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28 December 2002


It’s some time since I mentioned the ASOPA website, but I assure you the project continues. The site is gradually coming together and, at the time of writing, we had a tentative homepage on the web at The intention is that, by the end of January, an initial content download will be on the site. The concept is a bit different from Vintage and The Mail. For a start, information will not be pushed to you by e-mail; you’ll have to access the site. For a time, while the site is new, we’ll run it and The Mail in conjunction.

The site will have six main sections:

The Mail - Transformed into a web-based bulletin board for your messages, letters, reminiscences and stories. It will be continually updated.

Toktok Gris - A brand new feature I’m sure you’ll enjoy. It includes some of the briefer, funnier anecdotes, exchanges and ripostes from Vintage and elsewhere.

Kontact Keith - Offers direct e-mail access to me through a button on the home page.  Material will be edited for publication in The Mail.

The ASOPA Files - Provides online most of the volume of stories you received to mark the Reunion. As new stories are received they’ll be added to the Files.

The Archives – Feature material sourced elsewhere, including historical data and the diligently-researched ASOPA Controversy. They are meant to enrich the understanding of people wanting more detail of what ASOPA represented and what it achieved.

Piksa Bilong Yumi, edited by Bill Bohlen - Showcases photos from taim befo and the present. We gathered many pix in conjunction with the Reunion.

Another major change is that the site will open up the dialogue beyond us 62/63ers to embrace all the people who spent time at ASOPA and, perhaps, ITI. As the site matures and develops, I think we’ll find many of our peers and contemporaries joining in. Meantime, the viability of the site will depend very much on a continuation of the interchange we’ve been able to enjoy between ourselves this year.


Barry Paterson reckons 2003 will have to be a good year to top 2002. “Not only bringing together the scattered chalkies of long ago and far away, but also your great involvement in telling the good news about Wontulp-Bi-Buya College and what we are trying to do here You have inspired Janine to volunteer her services as Publicity and Promotions Officer for the College.

“While I was cogitating on the deeper meaning contained in Mail 21 I had an e-mail from an old Primary School and Parramatta High School school classmate called Don Williams (1953-60). Imagine my amazement when he mentioned PNG. Then this morning in answer to my questions it turns out that he was part of a connecting chain at good old ASOPA. It goes like this: Barry Paterson 62/63; Janine Paterson (nee Outram) 63/64; Don Williams 64/65; Catherine Outram (Janine's sister) 65/66. I passed on the website to him.”

Bob Davis says Mail 21 was “another collection of fascinating glimpses into our shared experiences. I was particularly taken with the traffic/driving advice. Some of those tips were of course standard procedure when we were in PNG but the term 'defensive' driving seems to have been elevated to a whole new plateau. I am sure PNG is not the only place where such driving tactics are recommended. Keep up the great work. See you (hopefully) in 2003.”

Bill Wilson sends a nice note to let me know “how much I value the support and friendship you have given to me and many others over the last year. It has just been great and the Reunion was one of the top events I have experienced over the last year. It was the first time I journeyed out of Canberra in two and a half years and I enjoyed every minute of it except the goodbyes. Finding your ad in the Telegraph in May was one of my most rewarding acts of the year. You have also earned our thanks for your production of the reunion newsletter and more recently The Mail and its arrival each week is really welcome. Anita and I join in wishing you and your family a happy and blessed Christmas and a great new year for 2003.”


Col Booth gives me the benefit of his views. “Now Masta Kit, I am a bit worried about the haggard state of the staff at JWM. Why would they be feeling so stuffed within a month of you returning to work? Can you identify any single event that would cause such a dramatic change in their state of mind? Perhaps you should take a month off to see if you can identify the problem. Actually, it’s good to hear that your return seems to be going smoothly. It must have been a bit of a kick in the guts earlier in the year after your previous attempt at returning to work. Cheers from paradise.”


There’s a feisty debate underway on Peter Salmon’s excellent website – triggered by a suggestion that former kiaps contribute to a prototype volume with the working title History of the Kiaps. This posting will give you a taste of the exchange so far…

“I hope this history is going to be warts and all and not just a recounting of the self-glorifying feats of lounge kiaps who wouldn’t get off their arses in a fit! I hope it will pay tribute to the single kiaps who carried the burden of lonely isolated stations so that the married kiaps could stay home in conjugal bliss! I hope it will pay more than a passing glance at the snobbery and bigotry of some of these social big-timers who wouldn’t piss on an officer who was married to a local girl. Some of those are still up there passing themselves off as concerned about the welfare of the locals. Most of them are only concerned about their own welfare!

“I hope it will expose the hypocrisy of some of those, especially the befores who perpetuated a rigid colour bar system in sexual relations even to the extent of placing their own officers under surveillance and used the threat of forced resignation to instill fear and loathing in officers already under considerable stress. I hope it will blast the use of remote stations as punishment stations and will show some regard and compassion for those who fell by the wayside as a result of an excessive amount of time spent in such circumstances! Even POWs had companionship. Loneliness is a killer and has a deleterious effect on the mind-ask any psychologist. I could go on but I’ll blow up! [Sgd] C G Sanderson


“2002 will be best remembered for the elections, privatisation and the acute financial crises we faced. Our challenge is to look at past mistakes and ensure we don't make them again. To remedy a mammoth and complex problem such as ours is not easy. It requires commitment from all of us. It is encouraging to see government devise hard measures to resuscitate our economy, but the government cannot do it alone. It needs everyone's undivided loyalty and willingness to bring us out of these doldrums. Mistakes corrected bring a lot of benefits but we must be prepared to make sacrifices. No one but ourselves will make the changes to our wonderful land. It is important how each of us can assist. It does not matter where you are placed, a little contribution can make a huge difference. Unless we turn the focus to prosperity, nothing will emerge. 2002 has come and will soon be left to history, but its lessons must be kept to better ourselves for the future that is 2003.”

21 December 2002


Diane Bohlen tells me that Keith Bain has left the UK and is in Hong Kong on the way to Brisbane where he’s staying with his sister in Brisbane and then holidaying on the coast. Ros and Dennis Burrell have kindly offered to host a get together for Keith before he returns to the Old Dart. When Diane contacts Prof Bain and confirms a date, she’ll let us know.


Pam Kruger sends Christmas Greetings from the cold North. “Actually it isn’t so cold yet,” Pam confides, “about minus 5 degrees centigrade and not even any snow. But it is dark. It first gets really light (if the sun shines) at about 9 am but gets dark again by 4 pm. So you can imagine Christmas here in Denmark is all about getting the dark month of December to pass as pleasantly as possible. No opportunity to light candles is missed and all towns and cities are lit with Christmas decorations, so it really looks very pretty.

“People hold lots of Christmas parties, bake and eat many specialties and drink mulled wine, spiced with cinnamon, raisins and nuts. Christmas is celebrated on Christmas eve, with a big dinner of roast duck, red cabbage(sweetened) and caramelised potatoes, followed by a rice pudding full of chopped almonds and whipped cream, served with a warm cherry sauce. (Tastes wonderful). There is always one whole almond in the dessert, and the person lucky enough, or greedy enough, to get this wins a prize.

“Having stuffed oneself to the limit, everybody then dances around the Christmas tree singing Christmas carols, after which the presents that have been stacked under the tree (surreptitiously) are given out. The Christmas tree I might add, is decorated very traditionally - often with home made decorations that have been used for years, little Danish flags, glass balls and lighted candles in special weighted holders. It is really a sight to behold. As you can maybe guess, I am really looking forward to Christmas.”

Pam sends a special Danish greeting to Les Peterkin - Glædelig Jul – and tells me she’s very pleased to hear that rain fell just at the right time in Sydney. “It must be terrible to have the fires so close to your home.”


Les Peterkin has nominated “making contact with old ASOPA students” as one of the many highlights of his year. Other features included Les’s new job at Lindisfarne School and “generally enjoying the convenience of living in Tweed Heads: we won’t mention the two times the car blew, requiring major surgery!”


My good friend Colin Huggins says he’s managed to see two videos recently: one of the Port Macquarie get together plus the old Les Peterkin video of the 1962 ski trip to Falls Creek. Quoth Colin: “Mr Peter Lewis will be forever in my gratitude as it is clearly shown on an otherwise ancient piece of cinematography my successful saving of him from disappearing into an abyss of ice. It also shows him laughing in histrionics and showing no signs of a simple thank you to me for my efforts. You'll keep, Mr. Lewis! The only other person I recognised was Diane Bohlen.

Colin says we may be interested to know that he saw these videos at Les Peterkin’s place at Tweed Heads. “Like Moose Davis, I'm darned if I can remember Les at ASOPA, however he can remember me. He has become quite an excellent potter (ceramics) and also a painter. Has his works displayed in various galleries. Maybe he should have been our lecturer in woodwork and craft. I also didn't know that for many years he was a reserve officer with the Army Reserve with none other than a citation from General Peter Cosgrove!”

Colin adds that it was great to learn that Dubbo Kesby survived the fires. “Quite frightening, to say the least.”


David Westover scribbles a quick note to let me know that he and Lorraine are still in the land of the living. “We're sorry we couldn't make the mini-reunion at Dubbo's place last month - it would have been great to catch up again. We're having a ‘quiet’ Christmas in Adelaide this year. Our elder daughter and her family are over from Dubbo so we will have time to reacquaint ourselves with the two grand-daughters. Have a good Christmas with plenty of red wine and a great 2003 - with more red wine. SA has a bit of a reputation for wines and there is not a lot better than sitting on the boat, sipping the red (or white), reflecting on the past half life and contemplating how to spend the next half life - come and try it sometime. Wish the Asopians a great new year from Lorraine and myself.”


Henry Bodman pens his annual Epistle to the Barbarians and writes: “The Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) 1962-63 year had its 40th reunion at Port Macquarie earlier in the year and, thanks to Keithy Jackson’s weekly newsletter (average 10 pages) over a six month prelude and Col and Wendy Booth’s ‘on site’ organisation, this was a memorable occasion. Only one qualifier eluded my accurate memory (out of 41 eligibles) despite the ravages of time, which have left the then teenagers in various states of array ranging from decrepit to sparky. Of the original 57, two have died and the rest spread around the globe, a couple of hermits didn’t want reminding of their youth – presumably the comparison with the present too painful.”


Richard Jones is just back in Bendigo from Melbourne. “It's way cooler than here,” he says, and I’m not sure whether he’s complaining or not. Richard attended his eldest daughter's RMIT University graduation ceremony Wednesday evening. “It was held at Colonial Stadium (err, the Telstra Dome) and bizarre to see it kitted out for an educational function, with 5,500 students on the grass and 30,000 of us family members and friends in the stands. Usually AFL footy, sometimes international rugby and even occasionally, with the roof closed in August, winter cricket between the Aussies and the Pakis held at Colonial. It's been 37-39 degrees here since Sunday. Luckily the street party last Saturday was held in much milder 30 degrees.”


Col Booth says all three of his and Wendy’s kids are coming home for Christmas. But it seems there are no boyfriends this year. “This makes two years in a row that we have not had to be polite and welcoming to a total stranger,” says Col, the relief evident. “A previous one is remembered by his statement, ‘What does 'aviation' mean ... these big words get me!’ But he had a fine physique!”

Col had a long call from Helene East the other night. She is still thinking wonderful things about The Event. He also had a nice card from the Rev Dr Barry Paterson of the Far North. All seems to be well with him and family.

Wendy Booth is in the local Quilters group, known to Col as the ‘Stitch and Bitch’ club. At the group’s annual Xmas party she met a Wendy Jones, who is joining the club next year. Wendy turned out to be CD Rowley's niece, who’s lived in Port Macquarie for ten years. “She proudly has a copy of every book CD wrote,” says Col. CD had two brothers, the last one dying only last year. They were all academics.

Col is very concerned about the next Reunion, planned for 2005. “How are the development plans going for the rebuilt Clifton Gardens Hotel? Are there any objections coming through. I suppose if all else fails, the Buena Vista will have to do. I hope they won't want me to return all those schooner glasses I took over the two-year period.” Col reminds us that mid-year 2005 is only 30 months away.

Col says he’s sorry he didn't get to see Dubbo Kesby in firefighting mode, standing on the roof of his house. “Anyway, he was safe,” opines Masta Col, “no bushfire could have survived the heat of his chili cooking had it tried to enter his domain.”


Putting together Vintage and now The Mail has been a labour of love, and one that will continue so long as people care to keep in touch and tell their stories. Having spent most of my life in close affinity with the written word, I know the great influence it can wield: modest newsletters no less than much grander titles.

Recently I’ve been corresponding with Lindsey Moroney, sister of Nick Rooke whom I taught at Kundiawa Primary A soon after arriving in PNG. Earlier this year, Nick was accidentally killed in Madang and Lindsey wrote seeking information about him and her parents, who ran the Kundiawa Hotel about the time I was learning to drink in the 1960s. The ASOPA/Alcohol experience somehow passed me by. I guess that’s how I remember Les Peterkin, who some of the fellas can’t recall because they were up t’pub.

Anyhow, it being Christmas, I thought I might share one of my letters to Lindsey, in which I recollect how it was, back then…..

“At the time your family was in Kundiawa, the pub was owned by an Anglo-Ceylonese called Denver (Dick) Kelaart. Dick - who I think had been a kiap - spent most of his time travelling in a fruitless effort to expand his business base outside Kundiawa. Despite the futility of this, we admired him because he was shrewd, worldly and the only entrepreneur in our experience apart from Brian Heagney, who owned a chain of trade stores in the district.

“Your family lived in a rather small bungalow adjacent to the hotel - and this was shared with a German barmaid (I think her name was Vicki Renne) who, being one of the few single white women in the area, was everyone's favourite.

“The Kundiawa Hotel was a ramshackle affair. There was a joke in the Chimbu that it had been "built inside out - three-ply on the inside and tar paper on the outside". It was most people's personal introduction to Kundiawa, since we'd all spend a few nights there (in dormitory style accommodation) upon being posted to the district.

“There's a story (most likely apocryphal) that one dear soul, upon being assigned his room, found a woman there in a state of semi-undress. Upon rushing to Dick Kelaart in the bar exclaiming, "Mr Kelaart, Mr Kelaart, there's a naked woman in my room", he was told with Dick's characteristic coolness, "What d'you expect for three quid a night!"

“While Dennis and Muriel Rooke were running the hotel, which was always in fierce competition with the club for patrons, they started a series of 'Gastronomic Tours', which introduced a range of cuisines and vintages to the steak & chips with a beer brigade. Everyone complained about the cost (three quid, everything was three quid including a carton of beer), but no one missed out. Being a country boy from NSW, this was my first experience of Italian, French and Greek food sloshed own wit what I took to be fine wine. I never looked back.”


Always travel with your windows up and your doors locked.

At traffic lights be aware of the cars and pedestrians around you. When coming to a stop, leave a car length's space in front of you, to maneuver out of a situation if you need to.

When driving, always leave room in front of your car to allow you to maneuver. Do not allow yourself to be boxed in.

Reverse your car into car parks to allow for a quick get away.

Do not park your car in an isolated dark area or areas where there are obstructions.

Take communication equipment with you, for example a mobile phone or radio.

Drive defensively, even if you are in the right. There is often a fairly loose interpretation of the road rules here in PNG.

Do not leave anything visible in your car that will attract thieves.

