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October 2006


A few words from the editor

The Mail is early this month as I get organised for a return to Papua New Guinea after a 30-year absence. In a few days Ingrid (who has spent time in the Solomon Islands but has never visited PNG) and I will depart Cairns aboard the motor yacht MY Orion. The 100-passenger vessel is equipped for expedition cruising with Zodiac embarkation platforms for wet landings and a tight manoeuvring capability, which allows her to get close inshore.

Orion cruises Milne Bay (Alotau, D’Entrecasteux, Trobriands), the Solomons, Rabaul, the Sepik, Madang returning via Tufi and Samarai. In Rabaul we’ll catch up with my old PNG Broadcasting Commission mate, Sam Piniau (he was chairman when I was cutting my teeth as a broadcasting exec), and visit the post-eruption studios of Radio East New Britain, now based at Kokopo.

Here I’ll present manager Terry Lombut and his staff with a rare original program guide for the former Radio Rabaul, which commenced broadcasting in 1961.

Satellite communications permitting, I’ll be diarising the voyage on the Internet through regular posts to ASOPA PEOPLE at


The isles are alive with the sound of music
By Ingrid Jackson and Noel Ryan

The question has been asked: Was a member of the famous von Trapp Sound of Music family on the E-Course teacher training program in Rabaul, New Guinea. The answer is ‘yes’ and here’s the story.

Ingrid Jackson: Maria von Trapp, who completed the fourth E-Course, was the stepdaughter of the Maria of Sound of Music fame. Her autobiography ‘Maria’, which I bought in 1973 and still possess, includes two Papua New Guinea chapters - ‘A New Mission’ and ‘The Native Chant’.

In 1956 the Trapp Family Singers had toured Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. Their Sydney host was Archbishop Carboni, the Vatican’s representative in this part of the world. The archbishop was reportedly “very much concerned about the great success Communist agents were having all over that vast territory” and the von Trapps promised him they would go to the islands and start lay missionary work.

In 1957 Maria von Trapp (the one depicted by Julie Andrews) toured PNG with her friend, Franz Wasner, to scope the project. Father Wasner and Maria had jointly started the Trapp Family Singers in 1936. Maria visited Budoya, or Bwaioia, on Fergusson Island, Rabaul, Wewak, the Sepik and the Highlands.

Stepdaughter Maria (b 1914) and children Rosmarie (b 1929) and Johannes (b 1939) had just arrived in PNG. Maria and Rosmarie taught "the little ones" and tended the sick in villages while, among other chores, Johannes built a church and two schoolhouses. He remained in PNG for four years, Rosmarie for five and Maria for a dedicated 30.

Maria now lives in Stowe, Vermont, in the USA. Rosmarie continues to travel extensively as a missionary. And Johannes runs the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe.

Noel Ryan: Maria, a Catholic missionary, was on our 4th E-Course. A book, ‘The Trapp Family on Wheels’, tells briefly of Maria, Rosmarie and Johannes joining the mission at Budoya (Bwaioia) on Fergusson Island.

Maria is now 92 and living at the Trapp family lodge in Vermont. I didn't know her background when I was on the E-Course, where she was a nice unassuming lady of 47. She kept mainly with the older folk; our interest was in getting down to the Cosmo and the Xavier dances. It wasn't until about 1966 when I saw The Sound of Music that I realised who she was.

I wrote to Maria a few months ago and she replied saying she was thrilled to receive the first letter she'd ever got from a fellow E-Courser.


Dubai Dave does a turn with turtles
Dave Kesby reports from Dubai: Elissa and I have just got back from a trip to Oman and arrived at our son's place in Dubai. It was great to see The Mail on the computer when we arrived. We had a great time in Oman seeing turtles being born at Turtle Beach. We had to have our coffee in the middle of the day in a darkened room as it is Ramadan and beers are in short supply. But we are having a great time. Istanbul next.



1962-63 reunion news

Brisbane, 12-14 October 2007
Colin Huggins writes from Albion in Queensland: A reunion update after a meeting at the Sofitel. Both Novotel and Sofitel will supply me on request (weekly or fortnightly) with a list of bookings which I will pass on to Bill to add to the Brisbane reunion website at People already booked have no worries as we know who they are. But future bookings may have an additional code so as we can work out from which year they come from.

Bookings at Tuesday 3 October:

NOVOTEL: Barry and Janine Paterson, Peter and Margaret Lewis, Dave and Elissa Kesby, Howard and Glenda Ralph, Richard and Judyth Jones.

SOFITEL: Colin Huggins, Bill Welbourne, Val Rivers, Sonia Grainger, Bob Davis, Rod Hard, Keith and Ingrid Jackson, Colin and Wendy Booth, Henry and Janelle Bodman, Bill and Diane Bohlen, Les and Margaret Lyons, Roger Philpott, Paul and Margaret Brigg (1960-61).

OTHER: Jeff and Robyn Chapman.

