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January 2007




“Brian Peter White of ‘Wuthering Heights’, Kleinton, passed away in Toowoomba on 28 February 2006. Brian was the beloved husband of Nammie and dearly loved father of Fiona, Peter, Stephen, Bronwen and Tasminnie. In God's Care” – Toowoomba Chronicle

“The name my parents gave me was Brian Peter. I should have been Percival, as I was named after a priest friend of the family, whom my parents thought was Peter. I'm glad they made that mistake! I don't know what the priest thought” – Brian White
“There was a time when I tucked such news as BP's death into a little drawer somewhere, to be opened, maybe, at a later date when it might be better managed. I am very sorry BP won't be with us for future events but memories of him always will be” – Henry Bodman

“Our ASOPA buddy was an inspirational teacher who unselfishly gave care and guidance to many students. Brian’s legacy will be the cherished memories of his spontaneous friendship, his enduring lifelong devotion to teaching and the loyal support and love he shared with his family, friends and ASOPA colleagues. Good on you Brian” – Bill Welbourne

“Ingrid and I walk for an hour into the hills to Kumwagea village – clean, neat, blossoming frangipani forming an avenue through its centre. It is here John Peter befriends me. We talk about the local school, which he attended in the late 1960s. “Who taught you?” I ask. “At first an Australian,” he replies. “What was his name?” “Mr White.” “Mr Brian White?” John Peter looks at me surprised. “Yes,” he says, “that was his name.” When I mention that Brian died a few months ago, a single fat tear rolls down John Peter’s cheek” – Keith Jackson

“While you can take a didiman out of PNG, you can’t take PNG out of a didiman. The dedicated didiman finally did go pinis, and settled in Brisbane. But a large part of his heart stayed in PNG. And the friendships he forged during his years there were enduring, as was evident at his funeral and wake in Brisbane on 31 January, following his sudden and senseless death a week earlier. Lukim yu na bamahuta, Mick. Mick’s final journey is back to Victoria, where his ashes will be laid to rest in the family plot. The traveller will have come full circle” - Jane Belfield & Louise Tigchelaar

“I spoke with Shirley Buffett's husband who told me Shirley died in 1999 and I thought you’d like to know” – Marg Willington

“John ‘Beakley’ Beagley died in Cairns Base Hospital on 27 November after a long illness. John was at ASOPA in 1967-68 and had various postings being well known in Bougainville, Rabaul and the Mortlock Islands” – Hugh Greer



“Through the kindness and support of people in our community, Tasminnie is finally being welcomed back to Australia. 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” – Brian White

“The little girl has made it to Australia! Tasminnie arrived in Port Moresby from Popondetta and I collected her and looked after her that night. This morning I took her to the airport and she made it safely to Brisbane” – Graham Pople

“I write on the big day of the ‘knot tying ceremony’. Relatives and friends arrived from far and near. Musicians honed their skills. Florists plied their trade. Dressmakers lined their pockets. Jewellers rubbed their hands. The local club clothed its tables. Cake cookers did their best. Our pastor perfected his presentation. God's own country warmed its weather in anticipation” – Joe Crainean

“When we knew the teenaged Joe he was a bright eyed, harmless little feller in short trousers. There was little to prepare us for the smoothie he would become. The ceremony was designed to leave all female bosoms heaving: his words of undying love and devotion generously scattered. Joe was in his element. The twinkling eyes and grin splitting his Amish beard embraced everyone in the church. I didn't join in the lovely hymns because I was doing what Moose used to do in the sixties in front of a sad movie on TV” – Henry Bodman



“Bill and Diane Bohlen call in at Benelong Road for lunch. I discover that Diane and I voyaged to Australia from Blighty on the same migrant ship – the Georgic – in 1949. Now how about that” – Keith Jackson

“A young female photographer appeared with a smile to melt snow off the Andes and whispered in halting English for each of us to smile. I had no intention of buying her photos but when she reappeared three hours later I was digitally enhanced in full tango with a blonde beauty you only dream about. I bought the photo” – Bill Welbourne

“The pupils in Rockhampton were not very impressed with the fact that the most dangerous animal in Denmark is a small tick” – Pam Kruger