When attending evening functions be early and get a good park. Park inside the compounds, or as close as possible to the gates and security guards. If you cannot park close to the premises go home.

If you are involved in any accident, which causes injury or damage to persons, livestock, animals or property, do not stop your vehicle but proceed at once to the closest police station. Check periodically which police stations are open 24 hours and are considered to be the 'safest' for expatriates.

Whenever travelling out of town or to areas that you are unfamiliar with, travel in a convoy.

When travelling at night to unsafe suburban areas, for example to Waigani, travel with other cars.

If you have a flat tyre, do not stop. Drive home or to a known secure place, for example to the High Commission or to a secure compound.

If you feel that you are being followed, do not go home. Go to a safe place, the Australian High Commission or a police station.

Approaching home, slow down, make a visual check of the area; be aware of any loiterers or unusual activity. If in doubt, do not stop. Return from another direction and check again. If still in doubt, get help.

Do not turn into a dead end street if you notice a car behind you. Go around the block again and only proceed to your destination when the car turns off.

Note: Police roadblocks are common here in PNG especially around public holidays such as Christmas.


14 December 2002


Ros Burrell passes on a feel-good Christmas story, Burrell style. “A bit of background first,” she writes. “Dennis and I are about embark on an epic journey to Townsville, but never without passengers. Those on board are Dennis’ parents in their 80's, who happen to live with us, our son Con and my mother. Bookings are made, two cars organised, the fishing gear ready then our son decides he's not coming and doesn't want Xmas with us anyway. To emphasise the fact, he turns up at a crowded work party on Friday night with a bright pink mohawk which, added to his recent tattoo, is not a pretty sight to his conventional mother. Shock horror!”

The Ros saw her brother-in-law coming up my steps for the first time in 29 years and approaching her son. “I was heard to say, "This is the Christmas from hell". My brother-in-law has refused to communicate with any of us, especially my mother. I saw him visibly shaking with the strain and my mother put out her hand saying she was so happy to see him. Others followed wishing him well and five hours later we saw a different man. Might I add Dennis met him dripping wet having been caught by the kids who swamped him with buckets of water. Water play with Dennis is a family tradition!”

It gets better. Ros goes on: “Con apologises to Dennis and says he wants to be with us. He later informs me it was such an emotional day he cried with happiness. Now this is the real Christmas spirit. Not the presents but the presence. Top that. Hope Christmas is a special time for you all and that it continues.”


Diane Bohlen tells me there’s just one more week of school before she either relaxes or rushes around preparing for Christmas parties. “It’s the first time we will have family in Brisbane for Christmas for a few years,” Diane says. “I'm not sure if that's exciting or a lot of work. Then we are off to Norfolk Island for a holiday. As you can imagine Bill is busy with commercial air conditioning as the temperatures are in the 30's and the commercial building boom still in place.”


Ian McLean has settled on the new apartment in Melbourne. You can tell he wasn’t sweating on it as he was able to inform me it was finalised at “2:05 pm on 6 December - a mere three weeks after being set for completion.” Ian spent last weekend moving boxes, bundles and bags. “Then we were actually able to start enjoying the view,” Ian tells me. He got back to Okinawa on 12 December, leaving Belinda and the boys behind “to continue testing the purchasing power of the Visa card”. Belinda heads for Singapore at the end of January for Chinese New Year celebrations.


Bob Davis remarks that it was an interesting observation Les Peterkin mades about the Port Macquarie video including his statement that he might have difficulty recognising some of us. “I would certainly agree with him - especially as he never knew who I was at college 40 years ago,” says an unusually flustered Bob. “I mean I cannot ever recall exchanging words with him in any way, shape or form and I know he never knew who Dave Argent was.” Then Bob settles: “Mind you, that could hardly be attributed to poor memory on Les's part. Nor to the slow but certain metamorphosis of Dave's physical features. Les wouldn’t remember Dave because Dave skipped most of the lectures.”


Jean Lowe says The Mail keeps on coming but should have faded away ages ago. “What is up? Guess I’ll just have to rejoin. I’ve been fixing up an album of my North American travels. I took a photo of a US Post Office in New York. Emblazoned across the façade in bold Roman capitals is – “Neither snow nor rain nor heat not gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed round”.

Recently Jean had a few hours between trains in Melbourne, so called in to see Mike Wilson’s boutique gallery in Collins Street. “Son Aaron showed me around the collection. What a superb display! I did wish I could have afforded a treat for myself or someone else. Oh well! Christmas greeting to everyone and a peaceful solution to all the conflicts no one wants.”


Richard Jones’ youngest daughter Daria flew back from a two week holiday in Sydney yesterday and when he met at her Tullamarine airport she handed him that day's Sydney Morning Herald. “Guess what? Page 4 story and pics all about Berowra Heights, including the very street where we spent the afternoon of November 2nd. Alan Road residents were pictured fighting the fire in the same valley we admired from the Kesby's deck that reunion afternoon. Rain in the Sydney area today has wiped out all the problems apparently,” adds Richard.

Henry and Janelle Bodman say that everybody's thoughts are with Dubbo and Elissa at this tough time. “These are the times,” mulls Henry, “that to some extent counter the years of enjoyment. We live in a wooded area of Brisbane and a fire here would mean immediate evacuation for us - I have had the plan in place for years. I didn't think I would ever care for development around us, but it did come and has removed thirty acres of bushland, which changes the equation dramatically in favour of surviving a fire. The development is now wooding up but will always be Dingo Dell to us originals. Will watch the press with interest and are thinking of you constantly.”

Diane Bohlen writes that she’s seen “the horrible pictures on TV and have been thinking of Dave and Elissa every night. Hope you and your house will be safe. Take care.”

Ian McLean says he’s glad to know Dave and Elissa “survived the great conflagration of 2002.”

Dave and Elissa Kesby thank people for their thoughts during recent days. “We have reconnected our computer for the moment and are taking advantage of a lull - Sunday afternoon complacency. We have retrieved the computer from the boot of the car where it has been with our old photos including our ASOPA reunion stuff. Our worst night was Thursday when we saw flames in our own special valley - all we could say was 'shit' as we ran around like blue-arsed flies and waited for a text message from Richard. Since then we have been at home looking at our navels and pretending we are firies. We love Eric the firefighting chopper, although sometimes he is too keen. Burn it to buggery so we won’t have to go through this again for a while. Thanks again for all your thoughts.”

7 December 2002


I was alerted by Dick Jones’ brief SMS message on my mobile: “The dubbo & elissa ranch, venue 4 last month’s idyllic thai chicken bbq, is 2day ringed by fire. Dave has been home since 10.30 am. Car is loaded with photos”. This morning the hot spot of all 70 bushfires raging in NSW is Dave and Elissa’s suburb of Berowra Heights. Elissa tells me they spent yesterday loading the car with valuables and fire-proofing the house to the extent possible as the fire swept up the gully below with firefighters and the chopper doing their best to contain it. Dubbo couldn’t be immediately located when I rang, but he could have been firespotting on the roof, where he seems to have spent a lot of time in the last 24 hours. As Elissa said: “It’s the PNG experience coming out”. All I could do in the circumstances was send your best wishes – and that I did.


Richard Jones believes that many of you are “mired in the 1960s”, as he puts it with typical literary flair. “I’m surprised so many of our colleagues seem unable, or unwilling, to adapt to modern technology, Keithie? Why haven't they mastered the SMS capability?” Does anyone know what our friend is talking about?


Les Peterkin says he received the reunion video from Diane Bohlen. “What a great video and an exciting time for all. Interesting to see what 40 years can do to our looks. Joe Crainean and Bill Bergen are very recognisable, some less so, and most I wouldn't know them at all if I passed them in the street. Also good that I can put a face to you and others with whom I'm corresponding.”

30 November 2002


Helen Bergen e-mails me to say that her dad, Bill Bergen, has sent her a copy of The Mail. “I just wanted to let you know how much I've enjoyed reading it. I know how important it has been for Billy-boy to meet up again and remember some of the most interesting and happy times he's had. It's also a nice thing for me, given that my memories of childhood and belonging are in PNG.” Helen works in the office of Peter Andren, the independent Federal MP for Calare in NSW, and has been added to our mailing list.


The post-modern Richard Jones is the only person who sends me SMS messages on my mobile phone. “Keithie,” he texts, “maybe ruthie latukefu mite be coaxed into reviewing new book just out on anthro ted strehlow 4 the mail".

Ruth Latukefu says she’d love to review the book on Ted Strehlow since she knew him, though not well. “I met him several times in the early 60s and had discussions over coffee. I also did a review of the Indomitable Miss Pink by Julie Marcus, which I am about to expand a little for the Australian Journal of Anthropology. It was also written for Elimatta, the newsletter of the Aboriginal Support Group of Manly Warringah Pittwater. I only review books when I’m really interested in reading them and they are not likely to be boring!”


As a young anthropology student at Sydney University during the 1950s, although I never met her, I came to share the prevailing view of Miss Olive Pink which dismissed her as an eccentric loner, a sort of copy-cat Daisy Bates whose work was not to be taken seriously. I must admit I badly misjudged Olive Pink, whose remarkable story has now been told in the biography by Dr Julie Marcus (University of NSW, 200l).

Born in Tasmania in 1884, Olive Pink - artist, amateur botanist, anthropologist, life long campaigner for Aboriginal rights - spent much of her 90 years among Arrernte and Warlpiri Aborigines in Central Australia, to whom she was known as Talkinjiya, and whose fond memories of her have been passed down to the present generation by those who worked with her and knew her during the 1930s and later.

These remembrances together with her many letters, published in a separate book (Yours Truly, Olive M Pink, Olive Pink Society, 1991) have enabled us to appreciate her historical significance as someone who was well ahead of her times in so many respects, and bravely stuck to her principles consequently: suffering poverty and personal injustices during her lifetime. Some of her views would not now be considered politically correct, such as her exclusive concern with "full-blooded Aborigines", for whom she waged a lifelong campaign for land rights, justice, protection of women from abuse, and insisted on their right to express their traditional religion and cultural identity without missionary interference. But she was firmly opposed to all forms of exploitation, racism and rejected what she called the genocidal policies of assimilation. It was her uncompromising and confrontational approach, to administrators, pastoralists, politicians, missionaries and other anthropologists, which gained her the reputation of a troublemaker and eccentric.

Despite the attempts by fellow anthropologists such as TG Strehlow to discredit her and question her credentials, so that she was never able to get adequate funding for her work, Olive Pink not only carried out serious anthropological research, much of which still remains unpublished, but she engaged in prolific correspondence with authorities on Aboriginal issues so that through her letters and life one is given a historical perspective on the situation of Aborigines in Central Australia from the 1930s on.

During her later years, living a solitary and frugal existence in Alice Springs till her death in 1975, "she is still spoken of and remembered as a living presence, sometimes with affection sometimes with anger and always with curiosity. She is lost in contradiction, her own determined privacy and the mythology that surrounds her" (p 300). But, through Julie Marcus' biography, she will gain the respect she deserved.


Concerns have been raised over the alleged continuous bastardisation of the world famous Asaro Mudmen tradition of the Eastern Highlands province. A councillor and the only remaining original mudman, Ruipo Okoro from Komunive village in Asaro, argued strongly that certain groups around the country who are not true descendents of the mudmen are copying and using this tradition for the sake of receiving payment.

"These copy-cat groups are also staging shows for tourists without the approval from the true owners of the culture. We don't want our tradition to be played around with," Mr Okoro said through an interpreter.

[Source: James Kila, PNG Independent, 21 November 2002]


Daru General Hospital resumed normal operations after water supply was restored to the town last Tuesday. Hospital management scaled down some of its health services after Kunini village landowners upset over the Fly Provincial Government's lack of response to their demands, closed the main water valve at the pump station.

[Source: PNG Independent, 21 November 2002]

23 November 2002


Keith Bain writes from his part below-ground study/dining room in Islington in London. “When I turn around and look up and out, I can see occasional small patches of blue among the dominant grey clouds - but I have to look hard. Surprisingly, it is not raining at the moment - but it probably soon will be. It is, however, mild - we have had no cold weather yet, although it would seem cool, no doubt, to many of you. I've done my two days of teaching for the week and now have five days more or less free apart from a commitment to see several new Italian films at the London Film Festival. I am actually formally on strike today, although it is a bit hard to be on strike on a day when one doesn't normally work. All it means, I guess, is that I give up 1/260th of my much reduced pay as a gesture of support to my colleagues.

“I do receive The Mail and am happy to hear everyone's news. I'm not greatly excited by the high level of fitness being reported by so many, but since I wasn't fit even at the age of 20/21 at ASOPA, there wasn't much chance of my ever being really fit thereafter. I have a dim recollection of once being accused by Les Peterkin of thinking myself an 'aesthete' and not an 'athlete', with the implication that I somehow thought 'aesthetes' were superior to 'athletes', although I don't think I was guilty of such precise thought. To spend a lifetime short of full fitness requires more complex motivation. I'm also unconvinced by the virtuousness of having a 'full head of hair'.

“Travel plans. We leave London on 13th December for Australia with a few days in Hong Kong and Xi'an on the way and arrive in Brisbane on 21st December. It would certainly be a pleasure to see some of you during our stay. PS, There is now (one hour later) a bright blue sky outside. On the other hand, someone has just walked past with an umbrella up - it can hardly be for protection against the sun!”


Les Peterkin says he’s happy to report that a snow bunny has finally exposed herself! None other than Diane Bohlen. “I knew it was her in the bright red Christian Dior skiing ensemble,” emotes Les. “I received a lovely e-mail from Diane in which she revealed that she was indeed a snow bunny. I should mention that on the same Falls Creek reel, there is about 25 minutes of footage I shot when we took the '63-64 ASOPA class to the Lake Lodge holiday camp for a week of camping experience and related activities in March '64. There is some really good footage of the activities they did there. As usual, I can't put many names to the faces in the film, but I thought that some of your group may have contact with some of the students from the '63-64 class. It would be great to be able to share this as well.”


Can anyone help Luke B Manicaros find his lost buddy? Luke says he read the ASOPA reunion story in Garamut. “Sounded great. We had a Rabaul one a couple of weeks ago. Really super! I think an old Air Force mate of mine was in the ASOPA intake. Have often wondered where he was? Maybe you know him. ‘Arab’ Wyatt, little Lebanese-looking guy. Married Janine when in the Sepik area in late 60's? She was taller good looking blonde.” Luke lives in Brisbane and is on e-mail at [email protected].


The release in October of a feature film, Black and White, starring Robert Carlyle and David Ngoombujarra, scripted by Louis Nowra and directed by Craig Lahiff, coincides with the new publication, after more than 40 years, of Ken Inglis’ book, The Stuart Case. Most of us have either forgotten the Stuart case or were born long after it, so it is difficult to now imagine that, for some months in 1959, it became the most talked of and contentious trial in Australian legal history, comparable in its day to the more recent OJ Simpson trial in USA.

Rupert Max Stuart, then an illiterate Aboriginal working in a traveling fun fair, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1959 largely on the basis of a signed confession in which he admitted to police that he had raped and murdered Mary Hattam, a nine-year old girl, on a beach at Ceduna in December 1958.

