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February 2007



Bob Davis and Dave Kesby

An email arrives from Bob ‘Moose’ Davis: “I have just started to read the supposedly controversial biography ‘Jonestown’ by Chris Masters. It purports to reveal all about Alan Jones, once Wallabies coach, now powerful radio personality. You probably already know what I am about to mention,” continues Bob, “but just on the slight off chance you do not, I shall continue. The early chapters recount some of Alan Jones' time at boarding school including his trials and successes. There are anecdotes from Jones' contemporaries at Toowoomba Grammar School, in particular one BP White. Brian is mentioned a few times and always most favourably. Indeed it seems that he was something of a rival of Jones in a variety fields. In many ways the mentions may be another deserved accolade for one BP.”

I happened to be reading ‘Jonestown’ a few chapters ahead of Bob, and not only didn’t I know that our late friend BP White had been an old boy of Toowoomba Grammar, I also hadn’t known that Brian’s father, Edgar ‘Bluey’ White, “a Shakespeare and Milton scholar and a New Guinea veteran”, Masters writes, was deputy principal at the school in Jones’ and White’s time. In the biographical handbook we produced for the first 1962-63reunion, Brian wrote: “My dad had been in Milne Bay during the war and told me not to put that as a choice (for teaching) as it was the worst place on earth.” Brian went on to spend ten years teaching in Milne Bay and married Namwekona (Nammie) from the Trobriand Islands.

With thanks to Chris Masters, here’s one of the BP White extracts from ‘Jonestown’:

In the 1950s the big deal was the mile. To win, (Alan Jones) had to beat the school’s best runner, his rival, Brian White. Another good trainer, White had the school’s best time of 4 minutes and 51 seconds. Toowoomba Grammar had a system that allowed winners to be challenged, which Jones did, a touch pompously according to White. What White did not know was that his challenger tried to conspire to have fellow boarders run as well and box White in. But Jones’ tactic fell on uncooperative ears: the boarders kept out of the dayboys’ way. Brian White remembers the episode well, years later recalling: “I beat him – soundly”.

Dave Kesby also writes: “Elissa gave me ‘Jonestown’ for Christmas. I asked her for it. In the early chapters it mentions Brian White at Toowoomba Grammar, who was the school mile athletics champion. Is that the same Brian White? Thought he may have been a Catholic but everything else fits. Brian White was a tall thin bloke about the same age from Queensland. He looked a runner. Anyway it’s a great story and I’m loving the book. Chris Masters, who lives at Turramurra, has been in my cab a couple of times and is a really nice bloke. He told me of the stress he was put under after he did [the television exposé] ‘Moonlight State’. I felt I needed to buy the book so he gets some of the royalties rather than borrow it.”


Gaye Speldewinde

Thank you again for The Mail. I agree with the superlatives that are used in describing the efforts of the Jackson family in this regard. I have to ask for a small correction in case the item about Maria Von Trapp is used again. Bwagaoia is on Misima Island in the Louisiade Archipelago and not Fergusson Island, which is in the D’Entrecasteaux Group. (Unless there is a very small village on Fergusson with the same name.) It may have been Fergusson Island that Maria visited because Misima was a Uniting Church area. The Catholic area was Rossel Island and Nimoa Island off Sudest Island in the Louisiade Archipelago. That would have meant a bit in 1957. Maybe she went to Nimoa or arranged to meet representative of the Mission at Bwagaoia.

We didn’t get to Misima until early 1970. Our (whisper it) Native Education lecturer John Lee had been headmaster at Bwagaoia Primary T School and, after his death in a plane crash, the school received money from his will. Keith McRae and Ian Page were also at Misima. There may have been others. How lucky we all were. The three years we spent on Misima would have to be among the best years of our life. Among other things I made a school banner with ‘BWAGAOIA’ appliquéd in large letters on it. Difficult to forget how to spell the name after that! As if I would anyway.


Keith Jackson

The history of ASOPA is now chronicled from a range of sources in the free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia. Here's an extract from the entry.....

"In 1946, John Kerr (later Sir John Kerr QC, Governor-General of Australia) was demobilised from the Australian Army with the rank of colonel and appointed the first Principal of ASOPA. The following year he also became the first Organising Secretary of the South Pacific Commission. He returned to the bar in 1948 to become one of Sydney's leading industrial lawyers. Conlon himself took over ASOPA and spent 1948-49 as a reportedly unsuccessful and unhappy Principal of the institution."


Keith Jackson

“Mary Guntner was not your ordinary missionary type,” writes Colin Huggins. “She enjoyed club and social life and was my tennis partner in the weekly competitions at Finschhafen. Mary would have been know by Asopians Gil Cook, Stewart Woodger, Rover Leung, Edith Hatt, Bob Davis, Sonia Grainger, Merv Duncan, Val Rivers and Margaret Dwyer to name just a handful.”

