Reunions Feed

The 2019 kiap reunion

'The Remnants of Reunion'. Photo taken late afternoon by Harry Redmond. Kiaps still happily chatting when everyone else has gone home. (L to R) Bob Hoad, Chips Mackellar, Ian Thompson, Peter Salmon, Dave Young, Dave Agg, John Blythe and Graham Watts


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.

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After 50 years, a forgotten friend

John Gordon Kirby  Melbourne 2019
John Gordon-Kirby, Melbourne 2019 - a reuniting with Daniel Kumbon after nearly 50 years


PORT MORESBY - How am I supposed to react when suddenly finding a friend after losing contact for many years?

When John Gordon-Kirby recently commented on an article I had published in PNG Attitude back in 2016, my impulse was to contact him immediately.

It was strange. His comment was about people I mentioned in the article but said nothing about me.

Continue reading "After 50 years, a forgotten friend" »

Sonoma Adventist college celebrates 50 years of service

Sonoma reunionMALINDA KOTOVEKE PHILIP | Adventist Record

Photo: Pioneering Sonoma Adventist College students Jim Manele and John Hamura with the college’s first principal, Alexander Currie (Adventist Record)

RABAUL - Sonoma Adventist College recently celebrated its 50th anniversary and school reunion.

Former students from PNG and the Solomon Islands came together in September to commemorate the occasion. Pioneering principal Alexander Currie, his wife, Beverley, and two sons, Gavin and Philip, were special guests.

For Sonoma, which grew from humble beginnings into a school affiliated with Pacific Adventist University, celebrating 50 years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in PNG and the South Pacific region is a significant achievement for the institution and the Papua New Guinea Union Mission.

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To reunion or not to reunion? One place would get me there

Ek kiaps
Retired kiaps come together regularly to rekindle the comradeship that developed during their service in Papua New Guinea before independence


TUMBY BAY - I think I received my first invitation to a reunion when I was in my mid-forties.

Why on earth, I wondered, would anyone who went to the Elizabeth Boys Technical High School in the early 1960s even want to admit to having gone there and, worse, want to get together for a meal and a yarn?

I had for many years gone out of my way to avoid telling anyone that’s where I went to high school.

I did a little bit of delving and discovered the reunion was the idea of a couple of businessmen who had done well after leaving school and wanted to brag about it. They wanted to rub the collective noses of those who hadn’t done so well as the businessmen perceived they had themselves.

I duly gave it a miss.

Continue reading "To reunion or not to reunion? One place would get me there" »

193-welcome-to-alotau50th Anniversary of Alotau

In 1968, the capital of Milne Bay Province, was moved from Samarai to its present location at Alotau, and the town is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary.  Valued reader Arthur Smedley is assisting the organisers with historical research - and there are a few things you may be able to help with.

One is a copy of an article published in the Cameron High School magazine in the early 1970s. It was by Richard Jackson (no relation) and others and entitled, 'Alotau: a new town in Papua New Guinea.  Arthur is also hoping to hear about your memories and stories and get hold of photographs. You can contact him here [email protected]


Kiaps meet again on Sunshine Coast – a most durable body of men

Peter Salmon and friend
Peter Salmon & colleague - old kiaps never die, they just go ape


NOOSA - “Are you going to stray from your lofty editorial cyber-perch and grace us with your presence at the next reunion?” said the email.

It was impertinence normale from onetime pikinini kiap Peter Salmon. A missive of characteristic disrespect.

As soon as they put on their broad brimmed military-style hats, these young turks of pre-independent Papua New Guinea thought they sat at the feet of god. Which in a sense some did.

Vale nambawan kiap Tom Ellis.

Peter and I were contemporaries in Chimbu in the 1960s – him a kiap, me a tisa - before we both went on to other careers and other lives.

Since 2001, Peter has been publisher of the valued and historically valuable Ex Kiap website (if you haven’t seen it, catch up here). He is a communicator after my own heart – keep the channels open, the debate free and duck for cover as required.

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ASOPA Class of 1966-67 plans its second (and last?) reunion


2017 marks 50 years since the graduation of the 1966-67 education officers’ class of the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA).

Between 1949 and 1973, ASOPA was the primary training venue for teachers, patrol officers and other professionals to serve in Papua New Guinea and other Australian territories.

After a successful reunion in the ASOPA surrounds in Mosman, Sydney, in February 2014, the Class of 1966-67 is scheduling a second gathering on 17-19 October 2017 at the Avoca Beach Hotel & Resort on the NSW Central Coast.

In 2014, 66 people attended that first reunion, including 34 ex-students, several lecturers, guests and significant others. We hope they all make it again.

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Ex-ASOPA teachers reunite: 50 years on & still good friends


MORE than 20 members of the ASOPA cadet education officers’ class of 1964-65, along with partners, will descend on Sydney in early September to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1965 graduation.

ASOPA is the acronym of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, an institution which trained many young Australian teachers to pursue professional careers in the then Australian Territories of Papua and New Guinea.

In a program of cocktail parties, lunches, dinners, a golf tournament and a harbour cruise, the classmates will have ample opportunity to reminisce about ‘the good old days’, recall favourite and not-so-favourite lecturers, tell even more exaggerated war stories and refresh friendships which have lasted more than half a century.

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Reunion for Australian Army personnel who served in PNG

Australian and Papua New Guinean soldiers at Kerema in the 1960sGREG IVEY

A reunion for Army servicemen who served in Papua New Guinea, and their wives, will be held on the Gold Coast on Saturday 20 June.

The reunion will allow the PIB NGIB HQ PIR Association to observe the 75th Anniversary of the origin of the PNG Defence Force: the official formation of the PIB (Papuan Infantry Battalion) in June 1940.

The Association is inviting surviving servicemen from the PIB and NGIB as well as Servicemen in PNG during the post-war period.

This includes those who served or lived at Murray, Goldie River, Taurama, Igam or Moem Barracks from the 1950s to the 1980s who wish to catch up with old friends and view memorabilia from that era.

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The ASOPA Class of 1966-67 plans its first reunion


ASOPA logoYOU KNOW YOU'RE GETTING ON a bit when you begin saying things like, “It doesn’t feel like 50 years ago.” Well, it doesn’t feel like 50 years ago, in November 1963, that I left the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) after two years teacher training to invest (some people might allege infest) the schools of the then Territory of Papua and New Guinea with my newly acquired teaching skills.

Four years later, the Class of 1966-67 went through the same remarkable experience and now, for the first time since they graduated from ASOPA in late 1967, they will reunite in Mosman, Sydney, on 1 and 2 February.

Middle Head, Mosman, was the location of ASOPA (you can read more about this venerable institution here) and visits to the old campus, recently restored, will I assume be de rigueur.

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Chalkies of 5th E-Course to hold half century reunion


E Course teachers at MalagunaPARTICIPANTS IN THE 5th E Course, conducted in Rabaul in 1963, will be holding a reunion in Brisbane in mid-November this year. The exact dates will be determined soon.

