About cassmob

I'm a Queenslander by birth and after nearly 20 years in the Northern Territory I've returned to my home state. I've been researching my Queensland ancestors for nearly 30 years and like most Aussies I'm a typical "mongrel" with English, Irish, Scottish and German ancestry.

Travel and the Trobriands

AtoZ2019TThis series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea was my  introduction to travel

Not just for work relocations

But on charter flights or

Trips Down South to family and friends.

Photos taken by Les Cass at the Trobs, probably from the 1960s.

Charter flights for government work

Meant surplus seats offered to others

Anthropology 101 and Malinowski

Brought to life

On my first adventure to the Trobriands –

Painted gourds with pig tusks

Carvings of all sorts

Near naked men in loin cloths

You’re not in Brisbane now, Pauleen.

He is on a work trip and I get to joy ride

Off to Woodlark Island where I see surfPauleen and Peter Amsterdam

Then making it back to Losuia – just

Confound that 100 foot hill in the clouds.

A working-class girl from suburban Brisbane

I never anticipated travelling to Europe

Despite my enthusiasm and aspirations

Employment conditions change all that.

On leave every two years at first then every year

Airfare Goroka to Melbourne goes a long way

Towards Port Moresby to Europe.

Acropolis si

Acropolis 1974.

We tell the kids “go Rome, Athens?”

Then the offer comes…

“Go grandma’s?”. “No, Athens!”.

Now I can’t believe we left them so long

Thinking this would be “once in a lifetime”.

On another leave we introduce them

To New Zealand and interstate Australia

Visiting friends along the way.

High on a mountain Louisa Rach and Peter NZ 1975

In NZ….Those grins suggest they’re having fun! Himself is even wearing woollies!

Three years later they have quite an adventure

Pauleen Rach Louisa eat gelati 1st day Rome 1977

Even gelati barely cuts it when you’re tired and jet lagged.

“Go Rome” is not such fun after a long, long flight

Port Moresby – Manila – Bangkok – Karachi-Teheran

Arriving in Rome at “sparrow fart” all tired and frazzled

But we did see Mt Etna with snow and still steaming.

Three Coins in a Fountain becomes one daughter’s obsession

Thereafter all water needs coins!

Building snowmen Lucerne Easter 1977 Pauleen Louisa Rach

Our first snowman albeit a feeble effort.

I still see their faces full of excitement

Peter and girls at Buck Palace

Just a little snack outside Buckingham Palace.

On arrival at the station in Venice.

Stolen passport and money

Make Amsterdam a challenge.

New Delhi was another challenge too far

Those very long-haul flights don’t help.

However, Kathmandu exploring was fine

Supported by our friends who lived there

Louisa and Rach train Scotland

Trains, ferries, buses, cable cars, planes – they had quite an adventure! On the train in the Scottish Highlands.

A flight to see Everest

How many 6 and 4 year children can say that?

Himalaya and Everest

Mt Everest with its characteristic snow whisp.

So many adventures that we would never have had

Without our time in Papua New Guinea.

Tok Pisin:

tambu – forbidden

em tasol – that’s all – regularly used, even now

tenkyu tru – thank you very much

tingting – think













Sogeri, Samarai and Sadness

This series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

Homesick and overwhelmed

By sights, sounds and smells

I write lengthy epistles


As blank as my lost letters.

To family and friends far away.

Countless pages about PNG’s

People, places and experiences

Sadly lost to posterity

In the backyard bonfire

Not realising their value to me.

I could weep at the loss

And wish I’d kept a journal instead.

We collate our combined memories:

Collecting a hire car

We drive his sister

From the Davara Motel to UPNG

People wandering home at Waigani

Singing and playing their guitars

Sliding door moments in Darwin

Evoke similar scenes and memories.

We take a day trip to Sogeri, now lost to my memory

His second home in Papua New Guinea.

Up the front steps, not his childhood route

Through the kitchen or windows

Prince Philip and Koitaki club.JPG

I was amused by this story about Prince Philip at the lavish Koitaki Club.  EVERYONE ASKS (1956, November 26). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 8.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71767955


We meet a missionary who greets us but doesn’t engage.

