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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

70 years of PIM are now available on the internet - click here


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30 November 2013

Hepi Krismas na Hepi Niu Yia


We have outsourced this year's Christmas Greetings to keep costs down.

To all those ex-Bougies who are still hanging out in Kalimantan "Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru"; to all our friends in Papua New Guinea "Hepi Krismas na Hepi Niu Yia"; to everyone else a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Christmas Party on Loloho Beach more than 40 years ago:

Please take some time out from all the merry-making and reflect on the many things you can be grateful for! And ponder again the age-old question,

"Why is a Christmas tree better than a man?"

Here at last is the answer:

It's always erect,
Stays up for 12 days and nights,
Has cute balls,
And even looks good with the lights on!

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

(This Christmas I'm putting Mistletoe in my back-pocket
so all the people who don't like me can kiss my ass!)

Your webmaster
Peter Goerman



And here's one for all you hopeless romantics out there to get you into the Christmas spirit of things:

A couple were Christmas shopping. The shopping centre was packed, and as the wife walked through one of the malls she was surprised when she looked around to find that her husband was nowhere to be seen. She was quite upset because they had a lot to do and she became so worried that she called him on her mobile phone to ask him where he was.

In a quiet voice he said, "Do you remember the jewellers we went into about five years ago where you fell in love with that diamond necklace that we couldn't afford, and I told you that I would get it for you one day?"

The wife choked up and started to cry and said, "Yes, I do remember that shop."

He replied, "Well, I'm in the pub next door."

Billy Tabone emailed from Sydney:


Came across your site quite by accident .... then I was stuck at the puter for hours!! What a great site you have created.

My brother, Charlie Tabone (passed away in 1998) was employed by Barclay Bros. in 1971 to do infrastructure work at Panguna and Arawa. I think at the time they were building the power station and civil works. I am 4 years younger than Charlie, and while he was working in Bougainville, I was doing building work in Sydney. I asked Charlie if he could see if he could get me a job in Bougainville and was surprised when a few weeks later, I received a letter from Barclays that there was a job there for me.

A couple of weeks later, I landed at Kieta Airport in sweltering conditions......(what have I gotten myself into??) After a bit of acclimatisation, I felt comfortable. I worked primarily with my brother for a few months on projects in Arawa, namely, the Tunuru service station with the carved 'totem poles' out at the front, the construction of the Morgan Equipment facility, the temporary school at Loloho and some of the MD2 housing at Arawa.

Unfortunately, I contracted malaria during my stint in Bougainville and was therefore unable to continue working and was flown back to Sydney. Charlie stayed on for approximately 6 months later then also returned home to Sydney where we commenced building 'spec' homes in the Hills District.

Some great memories remain with me of Bougainville.......the Arawa golf club with the dirt 'greens' (San Mig was great), the treks through the jungle discovering WW2 relics and the arduous drive to Buka for a Chinese meal!!

I am so saddened to see the state of the townships which we built...the gutted buildings, the burnt out trucks and equipment...just the deterioration of the whole place. I don't know much of the politics surrounding Bougainville, but hope one day that piece will reign again.

Billy Tabone

Bougainville 1978 Work truck

Bougainville 1978 (The Boys)

Bougainville 1978 Crusher

Bougainville 1978 Panguna

Bougainville 1978 Sect.23. MD2 housing

Bougainville 1978 Smoko break

26 November 2013

Doug White emailed from Alice Springs:


I worked on Bougainville March 1968 to March 1969. Employed by CRAE looked after the coreshed collecting Drill core from the numerous diamond drills on the site in the days before the mining commenced. Witnessed the hydraulicing trials and worked in the tunnels occasionally sampling etc and also worked in the pilot plant. Worked anywhere they wanted someone, had a great 12 months. I have a good few photos but not with me I will try and sort some out when I next head south my place near Adelaide.

Doug White
Area Operations Manager
Central Petroleum Limited

24 November 2013

Remember these?

No, not the cover girls!!!

(Although I seem to remember this one ☺ )

No, I am referring to the PACIFIC ISLANDS MONTHLY magazines which everyone in the Territory used to read.

The publication first appeared in August 1930 and it stopped, I think, sometime in the mid-1980s. What a pity!

If you have any old copies of PIM, don't throw them out! Mail them to me at PO Box 233, Batemans Bay N.S.W. 2536 and I publish some of the content on this blog.


P.S. All PIM copies are now available online - click here.