The E (for Emergency) teacher training program was initiated to plug a large gap in the expatriate teacher workforce in colonial Papua New Guinea.

The courses recruited mostly mature age trainees who undertook a six-month program at Malaguna in Rabaul before being assigned to their schools, often in remote parts of PNG.

Continue reading "Chalkies of 5th E-Course to hold half century reunion" »

Another kiaps’ reunion on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast

Sunday, 10 November 2013 - Kawana Waters Hotel, Nicklin Way, Buddina, Sunshine Coast, Queensland

THIS INVITATION IS EXTENDED to all kiaps, their families and their friends. The Kawana Waters Hotel is located on Nicklin Way, near Kawana Waters Shopping Centre on the main road between Mooloolaba and Caloundra. A large parking area is available at the hotel.

The venue outlook is over water to an extensive marina and has a covered outdoor deck area linked to an indoor bar/lounge with adequate dining and seating facilities available for our use. Last time we catered for 309 people.

There is a good restaurant/bistro adjoining our area where as with previous reunions you will be able to order your own meals and sit with whom you choose. The restaurant will be open from 11.30 am to 8.30 pm. 


Continue reading "Another kiaps’ reunion on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast" »

The 50th anniversary of the ASOPA Class of 1962-63


ASOPA 62-63 50 years - they all taiught in PNGWELL IT'S ALL OVER and the visiting stalwarts of the ASOPA Class of 62/63 have departed, so Canberra is free to once again get on with the business of running/ruining our nation.

The final tally was 38 attendees proudly wearing their 50th anniversary caps to the Botanic Gardens, Floriade, War Memorial, and brekkie at the Oaks Brasserie

(The caps had the twofold purpose of giving everyone something to help them remember the runion, and to allow the organisers to spot them as they wended their way through the various outdoor venues.)

The closest thing to a formal event was the banquet at the Ginseng Chinese Restaurant at the Hellenic Club, Woden, where we noted the absence of some of our old friends who had hoped to attend but were unable to - Margaret Dwyer (nee McKenna), Roger Stanley, Brian Smith, Keith Bain and Pam Kruger.

It seemed that too many of our former colleagues had shuffled off this mortal coil and we miss them: Dave ‘Dubbo’ Kesby, Bill Bergen, Dave ‘Kurt’ Argent and Bill Wilson, gentlemen all.

The smaller number at this get-together and the compact venues allowed people to catch up with old friends they had not had a chance to chat with on some earlier occasions.

It was great to see our man from the Top End, Mrs O'Brien's little boy Rory, make the trip down, but he must have missed the last-minute email warning of a sudden return to winter in the southern states.

(Shorts and thongs were not much protection against the chill winds and snowfall on the hills around Canberra on the last day of the reunion, but Rory was stoic.)

It was a long trip for some visitors but every State and Territory was represented except Tasmania. Quite a network.

We, the organisers of the Canberra bash, were pleased that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and we were happy to be able to do our bit in exchange for the great efforts of others who worked so hard to ensure everyone had a good time at Port Macquarie, Sydney (twice), and Brisbane.

No decision was reached about the location of the next reunion but Adelaide, Newcastle, and even the oft-maligned Gold Coast were bandied about in some conversations. This is in the lap of the gods for now...

Thanks to everyone for making this an anniversary to remember.

A Brandi new year - old boy reunites with teacher


Josephine, Barbara, Natingis and Akapina setting off for Woginara.

SOME TIME AGO, through PNG Attitude, I sought help in locating a certain landform feature in the Woginara area of the East Sepik Province.

The hill had been mentioned in an article about World War II and was the site where my cousin won a Distinguished Service Order.

Some readers may have noted that I received a reply to my earlier request from a former student of Brandi High School, where I taught in the 1970s; a man by the name of Peter Aimos, himself from Woginara.

Through the blog, I asked Peter to contact me by email and he did. He turned out to be a Brandi High School student from the years 1970-71.  I had started teaching there in 1971.

Peter is now a Lieutenant Colonel Peter Aimos of the PNG Defence Force.  He is at present studying in China.

I was thrilled to hear that he is now a well qualified pilot with a Masters Degree in Military Arts from Canberra University.

I’ve enjoyed scanning old photographs of Peter and his Form 1 and Form 2 classmates and sending them to him way up there in Beijing.

Peter has been rather overwhelmed by it all and – “the tears keep flowing,” he says - as he recalls his old classmates. For my part, I am thrilled to hear about what has happened to some of these students who I taught and knew so well, my old friends from 40 years back.

One of the girls, who used to help me a lot in my role as Teacher-in-Charge-of–Girls, is now the senior nursing sister at Maprik hospital, and another is personnel officer with Ok Tedi Mining at Tabubil.  One is married to a prominent private lawyer in Moresby and helps her husband run his law firm.

One of the boys, Peter’s cousin, another pilot, is currently CEO of the Air Crash Investigation Commission in Moresby and has led the inquiry into the recent tragic air crash near Madang.  Another is currently the chief electoral commissioner in Moresby and is preparing the country for the next elections.

PNG Attitude has done much of benefit for many people over the past year and now it has been the means for a wonderful reunion of an old Brandi student, away from his homeland, and an old Brandi teacher, down in Sydney, missing her old students, and brought joy and tears to both of us.

Thank you Keith!

Photo: Josephine, Barbara, Natingis and Akapina setting off for Woginara

Bob shares tales of that great PNG adventure


Fayle_BobTHIRTY-SIX years after Papua New Guinea gained independence, Bob Fayle still has scores of stories about the time he spent there as a commissioned officer of the Royal PNG Constabulary.

From 1957 to 1975, the Mooloolaba man patrolled grasslands, jungles, rivers and villages in some of the country's most remote tribal areas.

The now 75-year-old was one of more than 2000 young Australian men who took the pidgin title "kiap", or "captain", during an important yet little-known chapter in history.

After the Second World War, Australian kiaps were sent to bring law and order to towns and villages throughout PNG.

As multi-functional administrative field officers, kiaps shouldered a range of roles, from builder, policeman, judge and jailer to explorer, farmer, engineer and anthropologist.

At the age of 20, Bob jumped at the opportunity to work as a PNG patrol officer after changing his mind about a career in engineering.

After completing a compulsory course, he went to Sydney to study social science for a year before becoming a cadet.

Despite learning about the dangers of the patrol officer's job, he was not deterred.

In fact, he was filled with words of encouragement from the father of Geoffrey Harris, a cadet patrol officer who was killed on duty.

"It was in 1953 that Harris was killed up in Telefomin," Bob said.

"And before I left (for PNG), my father said, 'I'd like you to meet somebody' and he introduced me to Harris's father.

"He said to me, 'Look, don't let me put you off because I know my son enjoyed doing what he was doing before he died'.