The concrete water dam out front, now empty,

Once pumped water to wartime army camps.

Then a playground for school kids who teased Shem, the dog

Until he was sent to a plantation at Brown River.

In a drought the water was brought in

The truck misjudged and broke through the septic tank

80 school boys, really young men

Go “Ensa, Huuuup!” and move it off the tank. Job done.

In his day swimming was more posh

At the Koitaki Country Club pool

Pauleen with Louisa and Rachel

Years later on day trips

Our kids would swim in nearby Crystal Rapids.

In the isolation of Alotau, a trip to Samarai

Was our trip to the Big Smoke –

The choice of Burns Philp (BPs) or Steamies (Steamships)

Both places where he worked in school holidays

My first gifts from him were from there.


All that remained of BPs in 2012. P Cass

Travelling to Samarai on a government trawler

With other government wives offered

Opportunities for shopping indulgence and choices

The travel was tedious, hours long, on the deck, not cabins

The redolent smell of diesel.

The curiosity of those who knew him as a teen

Checking out his new misis.


The school where his mother taught.

Decades later we return to see an island lost in time

No longer thriving shops, churches or schools

His home no longer stands but memories remain

Of school, Catalinas, and swimming at Deka Deka or

Rude tourists who raid shells under their house.

He is reconciled, I feel his loss.

You can read more about Samarai and our return trip in 2012 on my Troppont blog.

Tok Pisin:

save – (sounds a bit like savvy), know

sampela – some

samting – something

sodawara – sodawater was the word typically used for soft drinks

susu – milk




Genea-journeying – my tips

A friend asked on Facebook about the best strategy for doing genealogy journeys to the

P1070724 edit_edited-1

The sixpenny gatehouse for Ardkinglas estate where my James McCorkindale/McCorquodale lived.

United Kingdom – one trip or more? My response was definitely more than one to allow for learning and evaluating what one finds. It’s also made me think in greater depth about what I’ve learned over multiple trips to pursue my family history – as well as general travel. What worked, what maybe didn’t etc. Thanks to my friend Sharon who provoked this thought process.

What credentials do I have to speak on this topic? Well, I was a late starter to travel only commencing in my 20s but I’ve made up for it since. I’ve done multiple research trips, solo or with my other half. I’ve visited archives, libraries, places and cemeteries across the relevant states of Australia (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania), Ireland, England, Scotland and Germany (Bavaria).

So here are my tips, for what they’re worth. They will change with time because, as we know, nothing stays constant in the digital modern world.

Flights etc

When you live Down Under, unless you’re travelling within Oz, your first step is flights. Unlike our ancestors we no longer have to spend months at sea, though I have often reflected that perhaps our tolerance for long-distance travel was formed by their endurance on emigration.

We only ever fly economy. As much as turning left instead of right appeals once on board, I think of what else we can do with the dollars, or points, and reconcile myself to a tedious 24+ hours on the journey with minimal sleep (if I’m lucky). And at nearly 6 feet tall and with the airlines’ decreasing seat pitch, it’s certainly tedious, but like childbirth it’s soon enough forgotten. If you arrive in the early hours of daylight, keep going, get out in the sun and do something – I’ve found this the best way to combat jetlag.

Backrow farmhouse Sim home 2

My Sim family’s residence for a great many years, Backrow (aka Backraw) farmhouse, Bothkennar, Stirlingshire.

Compared to the flight costs, the expense on the ground is what adds up: the accommodation, hire car, meals, admissions etc. It’s the exchange rate that makes the difference – we’ve indulged when it’s been in our favour, and been “cheap Charlies” when it hasn’t.  At least we’ve balanced cheap accommodation on some nights with more comfortable accommodation on others. I don’t really subscribe to the theory that hotels are only a place to lay your head….for me it’s part of the experience. Travelodges and the like are fine when you’re in transit, being just off the motorways, but other times I want to stay in something like an oast house in Kent.

