The Die Was Cast - My Journey to New Guinea

The Bougainville Aftermath

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Sohano Ocean View Apartments in Buka Passage


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January 22, 2015

In a Savage Land - a movie set in the Trobriands






Some interesting video clips


January 21, 2015

Taim Bilong Masta


Back in 1983 (or was it 1984?), when I flew into Adelaide from Saudi Arabia to finalise a grain shipment to the Middle East, I took time off to visit the local ABC Bookshop and discovered a couple of dozen cassette tapes of the ABC radio series Taim Bilong Masta, produced by Tim Bowden and first broadcast in 1981.

It was the distillation of 350 hours of tape-recorded interviews with Australians and Papua New Guineans who had been involved with Australia's colonial administration which ended with self government and independence in 1975. The result was a superb 24-program social history, so evocative of a time and place, revealed through a tapestry of voices from those who lived through it. These were first-hand accounts of the pre-war history in the early 1900s, the masta-boi relationships, the gold rush and the exploration of the highlands. In it, Australian men and women who spent so many years living and working in Papua New Guinea before independence in 1975 could be heard again, telling their own stories.

Of course, I bought the whole set and for years after I listened again and again to those tapes until they had worn out.

In more recent years I also found the book based on the radio series and containing 224 pages of informative text with many archival photographs, newspaper clippings and a detailed index but nothing could ever replace those wonderful audio cassettes - until just now when I found them as a downloadable 17-hour audiobook on Amazon's

Of course, I immediately bought it!

Peter Goerman, Webmaster


January 20, 2015

Stanley Semery emailed from Port Moresby:



I was surfing through the net for some particular information and came across your site.

I am just curious to know what has happened to the public share ex-BCL workers from PNG have bought.

My father worked in BCL for almost 20 years and we left during the crisis in 1989. Up until now he has never pursue the agenda on his shares and I would like to help him as much out here.

If you could kindly provide some advice/info and direction on this matter will be greatly appreciated."

Unfortunately, I couldn't help Stanley Semery as I know nothing about BCL's share issue to PNG Nationals. What I do know is that BCL shares are still occasionally traded on the Sydney Stock Exchange (latest quote AUS$0.235); however, they don't seem to be listed on the Port Moresby Stock Exchange. If anybody can help Stanley with more information, please email me at riverbend{AT]

Stanley is the OHSE Manager of the PNG Ports Corporation (the former PNG Harbours Board) which made me reflect on how far the country has come and how long ago it was when we built Bougainville Copper as back in those days there was barely a mention of occupational health and safety. I mean, those thousands of Highlanders all proudly wore their safety helmets but hardly any of them had boots, let alone safety boots.


December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!

(don’t mind the German introduction — the video is in English)


here are myriad New Year’s Eve customs worldwide. In Japan, toshikoshi soba noodles are eaten to bring in the coming year. In Anglo-Saxon countries, finding someone to share a New Year’s Eve kiss with as the clock winds down has become a boon to the romantically-challenged. In Germany, however, a different tradition has taken form: every year on December 31st, TV networks broadcast an 18-minute-long black and white two-hander comedy skit.

In 1963, Germany’s Norddeutscher Rundfunk television station recorded a sketch entitled Dinner For One, performed by the British comics Freddie Frinton and May Warden. The duo depicted an aging butler serving his aristocratic mistress, Miss Sophie, dinner on the occasion of her 90th birthday. Although four additional spots have been set at the table, the nonagenarian’s friends have long since passed away, and the butler is forced to take their places in drinking copious amounts of alcohol while toasting Miss Sophie’s health. Hilarity, as it is wont to do in such cases, ensues.

Since its initial recording, the clip has become a New Year’s Eve staple in Germany. Although Dinner For One has never been broadcast in the U. S. or Canada, the clip has spread throughout Europe to Norway, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Austria, Switzerland, and beyond the continent’s shores, to South Africa and Australia. In Sweden, a bowdlerized 11-minute version of the clip has been produced, where, for decency’s sake, much of the butler’s boozing was excised alongside its attendant comedic effect. In Denmark, after the national television network failed to broadcast the sketch in 1985, an avalanche of viewer complaints has guaranteed its subsequent yearly appearance. Although the category is now defunct, the clip held the Guinness World Record for Most Frequently Repeated TV Program.

Above, you can view the original 18-minute comedic opus and celebrate New Year’s day in the same way that much of Europe will ring in 2015.

I wish you all a happy new year! Rest assured, it'll be the same procedure as last year.



December 23, 2014

Wishing you all a very
Merry Christmas!


We have outsourced this year's Christmas Greetings to keep costs down. Refer to our Christmas card from last year for a translation.

