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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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27 January 2013

Beware of a new scam!!! Please pass this on!



You MUST click the link at the end of this IMPORTANT message.......

Police are warning all men who frequent clubs, parties & local pubs


to be alert and stay cautious when offered a
drink from any woman. Many females use a date rape drug on the market called "Beer." The drug is found in liquid form and is available anywhere. It comes in bottles, cans, or from taps and in large "kegs". Beer is used by female sexual predators at parties and bars to persuade their male victims to go home and sleep with them. A woman needs only to get a guy to consume a few units of Beer and then simply ask him home for no strings attached sex.

Men are rendered helpless against this approach. After several beers, men will often succumb to the desires to sleep with horrific-looking women whom they would never normally be attracted to. After drinking beer, men often awaken with only hazy memories of exactly what happened to them the night before, often with just a vague feeling that "something bad" occurred.

At other times, these unfortunate men are swindled out of their life's savings, in a familiar scam known as "a relationship."

In extreme cases, the female may even be shrewd enough to entrap the unsuspecting male into a longer-term form of servitude and punishment referred to as "marriage." Men are much more susceptible to this scam after beer is administered and sex is offered by the predatory females.

If you fall victim to this "Beer" scam and the women administering it, there are male support groups where you can discuss the details of your shocking encounter with similarly victimised men. For the support group nearest you, just look up "Golf Courses" in the phone book. For a video to see how beer works click here:

PLEASE! Forward this warning to every male you know.

P.S. Here's a list of those unfortunate for whom this warning comes too late: CLICK HERE!


Justin Marshall emailed (quite some time ago) with information on the Arawa Guesthouse:

Adam Chapmand and host Nancy at Aravai Guesthouse - click here for more pictures!Adam Chapman and host Nancy at Arawa Guesthouse

The flight from Cairns to Buka via Port Moresby was about AUS$1,200 return. For the moment the only access to Bougainville is via Buka and 4WD to Arawa etc. The cost of the trip from Buka to Arawa is around K50 per person ($20) or you can hire your own 4WD and driver for K600 per day ($240). In my view the hire is a much easier option, as there is a distinct lack of public transport etc.

Most of the Island is open and free to people, with the exception of Panguna. I was invited to go up to Panguna while I was up there, but found out how quickly things become twisted when I was on our way up..nothing violent, the people are really back to normal, just a lot of politics and crap I was really not in the mood to listen to. I left and was later asked to go again the following day but refused. Next time I go back, in a few months I will have some photos of the pit etc for your site.

The Aravai guesthouse in Arawa is a really nice stay at K120 ($48) per night for the deluxe (Double Bed and Aircon while the generator is on) or K90 standard. This cost did include breakfast (I think). Dinner was K18. Booking can be made by E-mail or Telephone.

The fishing from anywhere is an absolute blast --- 8kg-coral trout from the beach at Pok Pok Point!!!!!

There are now regular Japanese guests travelling to the island, so they are quickly becoming accustomed to entertaining again. Food is simple but nice to eat and plentiful. The cook at the guest house is actually a white lady from Brisbane!!!!! Sandra is her name and she is married there and been there for a few yeas now. She runs the guesthouse for the owners. The guesthouse doesn't have a website but somebody built a communications centre smack-bang with all mod cons, including a broadband internet café, in the middle of Arawa so that using the internet is the new craze with a lot of people, including Sandra from the guesthouse who takes bookings by email.

I'll email you their phone number and email address later. If you need help setting up a trip around the island, your best bet is to contact the guesthouse (Sandra or Nancy) and get them to do it all.

Click here for more pictures!

Regards Justin

Mister Pip

In this novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of narrative to transform our lives.

On the copper-rich tropical island of Bougainville shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations.

So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, “A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe.” Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing. Read another review.

You can order the book at

The book is said to have been made into a movie which I have yet to see. If anybody has seen it or knows where I can get the DVD, please send an email to riverbend[AT]

24 January 2013

Stuart Connolly emailed from Canberra:

Greetings Peter,

we have not met, and I came upon your blog purely by chance after reading a note on a Rabaul Facebook group I belong to.

Funnily enough I worked at Combank during 1968/1970 at both Rabaul and Kieta, so your writings I found most interesting.

And living/working (still) now in Canberra, I find time occasionally to launch my tinnie the "ESSEMBEE" from the ramp at Nelligen and must often pass your hideaway.