Take certified copies of your passport, certificates, insurance documents, and spare passport photos in case of theft.

A postcard of Das Goldene Fass mid-20thC. Kindly provided to me by Georg Veh, local historian.

Das Goldene Fass before its demolition for a bank in the 1960s. Image kindly provided by Georg Veh.


Apart from my thoughts above, one thing I consider is where is best to stay when I’m doing research in places that are less travelled. I’ve learned that it’s wise to stay at least one night in the area so you can avail yourself of local knowledge and maybe engender some curiosity about you – which might lead to more family information. Sadly, my ancestors’ inn in Dorfprozelten has been demolished so we had to stay in another one that dates from a similar time.

If you’ve made connections with cousins who still live nearby it gives you a chance to have a meal or a drink.

Leith shore and Melvins

Shore, Leith © Pauleen Cass 2010

When to go?

We have traditionally travelled off season – between October (the earliest) and May (the latest). This reduces cost and the impact of other tourists, but has to be balanced against weather, and whether the places you want to visit are accessible, or the research centres are closed for the season.

Internal travel at destination

On our first trips overseas we used train travel, but ever since we’ve used hire cars to get around, and frankly I don’t see how else you could do it, unless your ancestors came from one of the great urban areas like London or Glasgow. I have membership with various hire car companies which makes it both cheaper and easier when travelling. It also minimises the hassle if you have a family emergency at home and need to change your travel plans.

If you’re in a city, explore what local transport cards area available for bus, train or ferry. Apply before you leave home if possible.


Courtown Harbour. Photo P Cass 2016.

Research Homework

Now to the tough stuff. You absolutely MUST do your homework before you leave. Don’t head off overseas (or anywhere really) thinking that information will magically appear once you’re on the ground. Once it would have been a case of using fiche or microfilm but now we have the digitised resources online, some original images, some derivative or indexes.  Pretty much all libraries and archives have their catalogues online as well as their opening hours, guides, and other relevant information.


The church at Sandon in Hertfordshire where my Kent ancestors worshipped and held parish roles. P Cass 2010.

In particular, check:

  • Do you need a photo image? I didn’t when I went to the Scottish Record Office years ago and wasted time finding a photo shop to take a passport image. Now I always travel with spares (good “insurance” too if your documents are stolen).
  • What hours are they open and what days? Do they have lunch breaks? We got caught in Argyll because the archives took a lunch break….but I did find a nice pair of earrings as well as getting some food 😉
  • They’re not closing for public holidays etc etc.
  • Maybe there’s a genealogy conference you can tie into your visit – we were lucky when visiting Glasgow that there was a publicity event happening for genealogy and local history.
  • Lots of my genimates are signing up for RootsTech London or The Genealogy Show but I’ve decided against (so far!). I’ve been to London before and done some research so it’s not highest on my list right now though I’d love to reconnect with my genimates who are going. I look at the content of what’s on offer and what else has been on my travel bucket list before I make my decision. You can see my conference Pros and Cons

The house where Mr Cassmob’s ancestors lived before emigrating to Australia. Photo P Cass 2010

Archives and Reference Libraries

I don’t know about you, but I always find it takes me time to settle into an archive or reference library. Yes, they have guides online these days, and useful tips and hints, which must be added to the pre-trip preparation. However, being on the ground still makes a difference.

Pre-trip I go through the catalogues and decide what I want to look at. Usually I will print off the references I want to follow up. Yes, I also save them as a running document, but I personally find it helpful to have the printed information as well. Once I’m finished there, the pre-trip paperwork goes in the bin. But not my discoveries of course! Make sure you save them online as you go so there’s no risk of loss.


Peter looks at his family’s graves at Moorgate near Retford, Nottinghamshire. Photo P Cass 2006.


