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March 2007



Keith Jackson

PLANNING FOR Brisbane ’07 proceeds apace under the firm guidance of Henry Bodman and Colin Huggins. Bob ‘Moose’ Davis has a group of five chaps - himself, Rod Hard, Ian ‘Talker’ McLean, Barry ‘Fluffer’ Flannery and Rory ‘Scobie’ O'Brien – organised for a table at the Brisbane Olympics and is looking for more starters. “We obviously need another five likely lads or ladies to make up the number to 10,” says mathematically-gifted Bob. “Is there any chance you might be able to advertise said vacancies in the next issue of The Mail?” Consider it done. You can contact Bob at [email protected] or Rod Hard at [email protected].

MRS MURPHY’S diminutive offspring Valmore [ASOPA 1961-62] is in touch to let me know that “they drummed me out of the classroom at the end of last year and I’m now working with the WA Rugby League”. You can contact Val on [email protected].

HENRY BODMAN, brave fellow that he is, insists that all bookings for table reservations at the Big Reunion Event be referred to him. “I'll make up tables of the unattached (almost sounds like unwashed, doesn't it!) where necessary,” says Henry, whos working with Dick Arnold (finance) and Colliewobbles Huggins (event administration). Reunionistas make hotel accommodation reservations direct with either Sofitel or Novotel (see page 8). “It is important that accommodation and Saturday night reservations not get confused, so table reservations go nowhere near the Sofitel,” pleads Henry. You can contact the great man on [email protected]. Henry is also asking for leads on Alan Hannan, F Barnes, A Campbell, N Hatton, P Kelly, N McClusky, J Reilly R Ritchard and P Rixon all of whom were in the 1957 intake.

I HAVEN’T SEEN Terry & Judy O'Keeffe since a 1995 reunion they organised in the old ASOPA common room on Middle Head. Terry tells me they’re now organising a Brisbane table for the Class of 1965-66. He says he’s seen The Mail and enjoys it and asks to be added to the mailing list. Terry’d contact details are: Phone 02 6251 0992. Mobile 0411 425 166. Email: [email protected]. Or write him at 54 Norman Fisher Circuit, Bruce, ACT 2617.

THE CLASS of 1961-62 started with 55 members way back then, of whom 52 survived two years of lecture room hostilities and 49 went to PNG. David Keating and company have managed to contact 47 of their erstwhile colleagues. Only (Anita Adeang (nee Ahnon) - thought to be in Nauru – and Lesley Percival could not be located. Sadly, three members have died: Keith McRae; Shirley Sibbrett and Sean D’Arcy. No less than 36 plus three lecturers will be turning up at the August reunion.

THE NEXT meeting of the Brisbane reunion organising committee is at Dennis and Ros Burrells’ home at 15 Patman Road, Whiteside on Sunday 10 June. Scheduled start is 2 pm.


Keith Jackson

ASOPA alumni, pioneering educational administrator and one of Australia’s most distinguished educators, Prof Ken McKinnon, AO, will be the guest speaker at the October ASOPA reunion in Brisbane.

After attending Adelaide and Queensland universities, Ken headed to PNG after completing an ASOPA course from January to April 1954. He says: “My Sydney sojourn came after two years at Oodnadatta, so was mostly a time for savouring the offerings of the city - not neglecting ASOPA luminaries such as James McAuley and Camilla Wedgewood.”

At the beginning of 1955 Ken was posted to Samarai as Area Education Officer, the beginning of a stellar career in educational administration. After completing a doctorate at Harvard University, he was appointed PNG Director of Education in 1966, occupying the position until 1973. These were the years of rapid expansion and professionalisation of education in the then Territory as it prepared for Independence in 1975.

After leaving PNG, Ken became the first Chairman of the Australian Schools Commission (1973-81), which had been set up by the Whitlam Government. In 1981 he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Wollongong University, a position he held until 1995. In this role he was credited with transforming the university into one of Australia’s leading campuses. During this period (1984-88), I served with him when he was Chairman of the Australian National Commission for UNESCO.

Ken, a self-confessed press junkie, is now Chairman of the Australian Press Council, which adjudicates on complaints from the public about bias and inappropriate publication. “To many individuals the press looms so powerful and so large that they feel the scales seem unequally weighted against them in making comment,” he says.


