Reunions Feed

McKinnon: Olympics should be organised by teachers

Mckinnon07 Ken McKinnon writes: Wantoks. Now that Sue and I are home again in Sydney, recovered from the ravages of your marvellous Asopan reunion, I write to say how impressed we were with the whole event, especially your detailed and effective organisation. You have reinforced our long held conviction that the Olympic Games should be organised by teachers and ex-teachers. The way in which you were able to trace and contact former students and the number that turned up was indeed impressive.

Apparently without exception, former Asopans had a wonderfully challenging and satisfying period in PNG (I thought I was the only one!) at perhaps the most interesting and exciting time in its initial development. It's a part of our lives we will all cherish to the end.

At any time speaking to a group of enthusiastic, responsive people is gratifying. Reminiscing with this group was even more fun. And I renewed some former friendships, if only briefly. Thank you for inviting me.

The docs comment on the great weekend that was

There will be plenty of opportunities over coming days to reflect on the outcomes of last weekend’s Brisbane reunion – an event that exceeded all expectations – but here are a couple of reactions from participants.

Dr Clarrie Burke writes: “I know there were teams behind you which all toiled with intelligence to make the SUPER ASOPA REUNION happen. I'm sure you will share these sentiments so that they feel appreciated, too. Can I say that it was a magnificent evening - even if the speakers had their own sense of time. But that was of no consequence. Cutting some slack made for more spontaneity, I think, and allowed the show to rollick along - and rollick along it did!

“For Gail and me, the fact that we were able to finalise sales of Meeting the Challenge at the function added to the euphoria. It all seemed destined to come together at the finale. I hope you saw the evening in similar fashion. A great tribute to all contributors to the lead-up as well as final staging of the event. Take a bow!”

And from Dr Warwick Raymont: “What a fantastic weekend! And sincere congratulations to all of you for the exceptional effort and dedication that made the weekend such a success! Les Peterkin looks just great for his age! Ruth Fink-Latukefu is still an amazing woman ... I could go on for ever! The whole weekend was fantastic, all you guys made me feel so much at home and I am really, really looking forward to the next one!”

Brisbane reunion a great success: participants

Brisbane, Sunday: The only controversy of the Grand Reunion Dinner was whether former ASOPA students ought to be referred to as Asopans or Asopians. The triumph of the night was the homage paid to a now long gone youthful endeavour, the enduring friendship and comradeship it gave rise to and the still rich memories that trigger wonderful stories at the drop of a thought.

The dinner was attended by nearly 200 people at the Sofitel Hotel in Brisbane last night. There were many good moments and many good lines and over the next few weeks ASOPA PEOPLE will offer you the pick of these. One of the highlights was the 'cavalcade of the Classes' as former ASOPA cadet education officers from 1957-58 to 1970-71 provided insight and anecdote about their experiences. The reunion weekend - with still a day to go - is already a success and people are beginning to speculate about the next one.

Keithy's network is in business

Brisbane, Friday: I like the look of that headline. They're Henry Bodman's words. And they relate to a slight blending of my personal and professional lives. Tou see, we've been trying to secure a little publicity for the historic ASOPA reunion, which starts this evening in this fine city.

And when I say ’we’, I refer to the public relations company I chair, Jackson Wells Morris, and the account executive who’s securing some publicity for the reunion, Daniela De Lucia.

“4BC has just done a five minute interview with me, which they'll play in the next 24 hours,” says Henry in a message to the faithful. “Keithy's girl [that’s Daniela] is gingering things along and should be able to get the time it might be aired. I'll let you know when I know.”

Henry adds: “Interest in other places too - Channel 10, possibly Channel 7, and a couple of print media outlets.” All sounds good to me. To Henry too, who reckons his performance on 4BC was first rate as he talked with the station about the ASOPA legacy in Papua New Guinea.

Meanwhile the reunion kicks off at 6 pm today with a bunch of ‘meet & greets’ at the Sofitel and Novotel hotels.

Brisbane here we come

This morning Ingrid and I are flying to Brisbane for what promises to be a busy and pleasurable weekend. The organisers have worked for 18 months to design and plan what already is an historic event: being the largest gathering ever of former cadet education officers who trained at ASOPA to teach in Papua New Guinea, Nauru and the Northern Territory.

I'm not sure whetehr the dynamics of the next few days will permit some time off to contribute to ASOPA PEOPLE (I'm quite preoccupied preparing for the exacting role of MC for the grand reunion dinner on Saturday, for which we have a great line-up of speakers). But if I'm able to steal a few minutes a day at an Internet cafe, you'll certainly see the results here.

Meanwhile, cheers!Sp_green

The power of reunion

I wrote a version of this article in August 2002 on the eve of the reunion of the ASOPA Class of 1962-63. It has strong resonances for the Brisbane reunion this coming weekend.

Grouphenry20and20boys The idea of reunion is intriguing. Many years later a group of by now much older people come together to reflect on a distant past, inform themselves of what’s happened since and examine each other. It is, in essence, a relationship rebuild. But why? Presumably because the relationship remains of value.

When I first read about the 2002 reunion, my reaction surprised me. Over the previous 40 years I had not much reflected on ASOPA. When the letter triggered me to do so – and the people and events of those times re-emerged through the mind’s haze – I felt a profound sense of nostalgia. I realised this had been an important time, storybook stuff - 17-year old country boy commences life’s work. But mainly I was curious to find out what had happened to people I once knew so well. I became eager to reconnect with a group that, when I pondered the matter, had a remarkable cohesion and harmony and lacked anything approaching unkindness.

I became impatient to find out more about these people and felt a strong need to see them again. By now I was in regular email contact with the organisers and it was clear that two days at Port Macquarie would not make up for 40 years of separation. Thus began the ‘six-month reunion’.

A rewarding reunion would require the achievement of four goals. First, a successful search for former classmates: a daunting task after 40 years. People had scattered. Few had kept in touch. It took five months of searching phone books, electoral rolls, government archives and the Internet, supplemented by hundreds of telephone calls, to ascertain the whereabouts of the 56 people eventually located.

There was the goal of physically reuniting these people. That was a psychological as well as financial challenge. Not everyone initially shared an enthusiasm to get back together, nor for revisiting the past. The task was to demonstrate this would be a worthwhile, perhaps a unique, experience. And this meant its value had to be evidenced. Most people were persuaded and became enthusiastic. Good Samaritans were found for those who could not afford to regroup.

Then there was the goal of intimacy. A friendship is only as strong as its candour. We needed to tell what had happened to us. Reveal what cards life had dealt. Establish the sort of people we had become. We had to remind ourselves of shared experiences in order to redefine their importance in the present. This required some kind of contact. Which implied the need to communicate.

And communication became the fourth and final goal. It was achieved through phone, letter and email. It was organised into a newsletter. It was not intended to be weekly, but as the information flow accelerated and the stories multiplied it seemed neglectful not to share them. The newsletter Vintage (26 issues) grew into The Mail (116 issues so far) which spawned ASOPA PEOPLE (this is its 310th post).

And so the process rolled on. Increasing numbers of people joined in sharing information and relating experiences, and a long gone chapter in our lives re-emerged with new clarity and understanding. My own feeling of nostalgia turned to one of pride. I now realised I’d been a member of a group of young people who, in choosing to start their careers in a most unusual environment, had done something exceptional. It did not seem exceptional then. It did now. I found myself not only re-evaluating the past, but valuing it the more because now I recognised what had shaped who I had become.

And on to Brisbane. The preliminaries are over, the preparation is almost done and we are on the eve of another reunion. There will be stories of earthquakes and volcanoes, scorpions and snakes, fights and flights, guns and roses, drinking and eating, and marriages gone wrong. There will be reflections, too, on a lifestyle replete with frustration, deprivation, danger and fun and excitement. It’s going to be good, very good.

