The 1958 papers in the Blatchford Collection, just posted on ASOPA People Extra, include an indignant repudiation of some ASOPA lecturers by a young acting District Education Officer in the swamps of the Western District.
“When speaking of the Territory,” Ken McKinnon [left] wrote to PNG Director of Education, Bill Groves, “lecturers at ASOPA invariably speak disparagingly of the Western District and of Daru in particular. Much of this is, of course, merited, as there are many bad features in this District.”
But he added: “There are instances of comment going so far as to suggest that postings to stations in this district and to some in the Sepik District are in the nature of ‘punishment postings’ and that they are ‘horror stations’. One lecturer even suggested that an officer should resign or refuse the posting if he were sent to Daru.
“There is every chance that the same careless comment could prejudice future staff expansion so it is thought necessary to make some remonstrance.”
My old mate Joe Crainean (seen here with wife Kathryn), who spent time at Oiyarip, Lake Murray and the Oriomo River, is living proof that three years in the Western District marshes didn’t do anyone too much harm. Although a recent remark by Joe that Tasmania's Arthur River "reminded me somewhat of the Oriomo near Daru" seems to indicate that, for old hands, the Western District looked more like civilisation every day.