  • Do you need to pre-book your research table? This can be especially relevant if it’s peak season.
  • Do you need to order in documents/records which are held off-site? Omitting this can play havoc with your plans.
  • How are you going to get to the repository? How often is public transport? Do you have the application completed for a reader’s ticket? Is there an “admission” fee? Check their website. It’s so much easier now with information online.
  • You can bet your bottom dollar that the most relevant piece of information will be found in the last five minutes or just as the collections are being closed for the day. Sigh.
  • Balance your prepared list with serendipity. I didn’t expect to be so enthralled by the Kirk Session records in Edinburgh but they really are a gold mine.
  • Use online records even if they cost you money. Personally, now it’s possible, I much prefer to spend my money on ScotlandsPeople at home where I can compare my other information and evaluate what I’ve found. This means when I’m on site I can focus on records that are only available offline.
  • Don’t forget the local archives – on my next Scottish trip I need to spend time at the Edinburgh City Archives. If only there was more time.

Choose a supportive, independent travel partner

I’d be lost without Mr Cassmob who invariably finds the very grave I want, no matter how we quadrant the cemetery. He’s also independent and is happy toddling off to a museum while I bury my nose in an archive. You can meet up for lunch, or spend the morning in a gallery and the afternoon each doing your own thing. He’s also good at looking like he cares what I’ve found that day, or pondering my plan for the next. <smile>

On the other hand, you do need to spend some time together since that’s part of why you’ve done this trip. Hmmm, was it a good choice to visit the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh on a gorgeously sunny day? That or a rare photo of Leith in the sunshine? The jury’s still out on that one.

On the other hand, he drove me from one sign to the other at North Shields while I looked like a drowned rat taking photos at each.

Decide which one of you is the better navigator or driver? Work to your skills…makes for a more harmonious trip <smile>.


Serendipity – without an introduction from the local priest I’d never have met Paddy Q who introduced me to my O’Brien ancestors’ land. Photo P Cass 2006.


Allow for a buffer in your schedule. This is definitely something I’ve learned over time and genea-journeys. Serendipity comes from the most bizarre sources – a friendly cat, or a helpful priest. Both have given me information I’d never have found elsewhere. It makes you feel like you’re in your own version of Who Do You Think You Are (WDYTYA). A chance enquiry of a bloke mowing his lawn led us to great information about Mr Cassmob’s Retford ancestors, and a delightful experience after the Sunday church service. You get such great personal memories and engaging conversations when serendipity enters your travel agenda.

Buffer days in your itinerary also help -either to give you down time or in case serendipity creates a great opportunity.


The view down the main street of Dorfprozelten, Bavaria where my Happ and Kunkel ancestors had lived. The bank is on the site of the inn shown above, Das Goldene Fass.

Other practicalities

I may touch on these in another post but in the meantime you can visit these prior posts here, here, here and here. Things to consider are: phones in remote places (yes, there still are some), wifi, what documents/records to take, how to take them etc.

My key tips:

  • Buy topographical maps of your families’ areas. They are a potential goldmine! See if you can buy them online before you leave, or search them out at a good bookshop or large newsagent. Taking mine is a priority for me.
  • Keep your most important documents online at Evernote, or Dropbox or Google Drive or whatever. You’ll have them wherever you are – so long as you have wifi and most accommodation now provides that at least. With an Evernote professional subscription you can also choose to make some documents available offline eg travel papers, insurance, family history. I haven’t caught up with what’s happening with Evernote but I’ll be bitterly disappointed if this facility ceases to exist.
  • Skype (or Facetime): get yourself set up before you leave so you can ring home cheaply. Skype lets you set up a phone number local to home so people can ring you without great expense. I also add some credit so I can ring via Skype if I need to.
  • Download apps relevant to the area you’re visiting.
  • Look up the location and hours of family history societies for your family’s area. Remember they may have indexed information that’s not readily available elsewhere.
  • Talk to those who’ve been to your family places before, if possible. Get their advice and tips.

Whatever you do, enjoy the trip, seeing your families’ places, and experiencing the country or region where they lived.

Do you have comments or tips to add?

Do check out David’s wise words in the comments about thinking why you’re going and what you want to achieve. Thanks David.

