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18 August 2013

Alan Wilson emailed from Doncaster East in Melbourne:

Please note: the number across the chest has been cropped out ☺



My name is Alan Wilson and I spent 3 years as a Shift Supervisor in the Loloho Power Plant, on the Bougainville Project, arriving on 17 August 1971, at the tender age of 29.

Moving out of the “rut” in Victoria that many of us get ourselves into, moving to this exciting opportunity which shaped the remainder of my career. It took us out of our comfort zones into an exciting new world with no TV, radio (sometimes), very little in the way of telephones and newspapers that might arrive from Australia, if you were lucky. We were forced to make our own entertainment and the regular house-parties were always well attended and enjoyed.
Reel to reel tape decks with somewhat large amplifiers and speakers were most important when putting on a party.

Recall many times on Arovo Island which was hard to believe that such a place could exist close to the place that we worked and lived. Then there were the boat trips out to what we called No: 3 Island out from Loloho Beach. Some-one took some scaffolding tubes out there and we could light a fire under the tubes which would act as an excellent BBQ.

Made friends with many of the guys who were building and maintaining the township of Arawa. Bill Hubbard is one name that comes to mind.

On two occasions we were lucky enough to be involved with weddings for our expats who married girls in Honiara. Chartered a DC3 for the weekend and enjoyed what Guadalcanal had to offer. Mike Reid was the name of one of them who was married there.

After leaving PNG in 1974, tried to re-settle in Australia, but the bug that I picked up in Bougainville meant that we were off to Soroako, Sulawesi, Indonesia. This was followed many years later with time living in Borneo, Indonesia, China, Philippines and then across to Curacao in the Caribbean.

Now trying to deal with retirement back in Doncaster East, Victoria.

Have had recent contact with Theo van der Meulen, Don Houston, Jim Watts, John Withers, Eric Healey, Peter Bazelt, Keith Britton and I believe that we all agree that Bougainville shaped our future lives.
When reading the experiences of others on your website, it is obvious that many lives have been affected by the time that they spent on Bougainville.

It is a really great website and it shows that people love to be able to remember the time that they spent there.


Alan Wilson


ps: not sure about your decision to go to Kalimantan. I was there in 1997-8, during the drought, living right down in the south east corner, managing a power station for a cement plant. It was a 6 hour drive to Banjarmasin and it was rugged going.