Zany, Quirky or Weird?

AtoZ2019ZThis 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?

 

The ground crew rush to the aircraft

“Take this box to Hagen”

“What’s in it?”

“Mosquitoes from the coast”

Aghast the tourist asks

“What happens if those things get loose in here?”

 

tiger-mosquito-49141_1920

zzzzzz zzzzz I suck your blood! Image from Pixabay.

Zzzzzzzz the annoying whine of a mozzie round your ears

Hope you’ve taken your Camoquin.

Ours is stored in a maxi Pablo jar –

To avoid the risk of poisoning –

Rationed out each Sunday.

——————–

Tinka and Tabitha

The dachsund and the acrobatic cat

Enliven our early mornings

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A PNG butterfly. Image from Wikipedia

Shredded tissues from one

Shredded butterflies the other

A colourful snowstorm in the bedroom.

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Now an adult cat, Tabitha decides to wake me up

And my eyes open to a kitten emerging onto my chest

No respecter of the delivering fur-mum

She is deposited promptly on the floor

My memory is that it was near Anzac Day…why?

—————

A Goroka event draws crowds

Meet up with Aunty Lee and

Let’s go see the gumithon…

Inner tubes and crazy passengers

Hurtle down the chilly river.

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Ferry crossing PNG style – between Kerema and Malalaua (Gulf District). All government vehicles were spray-painted (or bought) in this dark blue colour.

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A late night phone call frightens us

News of a colleague’s murder and

Name confusion in the panic

Anxiety and sadness follow.

————–

We head to the movies

To See Easy Rider

(Of which I remember nothing)

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What did the bishop say to the Prince? I’m lost for words! Independence ceremony at the Catholic Cathedral, Port Moresby 1975.

At the Goroka Cinema

Next to the Zokozoi Hotel.

And our truly weird movie experience

Papillon – for our anniversary

The only time we’ve walked out of a movie, I think.

—————

“Mummy, there’s bugs in my room”

“No there’s not, go to sleep”

Afternoon nap time in Moresby

Eventually I check it out

He is sound asleep with the small fan

Whirring away in flames, sending black specks

Over the space to their bedroom. Whoops, good save.

————-

 

You might think there’d be a zoo in PNG

Instead we took friends to the croc farm

Where we also saw cassowaries and

Magnificent Birds of Paradise

Day to Day we saw little fauna (frogs, snakes, geckos, possums)

And some ordinary birds

It may that many zoological specimens wound up as costumes.

Perhaps more quirky and weird than zany, but life was never dull in PNG.

 

 

X is for PNG Xmases

AtoZ2019XThis 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. 

Every year the Christmas food

Includes my grandmother’s pudding

And her Scottish shortbread

My mother’s Christmas cake

A traditional hot Christmas dinner

In the tropics! Were we mad?

Louisa Xmas at Kelvin Grove 1972

Christmas in Brisbane. This little one’s first – presents were for eating apparently.

On our first married Xmas

We visited the trade store

Bought a Mouskouri LP

And some baubles for our gum tree

Rain had socked us in

Alotau expats desperate for Xmas treats

Arriving at the last minute – PMF’s meat

Dinner with the Strangs.

——-

On our second married Xmas

On leave in Brisbane

Our baby’s first Christmas

Lots of small gifts and fun

Louisa and Xmas tree Goroka 1973

Her second Christmas – in North Goroka.

With her grandparents

Sadness at a family death.

——–

On our third married Xmas

Now in North Goroka

The little one is enthralled

Her eyes sparkle at the tree

———-

On our fourth married Xmas

Our family has grown larger

A sad little chicken greets her first Xmas

With very sore ears

A drive is needed to calm her down

Before gifts can be found

 

—-

On our fifth married Xmas

We’re in another town now

Our tree another gum

Smiles are seen all round

——

 

Our sixth married Xmas

Two sets of grandparents are now in town

A larger family Christmas

With our friends from all around.

