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The Die Was Cast - My Journey to New Guinea

The Bougainville Aftermath

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7 December 2017

... and here's the latest news:

 

RTG Mining hit 52-week highs on Tuesday after the junior explorer got the green light from Bougainville locals to start work on its copper and gold mine.

The historic partnership, the first of its kind in 30 years, pushed RTG shares as high as 34.5c before they cooled to 28c — a gain of 83 per cent for the day.

Consent from the traditional land owners is required for the issue of any exploration licence on their customary land at the Panguna 1.5 billion tonne copper and gold project on the central island of Bougainville, a process which has historically escalated to wide-scale political unrest on the island.

The region has long been known for its copper and gold prospects, but disputes between regional residents and explorers such as Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) have marred production since the early 1970s.

Conflict between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and Papua New Guinea Defence force escalated to a civil war in 1988 and took almost ten years to cease.

Now, the Autonomous Regional of Bougainville is seeking independence for its population of 250,000, with a target date of June15, 2019 set for a referendum on the topic.

They will be the ones to decide the fate of RTG’s application, now led by the traditional landowners, the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) and chairman Philip Miriori.

“We believe the proposal presented by the SMLOLA consortium represents a unique and once in a generational opportunity to responsibly re-open the Panguna Mine for the benefit of all Bougainvilleans,” the company told the market.

“RTG has always suggested that this is best achieved by discussion and negotiation with all relevant parties, including the ABG.”

In 2016, Rio’s subsidiary BCL was forced to abandon the mine in the face of attacks by rebels, transferring its take to the provincial and national governments at no cost.

 

3 August 2017

A message from the webmaster:


It is perhaps not surprising that this blog and the Bougainville website are dying a slow death. However, as the numbers of ex-Bougainville employees are diminishing, it puts an even greater responsibility on those who are left to keep recording those times which were important to us as well as to the island of Bougainville.

An old Bougainville friend from those early days, who stayed until the very end of the construction phase, wrote, "I remember clearing up old files after Bechtel left. There were a couple of box files filled with letters from women, solicitors, lawyers etc., all much of the same theme, so-and-so was believed to be working on the project and was wanted for child support payments, etc. The standard reply clipped under the lid was to the effect that there were over fifty companies working on the project with a total of 10,000 workers, and if the writer would please care to contact the respective company. Of course, they knew that if they dobbed in one guy, they would instantly lose a big percentage of the workforce."


Camp 6 Loloho
Click on image to enter Bougainville Copper Project website

Back then, 'home' was a 9x9ft donga tastefully decorated with PLAYBOY centrefolds of girls waxed to the point of martyrdom, where one's wordly possessions easily fitted into a 2ft-wide metal locker and one's needs for comfort were satisfied by a red plastic chair on the porch.


Life was so simple then; we were so innocent!

Or, at least, some of us were. The old saying that Papua New Guinea attracted three types of men, namely missionaries, moneymakers, and misfits, had to be rewritten for the Bougainville Copper Project to include those running away from their wives, the police, or themselves.

If you have an anecdote to contribute or some old photos, please email me at riverbendnelligen[AT]mail.com.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Goerman
PO Box 233
Batemans Bay NSW 2536
Australia
Email riverbendnelligen[AT]mail.com
Skype riverbend2

2 August 2017

Some old postcards

 

A Bechtel "piss-up" on Loloho Beach

 

1 August 2017

The Boozer at Camp 6

 

31 July 2017

Email received from Andrew Wilson in Brisbane:

Wow - I have stumbled across your website and am very grateful to you for establishing this repository of wonderful memories.

I am Andrew Wilson, son of Richard and Helen Wilson, who with my sister Julianne, arrived on Bougainville very early 1970. Helen and Richard are still in great shape, living in Sinnamon Park, Brisbane.

I'll check the facts of the following and do what I can to put together a selection of photos of our time, but largely as I recall it, Dad arrived late 1969 in a tug towing barges full of fuel, to add to the construction effort at Loloho. Dad was a BCL employee, and as far as I'm aware, had a great time in his tug for a few years during construction of the port, the power station and the precipitator (?) where the slurry from the mine was concentrated before export.

When we arrived we lived at Camp 6 and as an 8 year old, I was in complete heaven. I recall fondly our Canadian neighbours (the Hotaling's ?) the evenings in the community mess hall, where at Christmas that first year (1970) we kids where all rounded up and sang songs as part of the festivities. We where called the "Nuts and Bolts", and all us kids had a letter of the name pinned to our backs, turning around after the last song to the applause and laughs from those in the crowd.

A frightening time was a speed boat race, where two brand new, flash ski style boats with outboards had a race across the bay and back to a buoy right on the beach. A crowd assembled to watch (father and son ?) in these boats as they took off across the bay almost out of site, and came hurtling back. A yellow (?) buoy was in the water just off the reef, and to our assembled horror, one boat passed it to port, the other to starboard. They collided with one going over the foredeck of the other, its prop slicing through the deck. Abrupt silence then pandemonium, men took off across the beach into the water to find the submerged boats skipper, a short while later dragging an unconscious guy up the beach and administering mouth to mouth. First time I had seen grown men cry (and not just one).

