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30 November 2013

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