Please take some time out from all the merry-making and reflect here on the many things you can be grateful for! And ponder again the age-old question,

"Why is a Christmas tree better than a man?"

Here at last is the answer:

It's always erect,
Stays up for 12 days and nights,
Has cute balls,
And even looks good with the lights on!

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

(This Christmas I'm putting Mistletoe in my back-pocket
so all the people who don't like me can kiss my ass!)



And here's one for all you hopeless romantics out there to get you into the Christmas spirit of things:

A couple were Christmas shopping. The shopping centre was packed, and as the wife walked through one of the malls she was surprised when she looked around to find that her husband was nowhere to be seen. She was quite upset because they had a lot to do and she became so worried that she called him on the mobile phone to ask him where he was.

In a quiet voice he said, "Do you remember the jewellers we went into about five years ago where you fell in love with that diamond necklace that we couldn't afford, and I told you that I would get it for you one day?"

The wife choked up and started to cry and said, "Yes, I do remember that shop."

He replied, "Well, I'm in the pub next door."


December 22, 2014

Down memory lane with Louis Tagovono


The above photos are from Louis Tagovono's facebook page. And there are more. Just click here, then click on 'Open Photo Viewer', and click next and next and next ...


December 21, 2014

Christmas 1980 on Bougainville - Recollections from the Blogmaster

While in Brisbane in 1980, MORGAN EQUIPMENT asked me whether I would be interested to return to Bougainville Island. Would I ever! They had problems with their incumbent financial controller and company secretary and wanted me to "clean up" the place and introduce some tight financial and administrative procedures while he was on leave. I flew back to Bougainville just before Christmas - and Shirley joined me shortly afterwards - for the first time since 1974 and it was almost like coming home! I revisited all the old places, Kieta, Arovo Island, Camp 6, and Loloho Beach, however, time did not permit to see Panguna and the minesite again.

The signs of trouble ahead

Loloho, this time with Shirley

Shirley with Kieta in background

Buying local produce

Good ol' Loloho

Gone past the airstrip

Shirley at Kieta

Trying to find my old donga at Camp 6

More of Loloho ...

... which used to be my favourite place ...

... when I lived in Camp 6

Oh for the good ol' days ...

... when we were young and life was oh so simple!

Pigs crossing!!!

Anchors away!

A long and boring Sunday at Kieta

MORGAN EQUIPMENT was a good company and their boss, Roger Brandt, a very pleasant man to work for. Having sorted out a great many of the accumulated problems in the first week or so of my being there, he promptly made me an offer of a permanent position which I said I would seriously consider. He even gave Shirley a job as receptionist for the short two or three weeks we were there. An attractive salary, house and company car and future opportunities with MORGAN EQUIPMENT on any of their other world-wide projects.

Morgans complex at Birimpa

The office entrance

Ready for a day's work

Shirley with company car

The comfortable office

The Monster needed constant attention

Workstation in main office

Shirley tries the computer

Those huge harddisks held a mere 10MB!

The company house

Tasting the fruits of the garden

Outside a company townhouse

Filling up!

Sunday at Arovo Island

Shortly after New Year we flew back to Brisbane where a job offer from Ranger Uranium was already waiting for me. So what did I do? I took the Ranger job. Was it a mistake? Yes, I think so because a couple more years on Bougainville would have been most beneficial to both Shirley and myself. (Funnily enough, when I returned from Saudi Arabia in 1985, MORGAN EQUIPMENT once more offered me the job and I again let the opportunity slip)


December 19, 2014

A message from the webmaster:

It is perhaps not surprising that this blog and the Bougainville website are dying a slow death. However, as the numbers of ex-Bougainville employees are diminishing, it puts an even greater responsibility on those who are left to keep recording those times which were important to us as well as to the island of Bougainville.

If you have an anecdote to contribute or some old photos, please email me at riverbend[AT]

I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Goerman
PO Box 233
Batemans Bay NSW 2536
Email riverbend[AT]
Skype riverbend2

December 17, 2014

John Gemmell emailed:

Hi Peter,

My name is John Gemmell. I was at Kieta from 1964 to 1967. I was a plumber and worked for a Rabaul company called Paul and Thompson. We did a lot of work for the government and also C.R A.

The geologist at the time was Ken Philips, and everyone used to board at the Kieta hotel as there was nowhere else to stay. The hotel was owned and run by Helmut Kroening.

Social evenings were held at the Kieta Club next to the pub.

The only way to Panguna was by helicopter. I can remember the road being constructed and how scary it was when we first used it.
I am having trouble remembering names but now that I have found your excellent website perhaps it will jog my memory.

Cheers John