Weekend weakened as Brisbane organisers pull out all the stops

Richard_and_henry_discuss_issues Forget Kevin 2007, this is ASOPA October. With the countdown to next weekend's gathering of 200 former ASOPA personnel remorselessly entering its final few days, the Brisbane organisers are dotting every 't' and crossing each 'i' to ensure the success of the event. There is no weekend. There is no perfect night's sleep. There is only pressure. In this first shot, Dick Arnold and Henry Bodman, in the words of the reporter, "discuss issues". To me that's always a very serious matter. Let's hope Dick and Hen sort things out.

Meanwhile, table engineering has dominated Colin 'Huggiebear' Huggins waking hours. Here he's Col_and_jade_finalising_seating_at_ shown in deep discourse with Sofitel go-to person Jade to ensure that, at the Grand Reunion Dinner, lifelong enemies are seated together, people with prostate problems are placed half a day's walk from the conveniences and former lecturers are forced into positions where they have eye contact with students they failed with comments like, "I cannot see you making a go of life". In this way the true spirit of a reunion is brought to the fore. Nostalgia, neuralgia, this is a time to settle old scores.

Col_joe_and_kathryn_check_bowthai_2 Now let's move down the road to the Beau Thigh, where the final Sunday night drinkalong will float by in a meandering stream of 'where did the last two days go, let alone the last 40 years'. In this pic Kathryn and Joe Crainean are making a splendid effort at pretending to understand Huggibear, who has come from the Sofitel at warp speed because he heard free drinks were on offer. Colin is saying, "This speck on the menu was left by a gnat". It is little wonder it will be at least another half hour before true understanding begins to occur around the words, "See you next weekend".

In this snapshot taken at the Whistlestop Bar ('best roast in the world' etc) , Kathryn and Joe have Testing_the_lunch_at_the_whistle__2  been set up by ASIO in a desperate attempt to show they are personally tackling the problem of Australia's wine lake. While Colin and Jade have been set up by Actors Equity in an equally desperate attempt to show they only need a Federal government grant to get on top of global warming. Just out of the picture on the right is John Howard with a barrowload of money.

Joe_col_and_tshirt Finally, Joe and Colin pose with the only known example of the reunion tee-shirt. Everyone attending the reunion will be allowed to wear it for three minutes. One photograph will be allowed. Fortunately the shirt on display here is about the size of a pup tent, solving the problem of a number of participants who have failed to book their Brisbane accommodation.

[Photos: Diane Bohlen]

A week to go – let’s preview the reunion highlights

Brisbane’s changed. When I first visited in 1969 to enrol as an external student at Queensland University, it was like – and this was a cliché at the time – a big country town. Red traffic lights performed the same function as Christmas lights: a bit of razzle-dazzle without noticeable impact on the passing parade. Brisbane’s now a sophisticated and beautiful city, with its river - once regarded with no more affection than a stormwater drain - now the focal point of a first class metropolis.

I visit Brisbane many times a year and, along with Sydney, it’s my favourite Australian city for walking. Whether through the Botanic gardens and across the footbridge past the Maritime Museum to South Bank, or downriver along the floating boardwalk and eventually to the Breakfast Creek Hotel for a well earned beer. The ASOPA reunion kicks off a week from now and I must say I’m looking forward to Brisbane as much as I’m looking forward to the event itself.

Highlight 1 - The Friday meet and greet. “Who are these old people,” you ask yourself. “What are they doing here and where are the fresh faced mates of my youth?” I have a theory that the eyes never change. People say their name and you look into their eyes and, yep, that’s them. Another marvellous thing. Even with people you haven’t seen for 40 years, there are no awkward pauses. Class and rank and social status count for nothing. This is the relationship you haven’t had for 40-years renewed as if you’d been at the Goroka Club together last night.

Highlight 2 - The Saturday river cruise aboard Lady Brisbane and the subsequent lunch at South Bank. By now the shock of the new is truly gone and the anecdotes and reminiscences flow like fountains. The old friendships have been ignited and are on fire.

Highlight 3 – The Reunion Dinner. The Sofitel ballroom is the venue for a program focusing on our shared history and experiences as well as providing a continuation of the day’s celebrations. Ken McKinnon speaks and we hear a message from PNG Secretary for Education, Joe Pagelio. A gift for PNG schools is presented. And representatives from each ASOPA intake reflect on what it was that made their cohort special.

Highlight 4 – A lazy Sunday sitting around and yarning, culminating in the Bow Thai farewell. It seems the weekend has evaporated. Or it has gently burst, puffing out a warm bubble of nostalgia. This is when the real schmaltz sets in: when it’s time to say goodbye.

Brisbane will never feel the same again.

The chapter meets for the last time (for now)

Diane Bohlen writes: Two years ago a group of ex ASOPA cadets education officers who live in and near Brisbane got together to organise a third reunion for the Class of 1962/63. We called ourselves the ‘Queensland Chapter’ and met every few months at a different member’s house. Besides business, the meetings became an enjoyable Sunday with friends including a scrumptious spread.

After a few meetings it was suggested we open up the reunion to CEOs from other groups. Then the fun began. Henry Bodman (a self proclaimed reunion junkie) and his vast network of friends have managed to find ASOPA people from all over Australia and beyond. Nearly 200 are coming to the Brisbane reunion next week. The job has been done and the last meeting to wrap up loose ends was held at our house last Sunday.

Treasurer Dick Arnold is happy that we can cover all the payments for theLast_meeting  dinner and river cruise. He and wife Josephine have organised souvenir tee-shirts and name badges. Colin (Kolin von Lederhosen) Huggins (looking forward to Oktoberfest) reported on final table arrangements.

Henry gave an account of progress on the souvenir booklet. He has been busy goading people into writing their memories of ASOPA YEARS, which is what we’ve named the booklet. He has a story from almost every Class attending. I designed a few alternative covers for the booklet and people voted for the most suitable.

I also reported that we have enough passengers paid for the River Cruise to pay the hire of the Lady Brisbane. There is plenty of room for more passengers so no one will miss out. There is a bar and tea and coffee will be available. Maps of South Bank will also be available on board.

Henry_and_i_last_meeting Bill Bohlen reported the Reunion Dinner will be filmed by a young man who is a student at the Film and Television School. Bill will edit and produce the video. Bill also catered for the meeting, preparing Chäschüechli, Flieschchrügeli, and Schpinnatpflüder for the final spread and I threw in oysters, prawns and Moreton Bay bugs. All washed down with red wine.

We all hope you enjoy the reunion weekend as much as we have enjoyed organising it. See you there!

[Photos (above right) Bill Bohlen, Colin Huggins, Henry Bodman, Diane Bohlen, Josephine Arnold (above left) Henry Bodman, Diane Bohlen, Josephine Arnold]

Kiaps gird loins for annual get-together

The annual kiaps reunion at Buddina in Queensland is just around the corner and a call is out for participants. This event commonly attracts around 200 people and the organisers are already up to 100 for this year’s gathering [see their names here], which as usual will be held at Kawana Waters Hotel on Nicklin Way.

The only one I attended two years ago was a great event, especially when combined with a long weekend at nearby Mooloolaba. The reunion is on Sunday 11 November from 11 am and you should contact the organisers Bob Fayle and Denys Faithful if you wish to accept or have any queries about accommodation.

Hot off the press - the great reunion dinner program in full

Asopa_logo In just over two weeks time, the Great ASOPA Reunion Dinner will be held in Brisbane - the centrepiece of a weekend of highlights. As designated MC for this event, I’ve worked with the organising committee to line up an evening’s entertainment to complement the cordon bleu cuisine and the conversation and badinage that will flow like, well, may I offer a metaphor, juice squirting from a ripe grape. Hmmmm.

Sofitel_anzac There will be cocktails from 7 adjacent to Sofitel’s Le Grand Ballroom 3 before the dinner starts at 7.30. Youll be at a table with your ASOPA peers, so there'll be no awkward gaps in the conversation. At 7.45, before the entrée wafts its way into view, Dick Arnold [ASOPA 1960-61] will extend a welcome on behalf of the Brisbane organising committee and Rev Dr Barry Paterson [ASOPA 1962-63] will pay tribute to absent friends and then offer grace.