"It was just so terribly new and so interesting. Every day was a new thing, a new adventure.

"We used to go around, staying within the villages, and try to sort things out. That was our major role.

"We also had a very large welfare role and although we had all these powers of coroner and jailer and magistrate and police and everything else, the main purpose was to give them a better way of life."

Bob and his fellow patrol officers were always on the move to various towns and villages.

On Manam Island, he helped evacuate villagers living near an erupting volcano.

"There was three feet (one metre) of ash and all the houses were collapsing from the weight. It was a pretty torrid time," he said.

Years later, he was posted at a one-man station in Ioma in the Northern province.

"There was nobody else there but myself and lots of natives," he said.

"(The natives) had killed a patrol officer there pre-war. But (since then) they had calmed right down.

"Although I did have arrows fired in my direction ... they were just letting me know that it was their place."

Another time, Bob narrowly missed being impaled by a spear as he paddled down the Musa River.

"It went straight between my legs into the canoe. That sort of startled me," he said.

Like his colleagues, he heard his fair share of hair-raising stories.

"There were supposedly people (in Tufi) in the early 1900s with webbed feet because they lived in the swamps ... generations of them," he said.

"I was asking the local people 'I heard stories about them, where are these people now?', and they said 'They're all gone'.

"They said 'Our ancestors ate them'."

Bob married his wife Heather in 1964 and she spent 11 years on the outstations with him before they returned to Australia so their children could attend school.

But more than 30 years on, the spirit of the kiap brotherhood is alive and well.

Now he organises biannual reunions of patrol officers on the Coast, providing the opportunity to meet old friends and share stories from their days as kiaps.

Almost 300 former patrol officers gathered at the Kawana Waters Hotel yesterday.

Source: Sunshine Coast Daily, 13 November

Big kiap reunion on again in 2011

Kawana IT HAS REALLY become the one day of the year for ex-kiaps and their fellow travellers, and remains a great credit to organisers Denys and Helen Faithful and Bob and Heather Fayle.

Most years, well over 200 kiaps make it to Buddina on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast for an informal get-together that offers no speeches but much comradeship and recollection.

This year the reunion is planned for the usual spot – the Kawana Waters Hotel on Nicklin Way at Buddina, on the main road between Mooloolaba and Caloundra.

The event kicks off at 11 am and traverses the day and now extends to breakfast on the Monday morning for those who still have something left to say.

Get in touch with Denys/Helen or Bob/Heather confirming your intention to attend. Apologies will also be noted and recorded.

Download here for further information.

Exotic Aore Island beckons the chalkies

Aore FOR THEIR 2011 reunion, the ASOPA education officers’ Class of 1964-65 have gone for a location that is very hard to beat - Aore Island off Espiritu Santo in Vanuatu.

And a very good deal they’ve negotiated too.

For nine glorious days from Tuesday 30 August to Thursday 04 September, the organisers are hoping the Class and their buddies from other years may be able to fill 18 bungalows at various price points ranging from $95-125 per person per night.

Air Vanuatu has direct services from Brisbane to Espiritu Santo while Sydney and Melbourne are serviced through Port Vila. Transfers to the island are being arranged free of charge.

It sounds like a great place for a seriously relaxing reunion and you can link to all the details at ASOPA Aore 2011.

1959-60 ASOPA teachers reunite in Qld


A 50-YEAR REUNION of Australian teachers who taught in PNG and began their training at ASOPA in 1959 and graduated in November 1960 was held early this month at the home of Brian and Sue Davis of Palm Beach in Queensland.

Present were Tino Babao and his wife Sandra from Boondall, Glen Thompson and wife Adrienne from Hervey Bay, Beverley (Withers) and husband Doug Barlow from Brighton in Melbourne, Stuart Woodger and wife Doreen from Geebung, Bob Turner and wife Garda from Southport and Edith (Hatt) Macaulay from Byron Bay.

The group spent many hours happily reminiscing and telling great stories over lunch and throughout the afternoon, with a wonderful evening meal at the Warunee Thai Restaurant in Palm Beach.

A liberal sample of Rum Negrita, the old Buka Meri favourite of so many, completed the day.

The following morning a sumptuous champagne and orange juice breakfast was held at the Turner’s beautiful waterfront property, before the half century Asopians departed for some much-needed recuperation.

Unable to attend were Lynn (Tabart) Giddings of Tasmania, Janet (Golland) Floyd of Orange, Richard Smith from Sydney, Tennyson Lau from Kenmore and Geoff Keena of Glamorganvale along with sister Narelle (Keena) Johnston of Armidale. Sadly, contact has been lost with six others from the class, Peter Swift, Peter Kelley, Graeme Fenton, Jenny Kentwell, Robyn Plank and Margaret Turner.

If you know the whereabouts of any of these people, please ask them to contact the author here. All present lamented the passing of Monty Star and Laurie Stevens from Nauru and, more recently, Jack Busby of Sydney.

What a great weekend, and blessed with perfect Queensland weather, for all involved!

ASOPA reunion was Attitude’s great-grandaddy


THE EARLY ancestor of PNG Attitude was a single-page newsletter produced in February 2002.

Its purpose was to announce that the ASOPA cadet education officers’ Class of 1962/63 was to reunite in October of that year. The question it asked was where the hell are you all?

Well that question was answered successfully, the newsletter grew and expanded and the reunions continued.

Not only that, but they triggered an avalanche of other comings-together of people who had attended that venerable institution – to give it its full name, the Australian School of Pacific Administration – between the 1940s and the 1970s.

Now the Class of 62/63 is planning its fourth reunion in the last eight years: in Sydney from 12-14 November this year

Bill Bohlen has set up a handsome blog to provide this event (and other like reunions) with some motive force, and you can visit it here.

2010 marks 100th anniversary of Westpac in PNG

Nadine Cattell, Westpac’s project manager for Pacific Banking, says that 2010 marks the centenary of the bank’s engagement with PNG.

And, as part of the 100th anniversary, Westpac is seeking to get in touch with the many people who worked for the Bank of NSW and Westpac in the PNG context.

“I've pulled together the history,” says Nadine, “but would like to bring it to life by including stories and photographs from those that worked there.”

Nadine would like people to get in touch with her with information about when they worked for Westpac PNG, their role and their location.

She’d like you to note the most memorable changes and most delightful events that you remember, and also any events you'd prefer to forget!

Contact Nadine on 02 8254 2599 or email her at [email protected]

Kiaps reunion: Overweight & looking like a spiv

NO, THAT'S ME. The kiaps looked fine. They hadn’t changed a bit in 35 years. They kept patting my corporation and commenting approvingly on the prosperity that had so clearly created a world of eating and drinking opportunities for it.

Except for Bill Brown, former Bougainville district commissioner, who, staring at me gimlet-eyed, pontificated that my image on this blog makes me look like a spiv.

Otherwise compliments for chalkies were hard to find at this year’s biannual kiaps’ reunion at the Kawana Waters Hotel on the Sunshine Coast.

