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The Die Was Cast - My Journey to New Guinea

The Bougainville Aftermath

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23 September 2012

A map of the Arawa Town Centre

Click on map to enlarge


This should bring back a few memories!


19 September 2012

The most beautiful waterfront
property on the South Coast
is for sale



Absolute waterfrontage - no public access! Enjoy sailing, swimming, and fishing at your doorstep! The sense of peace and tranquillity is absolute: no traffic, no noise, no "next-door" neighbours, and never to be built out! Go to


17 September 2012

Sepik Blu Longpela Muruk

David Wall, a former resident of the East Sepik Province, has written a novel which is available as an e-book.

"Like the surrounding villages, the patrol post of Dreikikir was perched on a ridge, amidst dense tropical jungle. Human habitation in the area was marked by houses, gardens and tall coconut palms. Smoke rose from cooking fires in the settlements and the sounds of insects and birds filled the air. Communication was maintained in the time-honoured fashion by wooden drums. The sounds of the garamut drums were heard conveying messages beaten out on them. One might love or hate New Guinea but there was no denying its pulsating vitality. The jungle was a celebration of nature. The Melanesians in their exuberance and energy flamboyantly acclaimed their lives. The expatriates in the country, whether they knew it or not, were privileged to have the chance to live amongst the New Guineans."

So begins the story. To read the whole book, obtain a copy by going to or emailing David Wall at mahal362000[AT]

A hard copy is available for $30
Address: 152 Wilson St, Newtown 2042, NSW
Phone: 02 95505053

You can take the man out of Bougainville, but you can't take Bougainville out of the man

As creator of the Bougainville website and this blog, I am not surprised just how deep the memories are for those who spent any time on Bougainville as I myself think back to my time there and in other parts of New Guinea as the most formative and the most enjoyable years of my life.

Perhaps it is the result of having read Coral Island and Somerset Maugham at an impressionable age, but the South Pacific islands have always evoked a powerfully romantic image with me. Mention the South Seas and I conjure up a vision of waving coconut palms and a dusky maiden strumming her ukelele. Silhouetted against the setting sun, Trader Pete (that's me!) sits in a deck-chair in front of his hut sipping a long gin and tonic while a steamboat chugs into the lagoon, bringing mail from home.

Read the rest of the story [here]

Roger PORTEOUS emailed from Brisbane:

Have read your site with interest - many memories flooding back. I lived for 16 years in Buin from 1962 to 1978, on the bottom end of Bougainville. Worked for DASF (Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries) until 1966 then as self-employed trader. There was another Australian bloke down there at Buin at the time who collected butterflies. His name was Ian Littlejohn; he is (as am I) married to a Chinese girl. My establishment was on the Main road, Ian's on the divided "downtown" road. Moved to Australia and took up Farming in Central Queensland, then into Rural Real Estate also in Central Q'ld. Returned to work in PNG 1995 for Lihir Earthmoving to complete the Lihir Island Airstrip. Stayed on in PNG, fly in fly out, working in Seismic, Transport, Seismic again and now with Oilsearch Southern Highlands. Fond memories of Bougainville and BCL staff who often travelled to Buin for "R & R" in Buin Country Club. They came by road, boat,air and even had 2 blokes drop onto Club lawn one Sat. afternoon by parachute!!

Al Kauslick emailed from the USA:

Hi from Al Kauslick in the USA. I was the Euclid Engineer from 1977/78 and 1988/89. I was there with my wife Rita. Rita passed away in 1997. After we returned from BCL in l978 she came down with encephalitis and had a very difficult time medically until she passed away. My job at BCL was to be with the Euclid R-170s and R-190s. The exciting part of my 2 tours had to do with the Yamamoto shoot down and wreckage over Buin. I visited the site several times and took photos, video tape, etc. My cousins husband, Jack Benner was a sergeant in the P-38 group that shot down Yamamoto and he knew the pilots and ground crew. I subsequently was involved with Tom Lanphier, Rex Barber, John Mitchell, et al who flew the mission. There was always a contraversy in the US as to actually shot down Yamamoto. The Air Force aces assn became involved because of the data I had generated and with the help of Senator Robert Dole a review board was set up at the Pentagon and the surviving pilots, ground crew and other experts testified for 3 days. Tom Lanphier had passed away by that time. Lanphier claimed publically many times that he approached Yamamotos Betty bomber from the right at right angles and shot off the right wing and the Betty crashed into the jungle. Rex Barber claimed that he came in from the rear at 6 o'clock and fired into the rear and left engine. The photos and video tape we took supported Barber's claim. However, after a long deliberation the Dept. of Defense refused to change the records and both Lanphier and Barber are equally credited. Barber and Mitchell passed away a couple of years ago. The air force aces assn. was trying to get the Medal of Honor for Barber and Mitchell, but were unsuccessful. If you all are interested try the web site: which is the web site for the Second Yamamoto Mission Assn.

I personally am in great medical shape at 72 years. I have remarried after being widowed for 3 years. I married a high school classmate of mine who was also widowed. When we got married we had a mission statement which is: Our objective in life is to have no objectives in life.