For people arranging alternative accommodation, as in the case of Jeff and Robyn who I believe are making an extended campervan holiday, it would be useful to advise us of where they’ll be so we can recommend the easiest way to get to and from the Sofitel. It would be best for Jeff to book into a park near the CBD and in close proximity to a railway station.

A letter of agreement will be signed with the Sofitel on 22 November covering our booking for the official reunion dinner. Included in the room set up will be registration desk, stage, polished parquetry dance floor and lectern and microphone. The tables will be adorned with white linen, a silver candlestick and white candle and personalised menus.

The meet and greet function on Friday 12 October will kick off at 6 pm and continue till you drop. The Class of 1962-63 will gather at the Sofitel’s Chez Bar. People will be responsible for their own food and drink.

The cost of the official dinner on Saturday 13 October will be $95 a person made up of a three course set menu ($54.50), a deluxe beverage package ($33.50) and a cash bar service for flash drinks ($7). Procedures for the collection of this money will be advised at a later date.

The grand finale function on Sunday 14 October will start at 6 pm at the Bow Thai Restaurant. This is a banquet style function with the menu will be decided by Joe Crainean and Dennis Burrell. Probable cost is $35-$40 per person with an open bar for personal purchases.

I realise that this plea is becoming somewhat repetitive, but please make your intentions clear with accommodation bookings ASAP. The highly discounted room rate will not last for long and the ‘rack rate’ is presently $585 per night!

Henry Bodman has a few other ASOPA groups ready to organise a table. We are giving our groups preferential treatment so again please get in quickly.

SOFITEL HOTEL [booking code ASO1007]. Room rates from $195 - $270 per night for single, double or twin. Accommodation at the higher rate includes free breakfast in the Sofitel Club and afternoon canapes and cocktails. Bookings: Jade Thompson at email [email protected] or phone on 07 3835 3535 or 07 3835 4959. Quote the booking code.

NOVOTEL HOTEL [booking code ASOPA 2007]. The room rate is $150 per night for single, double or twin. Bookings: Laura Ousby at email [email protected] or phone on 07 3309 3309. Quote the booking code.

Ian McLean writes from Okinawa in Japan: I just sent off an email to Howie Ralph saying I would definitely be pulling out the stops to make it to La Grande Affaire Troisieme (third times a charm). I figured if I miss 2007, the next time our bunch gets together the attrition rate will have climbed exponentially. Belinda has something on in Singapore with her family, so she won't be accompanying me to the reunion, so I'll be stag. I guess I'll have to bunk with Bob ‘Moose’ Davis. Does Brissie have an equivalent to the Big Bear hamburger joint in case he gets an attack of the munchies around midnight?

I contacted Bob to see if he wanted a roomie at the Sofitel. He responded that he and Rod Hard had already decided to share, but Sofitel had offered to put a third bed in the room if I didn't mind ‘bunkhouse’ conditions. I replied I was happy to accept the offer of a bed with the guys, despite disturbing thoughts of ‘Brokeback Mountain’. From the busy schedule the guys on the organising committee have devised, I figure we probably won't spend too much time in the room anyway.


1961-62 reunion news

Cedar Lake Country Club, 24-26 August 2007
The organising committee has negotiated excellent accommodation at very favourable rates at Cedar Lake Country Club, Advancetown via Nerang. Accommodation for two nights in a two-bedroom apartment costs from $70 share to $280 one person exclusive. Other costs include $130 for 2 days catering, $70 participation services (room provisions, transport etc) and $40 for an ASOPA gift pack [gift satchel, reunion polo shirt etc).

1961-62 Asopians need to make a deposit of $100 per person when confirming attendance and advising preferred accommodation. If you have arranged share accommodation this should also be advised when you forward your deposit. Cheques payable to 61/62 ASOPA REUNION and sent to 61/62 ASOPA REUNION, PO Box 73, New Farm, QLD 4005.


1960-61 reunion news

Brisbane, 12-14 October 2007
The 1960-61 group will hold their first Friday night get together independently at the Novotel but will share the Saturday night official dinner with the Class of 62-63. Further details will be available later.


Kiaps to eat with greyhounds
Peter Salmon writes from Springwood in Queensland: This year’s ‘Ex-Kiap Bung’ (southern chapter) in Melbourne will be held at the Sandown Greyhounds Tabaret on Sunday 5 November from 12 noon to 4.30 pm. Between 80 and 100 ex-kiaps from Victoria, NSW, ACT, SA and Tasmania and former PNG government officers and private sector employees are expected. The Tabaret will provide a four course meal for $28. There is plentiful and affordable accommodation available in the Sandown-Dandenong area including Formule 1 Dandenong. Intending participants should email Peter Salmon at [email protected] or Paul Maroney at [email protected].


Chalkies gather again in Brisbane
Murray Bladwell writes from Chelmer in Queensland: Nearly 60 people have registered for the annual Papua New Guinea education lunch in Brisbane later this month. The event is scheduled for 12 noon on Saturday 14 October in the private dining room of the Jindalee Hotel in Brisbane. The cost is $32 and a cash bar will be operating. If you wish to attend you should urgently contact Murray Bladwell on 07 3379 3771.