But, as perhaps the only chalkie there, I think I may have been more of a lightning rod than usual.

The Fayles and the Faithfulls have maintained the tradition of this reunion for many years now. It is perhaps the largest gathering of former patrol officers and, increasingly, sad to say, the wives and children of those who have embarked on that final, long patrol.

Yesterday’s event enticed about 200 of the ‘raus o mi kikim as blong yu’ brigade. It was a good turn-out. The boys are a little stiffer and slower than two years ago, but their joie de vivre remains undiminished.

The mateship is always a good memory. ASOPA retains its positive glow. The pride in what was achieved by these men is still there. And it’s deserved.

As I’ve written here before, and doubtless will do so again, this group of Australians – who operationally in the field never numbered more than about 620 – did more than any other group to create the conditions required for what was ultimately PNG’s headlong rush towards independence

They would baulk at the description, but the kiaps were true nation builders, and it’s always a joy and a privilege to spend a few hours amongst them.

1964-65 CEOs reunion planning well advanced

Sue Ellison

It appears our number for the ASOPA Cadet Education Officer 1964-65 reunion will be approximately 26. There maybe one or two to come on board closer to the date and a few elusive bods who have been in contact but not this year. Thanks to all those who have responded in one way or another.

The idea for a booklet of autobiographies or life histories is going ahead. Ken Grant and Keith Wilson have written theirs. The idea is that each autobiography is accompanied by 'then and now' photos. This applies to everyone whether you are attending the reunion or not.

Keith and Ann Wilson are unable to attend but Keith has contributed his tale. As Ken is the coordinator for this project could autobiographies and photos be forwarded to him. I don't mind forwarding on if you'd prefer to send to me. Ken's email is below.

Here is an up-to-date list of those attending: Annette & Malcolm Ashe; Sue & Kevin Ellison; Ken Grant; Gabriele Litfin; Ed Brumby & Partner; Rik & Ursula Ralph; John & Gaye Barclay; Robyn Edmonds; Col Ridding; Don Williams; Warren & Jill Enks; Mick & Didamain Uibo; Janine & Barry Paterson; Kevin & Jenny Bourke; Carol Thomas; Sue & Rob Linton

Please consider contributing to the life histories book. It can be as brief as you like. No more than one A4 page is required.

1964-65 Cadet Education Officers Reunion: Cairns, 30 September – 3 October

You can email Ken Grant here and Sue Ellison here.

Faithful reunite but not without Fayle

As Bob Fayle and Denys Faithful remind us, with unerring accuracy, the (mostly) annual Kiap Reunions on the Sunshine Coast “have grown and grown - they can only get bigger.”

Well, another is planned for Sunday 8 November and the invitation is broad - Kiaps, their families and their friends. Last time a mighty 262 people turned up.

The reunion is at the usual venue – the Kawana Waters Hotel located on Nicklin Way, at Buddina on the main road between Mooloolaba and Caloundra.

The outlook is over water to an extensive marina with a covered outdoor deck area linked to an indoor lounge with fine dining and seating facilities.

“Informality will continue to be the order of the day,” say Fayle and Faithful. “No speeches, everyone is too busy catching up with friends. This format has proven the most popular so we will stick with it.”

Put this one in your diary, it’s always a great day. The PNG Attitude newsletter will provide much more detailed information about local accommodation and other matters.

If you wish to book now get in touch with Bob/Heather Fayle (07 5444 7446), email here, or Denys/Helen Faithful (07 5444 4484), email here.


Cairns 1964-65 ASOPA reunion 2009

Sue Ellison

Planning for the second ASOPA class of 1964-65 reunion is well underway. The reunion is to be held in Cairns from Wednesday 30 September to Saturday 3 October. Checkout will be Saturday morning following the final get-together at the reunion breakfast.

The organizers are aiming for attendance figures in the mid-thirties. Those attending to date: Annette (nee Sandstrom) & Malcolm Ashe; Sue (nee Kenway) & Kevin Ellison; Ken Grant; Gabriele (nee Nitzche) Litfin; Ed Brumby & partner; Rik & Ursula Ralph; John & Gaye Barclay; Robyn Edmonds; and Col Ridding.

 The proposed itinerary includes a welcoming cocktail reception, a trip to the Atherton Tablelands, a trip on the Kuranda Skyrail or out to the Barrier Reef and a grand reunion dinner. People from other ASOPA classes who would like to participate are welcome. Please contact Sue Ellison at [email protected] or phone (07) 4091 3359.

Second reunion blitz planned for Brisbane

Colin ‘Huggiebear’ Huggins is on the reunion trail again with plans in gestation for a major gathering of ASOPA cadet education officers in October 2010. The Brisbane Sofitel and Novotel have been placed on alert and pencils are being sharpened and budgets scratched out as I write.

“Of all places in Australian cities,” runs Huggins’ spiel, “these two hotels stand out for the easiest accessibility from train, bus and air travel. They may appear to be pricey but when you add the travel costs they become cheap.” And this clincher: “We are all getting on in years and weariness - so why not another big bash? Before the tap on the shoulder from above!”

Early responses to Colin’s proposal have been positive and PNG ATTITUDE will keep readers advised of progress as planning develops.

On a sad note, Ian Robertson reports that former senior education officer Syd Neilson has died at Alexandra Headlands in Queensland. The funeral service will be at St Mark's Anglican Church, Main Street, Buderim at 11 am on Wednesday.

Brisbane, you really are a good old town

I don’t suppose you’ve heard of Huggins Global? Most people haven’t. Until now, that is. But I warrant more will be heard. It’s begging to be heard. Colour – yellow. Theme – yellow. Design – yellow. Temper – mellow. I’ll say this for Huggins Global. The eponymous Huggins in the bright yellow shirt sure knows event management.

Let me explain. It’s one of life’s real joys to hunker down for a while with old acquaintances: to learn what they’ve been doing since last time; then to quickly figure they’re the same people they always were, just a bit more battle-hardened.

My day trip to Brisbane yesterday had a number of highlights, of which being there was the best. In the Whistlestop Bar at Central Station, we swapped recent history. In the Sofitel dining room, we reminisced. And, later, in a quiet corner of the hotel, we drank coffee and made plans.

So what does this have to do with PNG Attitude? Well, quite simply, it is the PNG Attitude. Working together to a common goal. Enjoying the process and challenge as much as the outcome. Robust and candid, but never offensive. Respecting harmony and the art of compromise. Appreciating that others know more than you about stuff. And you know more than them about other stuff. Sharing the vision. Understanding the myriad ways to get there.

The lessons of Brisbane are good lessons. They engender hope and optimism.

