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The Bougainville Aftermath

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27 April 2016

Mike Macey emailed:


I was on Bougainville in the early seventies, working for John Hornibrook in his Loloho workshop, we were supporting the destruction of the mountain to build the power station, we were taken over by Bechtel, there were several incidents while I was there.

The beer container went missing off the ship. Anzac day, pub was open early for all day drinking, police closed it down before 11 am because of the fighting, riot team flew from PM to sort it out.

Riots in the camp because of the food, Chinese cook took a lot of stick because of that.

email mike[AT]


RIP Bob Dean

We regret to advise of the passing of Bob Dean, on the 16th April 2016. Our condolences go to all of the extended Dean families, from Tassie to Lao and beyond.

Bob was born on the 13th May, 1942 in Tasmania. From 1958 to 1965 he was employed by the Phoenix Foundry, In Launceston including to complete his apprenticeship. He them ventured to the mainland and spent time as a tradesman with John Brown, Bechtel, EPT and Eglo. In 1970 he commenced a long association with Bechtel. This was on the construction phase of the BCL Crushing and Milling facilities. Bob adapted quickly to the Bechtel style of operation. He was popular with the American management and, with his calm, unflappable manner, he was an effective buffer between the management and the men. Amongst the mass of workers who attended the site each day Bob was always conspicuous with his silver hard hat. In those days there were hats of all colours and makes but I can remember that there was only a single silver hat. After Bougainville Bechtel sent Bob to Freeport for 6 months. He was then snapped up by BCL to assist with the commissioning of the plant. He spent many years from Foreman to Superintendent, managing the mill mechanical maintenance department. John Schmiter preceded Bob in this role. Malcolm Calvert was the head of engineering, based in B60. Other managers who operated near to Bob include John Tynan, Bruce Machen, Rudi Wiess and Fred Kastner. Bob and Bruce were tremendous mates. They had an interesting management style and it was a style that proved to be most effective. I was a maintenance planner and trainer for several years around this time so I was fortunate to observe at close quarters their significant achievements. I reported to John and Bruce via the Chief Planner, Pete Martin. In those days we did not have computers. The planning works were extremely labour intensive. Training was a critical function at Bob`s level. He took a keen interest in all matters, mill training. In later years, even some of the senior roles were localised but the maintenance times and the work quality associated with our shutdowns continued to improve. Testament to Bob`s achievements in the sphere of training was associated with a visit from a group of maintenance engineers from BHP, from Mt Newman. They sought an understanding as to why our liner change shutdowns were so time efficient. Come the mid-80`s a Repairman by the name of Jack Wesley was the maintenance planner. Jack possessed quite minimal formal education but it did hold him back. From the Mill Operations Dept, Bob worked next to Ross Holborow, Peter Colbert, Barry Deans and others. For much of the time Bob was in the Bougainville concentrator, Ted Petherick was the Mill Electrical Superintendent. (thank you, Ted, Ross, Ray Knight and Bob`s brother for getting the sad news through to my desk).

Bob and family departed Bougainville in1988. There followed a 4 year stint in Tassie with Southern Aluminium and Comalco. There was a 5 year appointment at Weipa and 3 years at Ernst Henry. His career drew towards a close with significant senior appointments in Argentina, Eqypt and in Lao.

Whenever he could Bob would hire people from his old Bougainville team. Mr Ray, Graeme Talbot and the badger, Peter Koglin, were some to benefit from this.

Bob and Maxine enjoyed the expatriate lifestyle and Bob made every endeavour to continue in such roles.


22 April 2016

Stuart Eccles sent these photos:

Hi, here are a bunch of photos my mum, Rita Eccles, who was a nurse on the mine, scanned recently. My dad, John Eccles, worked on the paper and many are shots of his trips about the island.

Stuart Eccles
email eccles.stuart[AT]



14 April 2016

Phil Wilson emailed:

Love the blog. I worked in Bougainville from 1974 to 1977, firstly for Blackwood Hodge and then for Buin Earthmoving.

I still look back at those times as one of the highlights of my life so far, what a blast. I worked on the construction of the road from Morgan Equipment to Tinputz and had a camp on the Pienai River, widened sections of the road between Arawa and Kieta, worked up at Bonis and Dios Plantations and worked on the road from Buin to Kieta.

I met many a character whilst there and have fond memories of the fishing club and the Sports and Social club. I often wonder what happened to many of those guys like Warren Haig "The Watcher", "The Sheriff", Sally Jenkins, Vic Caruana, "Carrots and bananas"', "The Dog" Ian Forrester, Ted Ragowski, "Rags", Wyn Spur as they all liked a cold beer on a hot day.

I would like to go back to the Island one day and see if any of the local blokes I worked with made it through the war as most of them came from the Siwai, Buin area. Such a pity that this beautiful place was ravaged as it was. Hopefully it can recover.

Thanks again for your perseverance over the years. It is great to read about other people's experiences there.

Phil Wilson
email phil_w[AT]