plans to return to PNG this year. The site at moment is bringing fond memories.

MICK WILSON [Eltham VIC] - Always enjoy getting The Mail and always feel somewhat guilty for not participating. The reunion, by all accounts that I have read, was again a great success. Ian and Belinda McLean are coming in from Okinawa in the next month and we will meet for a meal. I intend to invite Dick and Judyth Jones down from Bendigo to join us.

SAN LAUW [Sydney NSW] - I stumbled upon your site looking for information on Igam Barracks - I attended school their when my father was posted to Lae from 1968-1972. I also noticed that a Mr Bob Davis was one of your members - and wondered whether he was the principal of Igam Barracks Primary around that time.

If he was he may vaguely remember my brothers and me - San Lauw, Liong Lauw and the infamous Giok Lauw (the cane was a daily ritual for him). If it was the same Mr Davis, would you pass on my regards to him as I still recall (with some humour and I must say fondness of the times) our time under him.

BOB DAVIS [Canberra ACT] - Yes I was head at Igam in 1969/70 and I do often recall my days there with some mixed feelings. I do recall the Lauw brothers, though I did not think that I used the cane with the gay abandon mentioned.

The mixed feeling arose because not only was I expected to teach a composite class of years 4, 5 and 6 in the 'A' stream of a dual stream school but I was responsible for running the 'T' stream as well. In addition I was the rugby and cricket coach and looked after the athletics teams and the girl's softball etc. I was the only male in the 'A' stream.

Nevertheless the students in my class were a very bright bunch and it was at this school that I discovered that education needed to be based on outcomes. It was my first 'A' school and I was not accustomed to answering to parents or P&C bodies. I learned a great deal (and needed to) at Igam. Fortunately or otherwise I had to learn it all for myself, for there was no-one (as I recall) to guide me or mentor me. The army was very good and helped when and where it could and the facilities were the best I ever experienced in PNG.

I replied appropriately to San Lauw - though I must confess I was disappointed to note a spelling mistake in his email.

All good chalkies, as did Bob, will pick up that spelling mistake with alacrity.

JILL ROY - You must have been at ASOPA when I was at Balmain TC (1963/64). You might remember Ray Wines, a friend of my cousin’s. I think he was there in 1963. I worked at Bovo School on Bougainville 1981/86 and had a great time. This has nothing to do with my question about Rabaul.

I am doing some research for a client on a teacher named Charles Herne. We know he was in Rabaul at Malaguna School in 1927. Can you tell me where any records of his service might be held. I know that most records from Rabaul were destroyed in WW2. Who supplied the teachers during that time? Herne was NSW trained and worked in various small schools until he enlisted in 1916, then went back to teaching in 1919. I know about much of his career - but need a bit on the Rabaul time. I am pretty sure he was not a missionary.

If anyone can help Jill with this request, she can be contacted at [email protected]

MARG & PETER LEWIS [Windella Downs NSW] - In late January we had an excellent trip to and from Perth on the Indian Pacific. Rodger Philpott and Sue looked after us admirably in Fremantle for a few days; showing us the many sites both in and around both cities. They are in the midst of an extremely interesting and challenging renovation of a very early building near the Fremantle foreshore.

We found the restaurants were interesting and plentiful as their home is near many of the buildings that have been purchased by Notre Dame University for use as lecture theatres, hence numerous students are wandering around. On our return we caught up with David and Lorraine Westover in Adelaide and had a coffee overlooking the bay on the west coast. They are both well and looking forward to 2007.Thankyou for the updates and we look forward to the next newsletter.

DAVE KESBY [Berowra Heights NSW] - We have been really busy - welcoming a new grandson, having our son home from Dubai for a while and still trying to make a dollar in the cab. I enjoyed the last Mail and I got excited about the efforts by the northern division to put on a better reunion than the Jackson, Hard, Kesby combination.