Religion PNG Style


This series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

An unexplored country

Offers opportunities for

Missionaries of all varieties

To cultivate Christianity


The old Anglican church on the island of Samarai was already disintegrating when we visited in 2012.

Carve out their own patch.

Anglicans, Catholics, Lutherans

United Church, Seventh Day Adventists

Assemblies of God,

One Ways and New Tribe Missions

Swiss Evangelical Brotherhood

Highland Christian Mission and more.

Who knew there were so many?

No wonder the country is largely Christian

Underpinned by traditional beliefs and witchcraft.

Pauleen Rach Peter and Louisa church Nth Goroka 1974

A family portrait outside North Goroka church.

On arrival I hear the stories and yarns

I meet the Catholic clergy and nuns

Men and women who have lived


A cluster of clergy from Hagita under the wing of the Tw’Otter.

Challenging lives of outreach

Living remotely on a shoestring

No “fat cats” among them.

The nun chasing an intruder

Flailing with a six cell torch,

Another who rides her horse in Chimbu

To do school inspections,

Catholic Cathedral Ela Beach Moresby

Catholic Cathedral near Ela Beach, Port Moresby. © P Cass 1975

Two fingers of whisky please, said the priest

With two fingers missing from the middle of his hand.

An American priest,

A former linebacker from Notre Dame,

Carries a double bed overhead.

Ecumenical study groups

Different religions and nationalities

A gathering of respect and fellowship

Over barbecues, beer and Glayva.


Rach christening Goroka

This family portrait is at home – in a plethora of paisley.

Our daughter is baptised at home

By our friend the priest from Milne Bay

In retrospect, were he and we

The only Catholics present?

DSC_0788 - Copy

The church in Alotau – not like this in our day.

Mass at the high school

Mass in the cinema among the buai

Easter Mass at Ladava

Moonlight over Milne Bay

Cane toads hopping towards the Coleman lamps.

Returning years later

We are now more conspicuous

Two white faces among the brown

Curious what brings us there.

Tok Pisin

Lotu – church

rabisim – “rubbish him”, make fun of

raskol – a euphemistic name for a trouble maker, gang member etc

rausim – get rid of








The Queen visits Goroka

AtoZ2019QThis series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

Misis Kwin I kam long Goroka

Na sindaun na lukluk nabaut[i]

Visitors come to Goroka to see one another

Tribal and royal


Queens visit Goroka 1974

Queen Elizabeth II, Mr Bernie Borok (Associate District Commissioner), Prince Philip.

Misis Kwin na man bilong en, Prince Philip

Princess Anne and Mark Phillips

Lord Louis Mountbatten.

Queens Visit GKA Anne Hubby and Mountbatten

Unknown, Princess Anne, Capt Mark Phillips, Lord Louis Mountbatten at Goroka airport.

A small town means

Minimal security

Despite spears and arrows.

We see the royals up close

At the airport, in town

And at the tribal gathering.

Paparazza Pauleen

Wields her camera.

The tribes gather en masse

Their feathered finery impresses

Queens visit GKA

Capt Mark Phillips, Barry Holloway (government Minister and MLA for the Eastern Highlands), Princess Anne at rear, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II at the Goroka Showgrounds

As they provide an honour guard

A little different from the bearskins

Of the Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace.

We wonder –

Were both groups bemused

One by a woman as boss?

The other by the primitive sights?

Tok Pisin

Pidgin doesn’t have words which begin with Q.

Queen – Misis Kwin






[i] The Queen came to Goroka and stopped to look around.AtoZ2019Q

Popondetta Recollections

AtoZ2019PThis series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

However, today’s post comes from my husband’s recollections of his first home in the Territory of Papua New Guinea when he was just a small boy. His father was in charge of the high school and technical school, his mother a teacher in the Australian-curriculum school.

A small boy stands with his sister

Family747Beside his dad in colonial whites

Framed by their bush material home.

Less than a decade since war ended here

An old Army Jeep under the house

The wartime road made of

Coconut trunks lying in mud

Be careful or a Land Rover

Will bog up to the wheel-well in mud.

