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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September 25, 2015

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.

An old Bougainville friend from those early days, who stayed until the very end of the construction phase, wrote, "I remember clearing up old files after Bechtel left. There were a couple of box files filled with letters from women, solicitors, lawyers etc., all much of the same theme, so-and-so was believed to be working on the project and was wanted for child support payments, etc. The standard reply clipped under the lid was to the effect that there were over fifty companies working on the project with a total of 10,000 workers, and if the writer would please care to contact the respective company. Of course, they knew that if they dobbed in one guy, they would instantly lose a big percentage of the workforce."

Camp 6 Loloho
Click on image to enter Bougainville Copper Project website

Back then, 'home' was a 9x9ft donga tastefully decorated with PLAYBOY centrefolds of girls waxed to the point of martyrdom, where one's wordly possessions easily fitted into a 2ft-wide metal locker, and when one's needs for comfort were satisfied by a red plastic chair on the porch.

Life was so simple then; we were so innocent!

Or, at least, some of us were. The old saying that Papua New Guinea attracted three types of men, namely missionaries, moneymakers, and misfits, had to be rewritten for the Bougainville Copper Project to include those running away from their wives, the police, or themselves.

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

September 22, 2015

A PNG expat abroad

In the 1983 BBC television drama "An Englishman Abroad", Guy Burgess is portrayed as something like a fish out of water. He is exiled to Moscow, but remains an Englishman through and through.

It made me think of the many PNG expatriates who, having gone there in their younger days, have that experience indelibly engraved on their hearts.

I went from PNG to Burma to Iran to Malaysia to Saudi Arabia to Greece where I must have been the only adult wearing the PNG dress code of long white socks and shorts, and today, almost fifty years later, I still think and speak of Papua New Guinea almost daily and with great affection.

Guy Burgess, despite his treason, remained an Englishman at heart. Many former residents of Papua New Guinea have forever remained PNG expats with a love for that country and its people in their hearts or, as my best mate from my PNG days, Noel Butler, used to say, "My spiritual home will about be New Guinea."

Peter Goerman


September 18, 2015

An interesting video:


September 17, 2015

What's the exchange rate? ☺


In February 2014, American citizen Barry Keith Webb flew into Port Moresby from Manila, with bookings to transit to Buka the same day. Airport authorities detained him after going through his baggage, which included a briefcase full of newly printed Bougainville kina totalling 1.6 million.

There are actually quite attractive-looking banknotes ☺ - see here.

Read more on this scam here.

And here's "King David Pei II" in action:


September 16, 2015

A trip to Bougainville in August 2014

A Trip to Bougainville, August 2014 from Jeremy Weate on Vimeo.


"Birth of a Mining Giant" published in the Australian Financial Review in July 1969

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September 15, 2015

Booklet "Progress in Copper" by Bougainville Copper Limited

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September 14, 2015

My Valley is Changing


The building of the giant open-cut copper mine on the island of Bougainville brought profound change to local landowners. Despite royalties, training programs and extensive development, landowner concerns eventually escalated into conflict, which resulted in the closure of the mine in 1989. These issues are already clearly evident in the film My Valley is Changing, made shortly after the mine opened in 1970.

A visitor to this blog mailed me an old taped copy of "My Valley is Changing" which I tried to copy and upload to YouTube, however, the quality was so poor that I gave up.

If anyone is interested in this 26-minute film, they can purchase it for their home use for $24.95 (plus postage) from the National Film & Sound Archive of Australia - watch this short excerpt:

In this clip, Gregory Kopa, a resident of Moroni village, explains that the local people were fearful of the consequences of a mine and how he told the CRA mining company and the government (Papua New Guinea was then under Australian Administration) about their opposition to the mine, which was to be located on land traditionally owned by his people. In response, Gregory was told that the resources found on his land belonged not just to his people, but to everyone in Papua New Guinea.

To place your order, simply click here, change your pricing category to "Home DVD", then go to "How to Order", or click here for the ready-made order form.


September 13, 2015

The real Mr Pip


Click here to read Harry Baxter's comments.

Click here for a preview of the movie "Mr Pip".


August 30, 2015

Remember the chain letters MONEY TREE and MONEY MACHINE ?

They were a variant of those letters encouraging people to forward one dollar in cash to a list of people provided in the text, and to add their own name and address to the bottom of the list after deleting the name and address at the top. Using the theory behind pyramid schemes, the resulting chain of money flowing back and forth would supposedly deliver a reward of thousands of dollars to the ones participating in the chain, as copies of their chain spread and more and more people sent one dollar to their address.

The Bougainville version of this chain letter, sometimes called MONEY TREE and at other times MONEY MACHINE, required the participant to buy his first chain letter from somebody who had previously been sucked into the scheme (and there were plenty of sellers around!).

He was then supposed to send $1 to the name and address appearing at the top of the list, add his own name and address to the bottom of the list, and send it to the promoters in Australia TOGETHER WITH A MONEY ORDER FOR $5. The promoters would in due course send him another five copies which had his name moved up by one spot. He could then sell these five copies for $5 a piece to the next five sucker.

Of course, most people 'forgot' to send $1 to the person at the top of the list and just hurried off their $5 money order to the southern promoters (who presumably drove to the post office in gold-plated Ferraris to collect their mail containing all those $5 money orders and soon afterwards retired to their mansions on the Gold Coast) to get their five copies to sell on so they could get at least their own money back ($5 for the initial purchase and $5 to the promoters) plus, if they were lucky enough to find five suckers, an extra $15.

Every so often there were rumours that somebody had received heaps of money through the mail, no doubt engineered by the promoters to keep the scheme alive, and things got so heated up at one point that the Post-Master General completely banned the sale of $5 postal orders.

If you remember those schemes and can add a few tales, perhaps even still have a copy of one of those name slips, I'd love to hear from you.

email riverbend[AT]