I could have retired ages ago but still enjoying a task involving cash/numbers/spreadsheets/report writing etc to keep my mind active. Still keep the body active so while I am still happy with early mornings (5.45am starts) and employer is happy to have me, I will continue.

In Rabaul I resided in the old Combank Mess, from memory on the corner of Kombiu Ave and Namanulla Rd, about 40 single fellows were well looked after there. I am still in regular contact with those I worked with who are still alive.

I worked in Kieta late 1968/69, a 2 handed sub-branch of Combank, attached to Rabaul branch. It was a bit primitive, electricity from the town generator for 2 hours of a morning and 4 hours of an evening.

Initially I lived in a flat above a mechanics workshop over behind the "main street" and across the road from the new ABC radio studios. I moved from there to a shack (no kitchen or bathroom, a simple loo out the back) situated next door to Harry Green's trade store on the road beside the water. Bathroom facilities and meals were at nominal cost from Hotel Kieta. Must have looked strange of a morning, wandering down the road, towel over the shoulder etc.

With the proud title of "second officer", I used to travel to Panguna/Barapinang twice weekly in the CRA courier vehicle, deliver the cash payroll once a month, and provide remote banking services for the expat staff of CRA and Dillinghams. Memories, I was 20 when I left Kieta and returned to Rabaul. (I must be a seasoned worker, I left school at age 14 and have been out of work for 13 days only, ever since.)

I look forward to reading more of your writings.

Kind regards

Stuart Connolly

23 January 2013

Morgan Equipment on Bougainville

This is all that's left of MORGAN EQUIPMENT's spare parts department. The picture was taken by Urs Christen during his visit in December 2012.

It's a rather poignant reminder of my own short return visit to Bougainville in December 1980 after Morgan Equipment had asked me whether I would be interested to return to Bougainville Island.

Would I ever!

They had problems with their incumbent financial controller and company secretary and wanted me to "clean up" the place and introduce some tight financial and administrative procedures while he was on leave. I flew back to Bougainville just before Christmas - and Shirley joined me shortly afterwards - for the first time since 1974 and it was almost like coming home! I revisited all the old places, Kieta, Arovo Island, Camp 6, and Loloho Beach, however, time did not permit to see Panguna and the minesite again.

Look at the photos of this visit here.

Peter Goerman
Webmaster of Bougainville Copper Project website

More pictures of the Ocean View Apartments on Sohano Island:

20 January 2013

Urs Christen emailed this article from AIR NIUGINI's in-flight magazine:


Click here.


John Hildebrandt emailed from Perth:

My years on Bougainville from 1970 to 1979 were some of the most mind- and character-forming in my life.

At around 15 years of age, my parents and I went to Iran for two years. The Shah was still in power. One year was spent in Teheran, one year in central Iran - a place called Kuh-dasht. My dad was in charge of building American military installations and also a road across Luristan. When he was taken ill I had to take my mother 380km back through the desert to Teheran past smugglers and bandits (I had my dad’s 9mm Walter on top of the eski). As it is well known, women didn’t mean anything at that time. I was too young to hold a drivers license, so I had to find a driver.

We subsequently went to Switzerland where we bought a house. I did my matriculation and became a commercial pilot. I was the first private pilot who completed, with only 40 hours' experience, a circumnavigation of the Mediterranean in a single-engine Piper Cherokee in winter.

Life got too boring in Europe and I emigrated to Australia, First Class Archille Lauro and landed in Fremantle. I worked as a navigator on geophysical flights in WA and South Australia. I saw an ad in the paper: Riggers wanted in Bougainville. Didn’t know what a rigger was supposed to be but the name Bougainville was good enough. In I went, still with the European attitude and suit, sat down and was interviewed. "We will let you know" was the answer. I thought - ah well… .

Three weeks later I received a telephone call: "'We would like to offer you the position of Store Supervisor with Johns & Waygood on Bougainville." What could I say? After all, I had planned South Pacific expeditions since I was a kid. Due to the time delay and shortfalls in income, I worked as a factory cleaner for three weeks in one of J&W’s establishments in Adelaide before I flew out to Kieta.