“The engineer got the idea that I, a kitchen hand, was chef. Dick Randolph waited three weeks for me to produce a fabulous dish in the Tomu galley. We ate cassowary curry and drank local beer. When we arrived at Thursday Island I tried to forget the chef controversy and drank too much and was hurt in a brawl. Dick was getting irritated: no culinary skills, drank all his beer, brawling, no visa. We had a few too many one night and fell out over whether the barmaids at the hotels were slags and that was it” – Sean O’Connor

“I teamed up with Richard Collinson, sports reporter for BBC Radio Jersey. Not that he had much to report because the brightly attired Jersey team returned home [from the Commonwealth Games] with nothing but their red uniforms and memories of Advance Australia Fare reverberating in their ears” – Bill Welbourne

“Ingrid and I are on the forward deck just in time to see Tavurvur erupt. As Orion approaches Simpson Harbour at 5.30 am, a dense column of black ash spirals rapidly through the cloud layer, reaching about 8,000 feet before being pushed away and diluted by the prevailing southeasterly. Fortunately for Rabaul the ash is directed away from the town” – Keith Jackson

“Watched by a bevy of small goggle eyed boys and the tea man who brought three tiny glass cups of steaming Turkish tea, the barber whipped out his cigarette lighter. Whoosh. Into the right ear goes the flamethrower. Whoosh again. This time the left ear. Miraculously, the smell of burnt ear-hair lingers just a few seconds before the barber splashes the cologne and the whole thing is over” – Richard Jones

“The lowlight was Elissa falling about six feet at the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus. Artemis was the goddess of Fertility. She had seven breasts and six testicles. Quite a lady! I was taking a photo of Elissa sitting on a marble slab when she slipped and fell into the temple” – Dave Kesby



“I was moved by Brian White’s act of support. He took time out to offer me support and moral sustenance” – Bob Davis

“I am two weeks post major surgery for removal of an aggressive carcinoma and am finally in a fit state to start doing something other than complain about everything” – Howard Ralph

“Ten kilometres south of Mataranka on the Stuart Highway you will find two gates together. Ours is the one on the right” – Rory O’Brien

“According to Rory one of the better sights was a new chum who, responding to a call of nature, let out a yell of fear at having been bitten on the bum by a snake. He’d sat on his spurs” – Henry Bodman

“Henry’s a bit sore I zipped in and out of Noosa during the month without paying due respect to His Grace” – Keith Jackson

“We imbibed quite mildly which was a bad move for me. Moose had booked us into the same room snores - tight bugger - and his snores shook the motel to its foundations and I faced Sunday minus sleep” – Henry Bodman

“Henry, I hope you are sitting while reading this. Masta Kit is nearly a conservative. A dreaded Lib. A Costello/Howard man. He now drinks red and has almost abandoned chardonnay” – Col Booth

“After 29 years of primary school teaching, five in PNG, I'm now in the Christian ministry, being the minister of the Presbyterian regional parish of Wangaratta” – Neil Harvey

“I’m still getting used to having to care for our four year old grandson. Some say he keeps us young but I have to disagree. My old bones really cannot keep up with so much physical and mental activity” – Justine Finter

“At the Port Macquarie Eisteddfod I made myself known to the adjudicator, Noel Cislowski, who told me that he is well up with things ASOPA. He assured me he had very fond memories of ASOPA” – Col Booth

Maria von Trapp, a Catholic missionary, was on our 4th E-Course, where she was a nice unassuming lady of 47. It wasn't until about 1966 when I saw The Sound of Music that I realised who she was. Maria is now 92 and living at the Trapp family lodge in Vermont” – Noel Ryan

“The E-Course Maria von Trapp is the stepdaughter of the Maria of Sound of Music fame. In 1957 Maria von Trapp (the one depicted by Julie Andrews) toured PNG to scope a mission project. She visited Bwagioia on Fergusson Island, Rabaul, Wewak, the Sepik and the Highlands” - Ingrid Jackson

“I remember Maria von Trapp on the 4th E course (April - September 1963) because I’d been seconded from ASOPA to lecture in Phys Ed and Music. She was a quiet and unassuming lady but to everyone's delight and enjoyment was a brilliant recorder player. So I put her in charge of teaching the recorder to the rest of the students” – Les Peterkin