Whether he was innocent or guilty of the crime are the central themes of both the film Black and White and The Stuart Case. The film dramatises two scenarios, one showing Stuart as an innocent victim of police brutality whose poor English was incapable of the verbatim confession which police claimed he had spoken; the other as guilty, enacting how in a drunken state he came upon the child, enticed her into a cave, murdered her and later lied to protect himself. The viewers are left to decide which version to believe, and much of the film explores the courtroom drama, the legal adversaries and the way the controversial case divided Adelaide society, then under the long reigning government of Sir Thomas Playford.

Through the untiring efforts of a group of Adelaide people, some of whom are portrayed in the film, Stuart was saved from the gallows and his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. They included his defence lawyers David O’Sullivan (Robert Carlyle) and Helen Devaney (Kerry Fox), Father Thomas Dixon (Colin Friels), a Catholic priest who believed Stuart had been framed, the anthropologist, Ted Strehlow, who gave linguistic evidence for the defence but whose film impersonation caricatures the real Strehlow (whom I knew personally). A young Rupert Murdoch (Ben Mendelsohn), then proprietor of the News Ltd and his editor Rohan Rivett (John Gregg) vigorously took up Stuart’s cause, and tried to embarrass the Adelaide Establishment. Stuart’s major adversaries, Sir Thomas Playford (Billie Brown) and the Prosecutor, Roderick Chamberlain (Charles Dance), were equally convinced that Stuart was guilty and deserved the death penalty.

The enigma of Stuart’s guilt or innocence is well captured in the film’s last brief scene (actually taken from Rachel Perkins’ and Ned Lander’s 1992 documentary on Stuart’s life, Broken English) in which the real Rupert Max Stuart, now a white bearded elder, is shown driving a four-wheel Toyota along a Central Australian dirt road. He says “Yeah, some people think that I’m guilty and some people think I’m not. Some people think Elvis is still alive, but most of us think he’s dead and gone.”

Having seen the film and read the The Stuart Case, I found the book far more satisfying than the film because it meticulously presents the full complexity of this case in its social and political context, accurately portrays the people involved and tries to answer so many questions which the film could not, including whether Stuart was guilty, though this can never be answered with certainty because of the police’s incompetent forensic investigation. However, the case aroused such interest and became so emotive a cause that two other books written by those connected with it have been published since Ken Inglis’ book was originally published in l960. Sir Roderick Chamberlain, who presided over Stuart’s prosecution and remained his lifelong adversary, always believing him guilty, published The Stuart Affair, in 1973. Later, Thomas Dixon, the former Catholic priest, who spoke Aranda, found witnesses from the fun fair who provided an alibi (leading to the Royal Commission) and maintained a lifelong connection with Max Stuart, whom he always believed was innocent, wrote The Wizard of Alice: Father Dixon and the Stuart Case, which appeared in 1987.

Ken Inglis is now one of Australia’s most eminent historians, but when he published the original book on The Stuart Case he was a young lecturer at Adelaide University. He was present throughout the long Royal Commission hearings, which followed Stuart’s trial in 1959, documenting them fully, collecting newspaper and other media accounts and later analysing their social and political ramifications in the book. He had an insider’s knowledge of the case through personal contacts with many others involved in trying to save Stuart’s life. These included other prominent lawyers and politicians besides those mentioned in the film, such as JW Shand, QC, who first represented Stuart at the Royal Commission, later to be replaced by John Starke QC. A young Don Dunstan, then an opposition backbencher in the South Australian Parliament, who tried in 1959 unsuccessfully to have capital punishment abolished, and was later to succeed Sir Thomas Playford. Others mentioned were Sir John Latham, Hal Wootten and prominent journalists from the Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Age, Manchester Guardian etc. All this makes The Stuart Case such a unique book, because it now covers the life span of both its author and subject from youth to old age.

The reprinting of the original book, long out of print, was itself worth doing, but Inglis has added four important new chapters which chronicle the lives of Rupert Max Stuart, his dedicated supporters who fought for years to prove his innocence and his legal adversaries, in an Epilogue spanning from 1959 to 2002. It is an amazing story of the rehabilitation of convicted murderer, Rupert Max Stuart, who in 1959 was seven times about to be hanged, “escaped the noose against the longest of odds” and after the Royal Commission had his death sentence commuted to life imprisonment of which he served fifteen years. During his time at Yatala prison Stuart had learned proper English, became literate, began painting watercolours and acquired many other work skills. Though he was returned to prison a number of times for breaches of his parole between 1974 and 1984, he married and settled at Santa Teresa, a Catholic mission south-east of Alice Springs.

The turning point came in 1985, when he was appointed initially to a part-time job with the Central Land Council by its then director, Patrick Dodson. From this time on, Stuart’s extensive knowledge of Aboriginal law and tradition, which he had gained from his grandfather as a youth and never forgotten, made him a highly respected and influential Arrernte elder.

Inglis writes (p 374): The Central Land Council gave Stuart occupation, income, and respect. In 1994 he could say: “Even now I’m still a branded man, you know. If you’re a branded man, you’re branded for life.” But he could also say, describing his job at the Council: “When they find out whose are the royalties I used to write the cheque! A crim! The Land Council trusted me”. He was talking, not writing; the italics are mine, to mark what seems to me the council’s profound significance in the transformation of Rupert Max Stuart, convicted murderer, into the Max Stuart who was on his way to political and ceremonial eminence.

Stuart eventually became its Chairman, it was he who later welcomed Queen Elizabeth to Alice Springs, “This was one of the proudest days of his life, he would say: an old crim welcoming the Queen to his Country.” (p 384.) Nowadays Rupert Max Stuart is interviewed on television, heard on Radio National and, in September 2001, was cultural director of the Yeperenye Federation Festival. Most people, including myself, had no idea it was the same man who was to be hung for murder in 1959! For everyone who sees the film Black and White, Ken Inglis’ Stuart Case (Black Inc, 2002, $27.95) should be compulsory reading.

16 November 2002


Les Peterkin proposes a good read for people who spent time in PNG in the 60's & 70's: Carol Kidu’s ‘A Remarkable Journey’ (Pearson Education Australia). Les quotes from the cover: "This is a truly amazing story of an Australian teenager (in the days of the White Australia Policy) who dared to fall in love with a Papua New Guinean and join his people. This was no ordinary love. Follow Carol's riveting account of her life as wife and village mother, to champion of the underprivileged and leader of women. Today she is Lady Carol Kidu, one of only two female parliamentarians in Papua New Guinea, deeply loved by her adopted people and much in demand by women's movements around the world. This is a true story of real love, tragedy, joy, corruption, intrigue, the supernatural and much more." Les notes that Carol married Buri Kidu who became Sir Buri, Chief Justice of PNG.


Les Peterkin provides some disturbing information. “Funny, but no one has yet confessed to going to the Falls Creek skiing holiday in '62 (see Mail 14). Your editor is concerned that, 40 years on, our snow bunnies are so coy.


The Sydney Harbour National Trust has released a draft plan covering Middle Head, Georges Heights and Chowder Bay, a tract of land known as Kabatja Bah by its original inhabitants. You’ll be pleased to know that all former ASOPA buildings have been ranked as high heritage significance and therefore will be retained. In the words of the plan, they will be “adaptively re-used in a parkland environment”.

ASOPA is described as comprisinga number of single-storey timber framed small-scale buildings, predominantly clad in timber weatherboard and arranged around a series of landscaped pathways”. Sound familiar? They are “lightweight and off ground buildings” marked by the “tropical appearance of internal pathways and courtyards”. Water leakage and termites are said to have caused some degradation and structural damage.

Under the plan, the buildings and their surrounding environment will be improved and potentially used for “formal and informal education and cultural studies, including overnight accommodation by visiting school groups”.

I’m keeping in close touch with this issue to ensure that, at an appropriate time, a long-lasting reminder of ASOPA and its significance will be included in the development of the site. If you’re interested in obtaining further information, you can find the full plan on the Internet at


Michael Wilson was talking with Ian McLean who told him The Mail is alive and well. “I was very surprised as I haven’t had one since the reunion, looks like I’ve been left off the list. I’d be very grateful if you could put me back on as Wendy a I had a great time and we love to keep up with the gos.” Michael, is back on the list, and was surprised to get 15 Mail back issues in one hit.


Ian McLean has been arm-wrestling with the Australian real estate industry. “We got the biggest surprise upon arriving in Melbourne. The apartment building had not been completed. We were supposed to settle Thursday and move in Friday ... but they say they needed another month. I contacted my solicitor (confused I think - he believes the builder is his client) and he said there's nothing he can do. We to put all of our personal effects in storage and have to stay at our hotel for another month. Aaaagh! Melbourne weather is living up to its reputation. We had 14 degrees overnight and 35 in the afternoon on Tuesday.


Richard Jones asks whether we’ve given any thought to penning a few lines on what he terms “the Port Macquarie three-day epic” for the reunion columns of Una Voce. “I notice the December edition devoted half a page to the Sogeri Secondary School reunion held in Canberra. I think it might have been a bit of a bore, that Sogeri do, because the punters had to sit through sessions such as ‘PNG Today’' with the no doubt honest but perhaps past his prime Sir Paulias Matane holding forth.” Well, Richard, Henry Bodman penned a report in September’s Una Voce, and it’s reproduced here.


This was a hugely successful reunion. Of the 57 who completed the course, every one was traced by Col and Wendy Booth who searched the white pages of Australia to fill the gaps left by the Electoral Roll. Their efforts were rewarded with a 100% result. Of the 57 qualifiers, two have died and a number are overseas in occupations ranging from that of ‘academic’ to a ‘spook’ gathering information for a US 'information service'. Forty qualifiers attended along with 20 others - including partners, a kiap, a liklik doctor and a couple of EOs of earlier vintage.

Colin Booth, a Port Macquarie resident, organised a very hectic weekend of activities which opened with a few (dozen) Friday night ‘stings’ at the reunion base accommodation. Considering that most had been teenagers when they last met, it was interesting to see who could be recognised with 40 years added. Predictably, health ranged from mediocre to bracing. Thc most startling fact for some was the ease with which the group, without exception, re-established those relationships which had been nurtured in the nursery of ASOPA 1962.

Saturday morning saw participants assembled at a couple of Port’s best known hostelries as these elderly people relived their youth. This was followed by a ‘Grudge 500' game (card game), launched to put to rest who was the best 500 combination at ASOPA '62-63. The evening 'formal' saw more versions of ‘the monumental and minuscule stories of yore'. Sunday started with a hearty and unhealthy breakfast followed by a cruise on the river for a couple of hours. The afternoon was spent on a bus tour of Paradise and concluded with a 'wind-down' Chinese meal.

Why did the event work so well? Added to Wendy’s persistent search and Col’s marvellously smooth organisation on the ground was a weekly eight-page issue called Vintage - produced and circulated by Keith Jackson of Jackson Wells Morris. This production disrupted everybody's Friday for 26 weeks and contained news, views and memories from ASOPA days through the PNG years to the present. A selection of the anecdotes was put between the covers under the title of ‘The ASOPA Files’ and is now lodged with the National Library - as is ‘ASOPA People’, which is a summary of biographies of the qualifiers … both intriguing volumes. Attendees warn future reunion attendees to prepare for serious withdrawal symptoms when the event is over.

9 November 2002


The Kesby hacienda is a fine manse surrounded by eucalypts, many of them planted by Dave and Elissa 25 years ago, and looking across a broad bush valley on Sydney’s northern border. It’s a warm Spring day and the huge deck overlooking this scene is the gathering place for some of the truly gun players of the Class of 62/63.

From Okinawa, Japan, there’s Ian Talker McLean, tanned and relaxed after a life free from stress in the service of Uncle Sam. He’s got a full head of hair, a lithe frame befitting his judo black belt and is accompanied by diminutive Belinda and two towering hulks, who turn out to be his similarly black belt sons. Talker’s a spare eater and a light drinker and will clearly make the 60thanniversary reunion. Which is just as well as he didn’t make the last one.

From the goldfields of Bendigo, Victoria, there’s Richard (“you can call me Dick today”) Jones who vigorously denies running the sixties traffick in condoms up the Papuan coast for fun and profit. Dick, as you would be, is upset that for years Hooray Henry Bodman has got the day of his birth right but the year wrong and always sends him a card which is two years in advance. I know Dick’s telling the truth because I have a certified copy of his birth certificate. So let me put Henry Bodman right, Dick’s still in possession of that athletic build, no sign of baldness, the dazzling hair set off by a whispy grey goatee.

From the shores of Paradise at Port Macquarie are Col ‘Masta’ and Wendy Booth – the real architects of The Event. I learn it was Wendy’s generosity that provided the inscribed wine glasses. In this company, Col and his Tory running dogs are overwhelmed by card carrying semillon socialists so the right wing doesn’t really get much of a go. But Col inevitably manages to find many other topics of conversation anyway. He wants to know where Keith Bain is but, despite a lot of coo-eeing into the bush, no sign of Old Thongfoot emerges.

Keithy Jackson is here, of course, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, and Dubbo kindly lends me his breathalyser at the end of the afternoon and there are not enough numbers on it to accommodate my drinking habits. When it emits a protesting shriek, I hand it back to him in what I hope is still reasonable working order. I am, as ever, am accompanied by the loyal and lovely Ingrid, Ben and Libby.

And finally to our hosts Dubbo himself and the admirable Elissa. Not only do they have a fine home but our friends put on the most marvellous spread for lunch (see below). Dubbo is not running the local taxi today (which has forced the McLeans to walk here from the Berowra bus stop) so he has time to devote to cooking the chicken fillets to his own Kracheh (provincial Thai) recipe. This man is multi-skilled. Drive you to the airport and then whip up a fondue. Dubbo tells the story of having Elle McFeast (Libby Gore) in the cab one day and she is in a terrible emotional state, alternately sobbing and tirading about the rotten people in her life. Thinking to provide her with some solace, at the end of the trip Dave turns to her and says, “Would you mind calling my boy on the cellphone, it’d be a real thrill for him!” Seemed to successfully turn off the waterworks….

Elissa Kesby reports that “the cab driver loved the mix of undercover agents, associates of John Howard, ex sports editors and north coast developers. What a crew.”

Rod Hard scribes a painful note apologising for not being able to catch up with the mob at Dubbo's on Saturday. “I had an appointment with my favourite surgeon on Monday for a hernia operation. Unfortunately it was not the more common keyhole approach and as a result I am still in a most uncomfortable situation and will be confined to bed for at least the next 48 hours. A real bummer, as I was looking forward to catching up with Talker and Big Dick as well as the rest of you. With trips to Bali, Gold Coast and Hospital of late, life has been full on - will catch up when I am back on deck and more inclined to put finger to keyboard once again.”


Richard Jones writes: What a delight to see so many of our old mates, and their wives and partners, at the Kesby’s Berowra Heights soiree last Saturday. I can see now what Judyth and I missed, because of my broadcast commitments, at Port Macquarie earlier in the year. You can rest assured that we’ll be there at the soiree in 2005, if that’s the chosen year, or indeed even at an earlier date if that’s what is decided. We’ll leave that to the organising triumvirate but I am damned sure that I won’t miss another gathering of the 1962-63 troops.

When you reflect on the fact that four decades have passed since so many of us had met it was remarkable how easily and smoothly everything fell into place. I’m sure Keith and Ingrid and the rest at the Berowra Heights gathering would join with me in thanking David and Elissa for arranging a great function. I’m not sure that we recovered as well as we might have 40 years ago, but you would have been proud of me come 7.20 Sunday morning.