Camp 1 was my first stop. Looked good. Had my tape recorder with classical music and earphones to shut out, what I called then, “the roughies”. Settled down in the job, which entailed supplying 360-odd persons from J&W, with everything they needed. One night, while in the donga, there was a knock on the door, and the previous Store Supervisor, Brian, popped his head in and said ‘good-night’ - strange! He was found next morning inside a ute with a hose connected from the exhaust pipe to the cabin, dead!

As part of my job I had to organize the trans-shipment of construction steel, beams etc. from the lay-down area in Camp 6 to Panguna. Roads were not sealed at that time. Naturally, crotch-rot sat in. Full iodine etc. and it only got worst. Couldn’t walk but had to. After clearing the steel I went back to camp 1. I had a girl in WA that I wanted to marry. Tony Brown was the only one of the company who had his wife with him. So, I started to pester Tony and Mr. Hooper until they made married accommodation available. Lyn came up, we got married at Koromira Mission at 6am and Lyn was subsequently employed as well. After the wedding we hired a boat with food to go out that day. Lyn’s best man was a German by the name of Karl. He was a senior engineer with J&W. One of the most inventive persons I ever met. In every nook and cranny of the site and under his hat he had a few beers stacked away - no wonder he inspected every nook and cranny all day long. When being out the boat we took a dinghy to Koromira Atoll. Naturally Karl had to stand up, capsize the boat and we lost all our wedding films. Otherwise a great day! Re-shot the ‘scene’ one year later without him - he was gone.

Life trundled on with lots of fun and parties until the time the actual mine construction was completed and J&W’s contract expired. In 1974 I became a naturalized Australian. I think it was the magistrate at Arawa, David Moorhouse, who administered the oath. Frank Tonon and I built during that time a 36ft motor cruiser - after all there were sufficient components left over to do so. She was launched in Loloho and the ballast was - guess, yes - milling balls. We named her ‘Flounderer’ and actually planned to sail her back to Aussie. Thank God, we didn’t. She was modified several times and we all had a ball going out on Friday afternoons, back on Sunday afternoons. We found and dived on wrecks, brought up memorabilias. One of them was an anchor, located in the engine from one of the vessels sunk around the corner from Kieta, which we donated to the Davara. We brought back Betty bomber propellers which I cemented in the ground near the workshop at Aropa, etc. I must pay a compliment to the "roughies": Many times my wife was the only female on board, bikini and all, but they all behaved like real gentlemen, unlike Mr. Hooper, who wanted to get into her pants.

Meanwhile, I sent all equipment back to Aussie and my wife and I moved into the Flounderer. It was a great time. We met many yachties from all over the world while at anchor in Loloho and at the Kieta Yacht club. I got a job with BCL at the port - supervising ship loading. Steeldeck. Camp 5 needed an assistant manger - I got the job and we lived in a sack-sack for about six months - until that contract also came to an end.

Then I heard that Aropa Plantation was looking for an engineer. Got there, was shown around and I said I can do the job. I had a little Isuzu truck at that time. So when getting back in the truck with the manager, the car wouldn’t start - dead to the world. He said, "OK, if you can get the truck started, you've got the job." I jumped out, twisted the battery terminals and, bingo, I had a job. I stayed with them for over three years. Aropa was then the second or third largest plantation on the island. We were three whities and about three hundred 'bois'. Had many challenges from mist blowers to D8 dozers.

My wife did the catering for Air Niugini from the plantation and we met some fascinating people, including Steve and Willy from the Davara. I set up a marine-biological lab on the plantation for local kids and started my photography. The pictures sold well, locally and overseas. The plantation house was a large building right on top of a big hill, overlooking the ocean with a
180-degree view. Pure magic! (I've tried desperately to find pictures of the now burned down houses - can anyone help?). After three-and-a-half years, we left Aropa and I became sales manager for Ela Motors, increasing sales from 30 to 70 units/months. I left them, managed Toboroi for about six months, and subsequently worked at Raua Plantation as a mechanic. We had two kids by then, born in Kalgoorlie and Brisbane, and it was time to break up camp. We had been there during self-government and Independence and could feel a "change of climate" coming on. Our feelings were proven right and we returned to Australia in 1979.

George, bank manager at Kieta, sitting, behind him John and David In my opinion, the difference between Bougainville and ‘the rest of the world’ is that there existed on the island a sense of joy, excitement, action and that little twinge of danger added as a spice. One was alive and to really feel alive is something one can never forget. It incites a craving that, unfortunately, can never be stilled again. Like-minded people met. There was peace. To go back there now, I feel, would be too sobering for me and anger could dominate and destroy my good and creative memories.