Good luck and good health to all the BCL alumni. Al Kauslick

Peter Lovell emailed from England:

I first heard about the Panguna Mine in 1965. I was the Boarding Officer for Customs in Rabaul, and it was possible that I would get the job of being TCO ( travelling Customs Officer ) to Kieta. The Customs Officer used to travel with the vessel from Rabaul, and do the customs clearances on the vessel at Kieta port. I wasn't given the job, unfortunately, so it took a few years before I got a chance to go to Kieta and see the mine.

In the meantime I left Customs, having worked in Moresby, Samarai, Lae and Rabaul. I worked for a Customs Agency in Moresby for a couple of years, and then felt the urge to work for myself. The year 1970..

I knew the manager of the fledgling BCL in Moresby, and he suggested to Brambles, that I could handle the customs agency work for the new mine. It wasn't a difficult consignment, because all items imported via Moresby for the mine were duty free, but I still had to do the paperwork.

I flew to Bougainville on 23 Mar 1971, and stayed at Camp 6 in Loloho. The mine road wasn't finished at that stage, and I remember I was impressed that Toyota Landcruisers only lasted 10,000 km on those muddy and rutted roads. It was wet and muddy all the time, and I drank a lot and enjoyed the camaraderie at the camp. I still have my Bechtel-WKE (Bram-Ken) ID badge..

I flew back to Moresby and continued building up my business, and the BCL work was consistent. BCL used to fly me over to Bougainville on their own aircraft every now and again, to sort different things out, and I was given the Royal tour of the mine and all the social spots of Arawa. I went to the island and saw the Japanese fishing vessel still beached on the sand.

The mine was an impressive site. I remember seeing it when the hole had just started, and then towards my last visit of 1981, and seeing just how enormous the hole had become.

My last visit was not company business, but as a squash player. I won the men's B Grade championship, at the Panguna courts, and the presentation was at the club. We then drove down to Arawa and spent the night drinking. I couldn't do it now.

I lived in PNG for 40 years, and became a citizen at Independence. It is a wonderful country, although I now live in the UK. I still remember the special colouring of the Bougainvilleans, the blue tinge of the flora, and the heavy and regular rainfalls.

The troubles were there for a long while. Bougainville never felt part of PNG, and the mine didn't play fair by the landowners. It became a cash-cow for the PNG government, and the locals were resentful. So it got out of hand..

My favourite place in PNG is Rabaul. Although that is no longer the Rabaul that I used to know and enjoy. In 1965 Rabaul was the centre of trade and commerce for the Bougainville Islands. The plantation owners used to sail to Rabaul for their rest and recreation. It was a buzzing town..

I was told many times that there was more gold in them-there-hills around Panguna, so maybe one day it will start all over again ??

I enjoyed reading all the articles, and it reminded me of those halcyon days.

Peter Lovell

Kim Barnsley emailed from Nguiu on Bathurst Island:

Wonderfull web site with so many memories.Thank you.I have many photos that show many more aspects of Bougs, will send them to you when i can access them. I worked for Barclays in Bougainville, and lived for a year in the Kieta Hotel , I then lived at Married Hill at Panguna for a long time. I built the new cinema and hospital at Panguna and worked on many buildings in the minesite. Met my wife there, got married had kids, travelled extensively etc etc, all thanks to Bougainville. Soooo many memories.....Thanks heaps.

Werner Seifert emailed from Germany:

Hallo over there,
Glad to see your internet site about Bougainville Island.We have never met pesonally I believe,however it could be possible.Even if my Englisch has become a bit rusty I will not miss the chance to write this email and may be to add a little bit to your collection of Bougainvilles expats.To my person:" In 1976 I started with Blackwood Hodge in Arawa .It wasn`t my kind of job so I applied at BCL (John Davidson) for the position of an electrician.The first 5 weeks in Bougainville we had been living in the Kieta Hotel. After in Toniva and last but not least in Arawa I believe it was section 6 (My next door neigbour was Moses Havini) and Kurt Schuck. After returning to Perth with my family I traveled back to Bougainville Island and John Hunt (?) picked me up at the airport to deliver me to Kawerong house. After 4 week my family followed and we spend some time in leave houses on Married Hill. We moved up the road into a duplex right up the valley beside the entry to the bush track wich led up to the old goldmine to Arawa. I had been working in the pit workshop electrical department (Klaus Ambrose, John McLoud, Ian McNeil).After the tunnel project started I acted as the permanent tunnel electrician. Jim Logan-Tony Pinzger-Karl Meyer-E. Comerfort-Alf Bird-Wally ha,ha (Kaka),Ross Curtis, Tony Brown,Les Withcomb. Surveyor Heinz Haverkamp and his offsider and assistent Francis Ona.Francis Ona's uncle Tony Biramari had been my assistent together with Dennis Ball. Also a number of in my memory nameless Poms. After about 1,5 years I decided to change to the crusher electrical department. We left Bougainville Island in Oct.1981. When I had not been working for BCL I spent most of my time scuba diving and fishing, the ocassional booze-up of course was inevitable. We returned to Germany and after a number of years of some kind of homesickness for Bougainville we are kind of happy enough to live our life in satisfaction. In 1988 Oct. and Mov. I spent 5 weeks in Bougainville together with my daughter Susan and a couple of friends. There we visited Tony Biramari who had been living in a village near the tunnel side.He mentioned something about a pending revolution but I thougt it was a kind of a joke. After we returned to Germany we heard about the trouble in Bougo. and the promised Christmascard to Tony Biramari has most likley never arrived. After thinking about it I started writing a story with the titel "The mine of satan" it has alot of diving scenery but also common expat livestyle an not unerotic".Since nobody over here is interested in such stories (It`s written in German) i consider to translate it into Englisch) I never finished it yet but its ready in my mind.Should you Peter show any interest in the story I would translate a part of it to give you an idea what it is like and send a reading sample via email.It is very exiting because it contains a secrete wich if it was known to scuba divers all over the world would attract the diving comunity all over the world.Ok so much for now I am looking forward to hear from you. Have a good time and all the best in 2007 for you and family.
Regards Werner Seifert

