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31 October 2012

Peter Duncan emailed from Vanuatu:

Well my name is peter duncan i worked at arawa camp 8 for barclay brothers from 1970 to 1973 lived in papua new guinea 18 years mate good days now work in port vila vanuatu its like the old days


27 October 2012

LinkedIn Mining Expats Group


The LinkedIn Mining Expats Group is a forum designed for mining professionals (metals & coal) with past or current expat industry experience to network and discuss industry issues, particularly those related to international assignments. Check it out here!


Remember Bougainville in the early days? Voice communication between the port and Panguna was mainly crackling sounds; making telephone calls away from the island (if at all possible) were very expensive and almost inaudible; mail took weeks to arrive.

Of course, those were the days before the internet, email, and SKYPE. How much easier it would have been had such things existed then! Or would it?

Anyway, I have been in retirement for the past twelve years and all this new stuff has arrived too late for me but it's a nice thought ☺


25 October 2012

They don't make them like that anymore


New Guinea is forever linked to the phallic immortality of Errol Flynn. The documentary The Adventures of Errol Flynn includes rare footage and revealing interviews with Flynn; his oldest daughter, Deirdre Flynn; his widow, Patrice Wymore Flynn; and Olivia de Havilland, who talks frankly about her relationship with Flynn and the many movies they made together. Also featured are interviews with Richard Schickel, Burt Reynolds, Richard Dreyfuss, Joanne Woodward and many others. The film is a balanced portrait of this larger-than-life figure who became as famous for his off-screen adventures as his on-screen charisma.

I've just read again Roger McDonald's hugely entertaining book FLYNN which is a racy, rollicking tale of this young scoundrel who became a Hollywood legend. And it provides an interesting counterpoint to Flynn's autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways, published in 1959, the same year he died of liver failure, amongst other causes [read more].

Another book, dealing more exclusively with Errol Flynn's days in New Guinea, is The Young Errol Flynn Before Hollywood.

My Canadian friend's wife knew Errol Flynn more intimately than any other woman: she was a laboratory technologist at the time of his death and had the dubious honour of putting his liver in a jar for preservation and training purposes after his autopsy was completed. It remains in a preserved state at the University of British Columbia to this day.

Errol Flynn lived for half a century the sort of life adolescents dream of but men dare not attempt.

22 October 2012

My Valley is Changing

Andrew Jackson of Tanah Merah in Queensland emailed me a week ago, "Hello, my family lived in Bougainville for a 10-year-period and my dad worked for Bougainville Copper during that time. We have a fairly old video tape which has documentaries about the Bougainville Copper Project possibly filmed in the 1970s. Because of the age of the video tape, I'm not sure they will be watchable."

I suggested he send it to me so that I could transfer it onto DVD and later convert it into a suitable YouTube format. I have just received the tape. It is old and the colours are faded but still watchable.

It contains the documentary "My Valley is Changing" about Panguna Valley and its Moroni people and a mine documentary by BCL "starring", amongst others, Bougainville's local representative Paul Lapun, the local Mine Union Leader Henry Moses, Arwa Plantation's manager Kip McKillop, geologist Ken Phillips, BCL's Colin Bishop, environmentalist Alan Hartley, and Jules Powell, a marine biologist.

It also has a series of clips of cultural dances and music and local choirs and some great aerial footage of the island's interior and its coastline, including Kieta and Arawa and Loloho. And a copy of PARADISE LOST as well as a doco of how the Panguna copper deposit was discovered and evaluated. Something for everyone!

Watch this space for a link to YouTube! (although it will take a while as the process can be slow and painful ☺)


P.S. A commercial copy of MY VALLEY IS CHANGING can be purchased here.

16 October 2012

Commercial break


The South Seas have always been a favourite setting for romantic pictures ever since "Moana of the South Seas" and Dorothy Lamour.

Somerset Maugham's famous "Rain" has been filmed several times, but never in the actual locale of the story, Pago Pago.

Tahiti saw the filming of Nordhoff and Hall's novel "Mutiny on the Bounty", and Bora Bora was the inspiration for the same authors' "The High Barbaree", an exquisite story wretchedly pictured.

"Return to Paradise", starring Gary Cooper, was filmed in the village of Lefaga in Samoa, some fifty miles from the port town of Apia, about as far away as one can get without leaving the island entirely. The village is straight out of a fairy story and the lovely bay on which it is located was for a few weeks in 1952 inundated by Hollywood.

The tropical beaches surrounding Telekivava'u are even more paradisical but you share them with no one when you walk the few steps from VILLA MAMANA to the water's edge.

Ian Quinn emailed from Hong Kong:

Hi...was a pilot with Crowleys and sent over to Kieta to open up a base there in '71.

One of the 'activities' was the parachute club which after I was approached by one of the guys at Arawa we started dropping aspiring skydivers out of a Cessna 207 and later a Cessna 205.

This wasn't completely kosher and was done between various TAA/Ansett arrivals. The guy who set it up was ex-SAS and a bit of a character. One of the 'trainees' broke a leg and was carted off Kieta airport in a Landrover. Ended when a twin-engined Aztec was sent over to replace the single-engined Cessna.

Never took any photos but wondered if anybody remembers the 'Club'?

Lived in many places since Bougainville but currently in Hong Kong. Liked the Arovo Island postcards and photos on your married there in 1972 when it was in its heydays. It's a shame what has happened in Bougainville when it had so much going for it.

Ian Quinn
email chinapilot1[AT]

7 October 2012

Canadian Chris Jefferies is looking for happy campers from Camp 6

Said Chris showing off the skills he picked up on Bougainville


Do the following names ring any bells? (alarm, wedding, closing-time, whatever):

Joe Holden

John Ellis

John Payton

Eddie Maxwell

Stu Rodgers

George Halkett

Nigel Ward

Bill Williams

Kevin Lynch

John McCarthy.

These were some of the crew with whom Chris Jefferies worked at camp 6 and he's never heard of any of them since. He looked, but they seem to have disappeared. Most all of them, with the exception of Stu Rodgers, came from the Reservoir area of Melbourne. Stu came from Brisbane.

If anyone knows the whereabouts of any of the above, please email me at riverbend[AT] so that I can put them in touch with Chris.

1 October 2012

Wayne Bradley emailed:

Hi, my name's Wayne Bradley

I was on Bougainville 1967 till 1980.

I first arrived as a schoolboy and later joined Customs, posted at Kieta, Aropa airport but mostly at Loloho wharf from 1970 to 1978.

After being localised I joined Burns Philp Shipping in Kieta till 1980 then moved to Rabaul till 1984.

I remember so many people from the site and started contacting people through FB can't believe how many people are out there - Bougainville a special time and special place. Never to be repeated.

Wayne Bradley

email family.bradley[AT]