[This has been a community service announcement on behalf of Huggins Global, No Liability, No Regrets – a Joyful Corporation]

After 4 decades, it was a great re-uniting

David Weeden

The story of the reunion of the ASOPA Cadet Education Officer Class of 1967-68. Maroochydore 17–19 October 2008

Forty years after they graduated from the ASOPA CEO course for secondary teachers, the majority of that intake celebrated a memorable reunion at Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The impetus for the reunion was the disappointing attendance from this group at the general CEO’s reunion in Brisbane in October 2007.

After a mammoth effort extending over a six-month period, all but six of the group were subsequently found through good old fashioned networking, stored memories of where particular students had come from or last been heard of, contacts with ageing parents, searches of electoral rolls and the Internet and sheer chance.

Sadly, three (Bruce Owner, Gary Poppleton and Ross Westcott) were found to have died some years ago. All but four of the remaining 34 attended the reunion, which most claimed to be one of their best weekends ever as old friendships and memories were rediscovered and renewed. All up, including spouses, partners, a beloved former lecturer (Maurie Saxby) and a few CEO’s from other years, over 50 people attended the reunion.

Ahead of the reunion, all 34 contributed to an electronic publication in which they recalled their favourite memories of ASOPA, their time in PNG and what they have been doing since. Ex ASOPA staff (Maurie Saxby and June Whittaker) and friends, and family of the three deceased classmates, also contributed to a riveting collective history and show of affection for both ASOPA and PNG.

The organised activities included: a dinner at one of Maroochydore’s favourite restaurants (part owned by a son of the 67-68 group); a boat cruise on the Maroochy River; the main reunion dinner at a local hotel; and a barbecue brunch by the beach on the last morning.

Five of the class volunteered to take a digital photographic record, including photos of each of the Maths/Science and General Studies classes in exactly the same positions as in the official class photos 40 years ago. Each person attending the reunion (and the four who couldn’t make it) subsequently received a CD containing over 700 photos of the event.

Forty years is half a lifetime. With few exceptions, most of the class had not seen each other in all those years. Predictably, therefore, the reunion was characterised by loud greetings of recognition (or, in some cases, bemused non-recognition) and raucous and uninhibited behaviour not normally associated with late 50s to mid 70 year olds. The re-establishment of long lost friendships has been reinforced by an Internet and phone network through which these CEO veterans have been communicating regularly with each other since mid 2008.

The following table is a list of all who were ‘found’ plus several others who attended the reunion. Readers wishing to contact anyone on the list can do so by emailing David Weeden at [email protected]

Jeff Alexander [Blue Mountains] Kerevat, Badihagwa & Iarowari High Schools, Bomana Police Training College & Correspondence School, Education H/Q Port Moresby

Jo Argiro [Melbourne] Cameron High School, Alotau

Peter Baartz [Sydney] Utu & Kokopo High Schools

Peter Best [Canberra] Hutjena High School

Peter Blackburn [Hobart] Alotau High School, Police Training College, Bomana, Igam Barracks, Lae

Russell Connors [Melbourne] Kerowagi High School

Peter Fanning [Jakarta] Malabunga High School, RPNGC Port Moresby

John Frize [Newcastle] Port Moresby, Iarowari, Rabaul & Badihagwa High Schools

David Green [Brisbane] Brandi & Marprik High Schools, Port Moresby

Grant Hamilton [Sydney] Bugandi High School, Private Enterprise, Lae

Greg Holden [Adelaide] Kerowagi & Kimbe High Schools

Bill Jollie [NSW Central Coast] Mendi High School, Goroka & Rabaul

Glynn Kelly [Brisbane] Buin High School

Mike Logan [Blue Mountains] Brandi High School, Wewak

Col Madden [Canberra] Manus, Kerevat & Kokopo High Schools; Department of Education, Rabaul

Margaret Martin [Goulburn] Kerowagi High School

James McBrien [Sunshine Coast] Daru & Badihagwa High Schools

Ian Morton [Melbourne] Hutjena & Kerema High Schools

Bruce Owner [Deceased] Bugandi High School, Siassi Islands, Port Moresby

Geoff Pardew [Kuranda] Kerema & Daru High Schools

Lorraine Parker [Sydney] Daru & Mendi High Schools; Henganofi

Jacqui Parry [Sunshine Coast] Cameron High School, Alotau; Private Enterprise, Rabaul & Lae

Barry Peek [Adelaide] Mt Hagen High School

Garry Poppleton [Deceased] Buin High School

Despena Rizoglou [Greece] Kila Kila High School

Janice Robinson (Frape) [Blue Mountains] Private enterprise, show society and civil defence, Lae; Port Moresby

Alan Rowe [Melbourne] Utu, Medina & Bugandi High Schools

Ron Ruitenschild [Gold Coast] Manus High School

Ian Schumacher [Sunshine Coast] Kila Kila High School

Margaret Scowen (Jollie) [NSW Central Coast] Mendi, Goroka & Kokopo High Schools

Ivan Searston [Herberton] Kerowagi High School

Sister Gabriel (now Sister Margaret Tisch) [Sydney] St Mary’s Girls High School, Bougainville

Simon van der Valk [Gold Coast] Kar Kar, Aitape, Tusbab, Daru & Manus High Schools

Dianne Walton [Gulgong] Medina & Tusbab High Schools

David Weeden [Canberra] Kila Kila High School; Education H/Q, Konedobu

Doug Werrin [Crookwell & Sydney] Bugandi High School

Ross Westcott [Deceased] Bugandi High School, DASF Port Moresby


Jan Milton (68-69) [Canberra] Kila Kila High School

Ros Sharp (61-62) [Southern Queensland] Primary T Schools: Green River, Kokopo, Pomio & Goroka

Maurie Saxby [Sydney] ASOPA staff member and frequent PNG visitor

June Whittaker [Tumbarumba] Long time ASOPA staff member and frequent PNG visitor

Brisbane Asopians maintain the rage


From left: Diane Bohlen, Joe Crainean, Katherine Crainean, Colin Huggins, Bill Welbourne, Bill Bohlen [ASOPA 1962-63]

Big reunion news and mini-reunion news is always welcome on PNG ATTITUDE, but I don’t know where we’d be without the regular get-togethers of this handsome crew from Brisbane.  They are accomplished networkers, they make sure the ASOPA spirit is renewed on a regular basis and then they plan their next move – and report it.

Here are their reports about yesterday’s most recent exploit on the Deck at Brisbane’s Southbank Parklands:

Colin Huggins: “Today at was great. The usual camaraderie and laughs. The place was virtually empty. About 20 there - sits over 200 - a sign of the financial crisis? I felt sorry for them. We discussed among many things the date for the next ASOPA (Brisbane and close areas) get together. Possible dates are Wednesday 28 January and Wednesday 4 February.”

Bill Welbourne: “I thought this was a great shot of our small Christmas celebration at the Deck. As you can observe, apart from the grog, we are noted seafood specialists. Note Huggibear’s favourite colour – yellow. He not only wore his usual yellow socks but a striped yellow shirt as well!”

