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9 November 2012

Ian Paterson emailed from Bilinga in Queensland:

Mate, I could not drag myself away from your web site the other night - you put so much thought and work into it and deserve the praise you received from all around the world. Bougainville did leave an indelible impact on everyone.

Pulled the pin in 1974, a month before self-government. Not sure you were there when a strike progressed to a riot at Panguna. The Pacific Island Regiment came in and peace was restored (Chimbus bashed the shit out of the troublemakers). It took a week for things to return to normal. During the process of determining who would be flown off the Island, all the natives were transported on cattle trucks to Barclay's compounds in Arawa.

I stayed until my 4 years were up and ended up working for public accountants in Sydney. Struth [sic] was it a culture shock coming back! Worked in George Street, Martin Place. Stuck it out for 18 months then bought a caravan to travel around this wide brown land.

On my sojourn I applied for an accounting role in Darwin working for the pearl cultivating mob (had some bad press recently about diver drowning). They checked out my background, referees etc. and after waiting some two weeks I decided to move on. They were disappointed when I told them I was withdrawing my application - I wasn't. I really could live and work anywhere for a while, however after a month or so realised Darwin was not for me. Would loved to have worked in Karratha - you can literally smell the money splashing around the place (in Perth was offered a role with the Electoral Commission at Karratha). Port Headland - stayed a few days and moved on. Reminiscent of Newcastle some 40 years ago. Had a great time in Kalgoorlie and Boulder - stayed at backpackers working as labourer for a few weeks.

To be honest I have not met many former Bougainville people other than Don Brewer and Brian Reid by chance many years ago - we happened to be at the same restaurant one evening on the Sunshine Coast.

I recognised many names - one bloke, Roy Goldsworthy (Goldfinger) you have a number of photos of, married an Italian bird at Panguna (we went to the wedding - memorable) she could not speak English. Roy would get quite irritable when people tried to speak to her in broken English with a smattering of pidgin. Any idea where he is? Roy said he would never go back to NZ because all his family looked down their noses at her because she was a wog.

Another photo of Debbie Wilson - her brother Garry (a bonzer bloke) and I worked together for some time. He left BCL to become a QANTAS steward. We visited him in Sydney after we went pinis and a couple of years later received a card from Debbie saying he has died.