Graeme Hore emailed from Victoria:

Hi Peter
I was given a link to your site and found that it revived memories of the place. I used to work for Minenco, a CRA Group engineering company that were involved with Concentrator expansions. I worked on No.9 to 15 mills and associated Crushing, Screening and Fine Ore Storage and Flotation facilities. I went up there first in 1974 as a young 23 year old draftsman, which turned out to be a life changing experience. Bougainville projects comprised a large piece of experience that I still draw on today. I loved the frontier lifestyle and rugged country. Most opportunities we took off to places like Buin, Buka and the Mortlock islands. I recall we used to go to camp 1 to see a movie in a large converted warehouse, and if it rained you couldn’t hear much. Then it was a race back to Panguna afterwards. We used to go to stay at Loloho camp in the recreation part of the camp on a Saturday afternoon and stay until Sunday, but spend sometime at the Coastal club and see a movie or one at the camp under a tin roof. I also recall a Chinese resteraunt at Kobuan Bay, the Davara Hotel at Kieta, Arovo Island and many places that we frequented. Buin was also a great place to visit for a weekend. Roger Porteous ran a guest house/trade store there and there was good fishing and the country club you could visit. Kangu beach and Kahili mission were also worth a visit if you were into WW2 left overs. I never did see Yamamoto’s plane, but there were two shot down and the one people were taken to was not the one that carried him. Going there and returning mean’t dropping in on Kiwi’s roadside camp to say gidday and share a cold beer. He and his crew were constantly looking after the Buin road from the mine. My house is scattered with Bougainville memorabilia from Buka Baskets to a coconut stripping stool. I would love to catch up with nationals I worked with in the later part of my stays there, but they could be anywhere now. Some people I worked there with, some were long termers and others were locals . Paul Pearcey, Bob Dean, Collin Street, Tony Pearce, John Bobbermien, Barney Clifford, John Siwani (from Buka), Paul Bakoi (from Buin), Bob Ginnigin (Manus or Karkar? Island), Usibius Omi (from Buin), (the late) John Jones and (the late) Frank Charlie from B60 Concentrator Engineering office. I often wonder where are they now.
I have many slides taken over the years there and even some super-8 movie that I occasionally show the kids, but I read of Susan Coyle’s recent visit and have been contemplating doing the same thing. I will keep an eye on your website for updates. Kind regards
Graeme Hore
Lara. Victoria.
Phone: (03) 5282 1866

Peter Bowman emailed:

I hadn't realised that there were so many people who woke up in the morning and wondered how they could have their Bougainville years again - or just how they could spend a weekend at Arovo or Buin.... Congratulations on making a wonderful site; I am here by accident as I have been trying to track down Joe Lahita's email or ordinary address, have had no luck, and my daughter suggested a Google search - I usually have plenty of ways to waste time, but this site has been a beauty. Many, many names from '71 to '73, and still a lot more reading to do. Right now I am wondering if you would be able to forward this letter to Joe Lahita whose name is on your contact list, or even if you could simply advise his mail address - while working in Cambodia (1999 - 2003) a virus made my computer disc bagarap tru. While I'm here, gidday to Brian Dodd (an original member of the Bougainville Ski Club - "for today we rest" ) and who I know has been in contact as well. I won't start any more remembering at this stage as it is too early to open the fridge. My address for anybody interested is Good fishing...............Peter Bowman.