Diane Bohlen: “Well it is that time of year when friends get together to celebrate Christmas. Asopians are ex students of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, which was a college in Sydney where students trained, who were going to Papua New Guinea or the Northern Territory to work. We caught a train to the Parklands and then walked through the Bougainvillea Arbour to the restaurant. The lunch was delicious. Salmon, Snapper, Barramundi, Garlic bread, salad and chips. A glass of wine and an iced coffee. Colin is happy with his bucket of prawns.”

You can visit Diane’s blog, with its wonderful photographs, right here.

1964-65 reunion work in progress

Planning for the second ASOPA Class of 1964-65 reunion, scheduled to be held in Cairns from 30 September to 3 October next year, is well advanced. At present it looks like attendance will be in the mid-thirties as Sue Ellison and Gabrielle Litfin round up support for another get-together of ‘The Last of the Primaries’.

The proposed itinerary includes a welcoming cocktail reception, a trip to the Atherton Tablelands, a trip on the Kuranada Skyrail or out to the Barrier Reef and, of course, a grand reunion dinner.

People from 1964-65 or other ASOPA Classes who would like to participate should get in touch with Sue here.

Qld chalkies gather again in Brisbane

At the weekend I attended what is a regular event on the calendar of former PNG schoolteachers living in Queensland (and sometime further afield) – the Annual Chalkies Lunch. It’s organised by the inestimable Murray Bladwell and held in a private room at the Jindalee Hotel. About 55 people attended this year, providing the usual warm and friendly experience.

A premium is placed on fellowship and getting reacquainted and formal proceedings are kept to a minimum. David Keating spoke briefly about a Aurora Expeditions cruise around PNG [also see ASOPA PEOPLE EXTRA at left] while I was given time to talk about efforts to engage the PNG Association more extensively in strengthening the Australia-PNG relationship.

We got started on selling tickets for a PNGAA raffle to assist a community development project in PNG’s Oro Province (prize - two return air tickets to Port Moresby) and the Brisbane chalkies kicked off by contributing $350 to the project. You’ll be hearing more about this contest in the week’s ahead as we seek to involve the PNGAA more actively in providing practical support to the people of PNG.

Time once again for teachers’ tea time

Murray Bladwell

The annual get-together for PNG education colleagues and friends has been scheduled for lunchtime on Saturday 11 October. The venue and dining arrangements will be the same as the 2006 highly successful luncheon attended by a record 84 former educators, partners and friends.

As many of you may be aware, the 2007 luncheon was not held due to the large number of PNG reunion dinners scheduled in October that year.

The lunch will be held at the Jindalee Hotel entertainment venue on Sinnamon Road, Jindalee in Brisbane. It will commence at 12 noon for 12.30 pm sit down.

We will have our own private function room (the Windermere Room) with waiter and cash bar service available. The room has wheelchair access.

To keep costs at a level to suit all pockets, we have selected a fixed menu of three main courses and three desserts, which will be served as a three- way alternate drop. Those people with special dietary needs should indicate this on the reply form.

The cost of the meal will be similar to previous years, $32 per head plus $2 to cover postage, email and material costs. All meal payments by cheque to Murray Bladwell or cash on the day.

A cash bar service will operate. Wines can be purchased by the glass. ATM facilities are available.

Please note that any cancellations after 4 October 2008 will have to be paid for, as this is the venue’s cut off date for final numbers.

A response sheet can be downloaded here for RSVP by Thursday 25 September.  Download response_form.pdf

Reunion ripples connect Class of 62-63

Bill Welbourne

The ripple effect from last October’s Grand Reunion in Brisbane continues: taking the form of mini-reunions and small social gatherings. Any excuse is sufficient for a bunch of aging Asopians to organise an impromptu clan gathering.

Moose Ros Dennis Bill Bill So it was that Colin ‘Cuddles’ Huggins seized an opportunity to celebrate on the eve of Diane and Bill Bohlen’s 6-week European tour. On Friday ten of our number dined at the award winning Bow Thai Restaurant in the Valley, a favoured place for ASOPA people. I knew of August 1st as the Horses’ Birthday and Wattle Day until informed by Bill that it is Swiss National Day. Colin imported a few Swiss flags and an apple in honour of William Tell.

Dennis and Ros Burrell both teach kindergarten. Dennis told me just that day he was asked to hold some toys but not before the urchin left a deposit on his shoe. I asked Dennis why he chose Kindy, because many of his protégés tend to have spontaneous toilet accidents. “The trouble is I can’t spell. Failed three times before they gave me a conceded pass rather than take me out of the classroom.” Also joining this group from the Class of 1962-63 were Dick and Jo Arnold (1959-60), both in vibrant health.

Henry and Nuk We enjoyed a wonderful evening supported by friendly staff and superb Thai cuisine. And heaven and earth fell into place when Huggie’s special friend, the showcase of Asia, Miss Nuk, took time out to chat with us pose for photos.

Photos: Top - Bob ‘Moose’Davis, Ros and Dennis Burrell, Bill Welbourne, Bill Bohlen. Lower – Henry Bodman and Colin’s special friend, Miss Nuk.

67-68 ASOPA CEO class reunion

David Weeden

A 40 year reunion of the 1967-68 CEO group will be held at Maroochydore on the Queensland Sunshine Coast on Saturday and Sunday 18-19 October this year.  With partners, to date almost 50 people have committed to attend the reunion, which promises to be a great weekend. The program consists of:

-a lunch-cruise on the Maroochy River on the Saturday

- a dinner at the Waterfront Hotel in Maroochydore that night

- an outdoor brunch nearby on the Sunday morning

Seven of the CEO group are proving very hard to find, including:

- Ron Ruitenschild, Bruce Marshall and Yvonne Hill (whose whereabouts are unknown)

- Peter Fanning (who, in recent years, was apparently working in Darwin)

- Simon Van Der Walk (who was in Canberra years ago but has not been heard of since)

- Janet Robb (who was running a Salvation Army Rehabilitation Centre in Mt Isa a few years ago)

- Janice Robinson (Frappe) who, when last heard of, was living in Sydney

Contact David Weeden with information on how the seven missing people can be contacted. [email protected] or 02 6258 1805

Can you assist big Canberra CEO event?

David Weeden

With a bit of help from others, I have now made contact with about 15 CEOs from the Class of 1967-68. We are working to have our own reunion (most likely on the Sunshine Coast) in mid October. Having cut my teeth on this group, I would be very interested in working towards a Canberra reunion for all CEOs possibly in late 2009 or early 2010, provided I can get support from others.

You can contact David here.

CEO’s catch up on Central Coast

John Groenewegen

Men_2 Inspired by their experience of the ASOPA Reunion in Brisbane last October, a group of former Cadet Education Officers [1958-60 vintage] enjoyed a mid-week overnight stay on the Central Coast late in January. The event was meticulously planned and generously hosted by Kay and Bob Cochrane, and Jean and Dale Fotheringham.