—–

 

Our seventh married Xmas

We’re on our own again

Santa has brought a dolls house

Oh what fun!

—–

Xmas 1977 at Casses

Gerehuligans gather.

Our eighth married Xmas

Will be our last here

New T-shirts proudly state

Ima Gerehuligan

Friends come from Brisbane

Family875Escorted by our little travellers

Fully confident flying solo.

Our turn for Xmas lunch

The Gerehu-ligans bring their share

Sitting round the garden

The sangria is well received

The peach daiquiris are a treat

Fruit sent up from mum and dad.

Three women in matching dresses

In a local printed design

(where did that photo go?).

The kids play games

The adults chat

An excellent day all round.

 

 

 

 

Wewak Wandering

AtoZ2019WThis 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.

His father had two postings in Wewak

On the first, the headmaster

Brandi High School

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Himself with his dad – they didn’t look alike at all. Tinka the dachshund takes pride of place.

For him, a new sibling and

Religious education for boarding school.

 

On the second posting

His dad was District Superintendent

East Sepik District.

We were able to visit their house on the hill

And spend time with the family.

 

Tok Pisin:

wantok – friend or relation

wanem – what

wanpela – one person/thing

wantaim – together

waswas – shower/wash/bath

 

 

 

War in PNG – Anzac Day 2019

AtoZ2019WThis 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. 

No, I haven’t forgotten my alphabetical order, but today is Anzac Day in Australia so I’ve jumped over V to post W today.

Lest we forget

The meaning of war in the tropics

Comes home when you live there.

DSC_0586

The Battle of Milne Bay Memorial at Alotau.

The pounding rain, the heavy clouds

The dense jungle obscuring villages.

No wonder some men were overtaken by fear

As the leaves closed in on them

(do read this link and the comments especially)

This poem by David Campbell captures it also –

An extract from Men in Green:

Their eyes were bright, their looks were dull

Their skin had turned to clay

Nature had met them in the night

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Stained glass memorial in the Catholic church at Alotau. Photo P Cass 2012

And stalked them in the day.

And I think still of men in green

On the Soputa track

With fifteen spitting tommy-guns

To keep a jungle back.

Soon after my arrival in Milne Bay

Planes were searching through the clouds

For a crashed aircraft missing on a mountain of dense jungle

This sound on Anzac Day evoked a sense of war and danger

Bringing it home to me in a real way, not theoretical.

The Battle of Milne Bay should rank with Kokoka or Gallipoli

The first land defeat of the Japanese during the war

Needs to gain more prominence

A Victoria Cross won not far from our home

By Corporal John French from Crows Nest, Queensland.

World War I discovery in Milne Bay, Papua

Sadds Ridge Rd sign

The allied airfield at Gurney was adjacent to Gili Gili Plantation

Where my husband worked before our marriage

An old street sign found there is a proud heirloom

A reminder of some ANZAC

For whom it was a little bit of home.

 

 

 

French and so many other men who gave their lives

Are buried in Bomana Cemetery in Port Moresby

A site where we took our visitors.

Kokoka Track memorial

Owers’ Corner

Another historic location for us to visit was Owers’ Corner

Near Sogeri, on the Moresby side of the Kokoda Track.

Last week I talked about my husband’s early days in Popondetta

Less than a decade from the war

It had been near the northern end of Kokoda

So many men would have succumbed without their own courage

Or that of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels who supported them.

My uncle was an Army cook in PNG and I inherited his photographs. They do say an Army marches on its stomach.

 

 

Lest we forget

I have written two posts about Anzac Day as part of previous A to Z challenges:

V is for the Valiant of Villers-Brettoneux

V is for our Valiant Indigenous Anzacs.

 

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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

envelope-3172770_960_720

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.

27-old-bp-store1

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.

054-school-and-surrounds

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

AtoZ2019R

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

016-anglican-church-samarai

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

Family616

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?

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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.

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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.

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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

AtoZ2019O

“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

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[i] What is this “everything”?

[ii] Baby/child

[iii] Sweet potato