As I recall my first school was at Toniva, and for the first few months we bounced all the way there and back in a Land Rover, and at some point went up market in Toyota, where I would weasel my way into the front seat and change gears for the driver. Great times.

At some point, school facilities where established in Arawa so the family found ourselves there, first school at Tupakas, then Bovo. We lived very close to the Bovo river, and you knew when it was raining hard up the mountains because of the noise of the boulders rumbling down the river. It was an amazing place, with so much rain, every day at the river was like your first with holders the size of cars constantly shifting.

I remember a teacher, a Mr O'Reilly who was to us kids a huge man with an enormous belly, the O in the O'Reilly !

It might have been some time in 1972 that Dad left BCL to work for the PNG government as harbour master Kieta, so Kieta ( happy valley) we went, back to school at Toniva. School uniform was a pair of swimmers and an Orange T shirt ! Bliss.

Your site has a video driving down the hill into Kieta, turning left at the bottom of the hill, past the Zero on a post, then along the beach to the Kieta sailing and cruising club - which dad and a couple of his Kiap mates (Hendo Henderson high among them) set up. The bank account was the "Kieta aleing and boozing club", and I still have a club burgee as a treasured possession. From there, sailing Quick Cats, Arafura Cadets, Sunfish, Fireball, Corsair etc, my love of sailing was born.

A short and shaky blast from the past ... a drive to Kieta Sailing and Cruising Club...1986

Along that road was the house where we lived, ( a brief shot of it in the video I think). My bed room louvers opened to the bay, and as the early morning light flooded in, so did the gentle sounds of the small waves lapping the sand, and the view across to Puk Puk. Oh my god, what memories that video has bought back. Thank you.

Clear memories of daily "gouriers", with Mt Bagana clearing her throat on an almost daily basis.

Fantastic years, more follows

Regards
Andrew Wilson
karinandrew[AT]gmail.com

 

25 June 2017

Panguna 2017 - oh, so sad!


 

22 May 2017

Finally: the Calvin Klein of PNG

 

19 May 2017

AIR NIUGINI In-Flight Magazine

 

"Paradise", the in-flight magazine of Air Niugini, is available in every seat of every Air Niugini international flight, and also on selected domestic services.

The first issue of "Paradise" was published in July 1976, following the founding of Air Niugini itself in 1973, and the year after Papua New Guinea achieved its independence. Early editions are now avidly sought by collectors.

To read its current or a back issue, click here.


 

PNG's most-smoked newspaper


 

16 May 2017

From the December 1969 issue of the PACIFIC ISLANDS MONTHLY:


 

Seventy years of Pacific Islands Monthlies

Click here, then click on 'Browse this Collection',
then use the drop-down menu to select 'Set 461-480' and click on 'Go' to go straight to 1970

 

The National Library has recently completed the digitisation of the entire run of the Pacific Islands Monthly magazine, from the first issue in 1930 to the last in 2000, and all the issues can be browsed or the text fully searched on Trove.

The Pacific Islands Monthly (PIM) was founded in Sydney by New Zealand born journalist Robert William (Robbie) Robson, who had moved to Australia during World War I. The first issue of PIM was in newspaper format and consisted of 12 pages. The number of pages gradually increased and by the 17th issue (December 1931) PIM had changed to a magazine style format. In later life it evolved into a glossier coloured magazine.

PIM was required reading for anyone interested in not only Papua New Guinea but also islands farther to the east, and after I'd moved to Guinea in the dying days of 1969, I never missed an issue. In fact, I've always thought that I got my first job in New Guinea with a firm of chartered accountants in Rabaul through a classified ad which I had placed in PIM sometime in late 1969, and some ten years ago even made a trip to the National Archives in Canberra with the express purpose of finding the ad and taking a copy of it.

I remember sitting in their cavernous reading room and paging through all twelve issues of their 1969 magazines and not finding anything that looked even close to the Job Wanted ad as I remembered it, "Young accountant (24), still studying, seeks position in the islands."


Now that PIM has been digitised, I've been able to search the same issues on the computer from the comfort of "Riverbend" but with the same result - NOTHING! So how and where did I advertise? One thing I know for certain: I did not reply to a Position Vacant advertisement. Strange how faulty one's memory can become.

Still, it was a treat to read those old issues and through them relive the six or seven years I spent in this wonderful and mysterious country that almost became a second home to me.

Take the opportunity to do your own exploring by either browsing through the issues looking for unexpected gems, or searching for particular people, places or topics. Endless hours of pleasure and edification await you!

Click here (click on 'Browse this Collection', then use the drop-down menu to select 'Set 461-480' and click on 'Go' to go straight to 1970).

 

14 May 2017

From the November 1989 issue of the "Pacific Islands Monthly":

 

For a more readable copy, click here

 





 

From the January 1989 issue of the "Pacific Islands Monthly":