HENRY BODMAN [Fig Tree Pocket QLD] - Had a most enjoyable lunch (12.30 to 4.45) with Dave Keating, Ron Antoine and Paul Brigg on Friday. It was great going through again the stage we went through in establishing the full details of 1962/63. Dave and Ron have 38 of the 55 of their year pinned down already and they are on the same exciting course which Col and Wendy went through in collecting all of our members. Predictably, the response has been very enthusiastic and it looks good for 1961/62. The stories are reminiscent of our own search.

Both Dave and Ron look in great shape though today's lunch must have played havoc with their normal regimen. The great thing is that they can do the fitness things but remain human (continue to enjoy life to the full).

Because Dave will be in Europe when our November 2007 event occurs, the 61/62 reunion will have a Brisbane event of its own in August 2007. The Brisbane Chapter of 1962/63 will be able to meet again with the year that went before. Dave and Ron are at the testing stage of finding the last 10-20.This will be the revealing stage - at the moment only one of that year is deceased compared with our four.

Paul Brigg has made a start on his year 1960/61 but is still establishing the list. I expect that year might be in Brisbane in November 2007.

Both groups will use The Mail to advertise for those still lost in the quarries and I am confident that those looking at it regularly are going to come up with the leads they need to reduce the number for whom they are searching.

If we involve all CEO ASOPA years (1957-72) we will have an enormous network that should be a major plank in those years tracing their members - particularly the ladies who changed their surnames.

I will list the coordinators of each year (which have been established to date) for The Mail and see what we can do about finding coordinators of those years yet to hear about the opportunity.

1957 - Frank Hiob
1958 - Ian Robertson
1959 - Looking for a coordinator
1960 - Paul Brigg/Terry Chapman
1961 - Dave Keating/Ron Antoine
1962 - Job complete
1963 - Don Williams/Peter Plummer
1964 - 1972 - Not yet established, but we're working on it

Les and Margie Lyons in Brisvegas this week with ankle biters all over the place - family get-together on the Sunshine Coast. Les keen to push the 9 holes of golf during Event No 3 and enthusiastic about broadening the base with other ASOPA years.



PAM KRUGER [Ulstrup Denmark] - Warm greetings to everyone. It was such a wonderful and positive experience being together with so many of you in Sydney. Both Palle and I enjoyed it very much. Quite incredible how many faces one could recall after so many years and how many old memories surfaced again. Our thanks to the organising committee for a job well done. Hope we can join you all again for the next reunion in Brisbane. Our financial situation at that time will determine whether that is possible.

We had an absolutely wonderful holiday in Australia. After leaving Sydney we travelled north by train to Brisbane to stay with my sisters. While there, we managed to visit Diane and Bill Bohlen, who took us for an afternoon trip to Surfers Paradise where Diane and I relived our holiday spent at the Beachcomber (no longer existent) and remembered the good times shared with Helene East.

Our trip took us further north and we flew to Rockhampton, where I have a niece teaching at a Catholic school. Managed to spend a day at school informing the kids about life in Denmark and telling them about the Vikings. I really enjoyed it but am still pleased to be retired. From Rockhampton we went to Airlie Beach by bus, where we met up with Dave Westover. And, yes, we went sailing together for two days. A most memorable experience.

We have invited Dave to sail with us in Denmark. Hope he and Lorraine will consider it. The invitation is also open to anyone else who might be travelling this way. North again by bus to Cairns, where Palle saw tropical rain forests for the first time and we visited a crocodile farm. Pleased we haven’t got any crocs here. The pupils in Rockhampton were not very impressed with the fact that the most dangerous animal in Denmark is a small tick – that is, of course, ruling out Greenland and polar bears!

We returned to Brisbane by plane and then took a trip together with one of my sisters and her husband to Carnarvon Gorge near Roma, where we walked for three days. Most impressive country and we saw it while it was still green. Another two days back in Brisbane and then a long and tedious return flight to Copenhagen, followed by a four hour train journey – all in all 41 hours.