And now Mary has written an account of the 12 years she spent as a doctor with the Lutheran Mission in Papua New Guinea. Mary graduated with an MB BS from Adelaide University in 1957. However, with a family background of involvement in missionary work, she was the fourth daughter of Pastor Walter Fritsch and his wife, Mathilde, it wasn't long before she took up the call to be of service to the Lutheran Mission in New Guinea. So in 1958, Mary found herself at Finschhafen at the Buangi and Butaweng hospitals.

Her work revolved around emergencies - caesarean sections, burns, fractures, massive goitres - and constantly waging the continuing fight with malaria, tuberculosis and leprosy. Mary was responsible for scores of patients at any one time - the Butaweng hospital alone had 600 beds - and she also became the region's 'flying doctor'.

The regular, newsy letters Mary wrote home during her time in New Guinea were preserved faithfully by her mother and, together with her own memories, they form the basis of this book. Quotes from her letters interspersed throughout the narrative allow readers to share Mary's enthusiasm and excitement.

Doctor in Paradise: Challenges and Rewards in Medical Service, New Guinea, 1958-1970, Mary W Guntner, Crawford House Publishing, Adelaide, 2006 (paperback), 412 pages. $34.95. ISBN 1863333118.


Diane Bohlen

You sure dig up lots of interesting stuff to read. Thank you for keeping The Mail going. Have you heard about our little brush with fame? Our daughter, Sonya, has found a new mate, Bernhard Curry, who comes from a well-known acting family. He and his brothers Stephen and Andrew have starred in quite a few Australian movies, TV soap operas and sitcoms. At the moment Bernie and Stephen are working on the movie 'The King', the life story of Graham Kennedy. Stephen has the part of Graham Kennedy and Bernie has a part as Graham's school friend. It will be shown on Foxtel and Channel 9 this year.

Sonya and Bernie have been together for a year now and seem very happy. They met after one of the shows that Sonya was stage-managing in which Stephen was performing. Bernhard has been able to join Sonya in the company she works for and they have travelled to festival sites in the UK including Brighton, London and Dunsborough. We had the pleasure of meeting the Curry family over Christmas in Melbourne. They are very nice and unassuming about their careers.


Peter Lewis

Our third grandchild was born on 8 January. Kaitlyn Maree is a sister to Connor, who’s now 2 years and 7 months. There is great delight all round. We begin travelling again shortly starting with a return trip to Tasmania and then off to Vietnam in April. At present we have our heads in books planning the finer details of both trips.


John Hughes

Ray Welsford is trying to track down a John Hughes with whom he taught at Warrnambool High School in the 60s. John was known as ‘Winklepicker’ or ‘Rocker’ because of the somewhat exaggerated points on the shoes he wore and his generally sharp style of dress. On more than one occasion, his excesses caused heart palpitations or worse for his then headmaster. When he left Warrnambool, he went to PNG, presumably as an expat teacher. Anyone who can help locate said Winklepicker can contact Henry Bodman at [email protected].

Les Peterkin

Les Peterkin sends a belated greeting for the season just passed and thanks people for their messages. He’s just returned from a wonderful five weeks holiday cruising the Caribbean, Panama Canal and Mexican Coast followed by two weeks flitting around the Hawaiian Islands. The highlights were the Panama Canal, swimming with dolphins in Cabo San Lucas (Mexico) and a helicopter flight over the active volcano and the lava flows on the Big Island (Hawaii). He’s now back to earth again in Tweed Heads and wants you to note his new email address … [email protected].

Howard Mason

Ken Godden (ASOPA 1961-62) has asked if anyone knows the whereabouts of an ex-E Course teacher named Howard Mason, who served in Minj and Mt Hagen in the sixties. If you know anything at all about Howard, contact Ken through Dave Keating at [email protected].

John Quinnell

Lynne Shori is seeking details of her father’s career in PNG. In April Lynne will travel to Manus in April to meet her mother, who lives on Rambutso Island, for the first time. Lynne has had no connection with PNG since leaving as a nine-year old in 1975. She was born in 1966 in Loamat, Manus Province. John Quinnell served in Kerema, Mt Hagen, Goroka, Kundiawa and Wewak as well as Manus. He taught while on Manus, leaving there around 1970, and subsequently moved into administrative roles. He joined the oil industry after his return to Australia. Lynne is especially keen to link up with any people who may have known her father. Her email contact is [email protected].

Missing Asopians

Henry Bodman is contacting members of each ASOPA year (1957-72) letting them know of the Brisbane reunion later this year and encouraging them to form a ‘Year Table’. Henry says he’s going pretty well but has hit a snag with the ASOPA classes of 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68. He’s seeking movers and shakers who trained in these years? Contact Henry at [email protected].