Tropical nightfall brings flying foxes in many thousands

Heading for the food gardens

Taking an hour to pass overhead.

37 Lee and Peter 3rd house Popodetta 1955

The gecko watches the evening nibbles

Then sneaks down

Licking sugar off the jelly beans.

Under the house a cane bar

“Cass Bar” illuminated on a glass louvre

A kasbah, ha ha, where friends visited.


Patrol into Mt Lamington c1954. The two men would be police. © Les Cass

His dad ventures to explore Mt Lamington

Erodes the soles from his Dunlop Volleys.


A labour line takes a break or sets up camp. © Les Cass (The tropical mould has had its way with this image).

Bringing education to the people

His father walks into the site of a new school

The labour line carries the component parts

To be a government school after all.

His first school, his mother his first teacher

An A-school infiltrated by white ants

Their feelers holding up the structure.

Mt Lamington as a backdrop

Two years past its eruption

If it smokes all is okay, If not – beware.

28 Cass backyard Popondetta bet 1952 and 1956

Popondetta backyard but not the garden “boi”.

Garden bois swing their sarifs to clear the bush

Both wife murderers – a traditional act

White man’s justice means

They wear red laplaps marked with arrows.

On the coast outrigger canoes

Surf into the black sand beach.

Orokaiva ceremonial dress

Orokaiva people. Photo taken c1954 © Les Cass

Thank you Mr Cassmob for sharing these memories.

You can read an earlier post about Popondetta here.

Tok Pisin:

Boi – the Pidgin term at the time for local staff.

Pikinini – child

Painim – look for

Payback – compensation for an injury or death eg killing a person, or a pig.

pik – pig

pukpuk – crocodile

pekpek – faeces (don’t confuse these last three)



Olgeta Samting


“Wanem dispela ‘olgeta samting’?”[i]

A generic everything

Craft and artefacts

From places where we’ve lived.

Woven straw mat

For picnics in PNG or at the beach

Beaded necklaces as farewell gifts

Lufa rugs in grey or white.

bilumA favourite Buka basket

Far too small for even a small pikinini[ii].

Or a serving tray for canapes.

Bilums laboriously woven

Will carry heavy weights –

Babies or kaukau[iii]

Or many beach towels.

Decades old tapa cloth from Oro

Now live at the Queensland Museum.

Fierce faces carved in wood

Striped ebony the choicest timber

dukduk dancerDolphins and fish

Sharks and turtles.

Dukduk dancer

Beaten in copper.

All traditionally crafted

Of no value to others

Precious memories for us

Our life story as décor.

Tok Pisin:

em i orait – it’s okay

olgeta – all20190416_130544

olgeta samting – everything


[i] What is this “everything”?

[ii] Baby/child

[iii] Sweet potato

Meet the Speaker: Dr Anna Shnukal

Anna-SHNUKAL-1-225x300In the coming weeks Ambassadors for the Waves in Time 2019 conference will be introducing you to the speakers. You’ll get to learn a little about them, their expertise and what they will be sharing at the conference.

Today’s featured speaker is Dr Anna Shnukal.

I wonder if you could tell us a little about your background?  Are you a genealogist, researcher, historian or representing your organisation? 

I am a retired sociolinguist with an interest in the genealogy and history of Torres Strait. I have found that it is not possible to understand Islander society and culture without knowledge of both.


What do you love most about genealogy/family history/history/heraldry?

The challenge of the jigsaw and the thrill of discovery.


Have you attended a History Queensland Conference in previous years?

Unfortunately not but I am looking forward to it.


How do you think your topic/s will help the family & local historians at the Waves in Time Conference?

I hope that my presentation will provoke discussion about my general conclusions on the pitfalls and false trails of compiling Indigenous Australian family trees.


Do you have a favourite piece of advice or a tip or trick you can share with conference attendees?

Question everything — including your prior assumptions.


What do you think are the benefits of attending a large conference like this, for you personally and for others attending?

It is a chance to meet with people of similar interests, learn from their research and exchange ideas.