It was on with the shorts (or in my case, the jeans) and off on a morning walk around the beautiful bushland settings which surround the Kesby hacienda. Dave and Elissa remarked that because of the drought everything in their area is understandably extremely dry – indeed, when we awoke we could smell smoke further down the valley – yet it all looked idyllic to me.

And what about Walking the Talk? Ian Mclean and family stepped it out to the soiree from a railway station some considerable distance from Berowra, but still arrived in good time for the barbie. The rest of us merely followed Dubbo’s detailed written instructions and drove to Alan Road!

A terrific day, and overall a fantastic weekend for me in Sydney. The harbour city remains one of my favourite destinations in Australia. Another reunion function is something we should all aim for again as soon as possible. PS, I had no idea Ian and I had played the Sir Galahad role in Moresby back in the 60s when we warned some bloke off after a distressed girl told us of her plight, but apparently it’s true.

Met our youngest daughter's English merchant banking boyfriend in Balmain for lunch on the Sunday, and then it was back on the long haul south via the Hume Highway. But I had to have a drive past the Olympic Homebush Bay site where the Gay Games were on, of course. After a kebab at Goulburn and a couple of petrol stops I pulled up in our Bendigo carport at 12.25 am Monday, much to Judyth's relief after driving back direct Sunday afternoon/evening. Hope to see you all again VERY soon.


Col Booth reports: So what has happened in the last three months since the event in paradise? Wendy and I have tried to catch up to where our life was last Jan/Feb. We have been in Sydney 4 or was it 5 times? I recall that one visit only lasted about half an hour! We have been to Lithgow to spend a weekend with the greatest grandchild on earth. We have been to see Mamma Mia. We spent a flying weekend depositing son Nigel at the Federal Police Academy in Canberra. We have spent two days in Brisbane with Wendy's sister and her husband who was brought in for heart treatment at short notice. He didn't have a heart attack, but would have died without treatment. I am still trying to get plasterers after missing out because of delays caused by Masta Kit's bloody ALP mates when they staged a blockade of BHP's distribution system in Melbourne -was it June or was it July.

Good that Billy Welbourne was able to call on Sue Denheld. I'm sure that there will be much more of this casual contact as time progresses. A typical example was when Ros and Dennis Burrell called in for a couple of days on their way through to do something in the South.

We have spent the most delightful Saturday afternoon with Dubbo. Can't get over how charming our Rycharde is in the flesh! I think yon Dyckie is a bit of a stirrer, and that I have certainly met my match. Judyth is certainly a charming person on the phone. She also seems to have our measure.

Dubbo's soiree very nearly had two surprise visitors. David Westover was to return from Fiji about then and he was trying to organise Lorraine to be in Sydney at the same time. Unfortunately, Lorraine's father, Stanley Bell, had his ninety-third birthday on the same day as Talker's visit, and Lorraine chose to stay at home with him instead of flying to Sydney to join us all. Perhaps next time.

I really enjoyed the soiree, as all I had to do was have a few drinks and talk. I still am amazed at how little contact I had with most of those who were in Paradise in August. Wendy said she is still amazed at how little Dubbo has changed. He seemed so pleased that people had arranged to be there. Look out, Dennis Burrell - Dubbo also is an accomplished cook. Pity he loves chili nearly as much as he loves Elissa! Perhaps next year will be a little quieter. As we move around, we hope to have some time to call on people. Em tasol tok bilong mipella. Ol samting istap gut iet long paradise.


TO START – Dips and Arabia bread, prawns and sauce, Berowra Waters oysters, stuffed olives and cabanossi

SALADS – Greek salad with olives, fetta, dried tomatoes, lettuce and eggplant; Mixed capsicum and roasted eggplant

MEATS – Tasty sausages (Scotch fillets and pepper seasoning); Chicken fillets (Dave’s own Kracheh, provincial Thai)

ACCOMPANIMENTS – Mango sauce, damper

SWEETS – Mixed fruit salad (berries, watermelon, melon), yoghurt icecream, cheesecake



Henry Bodman asks: “Does Keith Bain get The Mail? If he does then you might ask him in the next issue when he will hit Brisbane town so we can arrange a few starters for a welcome home.” Yep, Ol’ Thongfoot gets The Mail.

2 November 2002


Les Peterkin thanks us for the newsy mail and tells us of a discovery. “After scanning the class list, I was prompted to search for, find and screen an 8mm movie I took at Falls Creek in '62 when a group of us went there for a skiing trip. I suppose it's at least 20 years since I last looked at it. What a hoot! The star of the film is without doubt Peter Lewis, who spends most of the footage on his back in a laughing, exhausted heap on the snow.

“The film starts with a shot of the location and the lodge then ventures into the lodge on the first morning, with the guys dragging the girls out of bed. Then all are dressing for their first skiing adventure in a great variety of 60's style skiing outfits. Outside, we are all getting ready for our first lesson. I cannot unfortunately remember who is who, except for Peter. A tall dark girl. A smiling one in red jacket and beanie (Diane Bohlen perhaps).

“There is some tobogganing with much falling off. Peter and two girls lose their toboggan in the creek, Peter tries to retrieve it and is, in turn, pulled out of the creek by the two ladies. Les appears looking like a model on holidays and demonstrated his superb skill at walking on skis.

“Now comes the lesson! An instructor shows us how easy it is to do the ‘snowplough’. Then the Asopians have a go - mainly lots of falling and crashing on the snow and into each other but one boy (blonde hair) is very good. Peter loses complete control and slides down the mountain never to be seen again. There is a brief shot of Lou Randall (who organised it) and quite a bit of footage of Brian Ross skiing in and out of control (I can't imagine why I took so much of him!). I would love to get some feedback from anyone who was on the trip to try to establish the names of those who appear in the film. I will have it copied to video if anyone is interested.”


Ros Burrell writes thanking us for our efforts. “We had computer problems for some weeks and missed your weekly letters. Stayed a couple of nights with Col and Wendy Booth ... great. Dennis and I head to Tassie by car next Easter for five weeks, so we may see others. Been in touch with Helene East and had lunch with the Bolens. I think it’s great to have such people come into our lives - another advantage in marrying Dennis (he is a wonderful and dedicated cook as well, thank God). Must go: chef has called me to the dinner table!”

Diane Bohlen agrees with Henry Bodman that we maintain the momentum and keep in touch. “I hope we can keep The Mail going,” she writes. “Thank you to Bill Welbourne and many others for their kind words about the video. We were quite chuffed to receive so much positive feedback. We actually have four videos left over if anyone else wants one. By the way, Bill Welbourne was oozing fitness when I delivered his copy. He was just ready to leave for his two big competitions. Congratulations on his medal and bad luck about his injury.”


Diane Bohlen reflects on some of those otherwise trivial moments that bring instant recall of a time long ago. “When I eat paw-paw with lemon juice, I think of the Cecil Hotel in Lae, because that is where I first tried this for breakfast. When I hear a light aircraft, it reminds me of the sound of PNG skies and the link with civilisation. When I eat red emperor fish, it reminds me of the time Rod Hard cooked a huge one and shared it with us (his neighbours at the time). When I see RSL clubs, it reminds me of the RSL beer garden on Ela Beach where I spent some pleasant Saturdays with my boyfriend, now husband. When I see the postman on his Honda 50cc motorbike, it reminds me of the one I used to ride to work and back in Moresby.

“At one stage in Moresby I teamed up with a group of friends who all owned motor scooters. We decided to form a club and go on Sunday outings. We thought it would be a good idea to wear gold shirts to make us look like a team. There were not enough gold shirts of the same style and colour available in the stores, so we bought white ones and dyed them a bright, bright yellow. We thought we looked great.

“The next trip was to Sirinumu Dam. On the way up the mountain we were hit by a tropical downpour and were soaked to our skin, which didn't matter because it was so hot. We stopped at the Rona Hotel for a drink and to mop up. As we wiped the water from our eyes we all noticed how the dye had run out of our shirts and down our shorts, down our legs into our socks and shoes. It ran down our arms. It even dyed our undies yellow. The pub patrons gave us a weird look. They probably thought they were being invaded by the yellow peril, as we were yellow from head to foot.”


Richard Jones remarks that “poor old Dubdy's guest list has shrunk, it seems, though he still remains hopeful Roderick Hard and spouse will attend. Dubbo did indicate via the dog and bone that Chappie, Moose and Chenz had scratched, but no word from the Port Macq Booths. We might have to fire up another NSW and southern Queensland do early in 2003, say late February or early March. But honest Dave need have no fear. I'm sure we'll be able to keep ourselves well entertained. I will have to keep up the strict walking regimen, Keithy. Have a gander at the Bohlen Enterprises video - don't worry about the baldies, look at the considerable avoirdupois gains by several notable members.” My pessimistic mate need not be concerned: Dubbo Dave, Dicky Jones, Keithy Jackson and Talker McLean are the 62ers who are certain starters for Saturday’s Sydney event. Their dear ladies will also be present. Report in the next Mail.

26 October 2002


Dubbo Dave Kesby, the Steve Waugh of reunion barbecuing, has given me an update on his soiree. “So far rejections from Vincenzo, Bob Davis and Jeff Chapman. Have had no people email me and say they are coming, so I hope you're coming. Otherwise I'll have to entertain Talker and Big Dick by myself.” Which sounds like a fate worse than Life. May I urge recalcitrants, miscreants etc to get in touch with Dave and let him know about Saturday 2 November. The soiree barbecue starts at one. I’ve assured Dubbo and Ms Elissa that the Keithys plus Mrs Talker and the Talkettes (Andrew, 21, and Chris, 17) will be there.


Pam Krüger tells me she received a very nice mail from Les Peterkin telling her he attended a Danish Gymnastik School in 1959-60.


Bill Welbourne writes that his iMac computer email service crashed just after the great reunion at Port but he’s now well and truly back on the air. “The big question is whether or not Talker McLean will ever arrive back to Australia. Much like the second coming; we're still waiting.” Bill told me that Diane Bohlen, who lives a stone’s throw from his house, personally delivered a copy of the video. “Definitely a 5 star rating - give the day job away Bill and go into movie production.”


Bill Welbourne also tells me he’s been heavily involved in athletics of late, winning a gold medal and setting a new record in the 300 metres hurdles at the Asia Pacific Games held at the Gold Coast. “I then went to Melbourne for the World Masters but suffered a hamstring injury in the final after qualifying second fastest.

“The Melbourne trip was worth it for two reasons. First, I took advantage of Mike Wilson’s ‘mates rates’ jewelry offer and purchased a ruby ring for Pam to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in December. This may be looked upon as a financial problem for being married so long but I recommend that Mike will make it easier on the pocket.

“Secondly, I became the first 1962-63 Asopian in 40 years to personally catch up with the elusive Susan (Lega) Denheld. I was staying in Melbourne with friends at Riddells Creek and Sue lives on a property close by, so we enjoyed an afternoon 'cuppa'. Sue looks wonderfully fit and as appealing as ever ... goes bike riding, drives a fast car and hopes to catch up with you all.”


Ian McLean sends a sympathetic e-mail: “It must have been depressing to end your vacation at Port Douglas with a national day of mourning. A sad day for Aussies everywhere. Could have been especially tragic for us because Andrew had planned to be in Bali with friends from Singapore. Fortunately, there was a change his plans. Andrew’s friends in Singapore even said they “just had to go to the Sari Club” on Saturday night because it's one of the best places to hang out. Andrew was quite subdued when he e-mailed us after the bombing and told us how close he had come to being one of the statistics.”


That old urger Henry Bodman says he’s glad to see me maintaining the rage. “There is certainly puff left in this,” he writes, “and I think your floating of a 2005 event is just the focus needed to ensure it bubbles along. (We are in the middle of an International Rotary Convention in Brisbane for May/June that year and are anticipating 25-30,000 Rotarians, so hope the event can be other than then).

“I scanned The ASOPA Files again earlier this morning and am still amused (and amazed). It was certainly not just another segment in the participants' lives. The anecdotes prompted more, and I am sure that is also true for the others of our group.

“I run a quarterly newsletter for people who were Rotary Governors of Oz in 1998-99. I generally list five topics for comment and the result is a still vibrant (and much anticipated) issue seven years into our association (two years of training, a year in the job and four thereafter). The issue where people were left to their own devices (no suggested topics) was as flat as a mill pond.

“Some of the areas that might stimulate thought could be:

§          2005 - when, where (Sydney seems the spot to me), who, what associated activities

§          The individual high spot of your PNG/NT stint (30 words or less)

§          Your greatest challenge in PNG/NT

§          What did your PNG/NT stint do for you?

§          Things being as they were would you still have gone to PNG/NT in ‘63? If not, what would you have done?


A number of the 62/63 Asopians feature on the World Wide Web. We did a bit of scouring to see what we could find.

Keith Bain – “My academic interests are monetary economics, financial economics and macroeconomic policy. My genuine interests are cricket; theatre; poetry; Italian language, literature and film; and Saint Sebastian in art. My cricket teams are Surrey and Queensland. This reflects my present residence in London and my origins in Brisbane.”

Diane Bohlen – “I am a primary school teacher and interested in communicating with other teachers anywhere in the world. I have taught in Papua New Guinea and Queensland Australia. I enjoy teaching in small schools and in multi-age classrooms. At the moment I am teaching at Kuraby State School, where I have a Year 1/2/3 multi-age class. I teach with a colleague in an open area classroom. I am Key Teacher at Kuraby (responsible for literacy and numeracy intervention for children with learning difficulties). I train the school softball teams. My hobbies are travelling, reading, gardening and frogs. I would like to hear from other teachers about their experiences or ideas.”

Rod Hard – “Rod Hard is an estate and financial planning specialist. Rod has had over 24 years experience in the financial services industry. He specialises in the following disciplines: estate planning, risk management, investment advice, superannuation and retirement planning. Rod can work with you to prepare and implement comprehensive investment, retirement and estate planning strategies for all your needs. In addition, he offers professional and self employed clients tailored wealth creation strategies. All recommendations are based upon analysis of your needs, objectives and personal circumstances. Alternatively, you may instruct Rod to purchase particular products or investments on your behalf. Rod places a high importance on building and maintaining long term relationships with personal and business clients. Commitment to customer service is a feature of his practice.”

Michael Wilson – “Michael has won numerous awards over more than 25 years as a Goldsmith including the De Beers Supreme Diamond Design Award. He is dedicated to combining practicality, quality and a passion for design excellence in every piece.”

Henry Bodman – “Henry Bodman, Rotary Club of Mount Coot-tha, Qld, attended a Population Growth Conference in Zurich, Switzerland, and told how delegates took a gloves off approach. A District 9600 past governor, he believed this was because the organisers invited Rotaractors to the conference and they were challenging, giving a clear signal of their importance to the future of Rotary.”

19 October 2002


Pam Krüger apologises for the long silence. “I could give you a long list of ‘good’ excuses, but will spare you the boring details and just say how much I have enjoyed reading all the Vintages and The Mail. Keith, Col and Wendy have really done a tremendous job of reuniting many people who had lost contact and I’m sure, like myself, often thought, ‘I wonder what happened to so and so’. Well, now we know. I very much regretted that I could not join you all for the reunion, but can assure you that my thoughts were with you. I have also very much enjoyed watching the video, which Diane very kindly forwarded to me. Must admit that some of the names and faces would have eluded me had I been there, but now I have the opportunity to study them before the big reunion again in 2OO5. Yes, I expect to be there. Hope you can keep up the good work, Keith, it is really wonderful to be able to follow what is happening to everyone no matter what the distance. Should anyone ever be travelling this way, we would love to see you and show you a bit of rural Denmark.”