There will be a break in proceedings to allow the noisy eaters to extinguish their entrée before the next segment begins at about 8.15. This will feature a light-hearted talk on the ASOPA legacy by former PNG Young_ken Director of Education and current Chairman of the Australian Press Council, Prof Ken McKinnon AO [ASOPA 1954]. Dr Clarrie Burke [ASOPA 1958-59] will deliver a message from current PNG Secretary for Education, Dr Joe Pagelio, on the theme of the expatriate legacy in PNG education. Then Gail Burke, author of Meeting the Challenge, a book of teaching reminiscences from pre-Independence PNG, will present a cheque to former Rotary District Governor Henry Bodman [ASOPA 1962-63] to purchase equipment for PNG schools.

As the main course appears and is consumed like there's no tomorrow, a succession of speakers representing ASOPA classes will provide a  glimpse of their groups' character and culture in a segment we’ve called ‘Ours was the year that was’. In order of appearance: Sue Ward Asopacrest [ASOPA 1957-58], Ian Robertson [ASOPA 1958-59], Terry Chapman [ASOPA 1960-61], Val Murphy [ASOPA 1961-62], Richard Jones [ASOPA 1962-63], John Colwell [ASOPA 1966-67] and Robert Egglestone [ASOPA 1968-69].

The formal part of the evening will conclude over dessert with a vote of thanks to the organisers from Col Booth [ASOPA 1962-63], the brains behind the first CEO reunion of the modern era at Port Macquarie in 2002. All this stuff will be over by 9.20, allowing plenty of time for everything else. We think we’ve got a good, vibrant program - loaded with friendship, nostalgia and humour. Something to look forward to; something to remember.

A little oomp-pah-pah; a big blast for Colin

While shopping in the Brisbane CBD at the weekend, Colin Huggins walked by the yuppified Grand Central Hotel, refurbished, rebranded and re-imaged an entire socio-economic group above its previous persona – the plain vanilla Railway Station Hotel.

A sign on the façade attracted Colin’s attention:Lederhosen  ‘Join us for the Oktoberfest’. Which happens to be the Saturday of the forthcoming ASOPA reunion. On Ann Street, directly below the Sofitel, from noon that day there will be an authentic oomp-pah-pah band belting out German hofbrauhaus songs such as ‘Ver Oh Ver Uscht Mein Lederhosen’ and ‘Konrad Dere’s A Vlei Unt Mein Sauerkraut’.

“The Oktoberfest commences at noon,” says Colin, “but because of the authenticity of the musicians - all in their seventies - oomp-pah-pahing will cease at four. Never mind. There will still be available 22 varieties of Deutsche sausages and 22 varieties of Deutsche lager.”

Colin’s convinced this Oktoberfest gig will continue all day and well into the night so “after the official function when we have to vacate Le Grand Ballroom 3, those who wish to party on can adjourn to this venue. There will be no band - it will be tucked up in bed - but I should think that the oomp-pah-pah will still be going on. Bring your lederhosen and dirndls.”

Brisbane reunion - latest program

ASOPA PEOPLE will publish a final program update on Wednesday 10 October


Airtrain [Airport – Central]. Trains every half hour. Return $22; one way $12. No senior discounts. Electronic Airtrain times at Sofitel and Novotel    

12 noon – Whistle Stop Lunch Early arrivals will meet at the Sofitel Whistle Stop Bar: the best roast in the city    

6 pm – Meet & Greet Class of 1960-61: Novotel pool deck Class of 1962-63: Sofitel Hotel Chez Bar & Bistro Class of 1964-65: Sofitel Hotel Chez Bar & Bistro Others - Choose the Class group you want to be with    

6.30 pm – Meet & Greet Classes of 1968-72: Greek Club, 29-31 Edmondstone Street, West End [opposite Musgrave Park]


10 am – River Cruise Depart Meet in Sofitel lobby. Walk or ride to Riverside Dock

10.30 am – River Cruise Board Lady Brisbane for 2-hr cruise. Renew acquaintances over coffee or a glass of bubbly while taking in the sights of Brisbane. No sharp heels

12.30 pm – South Bank Lunch Explore Brisbane’s playground. Plenty of restaurants, cafes and bars. Many cultural and other attractions. No formal lunch arrangements – make your own plans

7 pm – Pre-Dinner Drinks Outside Sofitel Le Grand Ballroom 3

7.30 pm – Reunion Dinner Sofitel Le Grand Ballroom 3. Dress smart casual. Guest speaker – Prof Ken McKinnon. Brief reminiscences from Class representatives [ladies can dress up]. Function ends at 12 midnight. Chez Bar open until 3 am


Church services Churches of various denominations within easy walking distance of Sofitel and Novotel

11 am – Guided Walk Meet in Sofitel lobby. Judy Duggan will guide you on a scenic walk through the city

Other suggestions • Walk to Riverside and take in the markets • Hop on a CityCat and visit Bulimba; there are many boutique restaurants in Oxford Street just a short walk from the CityCat terminal • If you like walking, there are kilometres of walking tracks along the river edge on both sides • If you like shopping, the CBD is adjacent • Sit in the bar and chat to old mates • Roma Street Gardens well worth seeing

6 pm – Bow Thai Banquet Farewell function. Walk or taxi to restaurant. Enjoy the hospitality and a sumptuous banquet as you say farewell to old friends until next time

Time running out for reunion bookings

Brisbane reunion organisers have set the end of this month as the deadline for Brisbane reunion bookings. By then numbers will need to be confirmed at the range of venues selected for reunion activities. You can contact Colin Huggins at this email for further information. And don't forget Bill Bohlen's excellent reunion website which you can click through to here.

The Program for the weekend of 12-14 October....

FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER   12 noon: Whistle Stop Lunch • Reunionists in Brisbane early before can adjourn to the Sofitel Whistle Stop Bar for the best roast in the city    6 pm: Meet and Greet  • 60/61 at Novotel pool deck area  • 62/63 at Sofitel Chez Bar and Bistro  • 66/67 at Sofitel Chez Bar and Bistro • 68/72 at Greek Club, 29-31 Edmonstone Street, West End • Others - choose the Class group you want to be with

Lady_brisbaneSATURDAY 13 OCTOBER   10 am: River Cruise • Meet in Sofitel lobby at 10 am • Walk or ride to Riverside Dock to board Lady Brisbane for 2 hour cruise of Brisbane River • Time to renew acquaintances over coffee or a glass of bubbly • Take in the sights of Brisbane • No sharp heels please    12.30: Lunch at South Bank • Disembark and explore the delights of South Bank • You will be provided with a map to locate many restaurants and attractions • Visit useful websites here and here  Suggestions • After leaving the boat, walk left along Clem Jones Promenade to the first selection of riverside restaurants • More restaurants along the boardwalk • Alternatively, when you leave the boat, walk from the promenade to the Arbour, a sculptured steel pathway bathed in bougainvillea. You will come to cafes, bars and lifestyle markets • We haven't booked a restaurant for lunch so choose one of the many at South Bank • After lunch, explore the attractions and make your way back to the hotel by CityCat, ferry, bus, train or foot • If you have time, visit the new Gallery of Modern Art by walking along the promenade under the Victoria Bridge past the old Art Gallery and the State Library    7 pm: ASOPA reunion dinner • Meet for pre-dinner cocktails outside Sofitel Le Grand Ballroom 3    7.30 pm: Dinner in Sofitel Le Grand Ballroom 3 • Guest speaker Prof Ken McKinnon, former PNG Director of Education • Brief reminiscences from representatives of each Class • Dress: smart casual [ladies can dress up] • All guests must have left the ballroom by 12 midnight • Chez Bar remains open until 3 am

SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER Churches of various denominations within easy walking distance of Sofitel and Novotel    11 am: Guided walk • Meet Judith Duggan in Sofitel lobby for  guided walk around city    Other suggestions • Walk to Riverside and take in the markets • Hop on a CityCat and visit Bulimba; there are many boutique restaurants in Oxford Street just a short walk from the CityCat terminal • If you like walking, there are kilometres of walking tracks along the river edge on both sides • If you like shopping, the CBD is adjacent • Sit in the bar and chat to old mates • Roma Street Gardens well worth seeing • Other Brisbane attractions on this website    6 pm: Bow Thai Banquet • Walk or taxi to restaurant • Enjoy the hospitality and a sumptuous banquet as you say farewell to old friends until next time

Ken McKinnon looking forward to ‘epic’ reunion

“This looks as if it is developing as a meeting of epic proportions, sufficiently awesome to make me nervous,” Ken McKinnon says of the reunion as we discuss his presentation to the Grand Reunion Dinner. Ken began working on his talk a couple of weeks ago “but it is hard to stop the flow of memories of PNG, so it got far too long.” As a result Ken’s decided to speak as the mood and the moment dictate.