If you could pick one new project to do, what would it be? (Assuming no funding issues)

I would like rather to complete my long-avoided history of the Pacific Islanders and their descendants in Torres Strait from the 1860s to the present.
Thanks Anna for these insights. I think this presentation will educate anyone who attends and be very useful for those with Indigenous ancestry. I especially like Anna’s advice to question assumptions, including our own.
Disclaimer: As a Waves in Time Ambassador I receive a free registration in return for promoting the conference in various social media forums and on my blog.

New friends, old friends

This series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.AtoZ2019N

A country where expats

Move or are moved

From place to place

Is proof of the saying:

Friends for a reason

Neighbours, work or motherhood.

Louisa and Leah McNeice on Louisas 1st bday 1972 Nth Goroka

It’s not just the adults who share friendships. These two had a great time together and got into all sorts of mischief.

Friends for a season


Best mates in one place

Lost in a move.

Friends for a lifetime

Bonds form over

Cities, countries and continents

Treasured over decades.

Murphett at Madang 1975

Coincidence prevails – By chance I run into an old friend in Madang, and a uni friend in Goroka.

A good move reconnects us

With old friends and neighbours

Milne Bay to Goroka

Goroka to Gerehu

Gerehu to Australia.

Visits on leave South

With those “gone finish”.

We couldn’t forget cannoli and

Pauleen Louisa Leah

I’m sad to have lost touch with this little girl’s mum.


An Italian feast in Melbourne.

Exploring Sydney with others

Kids re-connecting

Laughter and chatting

“Is everybody happy?”

Remains Pat’s refrain.

Dinner parties as new wives

Expand our culinary skills –

Not yet aged enough to expand our waistlines

Curries, Fondues – that 70s staple

Beef Wellington and roast port with strawberries

Daiquiris with imported fruit or duty free spirits

Long frocks and Nehru jackets.


Rach at picnicBack yard barbeques

Conversations over beers

Kids play, swing and climb

Picnics and drives, squash and swimming


Pets are inherited from those departing

Whisky the blue heeler

Never loses her taste for mackerel pike

Brandi the beautiful cat

Our lovely Brandi catWho banished our Pedro,

Perhaps to a cooking pot,

Becomes ours and we weep bitter tears

As she goes to the vet before we leave

She knew, she knew.

Life as an expat was not always happy.


Milne Bay Magic

AtoZ2019MThis series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

My husband’s “place”

Has a place in my heart

Our first home

Many memories

Some clear, some faded.



This photo across the bay was taken in 2012.

A horseshoe shaped bay

The mouth facing the east

Edged on both sides by jungle and mountains

In the Wet Season the clouds descend

Wrap around the ranges

Obscure the bay

Stops the planes, mail and deliveries.


449 Milne Bay women Alotau 2012A friendly people

Smiles and hellos for

Sinebada and Taubada[i]

Now called dim-dims

Which doesn’t sound so pleasant.

Peace and tranquillity

Belie the recent history.


Milne Bay District, then

Milne Bay Province, now

PNG’s most eastern area

His father on the Kamonai,

The Education Department trawler,

Inspecting far-flung island schools

His mother home worrying

When the weather closes in

Or a cyclone is imminent.

Vacancies on charter flights

Offer opportunities to visit

Those islands more easily

Expanding my knowledge of this country

The excitement of seeing surf and white sand

On landing at Guasopa

Milne Bay women washing

These women are not reading like a sinebada.

A day trip or two to the Trobriands.

Decades later we return

Brimming with anticipation

It meets our expectations, memories and hopes.

The magic of a place that lives on in your heart.


Tok Pisin:

meri – woman

maski – forget about it – often used with children to tell them to leave something alone

muli – lemon

You can read more about our return to Milne Bay on this blog here which includes links to other posts.

[i] White woman and white man. I loved this quote I found online “Stop sitting like a sinebada reading. One day when you get married your husband will be cleaning the kitchen while you will be like the sinebada and reading a book”.  http://bukbilongpikinini.org/index.php/about-us?start=9