In honour of those kiaps who went on their Last Patrol between the 2017 and the 2019 Reunions. May their beers be cold, and may their camaraderie continue up there in that big Patrol Post in the Sky
WARWICK, QLD - It was a joyous gathering at the Kawana Waters Hotel that day, but the years have taken their toll, for the fact is that many of us who attended our last reunion did not make it for this one.
And we have to face it, some of us won’t get there for the next one either.
But the memories of those who have left us, linger on in friendship, dignity and camaraderie. One notable absence was that of Bill McGrath.
For years he attended our reunions, together with his Pacific Bookhouse display of rare Pacific books and manuscripts, and he will always be remembered for the way he helped other kiaps and other expats to publish their memoirs and other stories about their experiences in Papua New Guinea.
A total of 192 kiaps and others registered as attending this reunion, but of course there were some who arrived late or otherwise did not register, so we can comfortably claim that attendance was at least 200.
Not our greatest attendance which was 307 in 2013 not counting stragglers, but of course our ranks have thinned since then as the attached casualty list does indicate.
Not to worry though, because we welcomed into our ranks a contingent of “second generation kiaps” – the sons and daughters of kiaps who served with us.
Among these were Jack Battersby’s daughters Liane and Jennifer, Keith Dyer’s daughter Lyn Chambers, Lee Clayton’s son Ben, John Colman’s son Robert and daughter Jo, Noel Fowler’s daughter Jane Gleeson, and granddaughter Sian, Graham Hardy’s son Michael, and Ross Johnson’s son Warwick.
Bruce Laming’s son Andrew, Tim Terrell’s daughter Holly, Jack Scott’s son Shannon, Frank Haviland’s daughter Shann Withnell, Ian Skinner’s son Peter, Jim Jansen’s son Mosely, Don Kennedy’s son Clyde, Jim Kent’s son Lockie and daughter Lita Leaver, and Jim Sinclair’s sons David and Mike.
We were honoured by the presence of all those second-generation kiaps, and also by the attendance of accompanying spouses upon whom we will bestow the title of “second generation kiap in-laws.” They were all very welcome also.
Also honouring us with their attendance were departed kiaps’ wives Joan Colman, Estelle Laming, Lois Logan, Jan Sinclair and Teresa Wade. We always welcome them.
Also attending the reunion were three chalkies, two co-op wallahs, one kuskus, one medast, and would you believe, a few missionaries. All very welcome.
And we also welcomed those who came from far away to be with us that day. Elsewhere in Queensland is far enough, but it is a long haul from Canberra, NSW, Victoria and elsewhere interstate, but we are grateful to those who made the journey to attend this reunion.
Of course, the main feature of these Sunshine Coast kiap reunions is their informality. No speeches, no set seating arrangements, no finishing time, no set menus, and no specific guest of honour, because we honour everyone who attends.
It is a magic formula which draws together old friends some of whom might not have seen each other for 50 years or more. Some have never met before, but at these reunions catch up with those whose footsteps they might have followed from one posting to another.
Names that only ever appeared on staff posting lists come alive at these reunions. More kiaps come together at these reunions than they ever did in PNG. This is because in those days we were all scattered across the country and its far flung islands.
And it is only at these reunions 45 years after Independence, that we are all together at the same place on the same day, rekindling the same memories, with the same reminiscences . That is the magic of these reunions, which we don’t sully with set seating or boring speeches.
Our thanks go to the organisers, Peter Salmon, Bob and Heather Fayle, and Denys and Helen Faithful. Denys is now 90 years old, bless him, and bless all other 90 year olds who also attended the reunion like Jack Battersby, and others whose age we dare not disclose.
We also thank the management and staff of the Kawana Waters Hotel for hosting our reunion and for the welcome renovations made since our previous reunion.
These reunions only occur every two years, but by the marvels of modern technology, kiaps keep in touch between reunions through two superb on-line productions. One is the on-line magazine PNG Attitude, created by former PNG chalkie Keith Jackson ably assisted by kiap Phil Fitzpatrick, and the other is the Ex-Kiap website created by Peter Salmon.
Both these technological marvels keep us up to date with events in PNG both current and historical, and they give us the opportunity to publish our memories and reminiscences. Thank you, all three with special thanks to Peter for helping with this report.
We also thank Norm Richardson and Mike Slough who took photos of this reunion and published them on Peter Salmon’s ex- kiap website, for all of us to see. You can find these photos in the section named 'REUNIONS, SOCIAL FUNCTIONS & INDIVIDUAL CATCH-UPS'. In the sub-forum ‘PAST RE-UNION PHOTOGRAPHS’ under the headings '2019 KAWANA REUNION 10 NOV'. There is one set of photos by Norm and three by Mike.
And finally, the organisers wish to thank everyone who attended this reunion. Thank you all for making it such a great day and may there be many more reunions like this one.