“This year’s Les Peterkin Portrait Prize for Children attracted 1000 paintings and drawings done by children from 19 Tweed Valley public and private schools. The award encourages the teaching of art in schools and promotes the value of children’s art” – Tweed Sun courtesy Bob Davis

“I see you are going to Rabaul and meeting Sam Piniau there. Remember me to him as I have strong memories of him initiating me into the Duk-Duk society, which cost me a fascinating afternoon of dancing and later several fathoms of shell money” - Ken McKinnon



“I noticed that Bob Davis is one of your members. If he was the principal of Igam Barracks Primary 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)” – San Lauw

“I did not think I used the cane with the gay abandon mentioned. I replied to San Lauw - though I must confess I was disappointed to note a spelling mistake in his email” – Bob Davis

“My uncle Alfred Conlon proposed the establishment of ASOPA to General Blamey. Alf got sick of trying to get funds for research projects by travelling to Canberra. He got a boot load of red wine, took it to the Members at Parliament House and drank it with them until they agreed to his projects. The rest is history” – Geoff Conlon

“I awake early enough to catch a first shrouded glimpse of the Papuan coast after 30 years. It is a sentimental moment, which recalls my first arrival in TPNG in 1963: a mysterious and misty coastline holding promise of great adventure. Promise, I hasten to add, which was fully redeemed” – Keith Jackson

“For four years I looked out from Dregerhafen towards Tami. I often had weird thoughts of getting a canoe to paddle me across for a weekend on the mysterious isle. Perhaps I was slightly troppo!” – Colin Huggins

“On Kwato we walk beneath a leafy canopy of rain trees and hibiscus up a wide, well-formed track which switchbacks to the top of the island’s lone hill where stands a fine stone and wood church with a commanding view of Samarai and the China Strait. Just behind the church is a small graveyard with a monument testifying to the earthly remains of Charles Abel. To my surprise, here also rests a onetime Government Broadcasting Service colleague, John Smeeton” – Keith Jackson

“While I did not attend the maternity wing of Nonga Hospital, I spent about three weeks in an original wartime tar-paper covered ward being ministered to by a number of attractive Australian nurses. Needless to say, on leaving hospital, I made many visits to the nurses quarters located atop Namanula Hill” – Murray Bladwell

“I was able to remind Bob Jenkins of the ‘bombing’ raids to which he and Tufi 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” – Henry Bodman


PNG today

“Unfortunately the Gateway Motel is slipping gracefully into a Third World context. It’s not the place we remembered many years before” – Barry Paterson

“The power surged. The computers failed. The power returned. The computer booted. The ticket printed. The power surged. The computer stopped. My pass would not process. The power went off. The announcer told us to board. Would I make it? Another boarding call. The computer died. A handwritten boarding pass. I was last person on the Dash 8” – Janine Paterson on leaving Port Moresby circa 2006

“The Tufi area is beset by drought and the coffee trees are dying but it isn’t lack of rain that bothers William, our guide. He says he feels ashamed at the decrepit state of the buildings at the old Tufi government station. “There’s no money, no maintenance. Sometimes we wish the kiaps were back,” he says” – Keith Jackson

“The reception we received at Kokoda, Popondetta, Tufi and Goroka from ex students, ex teachers, villagers who remembered us, and others who had no idea who were, was overwhelming. We have been emotionally affected by the warmth and affection of the people in areas where we lived” – Bob Jenkins

“Bob Jenkins was unable to get to Sighere due to trouble on the Bena River, my posting in the 60's for four years. I thought if I taught them to play rugby league they would stop fighting” – Val Murphy
“Since our arrival, Tavurvur has continued to belch a thick cloud of black ash leaving the town, and us, grubby and sulphuric. The ash grits between my teeth and a medical condition, ‘Tavurvur Throat’, can only be soothed by the application of ice-cold SP beer” – Keith Jackson

“In the back of the truck squat a group of ten glum men. At their feet, a few bush knives, sarifs, kulau and other possessions. They are giving up on Matupit. The most recent eruption destroyed most of their canoes and generated a tsunami they feared might annihilate the village. I ask Matthias where they’re going. To the New Matupit, he tells me, a resettlement area in the hills near Vunakabi beyond the Burma Road” – Keith Jackson