From the Blog Editor:
John, your last paragraph is an excellent summing-up of the memories many of us have of those early days on the island.
Peter Goerman

16 January 2013

An important Health Q&A session:

All you old ex-Bougainvilleans are getting on in years so I'm sure you'll be very interested in this


Q: I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life; is this true?

A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables! So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable).
And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?

A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one.
If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No pain.., Good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! ... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: Are you crazy? HELLO . Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember:
"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways -glass of wine in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "Whoo what a ride".


15 January 2013

Steve Thompson emailed from Brisbane:


My name is Steve Thompson, I worked for BCL from 1985 to Dec 1989 in the concentrator with Peter Tilyard, Barry Deans, Graeme Talbot and Joe Sahin and Gary Young, Barney Clifford, John Jones, Ron Van Velsen, John Edgar. I was hired by Davo like most people who came to BCL.

My two oldest boys were David and Benjamin who were born in the Arawa private hospital. Ben was born during the curfew in 1989 which made the logistics of getting to the hospital at 3am very interesting.

I had two fishing boats during my time at Bougainville both moored at the Keita Yacht club. Some people may remember No-Nose a 17ft ply fishing boat with a 6hp diesel. The second boat was a 26 ft ex PNG work boat called Atomo. We had a lot of fun in those fishing boats visiting Pok Pok, one tree and other islands and also made several trips to the Solomon’s.

We have many good memories of Bougainville and will never forget the great time we had there and the friends we made. Some people that we had a lot of fun with were Wally Sanger (BCL Mine), Merran Sanager and their yacht Windstar, Bob and Jane Willis, Alan and Jenny Smith, Peter and Jann Haseldon, Jeff (Arawa Hospital) and Gaylene Pattinson, Peter and Vickie Claughton, Janice and Mick Johnson, Kevin White and Terry Sheady.

I live in Brisbane (Cleveland) and work with Bechtel in their Brisbane office. I joined Bechtel after leaving BCL in December 1989. I have worked all over the world with Bechtel from London, Bahrain, Oman, Russia, Guinea West Africa, NZ, Canada and Chile. I have just finished a FS for the development of the Frieda River copper concentrator in PNG. Was very interesting going back to PNG after so long. Frieda River must have been what BCL was like in the 1970's, untouched, very remote, no infrastructure, roads power etc.

Great site that brings back many wonderful memories. I will dig into the archives and send you some pics of our time at Bougainville.


Stephen Thompson

email sjthomps[AT]

10 January 2013

Commercial break


Have you ever wanted to chuck it all and spend the rest of your life on a South Sea island?

Every ten years or so a pied piper with a literary bend comes along and captures so perfectly the haunting sound of surf on a South Pacific reef that the dreams of every reader are refurbished, and not a few actually cast off their humdrm routines and set sail for Tahiti, Rarotonga, and points south.

Men such as Conrad, Maugham, Michener, Nordhoff and Hall have been caught in the spell of the islands, and they in turn have written so convincingly and compellingly of the Polynesian paradise that there has been a steadily increasing flow of bewitched believers - a flow that included footloose, carefree, resolute individualist Julian Hillas, the author of the book "South Seas Paradise".

In 1930, when the full weight of the Depression was felt round the world, Julian Hillas found himself in Sydney, Australia, with a wife (whom he had married more for convenience than anything else), a car, little money and no prospect of employment. An old silent movie called "White Shadow in the South Seas" was playing in the local theatres and after seeing it for the third time Mr Hillas liquidated his limited assets, left half with his wife, and booked passage for the islands of the South Pacific. He has been living in the Cook Islands ever since.

"South Seas Paradise" is his warm, refreshing, unusually candid and ungilded account of a thirty-year holiday spent rewardingly, if not exactly idyllically, in the pursuit of happiness.

As Julian Hillas relives the best years of his life, it's just possible the reader may decide to get aboard the next jet, liner, or banana boat and join him. Or us at VILLA MAMANA on tropical Telekivava'u.

6 January 2013

Urs Christen's son Ralph runs a guesthouse and bakery on Sohano Island in Buka Passage:

Read more here.

If you want more information on this new guesthouse or want to book into it to dream your "Bougainville Dreams", email Ralph at Sohano on