Mike Edwards emailed:

I spent two years on Bougainville through 1970- 71-72 and have very fond memories of the place.
I worked for Morgan Equipment, they were located out from Arawa on the Panguna road. Morgan Equipment were a great company to work for and in later years I worked for them back here in Australia.
I arrived with three other mates out of Perth on the island aboard an F27 Focker Friendship from Port Moresby, late afternoon pissing down with rain (what else) and sticky as a glue pot. Have to admit first impressions not good, all rain, clouds, mist and mud, mud everywhere. First night we stayed at a mates girlfriends place, she worked for Com Works and had a house right on the beach just out of Kieta, on the way to the Yacht Club, think it was called Happy Valley or something like that. The mood improved somewhat after a few San Migs and SP Browns and I woke up the next glorious morning looking out the window at Puk Puk Island. Still remember that sight, just magic. Lived up in Panguna for a while, Kaurong Haus, excuse the spelling, it’s been a long time, then down to Loloho. A while with married friends (the previously mentioned mate and his girlfriend now married) in a company flat in Toniva, not far from the Davara Hotel. I remember picking paw paw from the balcony, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and that was breakfast. Geez the good old Davara, again, many good nights and afternoons spent there. Ended up with a bunch of us single blokes living in a house in Arawa. Worked hard, played harder (a lot younger then of course, the body could handle it). Met a lot of great people both expats and locals.
Some of the best diving in the world just about anywhere on or off the coast. Morgan Equipment had a company boat and they bought a compressor for charging our SCUBA tanks, like I said great company, looked after us well. Spent many happy nights out on Arovo Island, managed to miss the ferry back to Kieta a few times. But what the hell that didn’t make me Robinson Crusoe.
The more I write the more memories come flooding back, won’t bore you with more so all the best.
Mike Edwards
Email: medwards[AT]

Graham (Blue) Rodwell emailed from Western Australia:

Hi Peter,
Quite sometime back I contacted you and said that I would send in some stories. I`m still getting round to that. What I am writing to you about is "The Ericsson Guy". I can only remember him as Hans, he was the last of the Ericsson radio blokes before Philips took over the contract (the first Philips fella was Trevor Neville). The radio techs shared a building along the road towards Karoona Haus (can never remember the road name) with Page Communications,Rolly Clark and Wilf Hunt who looked after the phones. I had seen an entry on your Website from Wilfs wife (Lily I think?) a while back, but going through it all now I cannot locate her email. While Hans and I lived in Camp 1, Wilf lived in Arawa with his family and Rolly in Panguna with his. I knew both Hans and Wilf fairly well having met them when I first arrived in Bougainville, July 1972. Hans and Rolly were pretty quiet blokes, while Wilf enjoyed a quiet drink with the boys. I can remember one occasion while playing cricket on the walkway between the dongas (last donga up the top on the boozer side of the creek). In those times it was a case of innovation so we used a rubbish bin for the stumps, a stick for the bat and a spare tyre from a Toyota ute for the ball. Needless to say the ball was a bit hard to stop when a Dennis Lilley came into bowl, this meant that the ball (spare tyre) the stump (rubbish bin) and occasionally the bat went out over the end of the veranda and down the road. As we did not have a lot of fieldsman it was usually the batsman's job to go and get everything back. This could take anything up to half an hour as anyone remembering the 3 metre drop off the end of the veranda can verify and trying to lift the cricket gear back up onto the veranda, by yourself (you let it go over there so you go and get it back) with a belly full of VB and Carlsberg is no mean feat. One night the "game" was going pretty well until a young Scotsman by the name of Jimmie Stewart came into bat. Jimmie was a pretty scrawny Scot and probably more of a Rod Stewart (sitting on footpaths singing songs) than a wood chucker. Anyway Wilf was bowling and sent a ripper down that cleaned up everything, it was a good ball one that even Lilley or Thommo would have been proud of. Wilf was pretty pumped up and ran down the "pitch" grabbed Jimmie and lifted him up, I don`t know if he was given a shot of strength by the VB or Carlsberg, but Jimmie kept going up out of Wilfs hands and nearly hit the roof. Then like most things he started coming down again, unfortunately Wilf had forgotten about Jimmie floating around "up there" as he was celebrating his wicket when Jimmie came down with an almighty thump landing on his shoulder on the floor. He lay there for a while then started to moan about how his shoulder hurt, well at that time of night we were not in any condition to understand what his problem was and all sat in a circle around him, drinking and telling him to he was out and should leave the field. This went on for a little while until we realized that Jimmie really did have a problem. Luckily we were able to get hold of an ambulance that took Jimmie off to the clinic, wherre he spent the night while we reminisced over Wilfs magic bowling. The injury turned out to be a very nasty upper arm or shoulder break and had it not been for the generosity of Ken and Wella Hooper, who took Jimmie into their house and looked after him during his recuperation, He would have had to go off the island to recover. Needless to say we did not play much cricket after that and most nights were spent drinking and listening to music of the day, which leads onto another story. After one pretty hectic night I crashed out in my chair. All was well until these bright lights woke me up, I opened my eyes and for a minute could not work out where I was until I saw that the bright lights were the headlights of a car coming up the Camp 1 road straight at me. My kind mates (one being Trevor Neville) had picked me up chair and all and plonked me down in the middle of the road. It is amazing how quick a bloke can move when you find yourself in a hairy situation, me and the chair were off the road so quick I don`t think my feet actually touched ground. There were other occasions during my stay in Camp 1 that were not so dramatic. I remember the first night I moved from up behind the mess to across the creek to the "other side". I had just got off to sleep when the whole building started to shake, I didn`t find out until the next day that I had experienced my first guria. Anyway after I had woken up I looked out the window towards the mess and could not believe it when one of the local kitchen hands came out the door at a hundred miles an hour, across the veranda and took off. He must have landed about 4 or 5 metres from the veranda and did not even stop, just kept motoring off down the road. Other such times when we put a heap of empties in the clothes dryer to get everyone going, or the times we got the security blokes at the boozer to shine their torches in a circle so we could see the coins while we were playing two up. I suppose that we were a bit of a rough crowd, drinking more than we should have, but the mateship that grew out of those times starting in Camp 1 and then Kawerong Haus and after up Kupei Road, continued for many years. Unfortunately we all went our separate ways and I have since lost contact with most of the blokes that I was privileged to call my mates. Other friendships still thrive until this day, something we are eternally grateful for. When I get the next surge I will send some more stories.
Graham (Blue) Rodwell

