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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