“The 24 hectares of Samarai Island are heritage listed, not that this counts for much. Many of the original buildings and warehouses remain but are decrepit. The once fine wharf is broken and unusable. People continue to live here, and the power station still runs, but – apart from the faint promise of an embryonic cultured pearl business - the place is fading away” – Keith Jackson



“As well as being editor of The Mail, in a previous life Keith mixed with the powerful. A great story in the Sydney Morning Herald tells how our editor was at a meeting where Bob Hawke tore strips off ABC management over a story Four Corners did on Bob’s best friend, Sir Peter Abeles. Keith’s meticulous notes were used to show that Hawke used undue pressure on the ABC” – Dave Kesby

“In Alan Ramsey's article ‘Aunty bashing’ in the Sydney Morning Herald I saw that you have been writing a diary. Perhaps you could publish some more extracts on the ASOPA website” – Ann Prendergast

“Johnnie (Herbert) and I would hold vigorous and spirited discussions on the rights and wrongs of the Israeli commandos flying to East Africa or the efficacy of Australian voters in leaving Menzies as PM for an obscene period of 16 years!” – Richard Jones

“Jill and Grant Kelly spent 25 years developing their small, exquisite resort on Uepi Island in the Western District of the Solomons. I ask them about the usefulness of Foreign Minister Downer’s megaphone diplomacy in addressing the serious problems Australia finds in its immediate neighbourhood. They are ambivalent: Downer’s remonstrations against poor governance in PNG and the Solomons are understandable but it isn’t clear exactly how this will fix relationships that Australia has allowed to deteriorate over many years” – Keith Jackson



“Thanks to the gang for a great Sydney reunion. I know Henry and the northern mob will try to upstage it if possible” – Joe Crainean

“Well done to Colin Huggins for the great effort he has put into organising Event 3. I'm already looking forward to it” – Diane Bohlen

“I have no problem with people from other years joining in. They will only be envious of what we have achieved” – Col Booth

“On our trip to Brisbane we were impressed with the work being done by the Queensland Chapter. On present indications the 2007 reunion will be most impressive” – Peter Lewis

“The charming supervisor, Sharma, looked after us very well. Gentlemen, watch your hormones when you meet this person. She is a combination of the sophistication of Audrey Hepburn and the sauciness of Shirley MacLaine. I am always intrigued with the straightness of the seams of her stockings. Ladies supply your husbands with blinkers!” – Colin Huggins

“Belinda has something on in Singapore so won't be accompanying me to the reunion (come on, a big collective "aaaaaaawwww!"), so I'll be stag (more likely staggering). I guess I'll have to bunk with Moose. Does Brissie have an equivalent to the Big Bear hamburger joint in case he gets an attack of the munchies around midnight?” – Ian McLean


The Mail

“Reading The Mail is a recurrent source of enjoyment for me. I look forward to each edition, which provides some contact with a very special group of people” – Howard Ralph

“It's a significant achievement to get to 100 editions of any publication. You have been the conduit for the rest of us being able to stay in touch and that's a considerable achievement” – Richard Jones

“Our household nearly stops at the end of each month waiting for The Mail. I don’t think anyone had the faintest idea of how much enjoyment would be derived from such a simple concept. I know our group has formed a nice bond without judgement, with total acceptance of who each has become and mutual respect” – Col Booth




On the road

By Joe Crainean

Thank you Keith, once again, for the wonderful job you continue to do and inspire with The Mail. It is greatly appreciated. Kathryn and I have been doing some campervanning up and down the coast from Brisbane to Sydney and back – overnighting at beautiful beach side spots such as Byron Bay and Coffs Harbour. It’s great now she has also retired and we have the time to indulge.

Son Adam is taking time off from his uni studies to work for four months at Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort in California. When he resumes his studies at Avondale next July, his business degree class heads off for London and Europe for a month - worth two subjects. Study was never like that for us!


Some projects for Rabaul

By Ingrid Jackson

Further to your comments about Rabaul. While in principle Rabaul is going well, some areas for assistance would include: the many displaced people (for example those having to move from Matupit and no doubt many more who have moved from Rabaul and have had to start again, not always happily and successfully); education looked alright amongst the middle class whom we met – don’t know about others; and diabetes seems to be an ongoing problem.


