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June 19, 2010

Denise Arnold

My name is Denise and although we were not on the Island during the construction stage we certainly enjoyed the fruits of your labour.

My father spent almost 15 years working in the mine from 1974-1989. After 3 years apart, my mother, younger brother and I joined him early in 1978. This was my final year of school and I had the option of staying in a boarding school in Australia or joining Dad and completing the year by Correspondence. I chose to travel - which turned out to be the start of my affection with world travel !!

I lived in Arawa for just over 10months and I learnt to drive by taking my brother to the International Correspondence School in Loloho - until I was pulled over by the local Police for having a passenger in the car while on "L" plates. It didn't appear to matter that the locals had the whole family with them !! I became proficient at driving in torrential down pours, which panicked my Australian instructor when I finally took lessons back home during winter. He wanted me to stop as it was raining "hard" but that was nothing compared to the windy roads I had to negotiate during "afternoon showers" on Bougainville.

I met many wonderful people from many Countries of the World. One was a young lady from New Zealand who introduced me to many people that my Dad certainly would not have. She introduced me to Squash and sun bathing, and having already obtained her drivers licence in New Zealand, was the source of many interesting day trips. We spent many hours of many days together, but for the life of me I cannot remember her name - which is terrible considering I often think of the fun days we had.

My younger brother got very drunk one night in Panguna as the other guests at a party offered to keep him supplied with cans of beer. It was a very interesting drive down the mountain ! He was lucky enough to spend two years in Arawa as he was still in school - I was unable to stay longer than the first year as my schooling was complete and I was not permitted to work on the Island. We also performed in a couple of Arawa Theatre Performances "The Dracula Spectacular" & "Oklahoma".

We spent many a lazy Sunday on the water at Kieta harbour, sailing. There was that day where the race was unwatchable due to a sudden mist settling into the harbour. When it cleared, there, right in the middle, was a very large container ship ... to this day I do not know how those sailing in the race managed to avoid it, nor how it appeared so quietly.

The peaceful beauty of the Island is one I will never forget, nor the hidden perils. My father contracted a mild case of malaria even after years of taking medication to avoid it. I was shocked to find that a sand fly bite soon became a leg ulcer when left untreated. The geckos, the mosquitos, the wasps and flash floods !!

It certainly was a year to remember !!