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May 2007



Keith Jackson

CLARRIE BURKE reports that PNG's Secretary for Education, Dr Joe Pagelio, is “most enthusiastic” about attending October’s ASOPA Reunion in Brisbane. Joe will speak on a topic related to PNG education and the legacy of the early days. At the reunion Clarrie will be presenting Joe with a cheque for the profits from Gail Burke's book, Meeting the Challenge, teaching stories from pre-Independence PNG.

JACK METTA, columnist and feature writer with The National in PNG, referred in a recent article to the fabled Yokomo and Omokoy, late of the PNG School Papers. So I dropped a note to tell Jack that Yokomo was created by ex-Asopian Frank Hiob [1957-58] with John Lucas drawing the pictures. When transferred from the bush to Konedobu in 1966, I took over the Yokomo stories and, for some reason, decided he needed a dog: hence Omokoy. “I have often wondered where the origins of this duo lay,” wrote Jack politely, “and now I know. There is practically nothing in the archives these days to follow up the past.”

HENRY BODMAN is looking for early (ASOPA or PNG photos for a visual presentation that will be part of the reunion entertainment. “Year intake group photos, if you have them,” says Henry. “Sporting, social and professional photos of the young cadets are also welcome and will go into the mix. Even early years in PNG will fit if suitably gripping, startling or amusing.” Send tyour photos to Henry at 37 Norman Street, Fig Tree Pocket QLD 4069 or email the great man on [email protected].

RILEY WARREN has been headmaster of Macarthur Anglican School since 1989. Previously he was principal of Lae International High School. Riley tells me he “had the great joy of being an ASOPA Cadet Education Officer in 1970-71”. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2006 for his outstanding contribution to education. Former collgues and friend can contat Riley on [email protected].

WARWICK RAYMONT, who bowed out of ASOPA in 1962, is back in touch. “What an unexpected pleasure to speak with you – a voice from the past,” he said in a phone call I took in my hotel room in Athens. Better known to contemporaries as Warwick Ring, he “shed the name Ring in 1979: vernacular usage of the word became a little too personal and frequent, so I changed to my maternal grandmother’s name.” More about Warwick further down The Mail.

JOHN SEGAL [ASOPA 1963-64] and I met at ASOPA recently. John taught for five years in PNG (Kavieng, Moresby, Hula, Sogeri) and, having obtained an economics degree, moved to PNG Finance as an economist. Returning to NSW in 1975, John worked for Treasury and the Premiers Department before moving to Education head office, the wheel coming full circle. Although retired, John still teaches computing to senior citizens on a volunteer basis at UNSW.

ROBERT BLAIKIE of Mount Gravatt in Queensland writes he came upon the ASOPA website by chance and is “pleased someone has taken the trouble and the time to document some of this history.” Robert observes that James McAuley “was one of the most outstanding intellectuals of his generation and an inspiration to up and coming young officers and is remembered with great affection”. Robert was a member of No 9 Short Course at ASOPA from March to August 1948 and also of No 5 Long Course during in 1954-55. In 1948 he lived in the old WW2 barracks, meaning that ASOPA was up and running that year, not in 1949 as the website asserts.


Ingrid Jackson

The Sydney Harbour Trust was delighted at the roll out of 60 former ASOPA and ITI staff and students who returned to the campus in March to discuss how to mark the significance of the site. “There’s a great feeling of belonging that exists among people who have been associated with this place,” said Bob Clarke, architect responsible for the site.

“It was a funny affair,” commented participant Riley Warren, “with most of those attending more interested in talking to each other and reminiscing than listening to the presenter!”

“I hope that this wonderful site and its history can be preserved and recorded – maybe even bring back the Hallstrom Library.”

I’ve agreed to coordinate a project on behalf of the Trust and invite you to write to me:

  • Offering reasons why the ASOPA/ITI site should be considered a site of significance.
  • Providing information about comparable institutions in other countries.
  • Advising me of photographs, documents or other memorabilia in your possession that may be of interest to a research centre.

The site’s conservation is already decided but there’s now a need to assemble a persuasive argument to establish a meaningful interpretation of the existence of the School.

Will ASOPA and ITI be remembered by a simple plaque or by something substantial, such as a research centre or a commemorative display?

You can help keep the memory alive by writing to me at Jackson Wells Morris, PO Box 1743 Neutral Bay 2089 or emailing me at [email protected].
[Ingrid is a former lecturer in human resources at the International Training Institute]


Colin Huggins

Among many other events planned for the reunion weekend of 12-14 October, the Brisbane organising committee has scheduled the ‘River Cat Crawl’ – a middle of Saturday event designed to show out-of-towners some of the Brisbane city highlights.

A practice run for the Crawl is scheduled for next Saturday [26 May] to get some idea of what can be offered. We anticipate a four-hour Crawl using the River Cat and having eats on the Southbank. The Crawl is open to any person wanting to have an early ’mini-reunion’.