Balimo_longhaus_57 In exchanging emails about such matters, Ken provided me with some rare photographs of some of his PNG experiences and I’d like to share these with you. The first is from fifty years ago, 1957, when Ken had been in the Territory for some three years and was posted as District Education Officer, Western District. Here he stands in front of a long house at Balimo, a dwelling accommodating about 600 people. Senior_ed_madang_68_4

This next shot is of a 1968 meeting in Madang of all the senior officers in the Department of Education.  I don’t know whether the guy holding the chart is Kwamalo Kalo, but it sure looks like him. Some of you may be able to help out on this and the other characters in the photo.

Ed_gazette_leaving_png The final exhibit here is the spoof cover of a special Education Gazette published to mark Ken’s departure from PNG in August 1973 when he moved to Australia to establish the Schools Commission. Ken says it was produced by “some irreverent people, no doubt ex-ASOPA folk”.

Catch up on all reunion information and the laughing crocodile at Bill Bohlen’s website here.

Early reunionistas can gather at the Whistle Stop

There hasn’t been a tragedy quite like it since the great ASOPA fire of 1969 that destroyed all the records relating to the establishment and operations of the original Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs. Colin ‘Cuddles’ Huggins has lost his list.

The list in question contained the names of all the good folk who had advised him they’d be attending the pre-reunion lunch. Now Colin wants to reconstitute the list for the lunch, which will be held in a rolling fashion from 12 noon on Friday 12 October at the Sofitel Whistle Stop Bar, where Colin claims you can tuck into “the best roast in the city”.

Whistle_stop_bar_colin_josephineThe lunch will especially suit people who arrive early and can’t wait to see what havoc the years have wreaked on their erstwhile colleagues. So if you think you’ll be there, email Colin here and let him know.

By the way, Bill and Diane Bohlen have put together a cornucopia of reunion information at a special website here.

[Photo: Colin and Josephine Arnold give the Whistle Stop the once over]

Life wasn't meant to be easily bilious

[The editor, on behalf of the Brisbane reunion organising committee, sincerely apologises to Malcolm, Memphis and any missing trousers for a headline in appallingly bad taste.]

Bill_jade_henry_jo_diane_colin_di_3There was a meeting. A luncheon meeting at Chez Sofitel. Bodman was there. So too Dick and Josephine Arnold, and Diane and Bill Bohlen. And Huggins, of course. So was Jade Thompson from the Sofitel.

Food was on the agenda. First the banquet menu, as approved by the chef. If you have dietary problems, or expect to have dietary problems, or would like to have dietary problems, contact your Table Captain, and then contact Colin Huggins right here, because the TC will be thoroughly bemused by all of this.

Jade informed the group, early, while it was still alert, that the Sofitel employs 30 chefs under the guidance of an ex-Waldorf Astoria main chef who, to the delight of Bill Bohlen, is Swiss. Expect cheese, mountain goat and alpenhorn on the menu.

Interesting snippet: the Sofitel has bestowed upon Huggins the honorific of ‘Technical Director and Producer’. So be afraid.

Henry_jadeHenry believes he has the souvenir program well under control. Put it this way.  If you now have a mental image of a 50 tonne souvenir panda crushing a moustachioed ex teacher and entrepreneur, it’s a fantasy and you’re on drugs.

Let's turn to hotel security. (1) It exists. (2) It has not yet been subjected to The Chaser. (3) It is a far cry from the days when we were students. (4) You can only access your booked floor. Interesting snippet: Sofitel staff have their hands x-rayed for access to their offices. (I had my abdomen x-rayed a fortnight ago and no one will let me  anywhere.)

Dick_arnoldSouvenir polo shirt. This is important and you need to know that. I don’t know why. Perhaps because you can wear it. But bring money with you anyway. I'm told that's quite vital.

Further interesting snippet: Dianne: “Colin, what will we do after the reunion is over?” Colin: “I don't ever want to see a list of names again”. Colin Francis Huggins, you are a list of names!

Collector’s item will be reunion dividend

Bodman Henry Bodman may be, in his own words, “a bit flustered at the moment” as Brisbane planning hits the final furlong, but one of the many projects he’s working on looks like being a beauty. It's billed at present under the working title, ‘The Souvenir Program’, which, under a much sexier brand, will be sold to reunionistas for a modest price in order to cover production costs.

Amongst many other features, the program will include the full no-holds-barred story of how ASOPA came into being – a fascinating yarn of intrigue and outrage at the batch of civilians who, without any military experience, were made half Colonels in a unit that was one of the cushiest little numbers in World War 2.

Dr Dick Pearse, former ASOPA education lecturer, looks at the institution from a staff perspective; there’s a profile of Ken McKinnon’s splendid career from Oodnadatta school teacher to chairman of the Press Council via a little gig in PNG; ‘We came from far and wide’ looks at the many roads that led to Brisvegas tonight; ‘Ours was the year that was’ is seeking to provide a complete list for each ASOPA class (a wonderful and complex research project in itself) and, the real highlight, the story of each Class – as Henry puts it “a study in contrasting approaches”.

There will also be a full program of the night’s festivities. In all, a feast of reading for anyone who was at ASOPA or is interested in its era. Onya, Henry, yours is really a very significant project.

Tee-shirt model caught in flagrante

Dick_arnold In the marketing game, there’s a long tradition of industrial espionage. Unveiling your competitors’ new model car before it’s officially launched. Stealing the chemical composition of the latest hair restoration therapy before Shane Warne’s had a chance to use it. And, of course, obtaining that furtive snap of the new season’s fashion item.

And, readers, we have that snap. The image is in our possession. We have it before You Tube. Before Kevin Rudd has announced it (in Mandarin). Before Johnny Howard has had a chance to intervene in it. But the exposé does not come without an attendant difficulty.

If I can put it plainly, the critical problem that ubermodel Dick Arnold has is this. Now the new vogue has been so cruelly revealed on a global basis going forward at this point in time, everyone will want it, they will want it NOW and they will want Dick to showcase it. No one else will do. He’s the man. We want him to strut his stuff.

I fear the organisers have bitten off far more than they can masticate with this one.

Those who were there at the end... talk

The last time I heard from Rob Cuttell [ASOPA 1969-70] he was correcting an error of mine in a lachrymose report on the death of his ASOPA buddy John ‘The Beag’ Beagley. When he left ASOPA, Rob was posted to Iarowari for a year and Goroka for another year before deciding Christmas Island was the place to be. After three years there, he returned to Australia and has lived and taught in Canberra since.

Rob reports that, since Peter Blessing and others began organising the 1968-72 ‘Greek Club’ section of the Brisbane reunion, emails have been flowing thick and furious. This enthusiasm for reconnection has motivated Rob to set up a website and a blog to cater to the good people – all secondary trained teachers – who were present during the final years of the fine institution we’re proud to have been associated with.

Book_house And while on the subject of places to go, however virtually, I want to draw your attention to the Pacific Book House, run by Bill McGrath at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. “New Guinea is our speciality,” brags Bill and – having recently tested out that claim – I can assure you it’s not an idle boast. Bill’s been pursuing his interest in the Pacific, and particularly PNG, for the last 23 years. If you’re interested in books (new, rare, out of print) about PNG, get in touch with Bill. And, no, this is not a paid advert. Or an advert.