20 November 2013

German Harry

Aerial view of Deliverance Island
Aerial View from the North of Deliverance Island, called Warul Kawa (Island of Turtles)
in the Torres Strait Island language

"I was in Thursday Island and I wanted very much to go to New Guinea. Now the only way in which I could do this was by getting a pearling lugger to take me across the Arafura Sea. The pearl fishery at that time was in a bad way and a flock of neat little craft lay anchored in the harbour. I found a skipper with nothing much to do (the journey to Merauke and back could hardly take him less than a month) and with him I made the necessary arrangements. He engaged four Torres Straits islanders as crew (the boat was but nineteen tons) and we ransacked the local store for canned goods. A day or two before I sailed a man who owned a number of pearlers came to me and asked whether on my way I would stop at the island of Trebucket and leave a sack of flour, another of rice, and some magazines for the hermit who lived there."

So begins W. Somerset Maugham's story "German Harry".

To read more, click here.

14 November 2013

David Jorritsma emailed from Western Australia:


I have visited your site many times and thought it’s about time I asked you to put me on the roll. The family came to Bougainville initially when I worked for Morgan Equipment in 1975 before transferring to BCL in 1976 and looked after electrical side of the Euclid fleet until we came back to Perth to join Hamersley Iron in late 1980. Have lots of pics that I can load up if you wish taken during this period.

David and Carol Jorritsma
email dcjorritsma[AT]

12 November 2013

Tim Farrell emailed from Darwin:

I worked on Bougainville 1982 1983 for Zillmer Construction based at Kieta. Did a lot of work at Panguna , working through Wyn Spurr. Worked with Peter Wallerich, Peter Goodenhoff and Murray Alderton. Also drank a lot of SPs with them at the Halfway House at Kobuan across the road from Zillmers yard. Old Bill Chapman ran the Halfway house and there were some pretty crazy times; also at the Kieta Hotel with the Phantom. Good old days.

Arrived Aropa airport 1982 worked for Peter Zillmer at Kobuan with Bernard Schizling, of Scerosis music band fame, regular gigs at numerous Bougainville venues. Peter Wallerich a well known character on Bougainville with the long beard and supervisor at Zillmers, Kiwi Murray Edwards, who last time I saw him in 2008 was in his home town of Balclutha NZ, Tony Aburn, who passed on several years ago in his native Dunedin, I had a few good times with him there. Paul Burgess, the last I heard Paul was in Cairns. John Schwartz, don't know whereabouts, was married to Bougainvillean Monica. The Halfway house over the road from Zillmer yard was the venue of many a late night, Bill Chapman an old Aussie fella ran the place, it was frequented by Zillmer guys and the likes of Murray Alderton of Kieta Plumbing and Construction fame, Peter Goodenoof a well known Bougainville earthworks identity, Martin, not sure of surname maybe Riehardt, German mate of Peter Wallerich, an old fella Clive ,who was married to a local, Henry from Manus, there was a lot of SP, San Mig, and whisky and G&Ts drank there anyway. The Phantom at the Kieta Hotel, John Robertson of Toniva Earthmovers and his Fijian wife that were really good to me one time, thanks if you're out there. Had some experiences there, Tony Setu at Bovo Plantation, the trip by road to Buin in the landcruiser with John Schwartz and Paul Burgess, the road was absolutely shocking, ended up being an adventure, trips up the Jaba river to Barclays camp,the road was 4wd only. Work up at Panguna for Wyn Spur down at civil workshop, and that dreaded Policeman's corner on the road to Panguna, Discos at Loloho with Scerosis and their hit song Spangaray. Peter Zillmer with his Porsche 928, I think, zooming around the island, Helga who was real help in the office at Zillmers, Wally from Samurai province, Peter Wallerich the foreman, Charlie Wia and many more that made up the fabric that was Bougainville then.

Tim Farrell

11 November 2013

Bob Hope (no, not the Bob Hope) emailed from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland:

Hi Peter,

Been meaning to contact you for some time but life has a habit of interferring in casual pursuits.

My stay, with my family (wife Maureen, son Phelps, daughters Leanne Victoria and Janin), was on site 1971 through 1974. Prior to that period I was running the BCL engineering team in Melbourne from early 1970.

We were resident at Panguna during the construction and after start-up we continued for another year before we returned to Sydney and another career direction.

My family have the fondest memories of our period there and it is deeply embedded in their psyche.

Phelps went to boarding school in Sydney but the three girls attended the local school.