It will start at the Sofitel Whistle Bar situated behind the newsagency on the Concourse of Brisbane Central Railway Station at 10.15am for an 11.00am start.

The Whistle Stop staff will supply morning tea [coffee or tea with scones, cakes and baguettes] at a cost of $5. We need to know possible numbers for catering purposes so email me at [email protected].

The Mail’s ‘Good Living’ correspondent, Henry Bodman, comments: “After meeting at the Whistle Stop, we’ll walk to Riverside and inspect options (a beer or three while we wander). Then a City Cat to Hamilton and see what is at that end (another beer or three). Rejoin the City Cat to South bank (a beer or five as I think this will be where we will be looking hardest). Those still standing might want to go to The Regatta or Oxley's on the River at Toowong per River Cat and I know the beers there are good as our Rotary Club meets there.”


Keith Jackson

The phone call was timely. Coming at 8 am on the first morning of an international public relations conference in the Greek capital, Athens where I was in the process of over-sleeping. On the line was a bloke who identified himself as Warwick Raymont, "although you may know me better as Warwick Ring," he added helpfully. The voice was cultivated and the name one to conjure with. I'd last seen Warwick Ring late in 1962 at ASOPA. He dropped out in the first year but went on to get his PhD and other awards as he pursued an academic career based in Adelaide.

While ASOPA came to be part of Warwick's distant past, he told me – as I dazedly tried to work out whether I was in Athens or Atherton – that he’d often wondered what became of the people he met during that formative period of his career. Earlier this year, Warwick got something of an answer: a friend provided him with a clipping from a 2002 Sydney Morning Herald, which sought the whereabouts of one Warwick Ring, Asopian of 1962. It turned out we didn't locate him in 2002 because he'd changed his surname to Raymont. "I changed it because of Abba," he told me. I could not but agree the move was shrewd. After all "Raymont, Raymont, Raymont, why don't you give me a call" doesn't have the same, well, ring about it. So, after all these years, we'll be able to welcome our mate Warwick to the Brisbane reunion.

Warwick’s now says he’s a research scientist who has devoted much of his life to developing health care products that assist people cope with an increasingly polluted environment. He told me he earned his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1970 and his early work concentrated on trace chemicals such as DDT. At the time, Warwick sparked controversy with his findings on DDT in human breast milk, his opposition to the fluoridation of drinking water and his early predictions of global warming.


Keith Jackson

In retirement, Eric Johns [ASOPA 1958-59] has been writing books for PNG schools on the history of PNG and two of them will be taken into the education system by next year. “This is a long sought after project of mine (dreamed about since the 1970s),” says Eric, “and I am still at it with another effort due for completion around 2009.

Eric will be attending the Cedar Lake reunion at Advancetown for 1961-62 Asopians with wife Shirley (nee Coffin), a CEO of that vintage. “Allen Muscio and his wife Jan are coming with us. Allen and I were CEOs together and would love to meet other CEOs of those years (or anyone else we know) when we go up north in August. Allen and Jan live in Campbelltown, Sydney, and Shirley and I are in Canberra.” If you want to talk to Eric about the PNG history project, email him at [email protected]


Gaye Speldewinde

The Talkfest Reunion of eleven females from the class of 1961-61 was a great success. I am enclosing a couple of photos I think it proved that small reunions should also be considered as we probably still didn’t get to talk enough to everybody. It also proved what a great place Canberra is for a reunion so it should be considered in later years, particularly in Autumn.

We didn’t have to hire any venues as we had meals at the Botanical Gardens, a Club, the Museum and a private home. Everyone stayed at private homes, too, so there was no great expense and even driving time and petrol costs weren’t an issue as Canberra is so compact comparatively. We all had a great time and I think we’d all do it again.

Brian Kille, Bob Davis, Wilhelm Speldewinde and Eric Johns came to the dinner at the Club. I had known Bob as a teacher at Canberra Grammar while our son and three grandchildren were there without ever realising the connection. I’m sure we’d find a lot of other ex Asopians in the Canberra area if a concerted effort was made.
[Gaye’s email is [email protected]]


Keith Jackson

The death at 85 of Lexi Burns MBE draws the curtain on an era when Port Moresby, the hot and dusty PNG capital, was an effervescent, feisty colonial town – populated by kiaps, administrators, missionaries, idealists, chancers. yachties, chalkies, big drinkers, remittance men and steely entrepreneurs who knew the first million was near.

In 1947 into this tropical soup walked Alexa Holman. Lexi quickly found work as a barmaid at the legendary ‘Bottom Pub’ with its infamous Snakepit. Before too long she met and married builder Mick Burns, the great love of her life even when they divorced, and together they began to make a mark on the national capital. They opened the first restaurant (The Twilight Café) and the first guesthouse (Tradewinds, on Tuguba Hill).

Lexi’s reputation as a shrewd businesswoman and formidable hostess burgeoned and she also became Moresby’s ‘Queen of Catering’. After 50 years ill health forced her return to Australia in 1997. Lexi died on Bribie Island and her ashes will be scattered in Moresby.