Update: Brisbane reunion program

Novotel FRIDAY 12 OCTOBER   12 noon: Whistle Stop Lunch • Reunionists hitting Brisbane before check in time can adjourn to the Sofitel Whistle Stop Bar for the best roast in the city. Advise Colin Huggins here or at 07 3357 1883    6 pm: Meet and Greet  • 60/61 at Novotel pool deck area  • 62/63 at Sofitel Chez Bar and Bistro  • 66/67 at Sofitel Chez Bar and Bistro • 68/72 at Greek Club, 29-31 Edmonstone Street, West End • Others - choose the Class group you want to be with

Sofitel SATURDAY 13 OCTOBER   10 am: River Cruise • Meet in Sofitel lobby at 10 am • Walk or ride to Riverside Dock to board Lady Brisbane for 2 hour cruise of Brisbane River • Time to renew acquaintances over a coffee or glass of bubbly • Take in the sights of thriving Brisbane and enjoy the history and scenery between Hamilton and South Bank • No sharp heels please    12.30: Lunch at South Bank • Disembark and explore the delights of South Bank • You will be provided with a map to locate the many restaurants and attractions • Visit useful websites here and here  Suggestions • After leaving the boat, walk left along Clem Jones Promenade to the first selection of riverside restaurants • If you continue onto the boardwalk, there are more restaurants • Alternatively, when you leave the boat, walk from the promenade to the Arbour, a sculptured steel pathway blanketed in bougainvillea. You will come to the central cafes, lifestyle markets, Arbour cafes and bars • We haven't booked a restaurant for lunch but choose one of the many at South Bank • After lunch, explore the attractions and make your way back to the hotel by CityCat, ferry, bus, train or foot • If you have time, a must see is the new Gallery of Modern Art located by walking along the promenade under the Victoria Bridge past the old Art Gallery and the State Library    7 pm: ASOPA reunion dinner • Meet for pre-dinner cocktails outside Sofitel Le Grand Ballroom 3    7.30 pm: Dinner in Sofitel Le Grand Ballroom 3 • Guest speaker Prof Ken McKinnon, former PNG Director of Education • Brief reminscences from representatives of each Class • Dress smart casual [ladies can dress up] • All guests must have left the ballroom by 12 midnight • Chez Bar remains open until 3 am

SUNDAY 14 OCTOBER Churches of various denominations within easy walking distance of Sofitel and Novotel    11 am: Guided walk • Meet Judith Duggan (60/61) in Sofitel lobby for  guided walk around city    Other suggestions • Walk to Riverside and take in the markets • Hop on a CityCat and visit Bulimba; there are many boutique restaurants in Oxford Street just a short walk from the CityCat terminal • If you like walking, there are kilometres of walking tracks along the river edge on both sides • If you like shopping, the CBD is adjacent • Sit in the bar and chat to old mates • Roma Street Gardens well worth seeing • Other Brisbane attractions on this website    6 pm: Bow Thai Banquet • Walk or taxi to restaurant • Enjoy the hospitality and a sumptuous banquet as you say farewell to old friends until next time

A tough life if you don’t weaken

Bill_1960 Bill 'Adonis' Welbourne [pictured] blames Murphy's Law for almost missing the penultimate meeting of the Brisbane reunion organising committee, citing “an unfortunate senior forgetfulness” as a fallback excuse. Bill’s usually an efficient type. Going shopping he loads the garbage into the boot to carry it 400 metres to the entrance of his Mount Cotton property. But by the time the car roars through the gates Bill's forgotten the garbage and “I still have it with my freezer when I return from the supermarket.” Same with golf. Forgetful. “When it's my turn to putt out, I'm two holes away. Except if I'm nearest the pin.”

Bill had arranged with the nearby Bohlens and their beautiful red BMW for a ride to the reunion meeting – at Henry Bodman’s globally recognised (Bush stayed there once) “leafy Fig Tree Pocket”. On the night before the morning in question, though, Bill had spent much valuable sleep time mopping up water from a recalcitrant dishwasher. This followed a few late night Tia Marias with son Tony, just returned from overseas. The dishwasher became Bill, who brought to the arrangement a sponge mop,  a tea towel and a hefty desire for clean crockery.

“Finally to bed at 0100. Too much tea and wine forced me to an 0430 stroll. At that moment I heard a loud hissing. [That's 'loud hissing'.] The dishwasher hose had escaped and water was again flooding the kitchen.”

Despite all that excitement – a year’s worth for your typical senior – Bill and the Bohlens were only 15 minutes late for the meeting. But Henry was unimpressed and smarted, “Good afternoon! You're 15 minutes late!” To which Bill retorted, “Yeah, but that's better than half an hour ... and we didn’t get lost!” Bill can be very cruel to Henry, who was only doing his best to maintain order and decorum.

Hugginsponders But all was forgiven. “Suffice it to say Henry was the perfect host on this occasion,” crawls Bill, “and we enjoyed an outdoor setting in the best weather we'd had after a week of unseasonally heavy rain. We gorged on Henry's seafood basket and he demonstrated the three move trick of peeling a prawn.” And that's how the organising committee got down to serious business.

Colin Huggins [pictured] comments: “Please observe how thoughtful one can become at an organising meeting. Ninety percent business followed by ten percent prawns and oysters. Odd drink thrown in for good measure.” Oh yeah. [Photo: Dick Arnold]

Our ASOPA chronicle resumes

Just back from Noosa and a flying visit to Brisbane, where I’m doing some work with Queensland University on a media training program. While on the Sunshine Coast, which lived up to its name despite a brief flood (over-egged in the press), I received an enthusiastic phone call from Leo Carroll following the first reunion of the ASOPA Class of 1961-62, 45 years after graduation.

Leo was still on a high after the event, professionally organised by David Keating OAM and a small team. He was particularly taken by the gift pack of six SP stubbies and totally overwhelmed by the fellowship and goodwill of the three days. “It was like the 40 years was the briefest of pauses in our conversation,” he told me. I've now received a copy of the well-compiled 'reunion commemorative book', which I hope will be lodged with the National Library as a permanent record of the journey of the Class of 61/62.

So, for me, it’s now back to those nasty four letter words (work, rain and Bush) as Sydney battles with APEC in one of the greater over-reactions to an event since the man from Ironbark had a shave. They should have had Dave Keating down here doing it.

Anyway, it means ASOPA PEOPLE will get the attention it deserves over the next while. There’s a lot in the mailbox that ought to be shared. Speaking of which, The Mail will be distributed next weekend.

Road testing the meet and greet

Colinfriend Colin Huggins [left with friend Nuk] writes: Herewith the report of a meeting held yesterday at Chez with Jade Thompson of the Sofitel. Present: Colin Huggins, Bill Bohlen, Henry Bodman, Bill Welbourne, Dick and Josephine Arnold. The Brisbane chapter charged in with the Wednesday blue rinse brigade for the Chez seafood banquet. Jade was on hand to discuss the arrangements for the Meet & Greet and to hand out car parking vouchers. Here we were again – road testing another reunion event. According to the Dick Arnold scale for chapter meetings this one could be classified as a 5% business and 95% food and wine fest.

It was decided that the Class of 1962-63 would be allocated the disco area, where tables to sit 60 will be arranged for the night. It was also decided that a set menu will not be used, which gives people the option of eating or nibbling on the reunion’s first night. But the whole hog looks good. The seafood banquet laden with the mudcrab and lobster is a feast to bring froths of saliva to the mouths of the Colin Booths of our year.

I will not go into the food intake of respective members suffice it to say that plates seems to have been piled high with oysters and large succulent prawns. Dessert was partaken in Roman gluttonous proportions. The only thing missing was the vestal virgins with the grapes. The evening of the 12 October, as we all come together once more, is looking very good.

1968-72 Asopians will go Greek

Peter Blessing is organising a couple of activities during the Brisbane reunion weekend to allow Asopians of 1968-72 to get together. The first will be a pre-Sofitel gathering at the Greek Club in Brisbane’s West End on Friday 12 October at about 6.30 for dinner at 7.30. The Greek Club is at 29-31 Edmondstone Street opposite Musgrave Park. Peter also mentions that there are plans for the 1968-72 group to gather for lunch on Saturday 13 October. If you would like to attend either or both of these events drop a note to Peter at this email address.

