Previous month:
March 2006
Next month:
May 2006

14 posts from April 2006


Henry Bodman writes: On a balmy Brisbane autumn day, the ASOPA 1962/63 Brisbane Chapter reconvened to make some key decisions about Brisbane 2007, the third reunion of the Class. The Gold Coast was again given the thumbs down and the Sunshine Coast was also ruled out on the grounds of cost. This left Col Huggins' extensive and thorough proposal for Brisbane where the Accor Group has four properties, all within easy walking distance of each other and which cater to all price ranges (budget to 5 star). Diary note – Brisbane, weekend of 12-14 October 2007.


Dr Ceridwen Spark of the Arts Research Graduate School at Monash University is researching the adopted children of Dr Daniel Carleton Gajdusek who went to the Eastern Highlands of PNG in 1957 to study kuru, the so-called ‘laughing sickness’. From in the mid 1960s, Carleton, as he was known, adopted 17 children from the Fore and Anga regions and took them to live with him and be educated in the United States. Dr Spark is trying to ascertain the processes Gajdusek did (or did not) go through to adopt these children and has asked anyone who may be able to assist to contact her at this email address.


David Keating (ASOPA 1961/62) is working on a project to document the impact of ASOPA trained Education Officers on the development and growth of sport in Papua New Guinea between 1960 and 1975.

He’s being assisted by a research student from the University of Queensland. David has the support of the PNG Sports Federation, which is very aware of the lack of written records from that period.

A questionnaire has been developed to enable people to register interest in participating in this project. It covers a range of activities including high performance sport, coaching primary school teams, initiating local competitions, teaching rules, training officials and bringing in expertise from Australia and other parts of PNG.

This is a worthwhile exercise that will greatly assist to build a picture of how former ASOPA cadets contributed to a significant part of the life of PNG. If you were involved in PNG sport, and most of us were one way or another, you can get the form by contacting David at this email address.


Papua New Guinea’s Grand Chief and legendary leader, Sir Michael Somare, has just turned 70 and is showing no signs of slowing down. In 1976, when I was an executive in the National Broadcasting Commission, and despite a personal admiration for Sir Michael that continues to this day, I had a major fight with him which convinced me my time in PNG had passed and led to my departure after over 13 years.

The dispute surrounded my efforts – along with Phil Charley – to introduce advertising on the National Broadcasting Commission. Despite the NBC Act allowing advertising and the organisation’s parlous financial state commending this as a good revenue option, Sir Michael vehemently opposed the move. But, on this issue, he lacked the numbers in the House of Assembly and a Bill to amend the Act was defeated on the floor of Parliament. Within days, commercial advertising began on the NBC.

A bit over a year later, opening some much-awaited mail in Male, the capital of the remote Maldive Islands, you can imagine my surprise when a silver medal with a riband in the PNG colours tumbled on to my desk from a beaten up brown manilla envelope. It was an Independence Medal accompanied by a slightly torn and somewhat soiled citation – the whole package having been mistakenly routed through Mali in central Africa. And, yes, after my stormy departure from PNG, it did make things OK.


The Pacific Manuscripts Bureau, part of the Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies in the Australian National University, is a major repository for historic documents relating to ASOPA. Some of these date back to 1946 when the School’s research and teaching functions were being planned. The collection includes a seminal letter (dated 28 June 1947) from WC Groves to John Kerr, in which the training of Cadet Education Officers is mooted for the first time. The Bureau can be contacted at this email address or by phoning 02 6125 2521.


Andrewmandy_1  The venue is the Sydney Registry in Chippendale where in a nearby lane some furtive types are dealing drugs, but behind the security doors in a small chapel-like room it is sweetness and light as Ian 'Talker' and Belinda McClean's eldest son Andrew goes under the hammer to Mandy in a short, informal and therefore pleasant ceremony. And later to the Regal in Chinatown for the full 12 course banquet including the exquisite Peking duck and jellyfish. When it comes to speechifying, much to my surprise, Talker shows an unwillingness to utter more than a few  words in public but the rhetorical torch is taken up by second son Chris, studying in Melbourne to be a sound engineer, who delivers an emotional panegyric to brother and family and friends. All in all a most satisfying occasion and you can see more of it on our photo website here.


Ros Sharp (nee Smart) of the ASOPA Class of 1961/62 gets in touch to say she’s been contacted by Gaye Speldewinde as preparations continue for the Class reunion in August 2007. Ros writes: “It seems a million years and thousands of lives ago that I went to ASOPA”. Ros is currently Assistant Principal at Riverside Christian College in Maryborough and lives at Hervey Bay.