Bob and Jean (nee Edgar) were members of the Class of 1958-59. Grateful recipients of the hospitality (which included a banquet on the Tuesday and brunch on the Wednesday) were Barbara and John Groenewegen, Eric Johns, Jan and Allen Muscio, Barbara and Ian Robertson, Rosalind Smith (nee McCarthy) and Bob Turner.

Apart from providing ample opportunity to indulge further in reminiscences of ASOPA and TPNG, the gathering had special poignancy for the seven former CEOs for whom it was almost exactly 50 years ago that they began their ASOPA experience, blazers and all!Women_2

Top photo: Dale Fotheringham, Ian Robertson, Bob Turner, Eric Johns, Allen Muscio, Bob Cochrane, John Groenewegen (seated)

Lower photo: Jean Fotheringham, Rosalind Smith, Kay Cochrane, Jan Muscio, Barbara Groenewegen, Barbara Robertson

Fellowship in Brisbane as party continues

Bill Welbourne

The Booths in BrisVegas for an Australia Day retreat was the flint for party animal Colin ‘Huggiebear’ Huggins who rounded up those of the Brisbane Chapter who could not find their way out of town. Key members had flittered to other commitments … Bodmans to a Victorian wedding; Craineans to the yeehaaa country music festival in Tamworth.

Colin recommended the Wednesday seafood fest in the new Thyme restaurant and I found myself surrounded by plates of oysters, banana prawns, sliced salmon and goblets of reds … and that was just for starters. One look under the table revealed a sight my mother once warned me of. ‘Beware of men wearing yellow socks’. Huggiebear’s favourite.

To my right Dick and Josephine Arnold, whom I readily relate to as we trade discourse on personal training programs. To my left Wendy and Colin Booth, getting full value from their seasonal Accor card and planning to give it a flogging when they visit Hong Kong. Conversation dart back and forth, broken only by frequent trips to top up our seafood concoctions.

Making up our quorum of eight are Bill and Diane Bohlen. Dianne is relishing her newly planned freedom called ‘retirement’ and smarting at Dennis Burrell’s unwillingness to give up the chalk and duster. Diane’s new lease of life has been put to good creative use. Apart from attending to her personal website and assisting with Bill’s YouTube activities, she has produced a fabulous photographic CD of the 2007 Reunion. I think you have to attend one of these post-reunion events to get your free copy!

My son Tony, who recently retired from the Navy and now lives in Melbourne, has been visiting my wife Pam, who's now in a permanent care home due to blindness and other disabilities. Colin Booth told me he will forever remember Pam for an incident at Rabaul Post Office one evening, when she went to collect the mail. Her VW had a flat battery and needed a push start to get it going, so Pam rounded up some willing native boys and in limited Pidgin announced to her startled helpers: ‘Mi laik liklik puspus’. The fellas were last seen heading for the hills! Colin says he weaves this mistaken interpretation as a conversation piece to top any rival speechmaker.

ASOPA 1964-65 on the march again

Sue Ellison

At last I'm getting my act together to start the ball rolling for our 2009 reunion in Cairns. Gabriele Litfin, my co-organiser (the one who got me into this situation!), and I have come up with the following dates: Tuesday 29 September - Friday 2 October or Wednesday 30 September - Saturday 3 October.

The second option gives us Friday night, which may offer greater flexibility for entertainment. The dates coincide with school holidays for those who may still be teaching. September is a good time to visit the north.

As well as our ASOPA 1964-65 group, we’d also welcome people who attended ASOPA in 63/64 or 65/66 I would appreciate that information as well - the more the merrier!

Hopefully, you have not planned for 2009 yet, how about booking September/October for the reunion. The north is a great place for a holiday so why not stay longer and have a good look at the Atherton Tablelands and other scenic spots up and down the coast. Gabriele and I live on the tablelands.

I don’t have current email addresses for: Rex Thomas, Ken Wilkins, Robyn Edmonds, Sue Hall, Joy Halpin and Rob Linton. If you can help, contact me here. If you don't know email addresses but have post or phone contact that would also be useful.

I talk, I snap: Brisbane reunion pix

Ian Mclean

Toms_friends Sorry it has taken me so long to sort out my photos from the Brissie bash. Actually, apart from a couple in the hotel room, the bulk on the boat trip (plus a few at the cafe beside the river). I have uploaded them to my page on Picasa (owned by Google) and you just have to click on this link to see them.

This photo: Great Australian male specimens from long ago (c 1962) - from left, John 'Tomzy' Toms, Grahame 'Ben' Uhlmann, Dave 'Dubbo' Kesby, Ian 'Talker' McLean, Howard 'Howie' Ralph

On the ASOPA Reunion, October 2007

Richard Clark (7th E Course)

The reunion in Brisbane in October was a huge success in terms of numbers that turned up at the dinner on Saturday night at the Sofitel. Almost all graduate years from the 1950s to the 1970s were represented and a very good address was given by Professor McKinnon who referred briefly to the E Course during his speech. It was good to catch with a number of people with whom I worked in PNG, as well as Asopians whom I have come to know from the reunion in Sydney several years ago.

Keith Jackson, as Chairman for the evening, was at his best and it was good to have several others such as Richard Jones (who had arranged a general invitation to E Course people) come and shake hands with me. Alas, the evening was too short and we had to leave early. But I did meet Bernie Houston (7th E Course) on the Saturday afternoon. He was waiting for me at the Novotel Hotel on our arrival and it was good to meet a fellow E Coursian after all these years. Bernie showed me the documents he has written on the E Course and they look impressive. However, he has computer problems and is finding it difficult at this stage to put the final touches to the document. I will keep in contact with him.

More E Course news here.

A group to be reckoned with: 1969-70

Peter Comerford and Vicki Walshe

1969. One small step for mankind, one huge step for a motley group of idealistic, bank clerks, drycleaners, missionaries, actors, insurance salesmen, cardsharps, bar workers, postal sorters, labourers and exotic dancers who came together, to be whetted and honed over the next two years under the zealous eyes of our lecturers. Describing it as a most interesting and formative two years that would shape our lives forever would be an understatement.

Linguistically we were challenged by Professor Elkin and the scales fell from our eyes with the realisation that there was more than a subtle difference between a pekpek and a pukpuk, a longlong and a longnek, a liklik wei and a longwei liklik.

All part of the preparation, a progressive evolvement from student to teacher, enabling us to cope with the challenges of unique educational situations in a new environment. Recognising that the large wriggling object held by a student was an intestinal roundworm and not an overly large earthworm. Dealing with sorcerers could be tricky. If conditions were right you could catch a lot of fish during National In-service Training Week. Explaining that the human skull in the classroom ceiling didn't get there by magic. Being in charge of the school mess driving home the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

The challenges were many and varied, as in the case of Gavin Swallow who, after the umpteenth arson attempt on his school in the Highlands, was surrounded by some very angry villagers. After threatening to rearrange parts of his anatomy, they threatened to burn the school to the ground. All those valuable years of ASOPA education and training came to the fore. Gavin gave a calm and wry smile, casually kicked the dirt a couple of times, hitched up his pants and then, looking the main aggressor directly in the eye, threw him a box of matches.