The stories that memorialise ASOPA

At last count there were ten ASOPA classes signed up for October’s Brisbane Reunion. There will be Asopians present from the Classes of 1958-59, 1959-60, 1960-61, 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1964-65, 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1968-69. By any criterion this is a grand roll-up.

As part of the formalities at the Grand Reunion Dinner, it is hoped that a representative of each Class will relate an anecdote that sums up the group experience. It might be a lecture room yarn, an extra-curricula moment,a sporting triumph (debacle) or a landfall story, perhaps along these lines this:

Harold ‘Harry’ Peake was the teaching methods lecturer. He was also the ‘ever-widening circles man’ lyricised by Joe Crainean in the ASOPA magazine Vortex in 1963.

Now and then,
why and when,
ever widening circles
Meaningful, purposeful,
ever widening circles
So we seek,
from week to week
those ever widening circles

In Col Booth’s estimation, Harry was “the true gentleman of ASOPA; a person who really knew what he was talking about; one of few who generated genuine respect; the one who could impart knowledge without big noting himself. He taught much more than Social Studies, Reading, Comprehension and Written Expression. He introduced the concept of setting questions with progressing levels of difficulty to cover individual differences (introduced 20 years later to NSW schools as Bloom's Taxonomy).

"He expounded theories that the only way to mark Composition was with the writer at your elbow and that a teacher should concentrate on correcting one aspect so the poor kid didn't end up with a page full of red ink. Face-to-face marking was introduced into NSW schools in the mid eighties as a new concept, Conferencing; again 20 years after Harry.

"And how could anyone forget the poor old bugger zigzagging between lecture rooms making headway into a howling south-westerly.”

Henry Bodman recalls Harry's statement about not getting too cocky about one's ability as a teacher: “One day one of you will teach an Exhibition student and I hope you won’t feel any credit is due to you," Harry said. "The student did it despite you”. And this aphorism: “Doctors hold sway, but what do they do? Patch up bodies. Teachers build people. Where's the comparison?” “Harry was a dear old codger who loved his subject,” says Henry

I’ll be MC at the Reunion Dinner and part of the plan is to identify a person from each Class to pay tribute to its ASOPA experience with a short anecdote. So now I invite Table Captains or another volunteer to perform this service on behalf of each Class, which will be one of the highlights of the night. Email me right here and we’ll start working up your presentation. If more than one person volunteers from each Class, we’ll sort things out by email. Email me today.

The word spreads like wildfire

There's an interesting dynamic developing in relation to Brisbane's maxi-reunion in just over two months time. As each new person learns of the event - often people who have not seriously dwelled upon the acronym 'ASOPA' for years - they pass on the information to Asopians they know, and each is in touch with one or two. And so it is that much of the ASOPA chalkie diaspora is becoming engaged in the idea that reuniting might be a good thing to do.

The dynamic is this: as the reunion (October 12-14) gets closer, so the interest grows and the numbers expand. The dilemma is clear: the numbers, now exceeding 200, cannot expand indefinitely. Unfortunately the cut off point is approaching. This could be disappointing for people who have indicated they wish to attend the reunion dinner but have not paid yet. If you're one of these folk, it's $95 a person to Dick Arnold at [email protected].

Mailjuly Accommodation at Brisbane's Sofitel and Novotel hotels, adjacent properties and the epicentre for the event, is also becoming scarce. Places at other events are also filling rapidly. Fortunately there are also a number of free events where numbers are not restricted.

Now Diane Bohlen has produced a program for the entire weekend. This will be made available in the next issue of the ASOPA chalkies newsletter The Mail, which is available free each month by sending your email address to me right here.

Good turn out for Class of 1961-62

Leo Carroll [ASOPA 1962-62] has a memory as sharp as a blade for the people, places and events of 40 years ago. He clearly recalls dossing on the floor of my Kundiawa donga during the weekend of the 1963 Chimbu Ball, visiting from his school at Aiome, an isolated outpost on the other side of the Bismarck Range. I had lunch with Leo yesterday and he’s in good form and eagerly anticipating the reunion of the Class of 1961-62 at Cedar Lakes next month.

David Keating has a roll-up of 55 people for the big event, including 31 classmates and two former lecturers. Needless to say David is delighted with this response and he has every right to feel that way. The weekend will be filled with golf, tennis and wine tasting in addition to a full program of reuniting.

The Class of 1961-62 also is organising a table for October’s monster reunion in Brisbane. If you’re interested in this event, contact Ros Sharp at [email protected].

The full story of that Brisbane river crawl

Briscommramble Colin Huggins writes: The River Crawl [cost: $10 a person] will start at the Sofitel Lobby at 10 on the Saturday morning of the reunion. The idea is to have a good leisurely look at Brisbane from the river. The walk to Riverside takes about 10 minutes.

The Sofitel recently acquired a 7-person mini-bus and we have access to this to take less agile people to Riverside to embark on the cruise. Let us know if you require this facility.

The charter cruise on the Lady Brisbane will start at 10.30 from the CBD Riverside wharf – in the upmarket restaurant area of Brisbane - and after two hours will drop us at Southbank – scene of the Brisbane expo in 1988, where there are parks, stalls galore, cheap and expensive eateries, bars and easy access to the Museum and State Library.

When we disembark (note my nautical expertise) at 12.30, people can do whatever they like. We envisage that people will make their own way back to the Novotel and Sofitel to beautify themselves for the main reunion event. The Grand Dinner will kick off with cocktails at 7pm for cocktails prior to the 7.30 dinner.

You can contact Colin Huggins here.

Brisbane reunion business model explained

3muskt_c Dick Arnold, the d’Artagnon of Daft, Aramis of Administration and Porthos of the Purse, analyses my comment that “the [Brisbane reunion] organising committee is doing a wonderful job”. Dick deems it apposite to divulge the “madness in [the organisers] method”. The regular meetings, he says, are best sorted into four categories.

1 - 90% business planning; 10% socialising (reminiscing, gourmet food and wine) at one of the committee's residences on a Sunday afternoon.

2 - 75% planning; 25% socialising at the Chez Bar (one of a number of gathering places in the Sofitel Hotel) on a weekday at noon.

3 - 50% planning; 50% socialising at the Bow Thai Restaurant at 6:30pm.

4 - 1% planning; 99% socialising at either Chez Bar, Bow Thai, New Farm Park or Southbank Parklands for the purposes of entertaining ASOPA alumni who might visit BrisVegas from time to time.

Dick adds this poignant rider: “You will note, in each case, that business comes first.”

He emphasises the joy of catching up with old colleagues after decades of non-contact and making new friendships. “We’d like to think that those gathering with us for the October weekend will long remember the conviviality and camaraderie that had its beginnings at ASOPA.”

[200 people have registered to attend the ASOPA teachers’ reunion in Brisbane from 12-14 October.]

The scramble for seats

Brisbane reunion treasurer Dick Arnold reports there's been a flurry of activity recently as some 200  former ASOPA cadet education officers scramble to secure  places as October's big event. It is now certain that the reunion will  be the largest gathering of CEOs ever. Even at the School, there were never more than 80-90 on campus. Activity on this web log indicates a high level of interest, with over 70 visitors a day in the past  week compared with a typical 25 a day.

Payments for the reunion dinner at the Sofitel on Saturday 13 October are now due: $95 a person for the fully catered function. You can pay by: (1) EFT, cash or cheque direct to the ASOPA Reunion Bank Account. Account Name - ASOPA Reunion. BSB - 064 130. Account Number - 1035 9805. (2) Cheque made out to ‘ASOPA Reunion’ to the treasurer, Dick Arnold at 27 Greenlaw Place, Eight Mile Plains, Queensland 4113. When making payment by any method, make sure you attach your name. Dick’s phone numbers are (07) 3345 9771 and 0423 149 975 and his email address is [email protected].