Ian McLean, whose disrupted travel plans led to the postponement of the original soiree barbecue, tells us: “ The original soiree was surprise enough but the follow-up is truly ‘above and beyond’. Thanks so much. I think they are going to have to change the spelling of ‘catalyst’ so it begins with a K - tribute to the efforts of Keith. As for Dave and Elissa's hospitality, it's greatly appreciated. I have issued the necessary threats to US Government travel office to ensure there is no repeat of the initial fiasco, when they ruined our plans to leave this ‘paradise’ for Oz. I’ve rebooked connecting flights, hotels etc and let them know that dire consequences await should there be a repeat performance. In other words: "We're ready to PARTY on Saturday the 2nd.”


[PNG INDEPENDENT] Port Moresby's ranking as one of the world's worst cities has come under fire from a city MP. Moresby North-East MP Caspar Wollom said the city is not the worst city as reported in the media. "We are a developing country compounded with social and economic problems never experienced in the developed cities. For the Economist Intelligence Unit to rate us the 130th worst city should not be taken seriously but is a joke of the day," said Mr Wollom. He said the criteria applied to rate Port Moresby city compared with other cities is wrong and the outcome does not make sense. Mr Wollom said the EIU should do surveys on hospitality, friendship and sharing of food, shelter and other necessities of life. "The whitemen's way of living and working is different from our way of doing things and the report is completely misleading and does not achieve anything intended by the magazine," said Mr Wollom.


[PNG INDEPENDENT] National education week was launched in true PNG style Monday as students from elementary, primary and high schools donned traditional clothes and danced to the beat of kundu and the sound of conch shells. The traditional costumes and dances at the launch was indeed fitting to the theme of the celebration 'promoting national identity through education'. Present at the launching included guests Maima Raka Nou, director of protocol and ceremonies; Kila Amini, Chairperson National Dress Committee; Alan Jogioba, Chairman of Teacher's Service Commission; Napolean Liosi, President PNG Public Employees Association; and the Secretary for Education, Peter Baki. Mr Baki said National Education Week draws the attention of the public to promote children and schooling. He said there was no better avenue to promote national identity than through education. "For example, we want to make sure that every school aged child throughout PNG can sing the national song, recite the national pledge and understand them," he said. Mr Baki said the two ways in which schools addressed the subject of national identity was through teaching social science and non core subjects like agriculture and home economics.

12 October 2002


This is being written in Port Douglas, where the jungle (taipans) meets the sea (box jellyfish) and I find myself just half an hour from the remote Wonga Beach home of Barry and Janine Paterson. So we catch up for lunch at the Mirage Resort (courtesy the late Christopher Skase). I've been through here a few times in the last 10 years and it seems to improve each time. Maybe it's me improving. But it could be all the southern money pouring in. Today (Saturday) Barry will be ministering at the wedding of son David and bride Rebecca. They're being married at the picturesque St Mary's By The Sea at Port Douglas. If you're thinking of getting hitched again, put SMBTS on the priority list. And give Bazza a call.


During the reunion, Barry Paterson had a word to me about an outfit called Wontulp-Bi-Buya with which he is associated. The name's a bit of a mouthful but the mission of this college is simple: to teach indigenous community and church leaders to operate within their Torres Strait and tropical Australia communities to make self-development a reality not just an ephemeral idea the politicians talk about. Barry spends about three-quarters of his time working on WBB matters and he and the college leadership team are engaged in very good work indeed. The place runs on the smell of an oily rag and, this year, 120 indigenous people have learned the art of community and personal betterment there.

So, as part of my trip to FNQ, I wanted to sit down with Barry and WBB deputy principal, Rev David Thompson, to chew the fat on how Jackson Wells Morris in general and me in particular might be able to assist WBB to build its profile and assure itself proper funding. We've made a small start by developing a number of options and plans and will soldier on from here. You see what the ASOPA diaspora can do?

But, wait, there's more. I know that some of you are associated with Rotary and other service organisations. To you let me say that there are many relatively low cost, high efficiency ways you can support WBB's work. Our PM, John 'Preacher' Howard, often talks about 'practical reconciliation' without anything ever seeming to change. If you contact me, I'll tell you more about Wontulp-Bi-Buya College, what it's doing and how you can help our indigenous cousins help themselves. Practical, reconciling stuff.


You probably saw The Mail that told of Talker McLean's visit to our shores and Richard Jones intention of travelling north of the Murray to meet with him and others at Dave and Elissa Kesby's hacienda. Now this is all happening on the first Saturday in November and you should let Dubbo or Elissa know that you'll be there. Ian and Richard's presence will be very special as neither could make it to the reunion proper. This promises to be a real good event so, if you're in striking distance of Sydney, you should make it in your diary as a 'must attend'.

5 October 2002


Due to Talker McLean failing in his duty to go absent without leave and other comings and goings (mainly goings) among other ex-Asopians, Dubbo Kesby’s original soiree barbecue will be postponed from tomorrow to a date to be fixed in cement. The following missive just in from Okinawa may provide a clue to when this may be. “The rest of us are set to arrive in Sydney on the Wednesday 30 October. I guess that means we'll miss the Moose v Mosman match of the millenium? Enjoyed the latest update which arrived via e-mail today. You certainly stirred up some emotions with the reunion. I guess we'll do it again, albeit on a smaller scale, when the McLeans finally get to Sydney.”


Bob Davis transmits a stop press telling me he’s “just read the latest edition and your invitation for an ale avec moi on 21 October but unfortunately I’ve had to change plans. I find I cannot make this trip, as much as I would like to, and I'm going to have to let the team go without me - which may be a blessing in disguise for some. Please enjoy the refreshing ale but it will have to be without moi. Very sorry.”


Les Peterkin writes: “You may remember Mary Breen? At least the ladies of the section will as she was the PE lecturer who followed Louise Randall. Lou and I started at ASOPA at the same time in '61. Mary left ASOPA in '66 and went to the States to get her degree. While she was there she contracted a mysterious blood disorder. As you know, she was a big lady - an Australian rep in shot put, but on her return from the States she grew thinner and thinner. Mary was very independent and wouldn't accept any help. She died a few years later but her illness was, to my knowledge, never defined. Louise left ASOPA and after gaining a degree became PE Lecturer at the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education which later became Southern Cross University. Unfortunately Lou contracted cancer and died about 8 years ago.”

28 September 2002


Barry Paterson is full of admiration: “A-a-a-amazing! Janine and I have had great times watching the video, and enjoying it. I think Janine needs new glasses - she found it hard to identify people she knew quite well. Seniors moment? Congratulations and thanks for a job very well done.”


Diane Bohlen says she nearly went into withdrawal symptoms when The Mail didn’t arrive on Friday. “I worried you might not be well, but then it came and I was happy again. It was interesting reading about the lecturers. Ann Prendergast rang and left a message requesting a video. That was a buzz for us. I remember her quite well as she was our supervisor for the last prac in Lae.

“We went to the wedding of a lovely young teacher on our staff at Kuraby State School. She has sort of been my protégé as I have helped her and guided her since she graduated about 8 years ago. She's the same age as my eldest daughter and I've felt like a mum to her too. So the wedding was a special event for us. Bill did his usual stuff of filming and interviewing and now he is about to launch into editing the raw footage. So the ASOPA project is coming off the editing machine. However we are copying about 12 extra copies in case those who haven't ordered decide to. So there will still be tapes available.”


Brian Smith is on the line: “I recently received my copy of the Great Event video. It is a tribute to Diane and Bill Bohlen that they managed to get everyone on one tape. It is amazing how watching the video or even opening the email to see another newsletter, can get me nearly as excited as actually attending the reunion. Watching the video I can see why many of us considered the big fella (HMcDB) the godfather of both the class and the reunion. Maybe I should rephrase that and refer to himself as, possibly The Elder Statesman. Is it possible that Gough Whitlam learned his so-called statesmanlike qualities from one of our very own?

“On reading The Mail or watching the video I sometimes feel guilty that I had not made an effort to stay in contact with a very special and unique group of people who played a very important part in my ‘education’. Not just my formal education, but education in life in general. The only downside that I find as a result of the reunion is that my phone bill is going to go through the roof. Ah well, such is life. Keep up the good work, mate, and know that your missives bring a great deal of joy to we who are not so literate.”


Henry Bodman conveys his thanks for maintaining The Mail, saying it’s still a big moment each week. “Found the staff wrap interesting - no mention of Handy Andy. John Reynold's and Howie's accidents are a caution, aren't they? Have collected my Natives Are Reuniting. Picked up the Keithy observation of "Henry the old socialist, huh?" in your chat with Mary (Justine Finter) Iorive and didn't, altogether, mind. So how's that for mellowing?”


Bob Davis and some other Canberra Grammar staff are taking a cricket team to Sydney late in October to play Mosman Prep School in an annual fixture. The game is at the Georges Heights Oval and Bob be staying overnight in the area. Bob hopes there may be the opportunity for a relaxing lager at the end of the day's play. Other Sydneysiders wanting to participate in the little drink should get in touch.


Ruth (Fink) Latukefu tells me her parents were friends of Alf Conlon (head of the influential WW2 Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs that preceded ASOPA). “He and his wife used to come to our flat in Macleay Street in the 1940s. She claimed to have been one of the first white women to visit the Highlands. He had become a psychiatrist by then, I seem to recall, and my father was a psychoanalyst so they had common interests. When I first decided to study anthropology at Sydney Uni I went to see Conlon late in 1948 for some advice on courses I should take, though one of his suggestions (Jurisprudence) proved too indigestible for me. I’m glad we have renewed contact and it is interesting to read what happened to others in Vintage.

21 September 2002


I attended a gathering of ex-ASOPA staff at the Mosman Club on Friday and was delighted to reconnect with some of our former lecturers. Ann Prendergast (Literature) was there and in good form. The inimitable Dave Argent recalled recently, and I note this at a risk of embarrassment, that Ann “didn’t hurt the eyes”. Ann was able to provide some information about a few lecturers who have died in recent years: Jean Newcombe (Biology) of motor neurone disease; Brian Ross (Psychology) of cancer and, just last year, John Reynolds (Geography) when he fell from the roof of his house. I was also pleased to catch up with Ruth Fink Latukefu (Anthropology) who is as acute and interesting as 40 years ago. Ian Grossart (Government) never lectured the education cadets but spent five years at ASOPA around our time before ending up at Sydney Uni. I also met Don Grove (Physical Education) who took over from Les Peterkin and Dave Parsons. I interrogated him about whether he had done away with the Rope Torture and he implied, as has Les, that this was a fine way to bring an unruly body of young men and women into line. I was also pleased to come across one of the ASOPA originals (back to ’46 now), Hal Wootten QC who went on to became a judge and, like Charles Rowley, a strong advocate for the Aboriginal people of Australia. I also caught up with Fred Kaad, who I’d served with when ASOPA became ITI, and Marie Clifton-Bassett. Without exception, our former mentors look well, have some great stories and I enjoyed my time with them and look forward to many more. Jim Lemaire, who lectured in law at ASOPA and then was my colleague at ITI, was also present – living just down the hill in Muston Street. If you are interested in the activities of this group, get in touch with Roy Clark on 02 9451 8417 or e-mail him at [email protected]. Roy lectured in Science at ASOPA, arriving a couple of years after we left.


Les Peterkin thanks me for “sending all that information”. He says: “I got a kick out of the bit about the ‘dreaded ropes course’. I was a bit sadistic in those days, seeing you all sweat and toil on that piece of equipment! Yes, I'd love to receive the newsletter - and you might mention in the next one that I have materialised again. Any one visiting the Gold Coast I'd love to see them. Today it's a very chilly Coast.” Les can be emailed at [email protected]


Ruth Fink Latukefu gets in touch after our meeting for the first time in 40 uears at the Mosman Club. “My son Alopi still works for Goolarri Media in Broome and has another year there. Lotte is now in Performing Arts at Wollongong Uni and has two little sons, my first grandchildren. She teaches the vocal students and is herself a mezzo soprano. I wonder if you have visited PNG in more recent years. We left in 1985 and I’ve not been back. I was told recently by Ted Wolfers, who does go there fairly often, that the University and education are not too healthy these days. But at least there is that generation of well educated people left to deal with some of the current problems.”


Moira O’Brien e-mails: “G’day Keith. We now have a general email address at the station so could you please change Rory's details to [email protected]


Diane Bohlen is in touch: “Wasn't the reunion great? If you would like a video or DVD to relive the experience and to keep as a memento please send us an order on the attached form. I'm sending this reminder because some folk said they hadn't received the form that was attached to Mail 6. Anyway, I would like to let you know, that we are taking the project off the editing machine next Tuesday 24 Sept, as we have to video a wedding next weekend and will need to put that onto the machine. So let us know by e-mail if you would like one. It was great meeting you all again and hope to see you in the future. And, for those who didn't make it to the reunion, you may like to see how we all are now. There is a segment that helps you recognise people as we've included 1962 pics as well.”


Ian McLean – “I have just received word back from the illustrious Travel Meister that we are booked to arrive in Sydney on the morning of the Wednesday 30 October. He will be receiving frequent reminders from us to confirm with the airlines prior to our departure. I have received confirmations from the hotels in Hawaii and Sydney for our new reservations, so all systems are "Go." We will be in Sydney (at the Corus Hotel - No! It's not a karaoke bar) from 30 Oct-4 Nov. and then go up to see my Mum on the Sunshine Coast for a week. We will head down to Melbourne on the 10th of Nov. It feels like deja vu - without having it happen the first time ... all our plans are just pushed back by 4 weeks.”


Diane Bohlen says “Thanks to the reunion Bill and I have made new friends. We visited Dennis and Ros Burrell last Sunday and had a very enjoyable time. We had a delicious lunch on their magnificent deck overlooking their bushland property. Very relaxing, especially with the red wine. We were enthralled by their art collection and antiques. Time flew as we chatted on about past experiences. A fun day!”

14 September 2002


Diane Bohlen tells me of a real life drama with the video. “Although finished, it hadn't been transcribed from editing machine to tape. As we were trying to do this, the program crashed and kept breaking down in the middle of a copy. This caused more than a few wrinkles on the brow. Reinstalling the program involved dumping the footage back into the camera and we hoped the machine wouldn't crash. Luckily this worked. So the crisis is over. And Bill calls this a fun hobby!” The videos and DVD became available this week.


Barry Paterson – “I want to thank Bill and Di Bohlen: for our great walk along the breakwater; for Bill's excellent advice on the basics of web-design delivered in typical friendly fashion (some nerds can make you feel like a geek at times, not so Bill); for the great work on the video; and for the great work on the web-page. While it may not be as flash as some around it satisfies the criteria for a good web page: (i) It can be read easily, the colours are sparing and the typeface clear. (ii) It is well-illustrated, and (iii) The pages flow from one to the other. I am sure Evan will add lots of other features to the excellent framework you have provided.