Ian Robertson & Keith Jackson

In the 1950s, the first teachers to be recruited for PNG service trained at Bathurst Teachers’ College. The first Cadet Education Officer intake arrived at ASOPA in 1958, which was also the year of the inaugural Patrol Officer versus CEO rugby match, establishing a fiery and hard-fought tradition that was to continue for many years.

The CEO's – proud of their institution and their calling - fashioned a navy blue blazer with an eye-catching bird of paradise crest on the pocket. “Quite a number of CEO's had them,” says Ian. “We believed them to be ‘chick magnets’ but the PO's were less than complimentary.”

“To my knowledge the only kiap with one was Tom Steen. When I visited Tom in Yorkshire in 2005 he still had the entire blazer. I have only the cut off pocket as my blazer shrank something terrible over the years.”

The contemporary School magazine, ‘ASOPA Toktok’, included this verse from a kiap displeased with the blazer development.



“The ones that would wear a blazer
Have yet to feel the touch of razor
Upon their skin so delicate and fair
To be without blazer, they cannot bear.

“Yet when they go to the Territory,
They will not feel so young and free
To wear their blazers as of yore
And weather the scorn of the old B4

“Perhaps they won’t be put out
When greeted with a cheer and shout
Of ‘Up old school – rah – rah – rah,
Let’s send them back to A-SOPA!”


Jane Belfield

I was shocked and immensely saddened to read of the death of John Beagley [ASOPA 1967-68] in Cairns. I first met The Beag when I was working as Extension Writer on the AIDAB Cocoa Quality Improvement Project in Rabaul between 1990 and 1993. I was accommodated in the Rabaul Travelodge, next to which was Studio KalaKala, where Beag held court on Saturday mornings (and most other days!).

As well as portraits and landscapes, Beag painted on fabric. He was ably assisted by several talented local chaps and did a roaring trade in beautifully decorated t-shirts and other items. I was a regular customer, and my daughter and her children still have the shirts, laplaps, sandshoes, library bags, and goodness knows what - all sent to them from Rabaul. I have many such items myself, as well as one of Beag's oils hanging on a wall.

Beag, being a man of many parts, also translated some of my CQIP scripts into Pidgin for broadcast and publication. And we became firm friends - a friendship that continued long after I left Rabaul in 1993 (and the volcanic eruption the following year). I find it hard to believe that he's no longer with us. And I really miss his gossipy, hilarious and often ribald communiqués. Lukim yu, Beag, old chum.


Jane Belfield

According to his wishes ex didiman Mick Belfield's ashes were laid to rest on 24 January, the first anniversary of his death, alongside his parents in Coleraine Cemetery, Victoria. The private family ceremony was organised and led by his three children, Nicholas, Martin and Louise. Michael's memorial stone includes the inscriptions ‘The traveller has come full circle’ and ‘Naria sisina’.
Daughter Louise says: "Dad used to use ‘naria sisina’ with us all the time when he wanted us to slow down and take more time and not be impatient."

Mick was at ASOPA in mid-1956 before being posted to Baibara and, soon after, to the Mekeo rice-growing project. As well as overseeing the rice project – The novice didiman had the task of supervising the construction of an all-weather airstrip.

Mick was later transferred to Popondetta where, in 1962, he was promoted to District Agricultural Officer. Later that year he and his family moved to the Western Highlands and the Korn Farm Agricultural Station.

In 1968 came a promotion to Regional Agricultural Officer, commuting between Goroka and Mount Hagen, with a transfer to DASF headquarters in Port Moresby in 1969. Eight years later the dedicated didiman left for Australia with a ‘golden handshake’ and a PNG Independence Medal. Establishing himself in Armidale, NSW, where two of his three children were at uni, Mick launched into several successful small business pursuits, including building spec homes.

While you can take a didiman out of PNG, you can’t take PNG out of a didiman. And Mick was soon back as an agricultural consultant, spending 1986-93 in Goroka, using his extension skills to train a team of Papua New Guinean agricultural officers to help farmers fight coffee rust. The dedicated didiman finally did go pinis and settled in Brisbane. But a large part of his heart stayed in PNG.


Col Booth

The Mail still dominates and is as good as ever. Just back from Canberra where we were privileged to witness [son] Nigel being presented with two bravery awards: one individual and one part of a group citation in connection with his efforts in rescuing Chinese people attacked by rioters in Honiara last year. It seems Australia has some sophisticated and dangerous crims on our doorstep.

It was a very impressive investiture: lone piper, flag ceremony etc. An array of people with chests covered in medals a la Mexican generals. Nigel's award was the highest presented on this occasion. There are only two awards in AFP circles of a higher precedence.