After a number of years in Oz and the USA with mining companies I finally became a consultant, being mainly engaged in formulating and negotiating mining contracts, including Lihir and Century Zinc. One of my consulting assignments was with the PNG Government in Port Moresby where I spent 3 months reviewing the Kennecott feasibility study on the Lihir project for them. In the office was a Bougainvillean who was a chief who had been condemned to death by the rebels and had to leave. Not sure now because of the passage of time but I recall his first name was Thomas and he worked for BCL in the early 70s.

The photos attached may be of interest.

Your effort in organising, establishing and running the website is a sterling effort and congratulations for that.

Currently we reside on the glorious Sunshine Coast with golf as the main activity.

Kind regards,
Robert (Bob) Hope

P.S. My families plan to see "Mr Pip" together, but in view of the review we may leave the grandchildren at home.

After the 17km run down the mountain to Loloho.
With Methodius who beat Robert whilst running in boots

Phelps, Maureen
Nina, Tory, Lana
at Kowalski's Sak Sak Kobuan Bougainville 1971

Us at Loloho, Bougainville

Loloho, Bougainville

Maureen's painting of Loloho Bougainville


9 November 2013

Alan Wilson emailed about "Mr Pip":



Just came back from the cinema where I saw Mr. PIP with "great expectations" of what Bougainville looked like around 1989. I saw it at the Palace Cinema in Balwyn but it seems to be showing at many others around Melbourne.

Hugh Laurie played an excellent part in the movie and the other actors (Bougainvillians) were really good, considering that they were all novices.

Just want to warn people that this movie is not for the faint-hearted. It is certainly not a travelogue and some of the brutality was not the nicest thing to see on the screen.

Not denying that this brutality happened during this time in the history of Bougainville, but not sure that I needed to experience it in such graphic detail.

As a matter of fact, the movie has left both my wife and myself with some quite unpleasant memories, which may take some time to subside.

Most of the scenes appear to have been shot in a village on a beach area similar to Loloho.

I don't want to put people off seeing the movie, just be prepared.

This movie will probably have a short run, as it may only appeal to a limited audience.

Alan Wilson

8 November 2013

For all PNG nostalgia heads


Here is your chance to see Downtown Port Moresby in the 1950s as seen in the Australian Classic 50s movie featuring Chips Rafferty, WALK INTO PARADISE which you can order from the Papua New Guinea Association of Australia Inc. - click here.


7 November 2013

Mike Cleary, one of the Panguna Bank Jonnies from 1973-1975, emailed from Sydney:

I was one of the Bank Jonnies at the Commbank (became PNG bank while I was there) in Panguna. We lived in Camp 1 until late 73 when we got moved down to Camp 6 at Loloho, and then later on to a building that the Bank purchased near Arawa Hospital.

Panguna was rough, but I loved it. We used to frequent the Cricket Club, but also the Wet Mess at Camp 1, and sometimes the Karoona? Tavern, not to mention a few 'movies' at the Chopper pad.

The boss in my time was Rex Mulligan, who lived down at Arawa with his wife and 3 kids. Others there then were Ron White, Vince O'Brien, Renzo Lusa (Rinso), Don Armstrong. Peter Doolan had left a few months before, though I did know him from years earlier. Some of the names that I see here ring bells.

Loloho was like a holiday camp, Wet mess under the coconut trees (a nut fell one day, missed us by inches!!), lay on the beach etc. Arawa was..well...somewhere to sleep.

The daily drive up the mountain to work was always interesting, the return was hairy....esp with a few drinks on board, careful you don't run over someone at Birempa? (Camp 5) too.

Would be good to see the place up and running again one day, can always hope.

I stayed with the Commbank in various areas, and retired in 2010. These days I split my time between Sydney and Taiwan, where my partner originates from.

Mike Cleary

4 November 2013

Ken Franklin emailed from Capalaba in Queensland:

Hi Peter,

I regret to report that my friend and room mate from Commbank Kieta, Peter Morris, has recently passed away. Peter was an avid web surfer and had many opinions which he posted on his Facebook page. It is through this that I finally linked up again with him. I was surfing the web and googled Bougainville Copper. Your site popped up and there was Peter Morris - click here. I had the pleasure of seeing him in London several times.

Thankyou for your foresight in creating this site.

Peter was a caring and generous man and spent a lot of his time caring for his wife who has MS. He is sadly missed.

Ken Franklin