“I met Dubbo Dave's son, Peter, who works at our local Centrelink in Mossman FNQ (no, I was not checking up on my old age pension). Peter is an intelligent well spoken, neatly dressed, cheerful young man doing a great job in the isolated North. Maybe he gets those qualities from his charming mum? By the way folks, Janine claims she is the only one who hasn't changed a bit in the 40 years since ASOPA. I said that she would have to share that distinction with young Huggibear.”


Les Peterkin voice is heard from the mist of our past. “Do you remember the handsome bloke who was your Phys.Ed lecturer at ASOPA? Ann Prendergast gave me your email addresses so I though I would make contact as I like getting back in touch with friends and student from way back then! I'm sorry I missed out on the reunion as news of it didn't reach me. I live in Tweed Heads. So please keep me informed of any further gatherings in the future. I ran into Alan West and his wife Judy who live nearby. He was at ASOPA in 61/62.

“I recently gave all my films from PNG to the National Film Archives. They were pleased to have them as they contain so much rare footage. They put them all on video, which is easy to show. I also have films from the Lake Lodge Camp - do you remember that? These would be great to show at reunions! I gave teaching away about 30 years ago and became a potter and had a successful business in the Tweed Valley. Now retired, but I am Artist in Residence at the Lindisfarne Anglican High School. So I still work and dabble in a bit of teaching.”

Ann Prendergast e-mails: “It was nice to talk to you last night after all these years. I was just finishing a letter to Les Peterkin when your e-mail arrived. Do please keep in touch and come and have coffee.” You can contact Ann at [email protected]. Ann spent many years at the University of technology (Ku-ring-gai). She told me that both Jean Newcomb and Brian Ross died a couple of years ago.


Mike Wilson – “Wendy and I want to express our appreciation for the tremendous efforts of all those who contributed to the success of the 62/63 ASOPA reunion. The occasion will live long in our memories In particular we wish to thank Col and Wendy Booth along with the extraordinary newsletters edited by Keith Jackson. Following an attempt to download newsletters Nos 4 to 23 all in one hit, I decided to replace the hard drive in my laptop and double the RAM.

“It was an amazing experience to see many people again for the first time in forty years. Like many I had no trouble recognising some but a few took me almost the two days to reconstruct in my mind the memory of a person forty years ago. What struck me after the weekend was that the characteristics of those that I knew well had remained remarkably similar. In many aspects of my life - cars, music, art, film etc - I am stuck in the sixties and seventies and it was fantastic to reacquaint myself with friends of the era. Thank you one and all.

“I have included a current brochure illustrating some of our company products. If any of you are ever interested in anything along these lines I promise you mates rates. Furthermore if any of you are ever down this way please do not hesitate to contact me It seems that the PNG experience of heat and humidity has determined the abode for most of you as being geographically above Sydney.”


Helene East writes– “The reunion was absolutely wonderful and I shall never forget it and the very happy atmosphere. I had been worried about the long trip by myself and, like many others, how I would fit in after 40 years. It was so lovely to see Col Booth’s smiling face at Port Macquarie airport (he hasn’t changed a bit). The whole of the weekend was absolutely marvellous. I think I managed to talk to everyone in the time we had, with the exception of Barry Field and Mike Wilson. Had lovely talks with Justine Finter and Marg Dwyer and husband who were in stitches when I told them about the Colin Huggins episode in the bus. Even now I am chuckling to myself as it is the funniest thing I can remember. And Colin’s face when he realised it was a hoax! He turned around to me in the bus and said with finger pointing – “And you, you are Helene Thomson with red hair”. He certainly didn’t know Keith Jackson (as the drunk), Col Booth or Val Rivers.

The dinner was wonderful; the cruise and bus trip and Chinese farewell where I managed to have a few words with Allan Jones and Dennis Burrell and his pretty wife. I just wish there had been more time to catch up on all our teaching colleagues. Most have done wonderfully well in their respective careers and lifestyles. Had a nice chat with Henry and Janelle Bodman. I won’t mention everyone, as I will be here all day typing this. I didn’t talk to Howie Ralph either – a very distinguished man these days, with a pretty wife too. Anyway, it was an absolutely wonderful time and thank you all so much. I will try to keep in contact from time to time by phone.


Bill Wilson reports there are a number of items in the latest issue of Una Voce that could interest our group. “Page 4 has a lot of comment on the Middletons of Karkar Island. They are obviously more tamed and socialised than when I knew them in ’59. Page 29 has a report on the reunion but seems to lack the feeling of warmth and friendship that made the reunion so great. The real gem in this issue is on page 47, where it lists comments made by inspectors about remote outstation schools and teachers. Surely such comments don't apply to our mob - although I may have a few suspicions some points could have applied to me at times.”


Keith Bain writes: “I retired at the end of July but am being re-employed part-time from the beginning of September. This meant that I didn't go in at all in August and shall only be there one or two days a week from now on. I'm pleased the reunion was such a success. I'm sure I would have been much worse than you in recognising people - I never have been very observant and my memory is punched through with holes (mainly black). This year we shall be in Brisbane on 21 December and staying at the Gold Coast from 27 December to 5 January. We return to London on 14 January.”

7 September 2002


Diane Bohlen – “Da! Da! [Drumroll] The video is finished! If people send us 10 dollars for a tape or 25 dollars for a DVD we'll post them the goods. Henry Bodman was impressed even before the sound went on. I hope everyone will enjoy it as much.”

Henry Bodman – “I’ve just returned from taping voice-overs for Bill and Diane Bohlen's video, The Natives Are Reuniting. While I was there they took me through the raw copy of the near final version. It’s an immaculate summary of what this exercise has been all about. Bill is no amateur. Diane's complete understanding of the ‘stable’ and Bill's very quick pick-up on the material (he knows us all by name and nickname) makes it a record we will all thoroughly enjoy. Technically it’s tops. It’s not rushed (a good story seen out to the end) and there is a strategy to highlight the then and now contrasts that will lay everyone in the aisles.

“Apart from that, it’s a wonderful reminder of the reunion weekend. Every stage is covered and everyone present gets their few seconds of glory. For those unable to make it, the regret at missing the weekend will be tempered by seeing an update of their fellows before ensuring they don't miss the next event. I’m convinced anyone not there will, having seen the video, certainly be at the next step of the way. In precis, the video is the icing on the cake of a marvellous exercise.”


Bill Bohlen writes: “I've been playing with a website and have put up a couple of pictures in the Reunion Picture sub-page just to try a layout. Do you know anyone who would be able to sponsor website with probably about 10 meg of available space? I’m not really pushing myself forward to do this. If a younger more able person (or anyone else) is available I'd be quite happy to let them do it. At the moment, I'm being pushed into it by a female member of your class who sleeps with me, if you know what I mean. But on the other side if you can't find anyone, I'd be happy to do it.”

Thanks Bill and Diane for your communications and for all the hard work you’re doing. A website is a brilliant idea and I'm happy to fund a site with enough oomph to do what we want it to do so long as the admin work for me is kept to a minimum. I visited the test site and was delighted. I've asked my stepson Evan Hallein, who's a multimedia student at Swinburne Uni and who also runs his own internet biz at if he'd manage the site for a small emolument that I'm happy to pay him.

Bill Bohlen – “Evan sounds The Man. I went to visit his (and your) web sites and am astounded. I could never do anything elaborate as that. Just simple HTML language is my limit. I hope he'll be able to take it on as it sure is a good idea to have a web site for such an exclusive group as the class of 62/63.”


Bill Bergen – “I have written to the Booths and now I also must record thanks to you Keith for all the work which you have done not only in the organisation of a magnificent reunion but also in continuing your great effort in keeping the momentum going. Coming from Bathurst as we do I can describe you as one who carries The Light on the Hill.

“Returning from the Port our 7-hour drive went remarkably quickly because it was filled with talk of people, events and news of the many friends who had so much in common with us. Stories of PNG are now rarely mentioned by us because frankly most people here don't care or even believe the experiences which we found in our everyday lives over there.

“It was a nostalgic event and what impressed most of all was the dedication of the organisers and the willingness which so many showed by coming so far. It was truly a function to be treasured.”

Tanya Chikritzhs – “Hi there Keith, Just a quick note to thank you very much for sending over the handbooks -they look great and are a good read. Well done.” Tanya, a research fellow at the National Drug Research Institute in Perth, is Helen Jacob’s daughter.


Richard Jones writes: “Al Pal Jones is off north again: a fortnight in Coolangatta and then six weeks in Goroka. He'll be in the Highlands from Sep 20 to Oct 30 as a project writer with AESOP volunteers for an NGO group: appropriate technology projects.”


Col Booth – “How long has it been since The Event? Seems like yesterday. Still trying to get back to normal life. But things like The Mail keep cropping up and distracting me. Masta Kit, I recall making a blunt remark about Vintage continuing - and I am really pleased that you are able to continue with it. Can't wait to see the video. I am not surprised you feel it is good. Bill Bohlen inspires that sort of feeling.

“Had a nice phone call from Rory O’Brien. He has only returned to NT in the last week or so, as has Helene Tommy. Rory thinks the whole episode was pretty good as does Helene who phoned this afternoon, still excited. Moose Davis has been in contact, but we can't decipher his email, so will make contact to clarify his movements leading up to Oct 5th (Dubbo Dave’s lunchtime soiree in Sydney featuring the long lost Talker McLean).

“Had two letters from Jean Lowe. She also was pleased with The Event. Said she was sorry that she hadn't contributed more anecdotes "because she certainly has plenty". Westovers have made it back to Adelaide. They really enjoyed themselves. David is pretty busy between now and Xmas, as he has to spend a few weeks "in the Pacific" as Lorraine puts it, and then some time in Fiji. He still does a bit of consultancy work for various agencies. Ros Burrell has been in contact a couple of times. Doesn't want to wait till 2005 to get together again.

“Speaking of 2005, I like the idea of it being based in Mosman, but as I didn't take part in the splashing at Obelisk Beach, I'll give that little aspect a miss. A cohesive get together will take a fair bit of advance planning to get the right atmosphere and togetherness in terms of accommodation and venues, so you had better 'stract the didge' and start scouting around. They can't rebuild the Clifton Gardens overnight. It will be a much lengthier process than moving the wharf for Septik Cruises to across the road from Crays! I think that will do for now. All is still well in paradise.”

31 August 2002


THE PORT MACQUARIE NEWS, a fearless journal of record if ever there was one, saw fit to publish on page 13 of its 7 August issue - adjacent to an ad for ‘Dry lips? See Sally Hansen’ - a piece of ringing prose headlined A PNG EXPERIENCE IN PORT, reproduced here.....

“Four decades ago a group of young Australian teachers set off for the adventure of their lives in Papua New Guinea (PNG). On the weekend, members of that group reunited for the first time in Port Macquarie where they swapped stories and traded tales about their experiences then and since.

“Sixty-six people, including partners, from all over Australia came to Port Macquarie for the four-day get-together which included a river cruise and a bus trip around the Hastings. Col Booth and his wife Wendy were among the group recruited in 1962 and 1963 to be trained as teachers specifically for PNG, which was at that time administered by Australia on behalf of the United Nations.

“The Booths live in Port Macquarie which was selected because of its central location between Sydney and Brisbane, where a number of the group live, and because of its ‘holiday’ reputation. “They all thought it was paradise,” Mr Booth said.

“The average length of time the teachers spent in PNG was about 12 years, although one of the reunion participants did not return to Australia until this year. Mr Booth said he loved the country and the warmth and hospitality of its people and enjoyed teaching both the indigenous and European children. When he returned in 1972 he moved to Port Macquarie where he taught at Port Macquarie Public until 1997. He said it had been wonderful catching up with so many people, including two PNG women who went through the teacher training with the Australians.”


Bill Bohlen – “After returning from a wonderful reunion weekend, where partners were also made very welcome, Diane and I have started editing the video footage we shot during the three days in Port Macquarie. Henry Bodman has kindly agreed to do the narration for the ‘The Natives Are Reuniting’ video, which will be about 30 minutes long. We'll be producing a second video, ‘The ASOPA Album’ (about 10 minutes) using the photos/slides we've been sent by e-mail, post or hand delivered.

“Both videos will be available on VHS tape for $1O (materials only) or $25 on DVD. At this stage we anticipate the videos will be ready for posting mid September. We'll send Keith a form for ordering the video. Many thanks again to all Asopians for being such good sports in helping us record the Event tape.”


JEAN LOWE – “The second of September is New Guinea Martyrs’ Day. Sixty years ago, in 1942, many young school teachers, among about 350 mission staff, were massacred by the Japanese army. Before World War 2, education in PNG was undertaken by Christian missions.

“In 1967 I was in the Northern District at Gona where the Japanese landed. Later I was sent to Kumbum, an island off the south coast of New Britain. The grave of a murdered mission priest, a Japanese Zero (nose-first) sticking out of the coral reef and the bullet riddled tree trunks of the plantation coconut palms were constant reminders of a savage war fought just over twenty years before. Those young people who were killed (both European and New Guinean) had high hopes and expectations, just like us forty years ago. Lest we forget.”


I’ve sent this letter to the Secretary, Headland Preservation Group Inc, P O Box 435, Mosman, NSW 2088 -

“Please find an individual annual membership payment and a small donation. I have a general interest in supporting your activities to ensure the proper protection, development and use of the headland and a particular interest in ensuring that the heritage of what was once the Australian School of Pacific Administration is recognised and preserved.

“ASOPA, of course, is associated with such prominent Australian figures as John Kerr, James McCauley, Eddie Ward, CD Rowley, JK Murray and Camilla Wedgwood, to mention just a few. My interest stems from two periods at that institution – first as a student in 1962/63 and later as Deputy Principal of its successor International Training Institute through 1983/85. As a professional communicator (I am chairman of PR firm Jackson Wells Morris), I may be able to offer HPG some skills in this area should they be required.”

Now, my friends, if you feel so inclined, I urge you to reinforce this pro-ASOPA lobby by sending a cheque for $20 to join the HPG at the address shown above.


Justine Finter – “The reunion was one of those "oh what a feeling" occasions. It took a while for me to descend from the high of that weekend, due to the large part you played by maintaining our interest with the vintage news. At ASOPA I knew beneath that small frame, you had a sharp brain and a very big heart. Thank you for helping to make it an unforgettable weekend. I am only sorry I didn't get around to catching up with everyone. After the weekend I'm convinced that men do as much talking as the women. It was a pleasure to meet Ingrid and her mother and of course Benny who is definitely a chip of the old block.

Barry Flannery was a great travelling companion. His stories of his experiences in PNG kept me so alert I didn't need as much coffee. The reunion was really a wonderful experience and Wendy and Col Booth are to be congratulated for implementing the plan so well. I thought my eyesight was still very good but I had a hard time recognising some people. I think it was a bad case of memory loss. Dave Kesby's voice was unmistakable. Bob Davis remains the gentle giant to me. Sonia Grainger, Val Rivers, Bill Wilson and Roger Stanley had me guessing for a while.

“The different venues for meals was a great idea in income sharing within the community. The river cruise was relaxing and most enjoyable- a bargain with a delicious lunch. The bus trip only confirmed why some think of Port Macquarie as Paradise. The goblets and the booklets were great mementos.

“The reunion was memorable and confirmed in my mind how privileged I was to belong to that very special group of people who after forty years could continue friendships as if there hadn't been a time lapse. It certainly brought a sense of belonging. Many thanks to you and those who made it possible for such a group to enjoy a most unforgettable weekend.”