Ricky Hall emailed:

I just found your website and it brought back many fond memories. I spent several years growing up on Bougainville and consider that time to be some of the best years of my life. My Father, Frank Van Kempen worked as an electrician/electrical engineer and also trained the electrical apprentices in the BCL Training Centre. Frank passed away in 1995 after a lengthy battle with lung cancer. I worked on the Chevron operated Gobe Petroleum Project from 1997 to 2000. Several of the PNG national operators were all former apprentices of Frank who he trained at the BCL training centre. I would return to Bougainville tomorrow if the mine was to re-open. I am amazed at the number of people who I have met during my working life who have lived and worked on Bougainville.

I am currently working in Port Hedland, Western Australia responsible for the Safety & Security Management for the Port Hedland Port Authority. While in Port Hedland I have met the following ex-Bougainville people: 1. Rob MALIK 2. Fred BEEL 3. Adam LUKEY I was still at school during my time on Bougainville and was known by the name of Ricky VAN KEMPEN; I have since changed my surname back to HALL, which was my birth name. I went to school with and grew up with the following people on Bougainville;
1. Matthew KENT
2. Mark KOGLIN
3. Claire LOWERY
4. Jillian HAMILTON
5. Gerald MARSHALL
6. Julian BUCKRELL
7. Michael SCHUCK
8. Craig SMITH
9. Peter HATTON
I really miss the good times at Loloho Beach, Arovo Island, the diving & fishing, the Loloho & Panguna Sporting & Social Clubs, etc. If you know the whereabouts or have contact details for any of the above mentioned people please email me.
Ricky Hall
Senior Safety & Security Officer
Port Hedland Port Authority
Telephone (08) 9173 0038
Mobile 0407 442 863
email rhall[AT]

Anja Crute emailed from Western Australia:

Hi all,
Well I have been searching to get intouch with my past and here I have found a lot of you, well a lot of you probably more familiar with my parents, Gary and Nana Lye. My name is Anja Crute (Lye/Eichler). I have been thinking about setting up a website for my generation, the likes of Matthew and Susan Kent, Julian Buckley, Claire Lowry, Shella Williams, Scott Mullins, Lindsay and Evan McCartin, Chris and Andrew Gaines and the list goes on. I would appreciate if anyone has had contact with any of my long lost friends or any member of their family. Well I am now living in the coastal town of Dunsborough Western Australia, and mum and dad are living in Bangledesh. We moved to WA in 1988/89. Since then dad worked for KCGM and mum has progressed with her art and got her Masters. I have 2 beautiful children Holly 11 and Jayden 8. I am currently studying, Bachelor of Naturopathy. I spend a lot of time perusing my photos of the old days in Bougainville wishing I was still there. I think it sad how we (the kids) probably took for granted where we lived and only realised this when it was too late. We had so many fun times, weekends staying in the dongas at Loloho, endless parties on school holidays, and for any of you parents out there whose kids went to boarding school, those trips home and overnighting in Moresby, my how we use to be all so close and have so much fun, trust and beautiful life. I mean really who gets taught by Sven at the age of 12 to scuba dive and have the amazing underwater world to explore. I remember the fantastic rides on Horst’s helicopter, the climbing of the volcano, staying in villages with mum upto 2 weeks on a small island in Buka called Matzungan (not sure of how you spell that). And who can forget the Drama society, the endless laughs of watching your friends and family up on stage overdramatising maybe at some point, but totally entertaining the crowds. You know, I still believe so much in my heart that we have been the luckiest people in the world to have ever experienced a beautiful sacred place like Bougainville. When I get my website up and running I shall be back to let you all know what the address is, who knows there might be photo’s which will remind you of other people you may have forgotten about. May our memories make us the special ones.
Anja Crute
63 Dunsborough Lakes Drive
Dunsborough WA 6281
PH: 08 9756 7443
Mob: 0411 755 894