It is Winter here – the coldest January for ten years. Temperatures have been down to minus 12 degrees and we have had snow cover since the end of December aggravated by black ice which has put a hard thick layer on top of the snow. This means that wild animals – birds, deer, fox, owls - cannot scrape down to find food. So it is hard times for them. We have a thaw at the moment but temperatures are expected to drop again tomorrow, so the ice and snow won’t have time to melt. At least we aren’t as badly off as Poland and Russia.

We are busy at the moment preparing for renovations and extensions to the house. We have reached the age where it is necessary to have a bathroom upstairs. We expected to start today, but the builder is coming in four days time. The whole thing will take a couple of months, so it is going to be chaos. We hope to be able to work as builder’s labourers and cut the time and the cost a bit that way.

We must be finished by the beginning of April, because that is when we have to start on the boat to have it ready for the sailing season. Oh what a life! In between I am trying to get to know my new Icelandic horse (which by the way refuses to be caught!) – never a dull moment. Plus we have a sheep with three lambs we are hoping will be able to keep up the milk supply and the patience to keep them all alive. They have made it through the first five days.]

It was great to read that Bob Davis is on the mend and best wishes to Brian White. Very interesting to read Bill Welbourne’s account of his travels to Antarctica and South America. My sister-in-law has been to Tierra del Fuego and was really impressed.

You can contact Pam and Palle at [email protected].

JANINE PATERSON [Cairns QLD] - Thank you Bob Jenkins for your comments on your return to PNG. Barry and I knew you in Popondetta and in fact you took the photos at our wedding there in December 1965. Like you, we found, during our stopover the people of PNG were delightful. They remain appreciative of the years of hard work we gave and are happy to recall with us past places and events.

As Barry wrote in the last newsletter, we had an unexpected stopover in Port Moresby en route to Malaysia. During our stay, we were confined to heavily guarded hotels, experienced power surges, cuts and blackouts, Air Niugini computers crashing, losing data, printers not printing, long endless queues and very anxious passengers. Things do fall apart.

Although there appears to be money for new buildings and freeways, there seems to be little money for maintenance - hence the problem of the breakdown of the plane, power, computers etc. However, on the positive side, I was proud of the way the people, our old students, handled these crises in English. (Well done teachers!) They remained fluent, calm, pleasant and unflustered while everything was crashing down about them. Everywhere the staff was friendly and courteous.

Despite the deterioration of the Gateway Hotel, the Crowne Plaza remains at least a four star hotel and is a credit to any country. They say it is the best hotel in the Pacific. It is a showpiece for international guests and functions smoothly with modern technology.

At the Gateway tour office, I was amazed that the Papuan girl behind the desk spoke fluent Japanese. She had been trained in Japan and lived there for five years before returning to PNG. This tour company is a PNG/Japan group that obviously is not limited to English only tours. Since PNG remains a small country, you always meet someone who knows someone you know. In this case it was our driver. He took over from the guide at one stage to enthusiastically recall the locations of old buildings and features like the top and bottom pubs, the policeman under the clock and so on.

Gordon High School was well worth the visit. The 40-year old buildings, still in use, were brightly painted in the school colours. It is now a Senior High School, because of its good reputation, and goes from Year 7-12. It has new buildings, including a computer room, the staff room has been upgraded and the grounds are now well established with rock walls around the hedged gardens. It has cement paths, seats under trees less grass to be cut and a big undercover area. Jon Hughes' dream of a science pond in a garden as a feature at the entrance of the school has been fulfilled and it is maintained.

We both had never seen so many gardens in PM. As we flew over, we saw gardens on hills and flat plains. During our tour we saw them on the slopes like you see in the Highlands and even on the roadside especially near waterways. It seems that PM is really making an effort to become self-supporting in fruit and vegetables. There were more market places too for selling and buying.

We were very pleased to leave PM. We went to the airport and lined up for a plane on Wednesday morning. We didn't make it. We had to change to another line and go to the end of the queue. There was a second plane. A ticketing problem cropped up. We split up so that I could sort it out and Barry could stay in the queue. The power surged. The computers failed. The computer was changed. The power returned. The computer booted. The ticket was printed.