Elizabeth & Barry Vincent – “Have deliberately not responded sooner in case some of the euphoria diminished, but it hasn't. Our personal thanks for your efforts that went into the wonderful weekend at Port Macquarie from its genesis, to its fruition and warm afterglow. We have sent a similar thankyou to ColnWendy as we had offered them accommodation for the weekend of Talker's visit. ColnWendy will be at Dubbo's for Talker's visit but are now staying with son Nigel.

Moose will be staying with us for the week prior to Talker's stay and would like to be included. He will motor down from here and overnight in Sydney on his way back to Canberra. He's also been in touch with Col and has arranged to collect his set of commemorative reunion glasses at the same time. I'll let Dubbo know if he doesn't already. Again, many thanks for an Herculean effort.”


Jeff Chapman – “Thanks for the continuing saga. I wonder how many editions of The Mail there will be before the Sep 2005 meeting. Robyn and I have marked the 2 - 5 in our diary. See you there if not before.”


Henry Bodman – “And there I was, on Friday morning (when Vintage would normally have arrived) disconsolately sitting in my comfortable lounge chair leafing through the evidence of the magic Reunion while all the time there was salvation sitting in my in mail. I see a crack in the dark grey wall of Post Paradise ... saving ASOPA, follow up get togethers in Sidnee and, of course, the e-mails now flying between so many who had been out of touch.

“Great to see the Brian (Smoth) Smith on the air. Colin Huggins is good value on'll finish up competent in Latin if he and Kurt Argent have their way. Peter Lewis always had the potential to be a wicked fellow and demonstrated his development by trying to float the ‘memory’ he had of Moose Davis and I playing keepings off in one of the lecture rooms with Shirley Buffett's panties. I like the image (and can add to it) and wonder if you can't nudge his memory as to how we came into possession of said clothing?

“Your ASOPA project should keep you interested and should be a focal point for all ex-Asopians. The idea of an ASOPA Museum could become a huge undertaking and I'm sure there are plenty of those ‘strange’ ex-Territorians who find themselves without a suitable home for much valuable material dear only to hearts of those who understand. Racing ahead, I think you would be able to raise pretty significant bucks from ex-Asopians for such a project and with your knowledge of the halls of power I'm sure there are pots of gold vulnerable to such a raid. If the 62-63 schminkels can come up with what we have over the past nine months, what is the depth of an across the range approach. You'd need the whole of ASOPA with a POs room, a Didiman's room etc. Have a go! Phew...and I thought it was all over.”

Henry also suggested a ‘Club Bar’ could be part of the project, an idea I’m quite partial to. Propped up on a stool at one end is the ADO, pontificating about everything including how people were much better long taim bifo. On the hour every hour the rotmasta punches out the town chalkie. At the ritual changing of the keg, a pikinini kiap manages to overgas, undergas or let go the plunger and the brew remains flat or impossibly frothy until the keg’s changed ... when the process is repeated. A pas from the co-op officer’s wife is delivered by the mankimasta saying dinner’s on top of the stove and the kero fridge has flamed out again. The power goes off at 10. A polismasta raids the party at 3, arrests the pamuk meri and tells everyone to raus back to their dongas. Yeah, it'd be a lot of fun....


My curiosity piqued by Jean Lowe’s reference to Martyrs’ Day, and only half remembering the story from my time in PNG, I tracked down a bit more on the Internet. It occurs to me now that I should have called Barry Paterson who, like Jean, spent some years in the Northern District. Anyway, here’s what I found....

“Beside a road against the bush at Ora Bay in Papua stands a stone altar. The Lord's Supper is celebrated there on Martyrs' Day, September 2nd.

“War had come to the Pacific. The Japanese seized Papua as a staging ground for hostilities against Australia. The outcome was very much in doubt. When it had first become apparent that Papua would be invaded, Bishop Strong of the Anglican Church broadcast a radio message. "Whatever others may do, we cannot leave. If we are fools, we are fools for Christ's sake”. All the mission personnel agreed. They felt to abandon the church at this desperate moment would be to forever lose face. To die would be to win a martyr's crown and show the Papuan people that faith was for real.

“Bishop Strong narrowly escaped death from the Japanese. Other missionaries lost their lives. Nine months after the Bishop made his speech, mission authorities decided it was appropriate to evacuate female staff. They had stood heroically and shown of what stuff they were made. Several were taken to safety in Australia. But nurse May Haywood remained.

“Early in August 1942 her fiancee, Vivian, was captured after hiding in the bush for weeks. Determined to meet the needs of his flock he had led worship under conditions of great danger. A sorcerer, Embogi, betrayed him to the Japanese. Tapiedi, a Christian guide pleaded for Vivian's life and was killed with an axe. Vivian and other Christians, including a six year old boy, were beheaded, their corpses cast into the sea.

“May Haywood and another nurse escaped into the bush. After eluding the Japanese for several days they, too, were betrayed by Papuans anxious to win Japanese favour. The Japanese caged them and tormented them by offering food and then withdrawing it. Three days after their capture, they were murdered beside an open trench and their bodies flung into it. It is at the site of this trench that the stone altar stands.

“After the war, as he was awaiting execution, Embogi ordered his people to fetch missionaries and converted to Christianity. The man who killed Tapiedi also became a Christian, later being permitted to open the doors of the new church in his village of Embi: a church dedicated to Tapiedi. This happy conclusion, recounted in Diana Dewar's All for Christ, shows how the seed of martyrs grows. Martyrs' Day thus represents a day of rejoicing, not sorrow.”



Ingrid Jackson, rushing off to a breakfast meeting in Sydney’s CBD on Monday, called a taxi to whisk her there with efficiency and speed and who should be at the wheel of the cabriolet that pulled up at 28 Benelong – yep, none other than Dubbo Dave Kesby. Very pleasant ride it was into town too, I hear, with Elissa joining in the conversation on the phone.


Peter Salmon, ex-kiap extraordinaire, runs an excellent website guaranteed to jog the memory, stir the nostalgia and make you feel proud to have once been a Territorian. It’s called Ex-Kiaps and you can find it at The site includes a message board, features on PNG past and present, a terrific collection of photographs, reproductions of rare documents, maps, lists and links to other PNG websites. It’s done in a characteristically kiap style and with great flair and I think you’ll enjoy it.


Garamut is the journal of the Gold Coast Papua New Guinea Club, Inc. It is published quarterly and the annual fee is $A8 for single membership and $A10 for married membership. Subscription forms are available from Ira Halliday, PO Box 951, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217.

Una Voce is the journal of the Retired Officers Association of Papua New Guinea Inc. It is published quarterly and membership of the Association is open to anyone who has lived in PNG or who has an abiding interest in the country. The annual fee is $A12 and application forms are available from The Secretary, ROAPNG Inc, PO Box 452, Roseville NSW 2069.

I am just about to subscribe to Garamut, so can’t comment on it, but Una Voce is jam-packed with yarns, information and a feisty column by ex-PNG magistrate, Paul Quinlivan.


More than 100 teachers in the Morobe Province did not receive last fortnight’s pay cheques. “We’ve been checking since last Friday and have been told the pay may have gone to another province,” a teacher said. But he said when they checked with the province mentioned, they were told the cheques were not there. “We fear our cheques have been lost and someone must explain to us what is happening.” Meanwhile, PNGTA Morobe branch executives have suggested a ‘sit-in’ protest where teachers will not teach if the government goes ahead with its proposal to cut public servants wages by 10 per cent.

[Source – PNG Post Courier, 28/8/02]

24 August 2002


Brian White – “We both had a great weekend. Nammie was very apprehensive about coming with me - who would she talk to, no-one would know her etc. I heard the story a few times on the drive down! I must admit to a few worries myself. It had been a long time, we'd all gone separate ways, would we have anything in common. We worried needlessly, of course. I couldn't even make the trip from our room to the car without spending half an hour with a group sitting at the bottom of the stairs! Nammie wondered where I got to each time.

“Within minutes of arriving for the pre-photo get-together, meeting Anita and Bill Wilson and hearing the name Tapini, Nammie established a connection between them and good friends and ex-Territorians living in Toowoomba who lost contact 15 years ago. Next day, I believe, there was a tearful telephone reunion between the two families. First tick for the reunion!

“There were moments of embarrassment - did we all have these? - when we couldn't remember someone, or when someone called Keith introduced himself as Dick Jones and I was taken in! Some faces came back immediately, some needed a bit longer and a bit of questioning, but I thought we were all able to pick up the threads of our past and fill in some of the time that has lapsed since ASOPA.

“In all a wonderful experience, and thanks to those who organised the whole show. It was a real eye-opener to see so many people out of contact for many years meet one another with such friendship and enthusiasm. I didn't actually see much of the 'Sepik', talking too much, but what a great venue for the Sunday morning. I regretted I had to take the decision to leave on Sunday, feeling a recurrence of a throat infection that laid me low the week before. I felt a bit cheated I wasn't able to join in the afternoon trip and the evening conviviality. Nammie joins with me in thanking you all for a wonderful experience. We both look forward to keeping in touch with as many as possible.”


Brian Smith – “Just a few thoughts on that wonderful weekend in Paradise. As most have reported, the Monday morning departure was rather emotional to say the least. I think the feeling of "I don’t want the weekend to finish" was fairly common among attendees. To say that the drive home was rather quiet would be an understatement of gross proportions. Rory O’Brien and I were somewhat subdued, with just the occasional comment.

“For my part I can only compare the weekend to a very friendly family reunion. Everyone just seemed to want to talk to everyone else as much as possible. In my own mind we were a very special group in 1962/63. Most of us were going to TPNG for the first time. For many it was the first time away from home. We were different to the average group of our time.

“This difference really came home to me at the reunion. No one was judgmental, everyone seemed to be genuinely interested in how everyone was and what we had been doing. The emotion of the whole event will remain with me for a very long time.

“I am already doing my best to keep in touch with as many as possible, without appearing to be a pest. I have spoken to Susan Denheld and when I told her of the huge (Darryl Eastlake huge) success of the weekend she was disappointed she could not make it. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to you, Keith, as well as to Col & Wendy for the magnificent job you did in firstly tracking everyone down and then arranging the very best weekend I have had for many years.”


Col Booth – “If you can find space, would you print a little 'thankyou' in the next Focus from Wendy and I for all the good wishes, friendship and general cooperation during the weekend of The Event. It was certainly gratifying for us to see everyone have a nice time. It made any efforts on our part worthwhile. Had a phone call from Marie Clifton-Bassett. She advised she had received a lovely report on the reunion from Henry Bodman, and it will go to press in Una Voce this week.”


Colin Huggins – “Received Mail #3. It is heart warming to realise that here are still some of us on the planet who are capable of expressing our appreciation. Not like the younger generation who concern me very much with their rudeness etc.

“I have just finished reading a book by a Bruno Manz, a person who was brought up after WW1 and was completely indoctrinated by the propaganda of the Goebbels and Streichers of the Third Reich. It is a very interesting and well written narration of the period. However, towards the conclusion of the book, when he is assessing the horrors of what was brought out in the Nuremberg trials, he makes a statement regarding the 21 major criminals as follows: ‘Hitler’s cronies were speechless. Sic transit gloria mundi.’

This rang a bell and the memory was put into full gear. Where did I recently see this expression? Lo and behold it was a heading in The ASOPA Files at the top of my entry on going to ASOPA. Now I did Latin until Intermediate at college but needless to say I've forgotten most of it. Thus I would like to know the meaning. I trust I'm not being compared to Goering, Goebbels, Ribbentrop and company?

So the glory of this world passes away, Huggibear. Obviously Bruno Manz has a keen sense of irony and, you’re correct, no comparison with the Third Reich intended....


Peter Lewis – “Sincere thanks for your efforts at the reunion weekend. To Col and Wendy: a mighty job well done. Hope we meet again before the five years is up. Certainly nice seeing Northern Territory sparring partners Lorraine and David Westover, as well as those from New Guinea. Had difficulty recognising some of the faces, although Colin Huggins and Rodger Philpott I would never forget. Look forward to reading about happenings in the future before we meet again.”

Marg Lewis – “Many thanks for the interesting weekend. I enjoyed meeting everyone and listening to the stories. It was a great spot to have a reunion weekend.”


Lorraine & David Westover – “G'day Wendy, Keith, Col and Henry. Just a brief note of thanks for a great weekend. We arrived home in Adelaide after visits to a number of NSW towns (Tamworth, Dubbo, Orange etc.) and a variety of coffee shops. Thanks Col and Wendy for your hospitality and organisation of the event. It was just great to catch up with you both and all those of the Class of 62/63 that were able to make it to Port Macquarie. Thanks Keith for all your efforts. The success of the weekend was linked to the communication you provided. It was good to meet Ingrid, Ben and Libby. If you ever want a quiet "away" from Sydney, there's room at Tea Tree Gully and maybe a sail on the Gulf. Henry. I appreciate not having my arm broken. Thanks for all you work toward those memorable few days.”


Richard Jones – “Afternoon, Keithy. Heard from Diane Bohlen that the video is taking longer than they thought because Diane and hubby both work full-time, but it is in the production phase as we speak. Had a recent look at ABC Media Watch's website, Keithy, and your colleague (& I imagine business partner) John Wells gets a nice little touch-up. MW calls his letter to a MW researcher an "extraordinary response'' and refers to Mr Wells' team as "the NRMA Board's flacks''. Ah well, as you pointed out recently, our brothers and sisters in the fourth estate can be a troubling lot.”


On Wednesday the Sydney Morning Herald ran a story about the future of ASOPA, including a magnificent aerial pic looking up the Middle Head peninsula across Mosman to the city in the background. The entire Georges Heights-Middle Head area is to be created as a park and non-heritage buildings demolished. Heritage buildings (I’ve been told these include at least some of ASOPA) will be adapted for other uses including an Aboriginal cultural centre. I’ve joined a local association known as the Headland Preservation Group with the intention of ensuring not only that the ASOPA heritage is protected but to see that one of the buildings is used for a permanent ASOPA exhibition or display. More on this in The Mail in future. Be on notice that your vocal support may be required.


Why don’t your mark the first weekend of September 2005 (Friday 2nd – Monday 5th) in your diary as a tentative set of dates. I’m proposing ASOPA as the core venue with the impossibly high ColnWendy standard maintained for bus tour of our old haunts, harbour cruise, Obelisk Beach nude swim, pub crawl of the Buena Vista etc etc. More on this over the next three years....

17 August 2002


A reminder that, if you want a complete set, you can order additional ASOPA ‘62-63 wine glasses from Col and Wendy Booth for $8 each.


Colin (Huggibear) Huggins – “My heartful thanks to Wendy, Colin, Henry and, last but not least, the one and only ‘drunken’ Keithibear for all the great work you did in achieving the Port Macquarie reunion. I'm pleased to report the return trip with Joe Crainean was not as dramatic as the bus/train/drunk fiasco of arriving. Although Joe, when expressing his views, did at times remove his hands from the steering wheel. This of course was immediately observed by the ever-vigilant Huggibear and Joe’s sister, Veronica. Hands were very quickly replaced on said wheel.

“No matter how hard I try, I still can't place a few of our members. It is most annoying. Then, of course, I couldn't place a certain bus driver at the Wauchope station. All I can say is that greater embarrassment was not achieved due to the presence of the other unfortunate persons who, I presumed, were trying to board the bus to Port Macquarie – and, of course, my reasonable manners in respect to the presence of a certain Val Rivers.