We were indeed a group to be reckoned with.

Bill's blockbuster ready for viewing

Bill07 Bill Bohlen’s DVD of the ASOPA Cadet Education Officers’ Brisbane reunion dinner is now available. It covers all the speeches - talks by Ken McKinnon and Clarrie Burke on behalf of Joe Pagelio and each of the feisty Class presentations, including Val Murphy’s uproarious account of his orientation to New Ireland. The DVD, 136 minutes in length, is introduced by Henry Bodman and contains additional footage of the pre-dinner cocktail party. If you've not previously ordered the DVD, you can now do so by sending $12 to Bill Bohlen at 45 Highview Terrace, Daisy Hill Queensland 4127. Don’t forget to include your name and postal address.

Captains, my captains, my heroes...

Dick Arnold

Dick_arnold This is a tremendous occasion. I am overwhelmed. The Queensland Chapter of Asopians has been working towards this weekend for many months. And, no matter how much thought and effort we directed towards this project, it would all have come to nothing without the massive support we have received from everyone here tonight.

Tonight we are all equals. To achieve this status I have the pleasant duty of promoting everyone - ex-CEO's, ASOPA staff, partners and friends to the position of Honorary Director of Education. This appeals to me on two counts. I've been a CEO before, but never the CEO of a huge organisation. It also saves me from the unpleasant duty of having to demote the Oodnadatta Kid down to my level.

My carpe diem philosophy. This weekend, like life, should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body. But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: ‘Woo, hoo, what a ride!’

A sincere heartfelt welcome to this gathering on behalf of the organising committee. Finally, many of my heroes, younger and older than I, are seated before me tonight. I should like to salute you as a class once saluted its teacher… Captains, my captains.

[Extracts from Dick Arnold's welcome to the ASOPA CEO's reunion on behalf of the Brisbane organising committee. The full version will be in the November issue of 'The Mail']

Reunion's conversational glimpses

Bill Welbourne

The conversation turned to cats … the love of their lives. Val [Rivers] recently inherited two 20 year olds - that’s about 140 years old in human terms - both on their last legs if they could stand up straight. To keep them comfortable while she was at the reunion, Val had an automatic heater set up to protect them from the desert cold of Burra. She also had a series of plastic bags ready for a daily inspection by a kind neighbour. One was for food, another for kitty litter and there were two larger bags should mortality occur to ease the shock and pain of the good neighbour. Just slip them into the bags and let the garbo attend to in their final dispatch.

During Val’s interview for ASOPA she was asked, “And what do you think of ‘self-determination’?” She retorted, “Oh, I’m a very self-determined woman. I never give up.”

Val told us of her wedding mishap. She went ‘South’ to select a fashionable gown and accompanied the precious cargo back to Lae. Val, a devout Catholic, struck up a conversation with a fellow traveller - a nun - who had an identical port. Guess who got the habit and who had the wedding dress? The nun was tracked down in Wewak. But the gown, now stored among Val’s prized collection of period costumes in Burra, arrived the day after the wedding.

[Bill’s full article will be in the November issue of ‘The Mail’]

Permanent mementoes of a memorable night

Photos of the Great Reunion Dinner are now available on the internet. You can find them here (type 'ASOPA' into the 'Global Search' space) and order the ones you want online.

If you missed out on getting one of Bill Bohlen's marvellous souvenir DVDs, 'Images of PNG and the NT', you can obtain a free copy by sending an email to Diane Bohlen here or phoning her on (07) 3208 3729.

DVDs of all the action at the reunion dinner are being produced by Bill and you can order them at Diane's  email address. The DVDs are just $12 each and you can pay for them by sending a cheque to WE & KD Bohlen, 45 Highview Terrace, Daisy Hill, Queensland 4127 - or contact Diane to make other arrangements.

Ours was the year that was: 1957-58

Sue Ward

Sue_ward I’m the only half-century relic who managed to totter along to this august anthropological gathering of Cadet Education Officers. I tried to rally a few more, but to no avail. I managed to contact Paul and Rosemary Kelly, who had no memories of either Bathurst or ASOPA. But they fell in love on Day One of 1957 and remain steadfastly married today – a symbol perhaps of the stamina and resilience we needed for what we were about to do.

Another colleague, Neville Hatton asked me to pass on to Dick Pearse that, as a result of an ASOPA assignment, he built two basketball courts at Tusbab. Neville was my boss at Sogeri Senior High in 1969, when it became the first national high school. Whilst I was overjoyed for Neville, this was not a happy event for I was reminded that, once married, women in the PNG Education service had little value, lacking the right equipment for promotion.

While the traits of our fellow cadets are fading from my failing memory, it is worthwhile thinking what distinguished our Class from those that were to follow. Well, we were the first at ASOPA, and certainly distinguished ourselves as being the start of something big.

We were never tempted to rest on our laurels. When I look around the room tonight I see that we all extended ourselves. The room is dripping with degrees and qualifications. We had huge levels of inner resource – there was no other.

This raises the question: if we had not gone down our distinct paths after PNG, if we had remained educators, and if we had been let loose en masse on the Australian education system, what might we have achieved? The mind boggles. But that would be another story.

Ours was the year that was: 1962-63

Richard (Dick) Jones

Dick_col Fellow reunionistas. Our 1962-63 group lays claim to an ongoing love of these reunions – this is the third for us. The first two celebrated at Port Macquarie in 2002 and Sydney in 2005.

Our group lays claim to a couple of notable firsts for ASOPA. We produced the only two issues of Vortex magazine. Some of our group still have copies of this estimable publication, but not only do I not possess a copy I have virtually no recollection of what appeared within its covers.

However, as a prelude to a 30-year journalistic career I wrote an article about our 1st year versus Val Murphy’s 2nd year rugby league ‘biffo’ match for the first edition of Vortex. It took the promptings of other 1962-63 course members, plus the irrefutable proof of a hard copy of the aforesaid article, to jog my memory about the rugby league match report.

Our group also staged a revue at the Mosman Town Hall in 1963. The Natives Are Restless caused the Reverend Bomford of the Anglican parish of Mosman to remark: “We don’t want our Christian work in this parish undone by you people at ASOPA.”

No doubt representatives of other years will say that they, too, have developed a special camaraderie down the years. Nevertheless I would like to state publicly that we have a unique bond thanks to the efforts of our organising committees for the first two big reunions in 2002 and 2005.

In closing I would like to remark that as excellent an experience as was ASOPA, it was really only the entree. Papua New Guinea served as the main course. For my own part and along with a number of my course colleagues I racked up 13 largely very happy years there.

[Photo: Richard Jones with Col Booth]