Andrew Liversidge emailed this from Brisbane

Hi Peter,
Thanks for the web site - the pictorial review was fantastic - so many memories came flooding back.
I was at Panguna 1978 - 1980 in the computer dept at the 'pink palace' as it was lovingly known. Like most of the other writers to your site, my stay at the mine still rates as one of my major 'life experiences' and I will dust off some photos to send you. I note that lots of the people that I knew are not on your honour roll Graham Pascoe (the angry ant), Willie Streeter, Owen Sykes, Geoff xxx (accountant), Miles George haven't registered with you - perhaps we should have a push to get everyone who knows someone that hasn't checked in, to do so. On my wish list - is there anyone out there who made a video or audio recording of 'The Dracula Spectacular' which was staged in Arawa. The only name I can remember from the cast was 'Clive someone' - he worked at the concentrator. I used to play piano at the motel on the way to the airport (can't remember the name) and sometimes at Arovo. And I still remember the taste of fish, freshly caught off Loloho and the evil practices of taking prawn remains back to the office and putting them inside phone handsets etc, whenever someone went finish!
Andrew Liversidge
Brisbane, Australia

Graham Weston sent this email from Thursday Island:

My name is Graham Weston from Thursday Island. I worked with Ralph M Lee Projects from April 1989 till March 1990 at Arawa. I have just found this website, and a few names I remember. Although my stay on Bougainville was not long, I still have fond memories of the place. I was an Electronics Technician, and in the job got to travel the length of that beautiful island. Left a lot of good national and expat friends when we were forced to leave by the Australian Government, but have managed to keep in contact with a few of them. I was able to get back over there a few times in the early 90's, and was shocked at the destruction of the place. After Bougainville I moved to POM, Alotau, back to POM, Tabubil , then Kiunga ( 17 years ). All up I spent 19 years in PNG, and now live with my PNG wife and three children at Thursday Island. Jim Hocking had mentioned a guy called Russ Peterson, and that he did not know where he is now. Well Russ was up at Kiunga, working as the Marine Operations Manager for Ok Tedi Mining. I had many memorable fishing trips with Russ on the Fly River and down at the Bensback Lodge. Russ left OTML in the mid 90's, and shifted back to Bribie Island with his wife and family. He passed away from a massive heart attack in the ( from memory ) late 90's. Russ always had a good story to tell, and is sadly missed by all who knew him. I still have a few videos of some of our fishing trips, and some photos of the ones that did not get away. RIP Russ.
Graham Weston

Marlene Coff emailed from Kilmore in Victoria:

a friend sent me your website and I can tell you that I was one of the "single girls" living at Panguna between 1969-1971. I was Secretary to Don Pearce of Conzinc Rio Tinto and was madly in love with Marcus Clarke from Tyabb (a small town near Frankston in Victoria) but left after two years to travel the world just to find out if everywhere else was as laid-back as Bougainville. I was one of many who made the big trip from the mine site to Kieta and spent several days thereafter just about unable to walk another step. I remember the Riot Squad coming over from Rabaul when there was an uprising against the mine site, but most of all I remember the wonderful people that came and went. Please publish my email address in your missives if you so desire as it would be fantastic to catch up with anyone who wants to.
Marlene Coff
email marlenecoff[AT]

Bruce Bowers emailed from Singapore:

Greetings to all ...My name is Bruce Bowers and I was one of the unusual expats that didn't work for BCL on Bougainville , but Queensland Insurance (QI) in Arawa 1983-1985.

I took a six-month assignment on Bougainville in March 1983, from the suburbs in Sydney and have never returned to Australia. I currently live in Singapore. I still remember arriving on Bougainville in shorts with long socks and a safari coat ,with a line of pens in the coat pocket...I had no idea where I was going it was simply an adventure.

I have so many fond memories of my time on Bougainville, the people, the great wreck-diving, climbing Mt. Negrohead behind Arawa and finding the remains of a coastwatcher cave to great weekends on Arovo island, caving and exploring the islands around Buka in search of Lapita Pottery remains with Barry and Cindy Hastie from Coopers and Lybrand. Whatever happened to Ian (Patto) Patterson, the panel beater from Arovo Motors, or Mark (have-a-chat) Johnson from Westpac? I remember fondly the Kieta Hotel (big nights) and the manager who called himself the "Phantom".

I remember a mad young couple from Tal-Air who invited over 30 guests to their farewell at the Arawa Golf Club, collected all cash contributions for the dinner from their "friends", then flew out the next day to Moresby without paying the bill! Keith Larson from Morgan Equipment - anyone know where he is? Another legend from that time.... Would be great to hear from anyone who remembers me or knows those mentioned above.

Bruce Bowers

Murray Tonkin sent this email from Ingle Farm:

Hello Peter
I worked at B58 Electrical Workshop 1976-1980. Worked with John Bartram, Graham Rodman, Lindsay Swanson among many others. I returned to BCL August 1989, kicked out in January 1990 with a lot of others, after the decision to close the mine. Worked at Tarong Coal mine, from May 1989 - August 1989. This was organised by John Davison, as my family and I arrived in Brisbane enroute to Bougainville, just as the trouble started. After finally arriving in Bougainville, I worked at Power Station for a few weeks, then went up to the mine where we built a new P&H shovel, then dismantled it in parts and it was shipped to Hammersley Iron, in the North West Western Australia. I am now retired and living in Ingle Farm, South Australia.
Murray Tonkin
email murray_tonkin[AT]

Guy Thornton emailed from Spain:

God knows how I came across your website.