“I think that locating of people from all over the place just shows that ASIO and the CIA missed out on a great talent in the form of Wendy. Again my sincere thanks. The photo of a somewhat subdued Huggibear on the Booth bus arrived yesterday. Many thanks Keith.”


Dave Kesby – “Thanks once again for a lovely weekend. I think I managed to talk to every person - some for longer period than others. It was truly a great weekend. Our lovely wine glasses are in pride of place. Elissa and I have written in 5th October for our get to together at our place. We'll be in touch. Whoever wants to make it on the 5th - there'll be a feed with any luck. We got the photos and we all look old!”


Ian McLean – “Just received confirmation from travel agent. We will be arriving in Sydney on 2nd Oct and then head up to Qld on the Sunday 6th (Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast) to visit family. I'm truly impressed that Dubbo would give up a Saturday at the rank to host a BBQ for us reprobates. A sign that he TRULY enjoyed the reunion. When I mentioned the BBQ to the family, Andrew's first question was: "Are we kids invited?" That surprised me as he's almost 22 and older than most of us were when we hit PNG - and we didn't think of ourselves as kids. The reaction to THEBIGWEEGEND has been fantastic. Great reading about all the emotional outpourings. I guess Dubbo's lunchtime soiree will reopen the floodgates for our select Sydney crew, ha ha.”


Ros Burrell – “I wish to thank the organisers and attendees of the ASOPA reunion. The weekend was unforgettable for me and I thank every one for making me feel included in your wonderful get together. I'm sure other spouses of ASOPA people felt the same way. I'd heard ASOPA mentioned a few times over our 32 years together but until I met you all I didn't understand why Dennis felt college was so special. For myself, college just meant study and having to be a teacher. I felt included in a gathering of very special people. Thank you so much. PS, the only ASOPA person I met in 1975 in Pt Moresby didn't remember me. Rod Hard assures he will next time!”


Henry Bodman – “Well people, we knew it would be tough and we weren't wrong. Must admit to that flat feeling myself and haven't felt like visiting the scene. Needs time to ‘season’. That session on Saturday on the river under the umbrellas was the greatest as a pipe-opener and tops my list of a marvellous array of functions over the weekend. I was severely stretched in picking Barry Paterson , Rodger Philpot, Peter Lewis and Roger Stanley. But, like all, once aware of who was who it wasn't hard to see the callow youths of ‘62-63 in their new stretched finery. Will make this do as a tentative step back into touch. Did I say that? That's a ‘sniff’ term, isn't it?”


Diane Bohlen – “The reunion was a great experience, fun and emotional. I am so impressed with all the people who travelled from such far away places as Perth, NT, FNQ, SA, ACT and Vic. As someone said in your last Mail, we didn't have enough time to catch up with everybody's life story but I guess it is a motivation to stay in contact from now on. I was especially disappointed not to spend more time with Ingrid. Did she enjoy it as much as Bill? I was so pleased he felt part of it all and our enthusiasm and enjoyment infected him too. It is lovely to hear the comments from others and to know we all felt the same excitement on the weekend and the sadness at having to leave.”


Bill Wilson – “It was great to return home on Tuesday to find your thoughts on the reunion on e-mail and to receive a further helping of comments on Saturday Like others I drove home with a sense of disbelief that so much had happened in such a short time and now it was over. Every thing happened so smoothly and without any bickering or bad vibes. My wife and I had some fears that we might not fit in as I only was at the ASOPA for six months but the welcome and degree of friendship shown to us could not have been better and we will treasure the memory of the reunion forever.

“I have tried in my mind to analyse the event to work out what really happened. Was it a meeting of the elderly trying to relive part of their youth ? I think not . To me it was a meeting of unsung Australian hero's recalling the sacrifice of a most important part of their lives- their youth, given to the people of TPNG in an effort to equip them with the knowledge and skills they needed to adjust to a modern world. and also to meet Australia's obligations at an international level.

“The week of the reunion was marked by media reports of our sportsmen and women in Manchester who were able to use their abilities to defeat their opponents. The Press also heaps praise on our hero's in the armed forces whose mission is to defeat or kill those our Prime Minister see as a threat to America or perhaps us. From my own experience and the tales of those at the reunion I consider the field officers of TPNG as even more heroic as the task and contribution was to teach and build rather than defeat or destroy. It is unfortunate that humanitarian care does not receive the same praise as defeat and killing.

“I was proud to be at the reunion and be allowed to mix with such a great group of people . I heard many comments of the hardship and risks that people took and I know that many paid a high cost in terms of health, family and emotional problems for their dedication. While we exchanged tales of TPNG in a light hearted way we all were well aware of the personal cost of our years of service.

“In conclusion I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Col and Wendy and to Henry Bodman for the support and encouragement that made me over come some doubts on health issues and attend what was to prove a great time of friendship and fellowship.”

10 August 2002


Jeff Chapman – “What an incredibly magic and unforgettable weekend! My good lady wife is going to join us at the next one. What memories the weekend brought back and what memories it has created.”


Henry Bodman – “Congratulations on a lifelong memory having been put in place. The best things happen to the best and this weekend demonstrates the truth of this adage. The organisation was immaculate in every way, as was the weekend itself with all the enjoyment, amusement and camaraderie we could have wished.”


Allan Jones – “It was a huge success. Please pass on my greetings. Let's do it again fairly soon.”


Rod Hard – “On the drive back from Port M, the 4-hour drive was filled with melancholy and sentiment as I thought about the people I had just left and who also were on their way back to some form of normalcy after a magnificent 3 days of reminiscing and remembering. I felt let down for not keeping up relationships over the years - and a certain amount of guilt ..... I will keep in contact before we meet again( thanks to the existence of the internet) but feel disappointed by the limited number that I spent quality time with. I could have spent hours just catching up with the journey that most of them have made. The books will give me a great insight into the people and no doubt generate additional questions about which I will be able to talk to them personally.”


Bob Davis – “I don't think I've ever had such an emotional outpouring as last weekend. Not just an outpouring but an inpouring. I felt a surge of emotion and feeling emanating from each and every one. Of particular importance were the relationships I kindled with people I didn't think I had much of a relationship with during college years. Shared experiences of life in the Territory and of life itself blew away inhibitions. Dave Argent and I spoke on the phone Monday night. We both had tears running down our faces as we tried to carry on some sort of sensible discourse. The spadework done in unearthing everyone was very important. This will enable us to keep in better contact. I had some minor reservations about the BIG EVENT as the lead up was so great and the weekly editions of Vintage timed to bring everything to a climax. It was possible, I thought, for THE EVENT to be an anticlimax. But it wasn't. It was quite the opposite. This was due in part to the great organisation of all concerned but, of course, mostly due to the interaction of the participants. 2005 sounds great to me. Hopefully those who couldn't make it last weekend might stir themselves into action next time perhaps.”


Jean Lowe – “I was very reluctant to leave Port Macquarie without sorting everyone out (bridging 40 years in a few hours) and was much deflated for a while, However, many thanks for a great time.”


Richard Jones – “Thanks for your reunion wrap-ups. Much appreciated. You became very tired and emotional on the Sunday evening, Keithy, but no doubt with good reason. Heard from another attendee that there was a smattering of bald heads, some paunchiness and quite a few grey hairs but the tone of the three days was great and everyone had a terrific time.”


You can order more ASOPA Reunion 1962-2002 wine glasses if you’d like to collect a full set. So far Barry Patterson, Moose Davis and Col Booth have sought extras and you can write or e-mail Col and Wendy to get yours at $8 a glass. By the way, colleagues in Australia and overseas will receive their free goblet courtesy of Col and Wendy – who made these gifts available to us as just one of their many generous contributions to The Event.


You can order additional group photographs through Col and Wendy. The prices: 7x5”, $10; 8x6”, $15; 12x8” (A4), $35; 18x12” (A3), $55


Dave & Elissa Kesby – “We’re planning a soiree at Haus Dubbo for when Talker McLean hits town in the not too distant future, and ColnWendy have already staked a claim to be included in the action. Ian tells me he’s just received approval for leave in October and hopes to hit town around Wednesday 2nd. I’m hoping Dubbo will polish the barbecue plate ready for Saturday 5th as I’m off to FNQ where I’ll catch up with Barry Paterson on the Sunday. Talker’s travelling with long suffering wife Belinda and sons Andrew, 21, and Chris, 17, who will be settling into Melbourne prior to university. The three males in the family all have karate black belts but are still petrified of Belinda.”


Until we meet again, you might consider using this occasional newsletter as a conduit to your ASOPA colleagues – including keeping in touch with changes in people’s contact details. Rod Hard is first cab off the he moves to a new business address.

Suite 207, The Solent Centre, 12-24 Solent Circuit, Baulkham Hills. NSW 2153

Business phone (02) 8824 3600 and fax (02) 8824 3611

Rod’s postal, mobile and e-mail details remain the same


The aptly named Marina Miotto writes from P&O: “I refer to your inquiry regarding possible future cruises to Papua New Guinea. Unfortunately, due to the continuing risks associated with travel to PNG, there are no scheduled port visits in the foreseeable future for P&O Australia or Princess Cruises.”

5 August 2002


Phew! What an experience. It’s hard to write this without sounding hopelessly sentimental. I guess the measure of a group is how we feel individually when it breaks up. If the group is of little value, it’s easy to leave behind. If it’s of great value, it’s tough. The adage has it that parting is such a sweet sorrow. In our case, the only sweetness came from an appreciation of the value of the people we’d been with.

Cumulatively, the reunion might be described literally as a series of conversations that took place in a number of different locales. But a description of the event’s emotional impact is beyond my powers. Suffice it to say, I was very, very sad to see it end.

From that springs a determination to do it again. Mark 2005 in your diary as an option for a group get-together. I have the feeling, though, that there’ll be a lot more interaction, large and small, between now and then. And I’ll feel aggrieved if you visit Sydney without giving me a call beforehand so we can do something together.

For those of you who couldn’t make it, let me try to describe in a rather prosaic way what actually happened.

Thursday. The first reunionists, including Helene East, Rodger Philpott and Lorraine & Dave Westover, trickled into Port Macquarie. At night there was a dinner at Wendy and Col Booth’s.

Friday. By mid-afternoon the town was crawling with Asopians who made their way to the riverside Country Comfort motel, designated as the base of operations. We knew who was coming, of course, but that wasn’t sufficient warning to make some identification difficult. I watched Barry Flannery and Peter Lewis blinking at each other until I interrupted the painful moment by introducing them. Colin Huggins, travelling from Brisbane by train to Wauchope, had already expressed his consternation at finding a conveyance to travel the final 20 km to Port Macquarie. Wearing the starched driver’s uniform of Kings Coach Co, Col Booth collected 15 or so of us and we made up the motley ‘passengers’ on the ‘district bus’ that Col parked strategically outside Wauchope station as the XPT came in, on time. Huggibear disembarked and ‘bumped into’ Val Rivers who introduced herself and suggested they negotiate with the ‘district bus driver’ to drive them to town.

Feeling confident Colin wouldn’t recognise me, and with him totally unaware that the other ‘passengers’ were Asopians, I began to remonstrate with Col Booth (also unrecognised) to take me to Tuncurry. Meanwhile, Booth was saying he had a few stops to make before Port Macquarie and he “might arrive there by half past seven” (it was 3.30). As Huggibear began to get agitated, I said I’d be willing to go to Port Macquarie first if he’d lend me $5 towards the fare. Pathetically trickling a few small coins from one hand to another, the great man told me that was all he had. After a bit more argy bargy we decided enough was enough before we achieved total core meltdown. I’m glad the reunion was a three-day number because it took Colin all that time to forgive me. This, like most of what happened on the weekend, was caught on video by Diane and Bill Bohlen and we’ll tell you how you can get hold of the final production in due course.

As Friday evening progressed more of our number arrived at Country Comfort and we had a wonderfully impromptu night as the catching up really began in earnest.

Saturday. By 10 am, Asopians were to be seen in force at Beaches restaurant. The Saturday morning arrivals filtered in – first Chappo Chapman and Moose Davis, then Dubbo Kesby, then Roger Stanley, who I stared hard at for five minutes before getting the requisite electrical current into the memory. It was already clear that this was going to be one helluva weekend. The conversation was animated and loud. Moose headed off to organise the 500 tournament that started with 8 players but was destined never to finish while I helped Kurt Argent down a few steadying ales so he’d be really on his game. The reunion dinner that night was a big occasion. Some of our colleagues chose to come very spiffily outfitted indeed (commenting candidly on my own lamentable dress sense) and we were treated to a few formalities with Col Booth expounding at length on the rules, Henry forecasting he’d live to be a 100 and would attend a reunion in 40 years time by himself, Barry Paterson delivering a grace acceptable even to hardened atheists and Bill Bergen elegantly recalling the passing of Mike Hatch and Helen Jacob. One of the highlights of the night was the late arrival of Howie Ralph, the 40th former 62/63er to make the reunion - bringing a nice symmetry to the event. Howie and wife Glenda look after orphaned wildlife and on this occasion were accompanied by a parentless baby wombat, or the Missing Asopian as I like to think of it.

Sunday. By early Sunday, we were together again at Cray’s restaurant for breakfast before setting out on a cruise of the mighty Septik River. The group had come together big time by this point and everyone was busily making sure that they had a least a minimal conversation with everyone. We were also regretting the absence of those of you who couldn’t make it but even this big dose of nostalgia couldn’t stop Kurt demolishing the plateful of chicken wings that had stopped every one of the other 70 people at this wonderful event. Meanwhile Bill Bohlen was energetically shooting interview footage for the video, so the experience can be both remembered and shared. Some of us were flagging by Sunday afternoon but there was a healthy quorum for Col Booth’s two-hour bus tour of some of the district’s scenic highlights. By the way, it was good to see Helene East and Pam Welbourne on this trip and at the reunion itself. Both have not had to best of health recently, have mobility problems but performed like real troupers throughout the event.

By Sunday night, the numbers had thinned, but not by much, and there was still a commendably large group on hand to demolish the Chinese buffet at the Hot Wok. The inevitable then had to occur, of course, and it was all over, with lots of handshakes and hugs and promises made which I’m sure will be requited. I walked the 20 mts back to our apartment with Ingrid and Benny with tears in my eyes and a heart full of gladness. It was that sort of weekend.


Keith Bain - “Can you please pass on our willingness to see anyone who passes through London in the next few years. I see from the biographies that many people have been here (in some cases for extended periods) during our long stay. However, I also notice that several people have further travel plans, and one or two specifically mention Europe. These days, England is more or less part of Europe (not for Rupert Murdoch) and so European visits might include at least a stopover here. We tend to take fairly long holidays (about 6-7 weeks a year), but otherwise we are here and always contactable by e-mail. PS, Perhaps you could ask Colin Huggins for me what it was, in particular, that so appalled him about my bedroom that he can remember it 40 years later!”

Having spent a long weekend with Huggins, the dear fellow, I think the short answer is that Colin was and remains a stickler for tidiness and cleanliness (to which, he tells me, he has now added punctuality). So any person who offended against this rarefied sense of decorousness could well expect to be remembered 40 (and I feel certain 80) years on. Unfortunately, Keith, there was a bit of a consensus going that your room décor and, er, management left something to be desired.