In Mail 107 you published an item from Geoff Conlon. In the book, ‘It Doesn't End There’ by John Laws and helper Christopher Stewart, there’s a chapter on Alf Conlon and his mates. By coincidence, that article solved for me a long problem: Who was James McAuley and how did I know of him? With the outbreak of war, McAuley and a mate Harold Stewart were conscripted into the army and ended up in the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs, founded by Sydney intellectual and medical school drop out, Alfred (Alf) Conlon.

With no military background, Conlon was commissioned as a major in the Australian Army in 1940 and was given a free hand to do research. Conlon handpicked a real brains trust: John Kerr (second in charge), James McAuley, Harold Stewart, James Plimsoll, Peter Ryan, Bill Stanner, Camilla Wedgewood, Ida Leeson, Ian Hogbin, Colonel JK Murray, Julius Stone, Ian Hogbin and others.

Conlon went on to become a colonel, with a lot of influence on Australia's policies in New Guinea, McAuley went on to become an influential anti-communist, supporter of Australia's role in Vietnam and close ally of BA Santamaria. Stewart went on to study Buddhism in Japan. The banker, Plimsoll, became Governor of Tasmania, Ambassador to the US and head of the Foreign Affairs Department. Conlon completed his medical studies and, after a stint as ASOPA Principal, practised psychiatry. The lawyer, Kerr, also was an ASOPA Principal, among other things. It’s no wonder ASOPA had great expectations and great achievements.

So why do I remember McAuley? He must have been a lecturer when I did my CPO introductory course in 1960 prior to going to PNG.

You might ask Ken McKinnon to talk on his experience on Karkar Island in 1970, where he enjoyed a baked cheesecake at Dangsai PTS. We all know how well ASOPA fulfilled its expectations.


Keith Jackson

In February Jane Belfield's second e-book was published by Alinar Publications ( It's called The Prayer Tree and Other Stories and is penned by Jane's alter ego Jane Hill.

“It’s not a romance,” says Jane. “This is a collection of short stories I’ve written over the years. The first sets the theme and is the only one that is not fiction. In the other six stories: a retired spinster schoolteacher goes in search of flowers for an old friend’s funeral; a widow visits a flamboyant fortune-teller; a wife takes revenge for her husband’s infidelity; an elderly woman, lonely following the death of her husband and the estrangement from her granddaughter, finds herself in hospital; a migraine forces a young woman to visit a doctor in an unfamiliar town; an encounter on a lonely beach is unnerving for a young divorcee.”


Peter Salmon

After the brilliant successes of the last few Kiap Reunions on the Sunshine Coast we have been asked as to when and where the next will be held. We plan to have it at the same venue as last time: Kawana Waters Hotel, Nicklin Way, Buddina, Queensland, on Sunday 11 November (bar opens at 11 am.

The invitation is not limited to kiaps - friends, colleagues and recalcitrants such as chalkies, didimen, polis and masta maks also welcome.

The Kawana Waters Hotel is located on Nicklin Way, near Kawana Waters Shopping Centre, on the main road between Mooloolaba and Caloundra. A large parking area is available at the hotel.

The outlook is over water to an extensive marina and has a covered outdoor deck area linked to an indoor bar/lounge with adequate dining and seating facilities available for our use.

There is a good restaurant/bistro adjoining our area where as with previous reunions you will be able to order your own meals and sit with whom you choose.

The restaurant will be open from 11.30 am to 8.30 pm. Drinks will be available at bar prices from the Lounge Bar and Public Bars and these bars will be open from 11.00 am to 10.00 pm.

Informality will again be the order of the day. No speeches, everyone is too busy catching up with friends. This format has proven the most popular so we will stick with it.

The Kawana Waters Hotel has sixteen motel style rooms available which we have tentatively booked. If you require a booking please phone the hotel on 07 5444 6699 and mention that you are part of the “Kiap Reunion” group to secure a unit. It is the case of first in etc but we know the rooms were found to be in demand on our last gathering. It is essential that bookings be made before the end of August.

Please confirm your intention to attend the reunion by contacting:

Bob/Heather Fayle
home phone: 07 5444 7446
email: [email protected]
31 Moondarra Crescent, Mooloolaba, Qld 4557

Denys/Helen Faithful
home phone: 07 5333 4484
email: [email protected]
46 Tawarri Crescent, Mooloolaba, Qld 4557