Now for the reckoning

Sofitel A bit of housekeeping is in order for many would-be reunionistas now in heavy training for Brisbane ‘07. That's those of us who haven't yet paid for the main event. Yes, it’s time to send in those payments for the official ASOPA reunion dinner. To be held in Le Grand Ballroom Trois (translation, The Grand Ballroom 3) at the Sofitel [pictured left in all its resplendancy] on the evening of Saturday 13 October.

Payment of $95 a person is now due using one of the methods itemised below so, as Colin Huggins says, “organisers can maintain normal sleeping patterns” with a major payment to the Sofitel looming.

HOW TO PAY. (1) EFT, cash or cheque direct to the ASOPA Reunion Bank Account. Account Name - ASOPA Reunion. BSB - 064 130. Account Number - 1035 9805. (2) By cheque made out to ‘ASOPA Reunion’ to the treasurer, Dick Arnold at 27 Greenlaw Place, Eight Mile Plains, Queensland 4113. Dick’s email is [email protected] and his phones (07) 3345 9771 and 0423 149 975. One other thing, when making a payment by any means include your name so Dick knows the money is from you and not manna from heaven. Now go for it.

The continuing reunion

With over 200 former Asopians and friends expected at the signature event at the Sofitel Hotel - and scores likely to roll up to many other activities that will comprise a weekend of nostalgia, re-acquaintance and implausible anecdote - October’s ASOPA reunion in Brisbane has emerged as a major exercise in planning and logistics.

But this triggered no series of stodgy scheduling meetings by the Brisbane organising committee. On the contrary, it’s been party time. Every venue has had, well, I was going to say a “dry run” but let me amend that to “wet run”, as the organising committee has personally tested every location with a commitment mainly observed in people enjoying themselves a great deal.

Henred Committee meetings are clearly a sheer delight, as this photo shows. Henry Bodman is about to receive succour from fellow organiser Dennis Burrell. No sweet-faced infant about to accept ambrosia from its mother’s breast could surpass Henry’s expression of glorious anticipation as the red moves ever closer to the glass. It’s a scene that evokes the same deep stirrings as a romantic movie’s slow motion sequence of two perfumed lovers gliding towards each other over a verdant and trimmed lawn.

Colinnuk And as for the trialling of the Bow Thai restaurant, which will be the scene for the reunion’s Last Supper, one can only admire the dedication of organiser Colin Huggins as he seeks to establish a quality rapport with the waitperson class (as the politically correct would have it these days). This is a rapport hardly seen since Antony charmed Cleopatra shortly before the appearance of an asp. The young woman in the photo is Nuk, and reports from Colin and others suggest that Nuk and her fellow staff at the Bow Thai will ensure a splendid and affordable evening for those reunionstas who, even after a long weekend reuniting, are still up for some more party.

If you haven’t booked your place at the Brisbane Reunion [12-14 October] yet, contact Henry Bodman or Dick Arnold in the very near future.

Brisbane antics: the trial crawl

Brisramble_6 The Brisbane reunion organisers yesterday staged a successful trial run of the ‘CityCat Crawl’ to check out route and restaurants for the main October event in which over 100 former Asopians could take part. Bill Welbourne reports that Crawl Captain Colin Huggins [photo: bottom right] “looked a little anxious until key team member Henry Bodman arrived”, adding that neither man “believes in mobile phones”. The Crawl involved a gentle stroll through the city and a pleasant downriver ferry trip to Brett’s Wharf eventually landing at South Bank with its picturesque parkland and countless restaurants. The 14 people who participated in the trial [seen here departing by rapid escalator] agreed that visitors will experience a memorable weekend in October with plenty to see and do in springtime BrisVegas.

Brisbane reunion logo unveiled

Asopa_logo_19 John Ilian, an ad man regarded as one of Perth advertising’s living industry treasures, has designed this spectacular logo for October's Brisbane ASOPA Reunion. John – former creative director of a number of top Perth ad agencies – has run his own Sharper Pencil partnership from offices in West Perth for eight years.


Milan, Italy. While this blog has been an irregular event since I flew out of Sydney a month ago, I've been kept in touch with the increasingly energised developments leading to October's ASOPA education officers' reunion in Brisbane. It can be said - without cavil - that the 220 booking so far make this event  the biggest ever gathering of people who once were termed CEOs and who spent varying amounts of time at Middle Head. The Brisbane organising committee has left no stone unturned and no words of persuasion unsaid in a relentless search for old Asopians. With six months still to go, the Queenslanders have already put in a fine organisational effort. There are, however, still a few reunion places left. Now seems a good time to finalise those arrangements to get there


Pagello London, Saturday: It's good news indeed that Dr Joseph (Joe) Pagelio, PNG's Secretary for Education, has accepted an invitation to attend - and speak at - October's ASOPA reunion in Brisbane.  He will join his 40-something year predecessor, Dr Ken McKinnon, in what will be an historic moment  - literally one where the past meets the future. Since his appointment as Secretary early last year, Joe has shown his has both the bottle and the brainpower to introduce and pursue a number of necessary reforms in PNG's education system. It'll be a real honour to meet him.


Ken Pioneering PNG educational administrator, ASOPA alumni and one of Australia’s most distinguished educators, Prof Ken McKinnon, AO, will be the guest speaker at the October ASOPA reunion in Brisbane.

After attending Adelaide and Queensland universities, Ken decided to head for PNG, completing an ASOPA course from January to April 1954 before arriving in Port Moresby in May that year. He says now: “My Sydney sojourn came after two years at Oodnadatta, so was mostly a time for savouring the offerings of the city - not neglecting ASOPA luminaries such as James McAuley and Camilla Wedgewood.”

At the beginning of 1955 Ken was posted to Samarai as Area Education Officer, the beginning of a stellar career in educational administration. After completing a doctorate at Harvard University, he was appointed PNG Director of Education in 1966, occupying the position until 1973. These were the years of rapid expansion and professionalisation of education in the then Territory as it prepared for Independence in 1975.

C1985unesco_mckinnon_tn After leaving PNG, Ken became the first Chairman of the Australian Schools Commission (1973-81), which had been set up by the Whitlam Government. In 1981 he was appointed Vice-Chancellor of Wollongong University, a position he held until 1995. In this role he was credited with transforming the university into one of Australia’s leading campuses. During this period (1984-88), I served with him on the Australian National Commission for UNESCO when he was Chairman. [Photo: Ken with Gough Whitlam and then education minister Susan Ryan at a national commission meeting.]

Ken, a self-confessed press junkie, is now Chairman of the Australian Press Council, which  adjudicates on complaints from the public about bias and inappropriate publication. “To many individuals the press looms so powerful and so large that they feel the scales seem unequally weighted against them in making comment,” he says.


Edbrumby Ed Brumby (left), who spends his working days as General Manager International, of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance, has issued a call to arms to the ASOPA Class of 1964-65. “Pride demands,” Ed declaims, “that the 64/65 cohort be represented at the October reunion and I’m intending to be there: not, I hope, as the sole standard-bearer.”

The Melbourne-based institute is the leading provider of insurance education, training and professional services to the financial services industry in the Asia Pacific region. Members of that distinguished group of Asopians can go here to find out more about the Brisbane reunion planned for 12-14 October this year. And you can contact Ed at this email address.


There is to be a Papua New Guinea highlands international primary schools reunion for ex-students from Banz, Goroka, Kundiawa, Minj and Mt Hagen in Brisbane later this year. The reunion will be held at the Queensland Irish Club on Saturday 15 September and tickets are $50 for adults and $30 for children. I’m sure the participants would welcome the opportunity to square matters away with former teachers. You should contact Jean Martin, Lola Collins or Lisa Adams for further information.


Gaye (Zimitat) Speldewinde writes: "The reunions keep happening. At least eight of the ‘girls’ from 1961-62 are coming together for a talkfest here in Canberra in early March. I’ll use their ASOPA names to make it easier! Erica Ardill, Shirley Coffin, Caroline Enge, Liz Keegan, Margaret O’Connor, Lyn Osborne, Margaret Willington, Gaye Zimitat. If any one else is around and wants to join in they can contact me here.  Having already met up with all except two I can guarantee we will still have plenty to talk about come the Big Reunion in August – and we’ll recognize each other much quicker."


