Uniformity in housing


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. 

Public Servants and expats in PNG

Were provided with housing

Fibro external walls mostly

Louvres in all the windows for the breeze

Basic furniture and appliances

Maintenance by the Public Works Department.

21 Alotau house Cass

Our first home was the AR16 allocated to Mr Cassmob’s parents, who were in Moresby for a few months. Photo probably 1968 before his mother worked her magic in the garden.

Standard designs meant we always knew

Where all the rooms were –

No confusion over bathroom trips.

No matter that we would have the same layout

The residents’ personality was displayed

In their own possessions and styling

Visiting new friends could be quite fascinating

Looking at books and souvenirs.

Alotau 1960s view house 1

The view of Milne Bay from the relaxation area house #1, taken circa 1968.

The size house you were allocated,

And the location,

Often depended on status as well as

Family size and general availability.

We had three houses in Alotau

Two were three-bedroom AR16s

High set with concrete underneath for entertaining

Or just a cool breeze and an evening drink.

Our house at Nth Goroka 1971

Our north Goroka AR20 with the laundry downstairs, a vegie patch in the back corner, and a village over the fence.

Our final house was an AR10, two bedrooms, low-set

Quite the pain in the Wet Season with an infant’s nappies.

All had slow combustion stoves for heating and cooking

Chopping wood was part of the day’s ritual.

In North Goroka our home was a highset AR20

The laundry in the open downstairs, dirt “floor”

Baby’s playpen was a packing case near me.

Twin tub washing machines meant lengthy laundry sessions

No wonder, I suppose, that many expats had local house staff

Louisa and Rach with Les Goroka 1973

My father-in-law with the kids outside our West Goroka house. Big bear had been very sick.

I feared that if I started married life like that I’d never readjust.

We moved to West Goroka just the week before #2 child was born

A Dillingham, three bedrooms, low set

Across from the hospital and on the PMV route

Self-government came while we lived there.

Brandi in lounge room in Moresby c1978

Our Gerehu house – lounge room. Don’t have a hangover with those 70s curtains!

Our move to Gerehu in Port Moresby

Came with an M-type house, three bedrooms, low set

Trapdoors in the bedroom required a bookcase on top

A favourite point of entry for raskols

We acquire an automatic machine and a water bed

Not the government issued metal frame

We must be grown-ups now.

Neighbours became good friends.

Some now deceased, others are like family.

Alotau, Milne Bay wharf

The view from house #3 in Alotau spoiled us forever – what else could come close?




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




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

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


Lufa Ramblings

AtoZ2019LThis 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.

Weekend drives to Lufa

Down the Highlands Highway with the family

Spectacular scenery

Lufa Rd

Mountains rise to the side

As we journey through the valley.

Returning one day

I learn the reality of a skid

No longer just theory

Luckily not on a mountain cliff.

Peter and Louisa Highland picnic PNG 1971Picnics with friends

Or just the kids

Spread the straw mat

Lay out food and coffee

As if by magic

We draw a crowd of locals

To observe this strange custom.


Highlands village nr Lufa

The Highlands can look empty –

Until you stop.

Small local villages

Enclosed by banis[i]

Seem designed to repel invaders

Round huts with thatched roofs

Lufa kids

Kids from the village near Lufa.

Built to keep in the heat

Smoke filters through and merges

With pig grease spread on the skin

Protects from the Highland weather

And gives that distinctive fragrance

Children curious about our passing.

An historic purchase from the co-op

Louisa SP Box 1972 Goroka

A beer carton and a bilum – what more does a small girl need. Perhaps an heirloom rug? Check out those 70s curtains!

The large grey Lufa woollen rug

Features in our home and

Will become a family heirloom

Its value in the memories it brings.

The perfect climate

Close to the equator but with altitude

Warm, not hot, in the day

Cool, if not chilly in the nights

Knitting rediscovered

As I craft children’s woollies.

Some memories are only snapshots

Jogged by a photo we took

Other details have become simply

A blank space in my mind after other experiences

Mipela lapun tru (I’m an old person)

Luckily two memories can be better than one.

Tok Pisin:

long long – crazy

lapun – old person

laik – like/want

laplap – like a sarong around the waist

liklik – little


[i] Banis is Pidgin for fence