The legacy of the pen
Bougainville’s referendum. Uncertain journey

My mate, Murray Bladwell, dies in Brisbane

Murray & Keith
How it always was - and how it always should be


NOOSA – Murray Bladwell, one of the loveliest men I have known, and our relationship had been close for 56 years, died in Brisbane this morning after a short illness.

At this moment in the cycle of grief, when a close friend has died suddenly, the mind struggles to sort the terrible reality from the expectation that such a staunch and solid figure will always be around.

Murray was a man of little complaint and of big deeds. After a short career as a health inspector in Queanbeyan, NSW, he had gone to Papua New Guinea in 1963 to train as a school teacher on the Rabaul-based E-Course.

I met him in Goroka when we were both starting our teaching careers. We shared the same accommodation in Kundiawa when we taught there.

We began a little newsletter together which kicked off a blend of education and communication in both of our early careers and forged a friendship as strong as friendship can be.

Murray went on to a distinguished career as an educator. He gained his master’s degree in Canada after leaving PNG and rose to a senior position in the Queensland education department.

After early retirement he worked for some years as the Queensland branch manager of my PR firm, Jackson Wells Morris. In our lives, we were never far apart in mind or in spirit.

Martyn & Murray
With Martyn Namorong. Murray had organised the Brisbane end of Martyn's first visit to Australia

Murray was an organiser, a fixer and a builder - and he was benevolent with all of that.

It seemed there was little he could not achieve if someone was in need. He was a great friend of PNG and, along with the late Terry Shelley, a great mate of the Chimbu people.

He performed miracles for Rotary, for which organisation he was a stalwart, and wherever he went things would grow around him. Truly a man who left the world a better place than when he found it.

His wife Joan delivered the terrible news in a phone call a short time ago. Murray, 78, had been in hospital for two weeks, seemed to be on the mend, but wasn’t.

I am deeply sad for his immediate family, Joan and his children Anton and Krissa, his brother Peter and the grandchildren he loved so much.

And I am deeply sad for all of us – the many of us – who were pleased to be called his friends that this good man has left us. Left us just as quietly as he lived amongst us. Not worrying us about the process. Just getting on with it.

The deaths of our friends chip away at ourselves. These moments are the most awful ones.

I will bring you more information as it comes to hand. 


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Paul & Pat Crowe

So sorry to hear of Murray's passing. Murray was a quiet achiever and a driving force of the Chuave rugby league team.

We spent time with Murray in Kundiawa and then in Chuave where he brought back his new bride, Joan, after leave.

Our thoughts and prayers are with you Joan and family.

Joe Herman

Condolences to Murray's family and friends.

Bernard Corden

I only met Murray during lunch at the Brisbane Book festival at South Bank back in 2016 and he was such a sincere gentleman.

Rest in peace.

Baka Bina

Narapela yar yomba pos - for all things PNG i pundaun.

Our condolences to the family.

Mari mari bilong bikpela iken stap wantaim ol long dispela taim.

Ed Brumby

I share your grief, Keith, and that of Joan and the Bladwell clan.

I worked closely with Murray (and Joan) in POM when he was the producer/presenter of the Teachers' Talk broadcasts - and a more unassuming, consummate professional you'd never meet. A great loss ....

Bob Cleland

Such sad news. I've got to know Murray only in the last few years, but came to appreciate his quiet but competent approach to all people and to all things.

My condolences to his family and other friends.

Arthur Smedley

Keith, a lovely tribute to an unassuming, but wonderful man.
Sincere condolences to Murray's family and friends.

Rob & Meg Parer

Thanks you Keith for those nice words about your Mate and it was through you that I got to know your Mate and I also became his Mate. Tenkyu tru tru for that.

I am honoured and blessed to have know that quiet man.

You said, "Truly a man who left the world a better place than when he found it." And he was certainly one of those rare ones that everyone would agree most sincerely.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Joan and his children Anton and Krissa, his brother Peter and the grandchildren. We offer you our thoughts and prayers during this dark time in your lives.

Lindsay F Bond

Sterling supporter of PNG people and more, straightforwardly positive, sincerely sensed, delightfully encountering and engaging. A measure of meaningfulness in humanity, yea, Murray. Epithets of his enrichment now inscribing his epitaph.

Paul Oates

Very sorry to hear of Murray's passing. It was only a few years ago that Sue and I brought cartons of books to his house for him to send to PNG as part of a Rotary initiative.

A true friend of PNG.

David Kitchnoge

My deepest condolences and thoughts of love go out to Mr Bladwell's family, friends and those he loved.

Thank you for sharing him with us here in PNG.

I was going to say, the world is poorer when an angel leaves. But that would not be the right way to honour his memory as you shared with us, KJ.

Our world is richer because he has lived.

Daniel Kumbon

Hard to believe Murray is gone. Such a solid man. But life is cruel. Death strikes anytime it pleases.

MurraY Bladwell, Ed Brumby, Lindsay Bond, Bernard Corden.... all solid men when I and my wife Julie, Francis Nii, Martyn Namorong and Rashmi Bell met them in Brisbane.

I thank Ken McKinnon and Paga Hill Development company for making it possible for me to meet this great man, a great friend of PNG.

Murray, I will always remember your smile by the Brisbane riverside that fine day in 2016..

Rest in Eternal Peace my friend. Condolences to family and friends. May the good Lord comfort us all.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)