Jacquinot Bay dream

By Ros Sharp (nee Smart)

Many thanks for keeping me up to date with ASOPA and PNG news, I have appreciated catching up and look forward to the reunion this year. I've often thought of going back to New Britain and starting a Voc Ed school near Pomio in the Jacquinot Bay Region. If there is any interest from others maybe there is a small chance that a dream could become reality. PS, I officially retired last month.

You can contact Ros at [email protected]


Connections transcend the test of time

By Barry (62/63) and Janine (63/64) Paterson

Bob Jenkins (Mail 105) took our wedding photos at the Church of the Resurrection in Popondetta in 1965. He was also Barry’s predecessor at Tufi. Connections, connections! To see one of the things I am involved with now you might like to visit our website at “At St Peter’s the responsibility for the spiritual and the material welfare of the Parish is shared between the priest, the Churchwardens and the members of the Parish Council… Our Parish actively supports the pastoral ministry of Fr Stephen Tabo and Joyce Yarker at the Cairns Base Hospital. Fr Barry, our priest can be contacted on [email protected].”




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



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



Morrie Finberg [1960-61] - Unfortunately I'm unable to attend next year's reunion but take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for a wonderful time.



Friday 12 October - Evening: Meet & Greet at the Sofitel. Saturday 13 October - 7.30 am: Golf Day (see story below). Lunch: Southbank or Riverside. Evening: Sofitel function [cost $95 a head including three-course meal and beverage package]. Keith Jackson will be master of ceremonies and nominated representatives from each year will address a few brief remarks to the gathering. Sunday 14 October - Lunch: Southbank or Riverside. Evening: Bow Thai farewell function [cost $30-35, not including drinks].



ASOPA golf day tournament. Saturday 13 October: 7.30 am. Victoria Park Golf Course, Herston Road, Herston [five minutes from the heart of Brisbane] - a fun day catering for all levels of golfing prowess. Transport from Sofitel and Novotel can be arranged. 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]




Ann Prendergast

By Sophie McGrath

Golding Centre for Women’s History, Theology and Spirituality, Australian Catholic University

Dr Ann Prendergast has made a generous gift to the Golding Centre of her Pacific Mission library, which focuses on Papua New Guinea. This is a very timely gift since we have a doctoral student, Tess Flaherty RSM, researching the history of the Sisters of Mercy in PNG, and Dr Rosa MacGinley PBVM working on the history of the Presentation Sisters in PNG.

Ann retired in 1990 from the position of Head of the Department of Social Science at the Kuring-gai Campus of the Sydney University of Technology. Her story is interesting from the perspective of Australian history in general and women’s history in particular. She was born in Hay in 1934 and grew up on a property sixty miles from town. Like many country children her early education was obtained through lessons sent each week from Blackfriars Correspondence School in Sydney. She completed her secondary education under the care of the Sisters of St Joseph at their boarding schools in Leeton and Goulburn. In 1953 Ann was awarded a scholarship to Wagga Teachers College, where she trained as an infants teacher.

After fulfilling three years country service at Hay, Ann was appointed in 1958 to Norfolk Street Infants School in Newtown and began evening study at Sydney University where she majored in history and completed an honours year followed by an MA. In 1963 she was appointed to the Australian School of Pacific Administration, which was associated with Balmain Teachers College, and trained students for Papua New Guinea.

Ann was encouraged by the Principal, Charles Rowley, to apply for a scholarship to the East West Centre at the University of Hawaii, established by the American government during the Kennedy administration to promote cultural contact between Asia, the Pacific and the US. Ann’s application was successful and she began work on the culture and history of the Pacific region. Her doctoral thesis was on the history of the early years of the London Missionary Society in Papua. This led her to spend time working in the archives of the Society in London.

Having finished her PhD in 1968, Ann returned to teach at Balmain Teachers College, which later became Kuring-gai College of Education, which in turn was incorporated into the Sydney University of Technology. In 1990 Ann retired after forty years of challenging, interesting and productive academic life. She is delighted that her library is now in the care of the Golding Centre.

Source: Sophie McGrath in Newsletter (v6 n1, April 2006) of the Golding Centre for Women’s History, Theology and Spirituality, Australian Catholic University Strathfield