Henry Bodman writes: For those new to this scene, the ASOPA 1962-63 year is lining up for its third reunion – the first being to observe the passing of 40 years since the group had first cast eyes on each other.

The thought originated with the Mosman Bar Group of 62-63 which consisted of the men who were not straight out of school – the worldly men….. ‘Moose’ Davis, Les Lyons, Dave Argent, Geoff Chapman, Dick Jones and Henry Bodman. Messrs Vincent, Smith, Kesby and Flannery became acolytic members of this group as their ‘education’ advanced. Being now scattered all over Oz, the group decided Port Macquarie would be as central as any other place and started the process of assembling the clique.

Col Booth and Keith Jackson heard about the idea and in no time flat the concept had been broadened to include all who qualified as members of ASOPA 1962-63 (and the inevitable ‘attachments’ accumulated over 40 years).

Col and Wendy did amazing sleuthing, eventually tracking down every graduating member of the year. Rory O’Brien was the last cab off the rank and there were a few extra bottles of red demolished the night he was located.

Keith spawned his now life-altering monthly, The Mail – which recently reached its 100th edition. Thanks to Keith’s son’s great support of his old man, a webpage has been developed which has, in turn led to the latest technological fad, the blog ASOPA PEOPLE. All of this has burgeoned into a monster which can be sighted by tapping into Bill Bohlen’s Brisbane reunion website.


It might still be eleven months away but 30 people (21 former cadet education officers of the ASOPA Class of 1962-63 and nine partners) have already registered for their third reunion in Brisbane from 12-14 October next year.

In alphabetical order, they are: Henry & Janelle Bodman; Bill & Diane Bohlen; Colin & Wendy Booth; Jeff & Robyn Chapman; Bob Davis; Sonia Grainger; Rod Hard; Colin Huggins; Keith & Ingrid Jackson; Richard & Judyth Jones; Dave & Elissa Kesby; Peter & Margaret Lewis; Ian McLean; Rory O'Brien; Barry & Janine Paterson; Roger Philpott; Howard & Glenda Ralph; Val Rivers; Roger Stanley; and Bill Welbourne.

The Brisbane organising committee appointed Colin Huggins to secure top value accommodation – and he delivered in full by striking great deals with Brisbane’s Sofitel and Novotel Hotels.

Sofitel [$195] - To book your room and get the deal, quote booking code ASO1007. Bookings through Jade Thompson at this email or telephone 07 3835 3535 or 07 3835 4959.

Novotel [$150] - To book your room and get the deal, quote booking code ASOPA2007. Bookings through Laura Ousby at this email or telephone 07 3309 3309.

And you catch up on all the current information about Brisbane ’07 on  Bill Bohlen's reunion website here.


Colin Huggins is pressing on with preparations for next year’s Brisbane reunion for the ASOPA Classes of 1960-61 and 1962-63. Yesterday he met with the Sofitel Hotel to discuss arrangements. These plans will be detailed in the October Mail which will be circulated next weekend, but here are the headlines.

The 1962-63 people booked so far are (at the Novotel) Barry and Janine Paterson, Peter and Margaret Lewis, Dave and Elissa Kesby, Howard and Glenda Ralph and Richard and Judyth Jones; (at the Sofitel) Colin Huggins, Bill Welbourne, Val Rivers, Sonia Grainger, Bob Davis, Keith and Ingrid Jackson, Colin and Wendy Booth, Henry and Janelle Bodman, Bill and Diane Bohlen, Les and Margaret Lyons, Roger Philpott; (elsewhere) Jeff and Robyn Chapman. Paul and Margaret Brigg (1960/61) are also at the Sofitel.

The formal dinner on Saturday 13 October will cost $95 and details relating to money collection will be advised at a later date. The meet and greet function on Friday 12 October will start at 6 pm at Sofitel’s Chez Bar. The final function on Sunday 14 October will start at 6 pm at the Bow Thai Restaurant. The likely cost is $35-$40 per person.

Colin says, “I realise this plea is somewhat repetitive but I cannot over-emphasise that you need to make your intentions clear and book your accommodation as soon as possible. Rooms at our big discount rates will not be available for long and the "off the street" rate is presently $585 per night!”

SOFITEL HOTEL - $195 - Booking code ASO1007

Sofitel_brisbane_exterior_364_1_1 Rooms on Floors 10 - 21 cost $195 per night for single, double or twin. There are also Concierge Rooms (above the 21st floor) for $235 and Club Rooms, which include access to the Sofitel Club on the 30th floor, for $270 single and $300 double. Club Room accommodation includes free breakfast in the Sofitel Club and afternoon canapes and cocktails.

You can make a reservation by paying the first night's accommodation in advance with the remaining payment to be made on arrival or when checking out. Bookings can be made by credit card or bank key card. Book through Jade Thompson at email [email protected] or by phoning her on 07 3835 3535 or 07 3835 4959. Remember to quote the booking code. If you decide to extend your stay before or after the reunion period, subject to availability the Sofitel will extend the same room charges.

NOVOTEL HOTEL - $150 - Booking code ASOPA 2007

Homehotel The room rate is $150 per night for single, double or twin. You can make reservations by giving credit card details and paying on arrival. Book through reservations sales manager Laura Ousby, who can be contacted at email [email protected] or by phoning 07 3309 3309. Remember to quote the booking code. If you want to extend your stay before or after the reunion, the Novotel will extend the same room charges for the 11th and/or the 15th.


Petersalmon Peter Salmon [left] writes that this year’s ‘Ex-Kiap Bung’ (southern chapter) will be held at the Sandown Greyhounds Tabaret on Sunday 5 November from 12 noon to 4.30 pm. Between 80 and 100 ex-kiaps from Victoria, NSW, ACT, SA and Tasmania and former PNG government officers and private sector employees are expected. The Tabaret will provide a four course meal for $28. There is plentiful and affordable accommodation available in the Sandown-Dandenong area including Formule 1 Dandenong. Intending participants should email Peter Salmon or Paul Maroney. And you can catch up with a current list of acceptances here.


Nearly 60 people have registered for the annual Papua New Guinea education lunch in Brisbane later this month. The event is scheduled for 12 noon on Saturday 14 October in the private dining room of the Jindalee Hotel in Brisbane. The cost is $32 and a cash bar will be operating. If you wish to attend you should contact Murray Bladwell on 07 3379 3771 or email him here.


Paul Brigg and Dick Arnold have done a fine job in locating all but 5 or 6 of the ASOPA Class of 1960-61. The group’s first reunion will coincide with the third reunion of the Class of 1962-62 in Brisbane from 12 - 14 October next year. It is estimated that up to 50 people will attend. The Class of 1960-61 have now been added to the circulation list of The Mail, receiving their first email copy today. If you haven’t caught up with Issue No 102, you can do so here.


Murray Bladwell advises that the annual Papua New Guinea Education colleagues and friends lunch is on again this year - scheduled for 12 noon, Saturday 14 October at the Jindalee Hotel, Sinnamon Road, Jindalee in Brisbane.

Challenge Last year a record 68 former PNG educators, partners and friends attended the event at which Gail Burke’s book, Meeting the Challenge, was launched. Copies of the book [left], about Australian teachers’ experiences in PNG, will be on sale at the lunch.

The cost of the lunch is the same as last year, $30 a head plus $2 a head to cover out of pocket expenses. A cash bar will be open in the private dining room. Meal payments are to be made by cash or cheque to Murray Bladwell on the day.

Could you please let Murray know if you can or cannot attend no later than Thursday 28 September. You can phone him on 07 3379 3771 or email him here.


Bill_bohlen Bill Bohlen [left] has launched a useful website for people attending the reunion of the ASOPA Class of 1962-63 in Brisbane from 12 - 14 October 2007. In addition to detailing available accommodation and enabling email bookings, the site has a current list of participants and a wealth of information for visitors to Brisbane – including attractions, food and wine, the arts, health and leisure and much more. While parts of the site are still being put together, it represents a valuable input to enable people to get the most from their visit to the Queensland capital next Spring.