Hocknull John Hocknull JP, a former kiap and current Director of the Brisbane-based firm, Education Development Office Management Services, whose website you can find here, has been good enough to send me a number of photographs from what seems to be a marvellously well-fuelled 1971 dinner involving ASOPA staff (Fred Kaad instantly recognisable, flaunting a glass of red) and graduating kiaps on the eve of their departure for PNG. By the way, John and partner Morag are the proud parents of Scott, Young Australian of the Year in 2002, and Craig, dual PGA golf professional.

61/62 - ONLY 4 TO GO

Dave Keating reports that the 1961-62 group of ASOPA Cadet Education Officers will be getting together on 24 - 26 August 2007 for their first reunion. There remain only four people unaccounted for and for whom contact details are wanted: Rod Jarvis Andrews, Roslyn Smart, Leslie Percival and Sean Noel D'Arcy. If you can help, contact Dave here.


Each month, February to December, Ken McGregor and Helen Rousseau maintain a 40-year long tradition as organisers of the Pacific Islands Monthly lunch in Sydney. The lunch is a gathering point for people who, at one time or another, worked in what used to quaintly be called “the islands”.

The lunch is usually held in a private room at the Law Society in Sydney’s CBD and the next event will be held this coming Friday April 7th. For more information you can contact Helen on 02 9498 1179.


Rosalie Deverell tell me the ASOPA website has given her hours of fun and super memories. One result is that she is now determined to attend a Melbourne kiaps' reunion later this year. Rosalie comments that her late husband, Bob, a respected mate of mine on Bougainville, would have really enjoyed the site and the reunion. Rosalie  is seeking information on the whereabouts of Terry and Mary Giles who she knew on at Tinputz on Bougainville. Both were teachers and Rosalie believes they returned to Brisbane. If you know where Terry and Mary may be now, you can contact Rosalie here.


Barry Paterson reports: We drove down to Innisfail today. It was quite a shock, despite having seen the footage on TV. Thousand of trees have been stripped of their leaves. Many, many houses have brightly coloured tarpaulins to keep the rain out.

On a Sunday morning the Army was very busy clearing up the enormous amounts of debris from the cyclone. Our St Alban's Church suffered some damage but the church hall next door was devastated. It will be sorely missed as a valuable community asset.

Thankfully, while the Mourilyan Sugar Mill was destroyed, the South Johnstone (Innisfail), Babinda and Mulgrave (Gordonvale) Mills were saved and the sugar is beginning to stand up again so there will be a harvest. Not so for the bananas - green bunches of bananas litter the landscape.

It was a desolate scene. But people were working hard to clean up the place and seemed in good spirits. Thank God for that. Please keep the people of the whole Johnstone Shire (based on Innisfail) in your thoughts and prayers.


As usual this morning, I'm out walking. A sunny Sydney Autumn Sunday with a fresh breeze encouraging me to keep the pace up. Then I hear a familiar sound. The low rich roar of the twin Pratt & Whitney piston engines of a DC3. A resonance that instantly transports me to that little school at Gagl nestling in the shadow of Mount Wilhelm where, 40 years ago, late each Sunday afternoon, a weekend of isolation nearly over and a week of teaching ahead, I sit in the garden in my 'chair, lounge, aluminium, webbing, one', brown SP in hand, gazing across the Wahgi Valley to the misty Kubor range beyond. And, around 4.30, I hear the low roar and catch sight of the silver DC3 making its way from Goroka to Mount Hagen, representing the promise of town life and all-night parties and leave down south. Always an evocative sound, always an engaging sight. And this morning, as the DC3 passes overhead, sun glistening off its propellers, I'm 40 years younger and back at Gagl.


I wouldn't say Sydney's CBD to Berowra Heights (and I emphasise the altitude) is a long drive in Australian terms, even if somewhat longish. But no journey can be too long, as all true Aussie's would agree, if at its end  there's a bunch of mates willing to swap a cold beer for a good story. Such was today.

'Dubbo' Dave Kesby has three great advantages in life. A big heart, a strong spirit of mateship and a deep compassion for his fellow human beings. Who cannot but admire such a man? And Dave has a glorious wife, Elissa, to keep his ideals in check and balance.

There at Berowra (Heights), arriving characteristically late and through the scrub out the  back,  was another ASOPA and Chimbu comrade, Ian 'Talker' McLean. Talker has his glories - not least of all a fund of yarns to make Charles Dickens spew and a family cheer squad to make the rest of us feel we've never really been supported in life. And yes, I speak of you Belinda and Andrew and Chris and Mandy.

So when all of us regroup over a barbecue of prawns and chicken and steak to an accompaniment of flame and smoke and with a supporting cast of Hunter red and Margaret River white, it's hardly surprising, as Dave conceded, that 25% of what is said must be discounted for reasons of sheer bravado and exaggeration.

Not being much of an anecdotalist, I'll leave the detail to others. It's enough to say, and the only point I want to make, is that my old ASOPA buddies are great friends indeed.