Yeah, I worked for ODGFMIC as a trades assistant in 70/71. I was 23. My dad was a chopper pilot and in 66 had a short contract flying for Crowley Aviation in Lae. His contract ended, my mum, dad & siblings returned to UKand I just stayed behind. I worked for CDW aka Comworks as a timekeeper. I earned great money and travelled a lot. My girlfriend then got a job at a hotel her uncle was involved in on the little island off Kieta - Aruva, I think it was called. So I flew to Kieta and on the plane sat next to a chap who was one of the bosses of the ODGFMIC joint venture. He very kindly offered me a job. I spent a year at Panguna and then, as the contract wound down, a month or two at Arawa. I don't think I've ever earned as much money since in comparative terms. We did about 3 or 4 hours overtime a day, often 7 days a week. We had great food. I loved it. Used to take the company bus down to Kieta now and then and visit my girlfriend who pushed off to London after a couple of months anyway. On reflection I spent far too much time in TPNG - I was only 18 in 66 when I first went there. Five years mixing with odd types, drinking too much, earning easy didn't really develop my character. Anyway, there we are!

I am retired and live in Spain with my wife of 30 years. Of marriage, not her age. Unfortunately.

I understand TPNG or whatever they call it nowadays, has gone to pot.

Kind regards,
email foxenburg[AT]

15 September 2012

Silvio Sagolo seeks Stephen Kevell

Hi there,
I’m Bougainvillean and looking for a great friend of mine, He is Stephen Kevell , we used to work together at B.16 Haul Truck shop, I’m currently working for Newcrest Mining on Lihir Island, New Ireland province. I’m also residing at section 10 lot 5 Arawa town,

Best Regards
Silvio Sagolo
Marine Maintainance Supervisor
email silvio.sagolo[AT]

14 September 2012

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10 September 2012

Melbourne Reunion Report 2012

Bougainville Reunion-Melbourne-5th August, 2012

What a cracker it was! The gang come from far and wide to gather at Il Gambaro’s in Lygon St on a typically balmy, gorgeous Melbourne winters afternoon-perhaps I missed the rain, sleet and wind!! Oh well, who cared, it was warm inside with a chatty, bubbly bunch of ‘Bougans’ determined to use every second catching up on all the goss.

All up, we had a roll call of some 120 who attended the occasion. It was great to see second and third generations represented - Phil and Pam Morley with daughters Michelle and Rachel; Jo Lee with daughter Bekky and son Jonno; Gary and Heather Williams with daughter Chella, hubby Andy and kids Will and Charlie and Dave and Judy Drew with daughter Melanie. Peter and Chris Tilyard were accompanied by daughters Ruth and Vivienne, Shan Rochfort with his daughter and Isabelle and Bobbie Burns with daughters Helen and Amy.

It was indeed exciting to see that so many had put in such an effort travelling big distances to share in the occasion. Graeme Wellington and Didi and Mark Caddy from WA, Horst Allman from the Sunshine Coast (you’ll have to bring Nicole down next time!), Chrissie and John Davidson from Brisbane, Dave Parker from Sydney, Chris ‘Irish’ O’Brien from Brisbane, John and Jo McIntyre from Northern NSW and of course Ray ‘Chaddy’ Chadwick from Cairns.

Many folk had travelled from rural Victoria and would have enjoyed the drive home reflecting on the renewed friendships-Peter and Colleen Robinson, the ‘Bandit’ Shan Rochfort, Bob Duffy, Dave and Trish Jukes, Vince Carty and Perry Carter.

It was lovely to catch up again with Sana Balai but unfortunately hubby Brian Cleaver was in the sick bay. I noticed several folk trying out their diminishing Pidgin skills on a very patient Alex Dawia- well done Alex and thanks for the opportunity to purchase some gorgeous, aromatic Siwai vanilla beans, they are super. I suggest you have a peep at the web site Also great to see Eugene Korokoro again and to know that his much loved dad Tony is still going strong. Anyone who moved furniture to and from Australia and Bougainville will have fond memories of the wonderful service afforded them by Tony and his super- efficient team. Good luck with your relocation to Sydney Eugene-keep those QANTAS jets up there mate!

We were able to turn the clock way back to the late 60’s and very early 70’s with the likes of John and Justine Baldwin-John of course was padding around different parts of PNG as a young Exploration Geologist much earlier on. Graeme Wellington had seen the Project come on stream from 1969 and Luigi Ciampa from the early 70’s-lovely to see you again Luigi and to meet the darling of your life Maria, whom I believe you met the evening you arrived back in Australia from your first ‘tour of duty’ to Bougainville……….great story mate and of course you returned in the late 80’s with an equipment supplier (no free adverts here!!!!). Brian and Martina Rear saw in some of the early Concentrator days and they were able to catch up with Peter Plavina, Peter Tilyard, Robbie Burns and Rod Grant. John and Jenny Beauchamp rocked up and it was great to see them again.