Now it was back to Barry in his line for the boarding pass. Barry was processed. The power surged. The computers began to fail. My pass was in process. The computer stopped. Arnold (our friendly Air Niugini man) changed computers. My pass would not process as it was half done. The power went off. The announcer told us to board the plane. Barry went through. There were some people who would have to stay another night. Would I make it? Another boarding call. The computers had died. Arnold to the rescue. A handwritten boarding pass and luggage to Cairns only. I was last person on board the Dash 8.

SEAN O’CONNOR [United Kingdom] - I enjoyed going over the ASOPA website and reading some of the stories. I was in western PNG in 1987 while working on Thursday Island at the Torres Hotel. The captain and engineer of the Kulasi, a marine research vessel, were in the bar one day. I begged a lift to Daru with them a few weeks later and met a very large character named Dick Randolph. The engineer of the Kulasi had got the idea (not from me) that I was chef at the Torres (in fact I was a kitchen hand) and I went along with this to help my chances of a lift. So I was introduced to Dick as the chef. He was very exited about this and invited me to sail on his boat, the Tomu, and stay at Sturt Island on the Fly River.

The next couple of months provided an adventure that I am honoured to have experienced but, sadly, ended sourly. We left Daru to Sturt via Bramble Cay and the bulk carrier Banta. Dick wanted to talk about cooking which I knew nothing about and I still couldn’t confess the truth. We were guests of the Banta captain before sailing up the Fly to Sturt. Dick waited for me to produce a fabulous dish in the Tomu galley. For the next three weeks he waited and waited. We ate cassowary curry and drank the local beer.

Dick would talk at length about his time as a kiap and some nights put on a video for the village children. He led an odd life. His wife had fled to Daru with the kids and he was trying to create a world of commerce with the Ok Tedi mine as the patron. He was a source of timber and at one point began a grand hydroponics scheme that failed due to his partner going troppo. (I can well believe it.) I did not have a great deal to offer Dick in return for his hospitality and hitched up to Kiunga on one of the ore boats to see Ok Tedi.

I heard later that Dick was going to TI with the intention of Australian schooling for the kids in Cairns. So I came back down river to go with him and we had a incredible adventure down the Fly and across the Torres Straits. He took with him his kids, an old chap called John and a village boy. On the way back it dawned on me that I would be undone as the real chef at the Torres, a Filipino from Cairns and a great friend, was well known. I still couldn’t come clean. By this stage I had gone a bit troppo myself.

We arrived in TI and Dick was welcomed as a god by locals and old friends alike. I tried to forget the chef controversy and drank too much and tried to sort out the Papuan lads’ lack of a visa with the immigration lady, who was having none of it. I was also hurt in a brawl at the Torres and laid up on the Tomu for a few days. Dick was getting irritated at this stage: no culinary skills, drank all my beer, brawling, no visas etc. We both had a few too many one night and fell out over whether the barmaids at the hotels were slag’s or not and that was it.

I flew back to Cairns and eventually came home to the UK where I began a career in mental health nursing. I am thinking about going back to Cairns to work and last I heard Dick had settled in Cooktown. The question – does anyone know him and did he attend ASOPA?

You can contact Sean at [email protected].


Narelle Astill, Clarrie Burke, Brisbane, Bob Cochrane, Cococabana, Harry Coehn, Darwin, Jean Edgar, Graham Fenton, John Groenewegen, Sydney, Eric Johns, Canberra, Bruce King, David Lewis, Tewantin, Alan Muscio, Sydney, Roslyn McCarthy, Jacki O’Callaghan, Frits Prass, Brisbane, Sue Riley, Flaxton, Ian Robertson, Brisbane, Moniba Star, Nauru, John Steel, Gold Coast, Raymond Tang, Wally Trueman, Toowoomba, Jan Todd.