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69 posts from September 2020

Aviation could be unforgiving in PNG

3 Tabibuga on final
On final approach at Tabibuga in a Cessna 206. The strip was 1,250 feet long and its 8 degree slope required full throttle to get to the top after touch down


WARRADALE, SA - Flying in pre-GPS Papua New Guinea was certainly an unforgiving process.  I knew a number of people who did not survive it.

Harry Balfour-Ogilvy was a kiap in our intake in November 1965. He, his wife and two infant daughters all died in May 1970 when a dangerously overloaded plane took off from Gurney in Milne Bay.

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A new magazine for Papua New Guinea

| Business Advantage International

PORT MORESBY - This week saw the launch of PNG Now, a new lifestyle magazine for Papua New Guinea.

PNG Now is designed to showcase the best of PNG through reviews, guides, articles and tips.

It also offers a platform for exceptional work from some of PNG’s best writers and photographers.

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Remembering the tragic Tauta plane crash

Brown 4 Dornier DO27
The Dornier DO27 that crashed when its engine failed after taking off from Tauta

| Edited extracts

Acknowledgement: The complete version of senior pilot the late Captain Bryan McCook’s article was originally published on the Professional Pilots Rumor Network. You can link to it here (requires a little downward scrolling)

THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER 1964 - My first task on this fateful day entailed flying a DCA aerodrome inspector from Goroka to Nondugl in the Cessna 185.

Nondugl, in the Waghi Valley, belonged to Sir Edward Hallstrom, a prominent industrialist, philanthropist and chairman of Taronga Park Zoo in Sydney. Many birds of paradise and other exotic fauna brought into Nondugl were destined for the zoo.

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Yeah, I know I’m getting on, but….

Phil Fitzpatrick recentPHILIP FITZPATRICK

TUMBY BAY - We’ve only got one pharmacy in Tumby Bay. I believe it’s been in the same family since it began.

The grandfather passed it on to the father and now the father has just passed it on to the daughter.

I was in there the other day collecting some diabetic gear: a box of needles for my disposable syringes; a couple of packets of test strips for my glucose testing gizmo; and my blood pressure tablets.

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All true stewards of nature


A band of warriors
Bold and brave with spears
Splendour of their forefathers
Invoked deep is their courage
Faces painted traditional colours of war
All true stewards of nature!

Brothers and sisters of Morobe
Spears sharpened in Tutumang haus
They will not give up
Fighting for Huon Gulf's clear beauty
Saying no to the mine's deep sea deposits
All true stewards of nature!

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Just another convulsion in western civilisation


ADELAIDE - Those of us who went to Papua New Guinea, especially in the 30 years after World War II, were motivated by many things.

For me and many others who became kiaps or didimen or tisa or mastamak,* it was a sense of adventure combined with curiosity about what was then, and remains today, a culture quite unlike our own.

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Shy PNG artist's mentor became his subject

Mal Nagobi and Wesley Wengembo
Mentor Malachi Nagobi and artist  Lesley Wengembo

| Guardian Australia | Judith Nielson Institute

SYDNEY - Alongside Malachi Nagobi, progress across the august grounds of the National Art School in Sydney is constantly – happily – impeded.

“Mal!” comes a voice, “Hello Mal,” another. Every handful of steps, another person wants to stop to chat.

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Understanding can come late in life

Cross-cultural1PAUL OATES

GOLD COAST - In case you haven't read much of my writing, my fellow author and former kiap Phil Fitzpatrick will confirm that for many years I have been banging on about responsibility and accountability.

These are two seemingly inviolate pillars of responsible government. They are something many of us trained in the Australian public service discipline hold near and dear.

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Barracks restored after years of neglect

The refurbished buildings behind the perimeter fence
The refurbished buildings behind the perimeter fence


PORT MORESBY - Traffic at the Three Mile roundabout here in the nation’s capital is sometimes very unkind.

Especially in the afternoons and especially if you are stuck in one of those overcrowded city buses.

Overwhelmed with the heat, you slump there helplessly as the bus crawls along in the queue towards the turn.

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The story of Francis Nii’s last project

Kin Francis bushfire rally
An ailing Francis Nii leads the big bushfire rally for Australia from his wheelchair in Kundiawa. He saw the huge funds raised from this poor province as a token of the close relationship between the two countries


KUNDIAWA - My friend Francis Nii rang me on a Friday afternoon in early January to say he wanted to meet me about something that had been bothering him.

He briefly told me over the phone that it was about the terrible Australian bushfires and that he was surprised the Papua New Guinea government and other organisations were not doing anything about it.

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One of the best kiap memoirs written

Hardy top Talking to people at Wabag
Graham Hardy talking to a meeting at Wabag, late 1950s


Over the Hills and Far Away: Memoirs of a Kiap in Papua and New Guinea from 1952 to 1975 by Graham Hardy, privately published, 2020, 207 pages with numerous photographs, $42 plus $9.95 postage, available from the author at

TUMBY BAY - If I could live my life over I think I would prefer to have been born 20 years earlier.

That would have made me too young to take part in World War II but just the right age to go to Papua New Guinea as a kiap in the immediate post war period.

That period, especially in the highlands, probably represented the halcyon days of the Australian Administration.

The Papua New Guinean people still lived a largely traditional lifestyle, there remained large areas unexplored, and development after the war was still in its infancy. There was a lot happening and life was exciting.

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Let words be not silent or sleep alone


Have all good poems been written
That we today have none to share 
What then of the heart being smitten 
By the beauty of eyes that stare 
Or the walk that none can compare 

Have all good poems been written 
That we today have none to read 
What then of the loss that burden 
A broken heart held by a thread 
Or photo lost to time instead

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Magnificent men & their flying machine stories

Talair near Omkolai 1966
A Talair Cessna over Omkolai, 1966


NOOSA – MAF pilot Dave Rogers’ recent yarn about the skills required to land on and take off from some of Papua New Guinea’s many preposterously difficult airstrips attracted much commentary and many war stories from our readers.

I’ve curated a few here, but first one of mine.

I had just become engaged to my first wife, Sue, at a grand party we had at my remote highlands school 10 or so kilometres from Kerowagi and Sue was on her way back home to Sydney to explain it all to her mother.

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Those far off days at Kundiawa A

Haus pik
The haus pik - not the perfect location for a primary school but rather more edifying than the Chimbu Club


NOOSA – Amongst the joys in life of most school teachers is to run into or receive a missive from a former student who has done well in life and remembers their schooldays with some fondness rather than as a dreadful chore.

Although I taught school for only three years, this kind of pleasant coming together has happened to me a few times.

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The suffering and death of Francis Nii

The late Francis Nii - showed us what was meant to be an authentic human being


KUNDIAWA - A giant has fallen, his sufferings and distress he has lived. He is gone to his Father’s House where there are many mansions.

It was Sunday 2 August that I visited Francis Nii for the last time at around 11.30 am.

I saw him in so much pain and with complications such that his survival looked grim.

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