John Kleinig writes in the most recent issue of Una Voce, the journal of the PNG Association of Australia: Those who had anything to do with ASOPA will be interested in the glossy new signboard that you can now find outside the former Hallstrom Library at Middle Head. Titled ‘The Old Pacific Training Centre’ it goes on……
“This collection of weatherboard buildings was built for the Army just before World War II. It became the School of Pacific Administration after the war and was later used by AusAid to train public servants, diplomats and Pacific nationals.”
The Harbour Trust, with what appears to be unlimited funds from the Commonwealth Government, is “restoring the precinct to create a place for public use and recreation”. So with the flick of the signwriter’s wrist, it appears that the site will now be transformed into a picnickers’ haven complete with some of the best views of the harbour.
Other suggestions in the past have included a school holiday or arts camp, a backpacker facility for schools and visitors, an open air amphitheatre and so on. There may be some fleeting reference to the work of ASOPA, probably in one of the touristy type brochures you find in the onsite weather-proof containers. Or maybe they have some plans to incorporate some of the past into the new facility. A quick look at the website didn’t give much away.
I don’t want to give the impression that the Harbour Trust is an insensitive, amateurish show. In fact the opposite is the case. The refurbishment of Lower Georges’ Heights is a stunning example of what can be done when you have the money, leadership and expertise. As well, the site has one of the best views of the harbour. Before they move to the next stage, which will probably include the ASOPA site, it would be intriguing to find out what is now planned.