I really have to toss in here that Baden and Sofrina Stewart (no relation!) planned to attend the gathering but had it in their calendar for 2013!!!!!

There was of course a strong presence from the Commercial lads. I’ve already mentioned ‘Bandit’-an institution at the Panguna Cricket Club. The Caddies - Didi and Mark, Gary and Heather Williams, Graeme Burnham, Stuart Fletcher and Bernice, Jenny and Nick Flint, Ray and Marg Hughes-Odgers (just back from a Kokoda walk-good going Ray), Mike and Jenny Kennedy, Andy Lloyd, Phil and Pam Morley, Rowan and Lee Reeves, Jim and Robyn Spencer and Brad Stone all spent time reminiscing and catching up on others who shared the experiences and friendships that were struck on the island paradise that was Bougainville.

Wonderful to catch up again with Bob Duffy who is in the process of relocating from Holland to rural Castlemaine in Victoria where I’m sure he’ll encounter lots of other motoring devotees – a chat between Bob and Graeme Wellington would see some burnt rubber and high revs I’m sure!!! Beaut to see Jan and Gary Cameron again catching up with some of their old friends Alan and Helen Drews, Andy Lloyd, Louise Trimble and Gary Williams. Many remember Jan from Pink Palace and Minenco jobs and Gary from B16.

My head was spinning at dinner, after the gathering, as Gerald Wollmer, Peter and Colleen Robinson, Chris ‘Irish’ O’Brien, Peter and Jane Besgrove, my darling Di, the Davos - Chrissie and John and the McIntire’s - Joanne and John all went hell for leather recounting Bougainville experiences and what had happened in their lives over the past twenty odd years. Jane (very relaxed on her day off!) recounted some hair raising seafaring tales, Gerry was still on the Judo mat, the Robbys were entertaining singles as usual, ‘Irish ‘ was just being ‘Irish”, Macca was hauling in mega mackerel, Chrissie was trying to stop Davo doing para rolls off the Cricket Club bar and Di and I were simply bystanders!!

Jo Lee with her beautiful family, Beccy with fiancĂ©e John and son Jonno had a ball catching up with the Williams clan of Heather, Gary, Andrew , Chella, Wil and Charlie and I’m sure Louise Trimble and partner John along with Juliet Dade shared some special times together. Judy, Melanie and Dave Drew were able to hook up with a multitude of friends along with Helen and Alan Drews and Sue Ledgwidge-we all envied Sue who walked to the party from her nearby digs.

Helen and Bob Newell were able to renew some old acquaintances – not sure how you guys do it but you don’t seem to have changed at all! Must say it was special to see Mike and Barbara Bell again and to know that Mike is fully recovered having taken a bullet in the madness of ’89. Also beaut to see Ian Firth again even if I misplaced you, sorry mate-after all, we did do a Special Project together. I don’t believe I caught up with them personally, but Mark and Sandy Harris, John Viegas and Geoff Wallace all joined in the fellowship of the afternoon.

I found it really interesting to catch up with Dave and Tricia Jukes and share some ‘poo bag’ stories about their farm in Western Victoria, to have a lovely chat with Perry Carter(thanks for some of the pics), to see that Chaddy was still Chaddy-thank God! and that Chris ‘Irish’ O’Brien was still Irish!!!......great effort from you all to get to the gathering.

While I have endeavoured to mention most of you who made the effort to rock along to the gathering, I’ll apologise to any whom I have not mentioned – let me know and I’ll organise a Sky Writer to get you up there in BIG letters!

I have to finish off by thanking the Organising Team of Peter Tilyard, Robbie Burns and Di Stewart for the hard work they have put in to ensure that this Reunion was a SPECIAL occasion-thanks again to you all. Many thanks Peter Plavina for organising the slide show and a BIG thanks to John Davidson of JDA and Maureen for all the great work in distributing the notices through their Network. We did a lot of individual chasing up this time and have been able to significantly boost our list of contacts. If you are able to add ‘wantoks’ to the list please send the details to Di Stewart at: as she looks after our Melbourne Reunion Listing. Vince Carty and Chris O’Brien have very kindly supplied some pics-thanks guys.

We all look forward to meeting again with bigger numbers next time we gather, in three years’ time.

Take care all, stay happy and the very best of health to everyone.


Neal Stewart (Scribe)

Link to photos


8 September 2012

Love in a hot climate

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Low Head Tas. 7253


If you take a young woman, just out from England, whom you hardly know, into remote areas of New Guinea against the rules, you can hardly complain when events turn life-threatening! Will Temlett Conibeer never learn?

Andrew Marke has written four exciting and very funny novelettes with four new uproarious adventures which will bring back many memories and tears to your eyes.

To order a copy of this very funny and entertaining book, send an email to


7 September 2012

Blood and Treasure

1 September 2012

Photos of long ago

Recent pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words

... and some more

Some more old photos