Saturday, December 06, 2014

Retrospective: Our 4 Years in Papua New Guinea. Part One: Goroka

In 1974 I had been working as an Air Traffic Controller for 2 years, and married for 3. My sense of adventure kicked in and I applied for a transfer to Papua New Guinea.
We didn't know what to expect. Robyn was pregnant with Michael and we lobbed in Goroka, in the PNG Eastern Highlands, in December 1974, just a week or so before Cyclone Tracey hit Darwin.
We had a couple of days in the Bird of Paradise hotel before our house was ready.  On our first day there was a Payback ceremony marching down the street right in front of the hotel. We started to wonder what we had got ourselves into.
Here's Robyn on the top deck.

 I managed to get quite a few flights with friends in light aircraft and in helicopters and snapped away with my camera whenever I could.
Here's our house. 

Some aerial photos of Goroka airport.
Here's a recent photo of the Terminal buildings I found on the internet. When I was there, the Control Tower was the blue box on the right hand end of the blue building.
The new Tower in the left of the photo is a relatively recent addition. It was procedural Approach control, no radar, just a microphone and a pair of binoculars.
Our usual traffic consisted of F27 Fokker Friendships, DHC6 Twin Otters, and a whole range of Cessnas. It was a big deal when a jet dropped in, especially a cool Lear Jet.
We regularly had the local entrepreneurs come to the Tower to see if we would buy their carvings. I particularly remember this guy and I've still got the carving.
Our boss at Goroka, David Hunter, had a trout farm at a place called Kotuni, a few miles away. We used to go up there and scoop out a couple of trout, knock them on the head with a knuckle, and take them home for dinner. Yummo.
In June 1975, Michael was born at Goroka Base Hospital. It was an interesting experience for all of us. Fortunately the medical staff were top notch with some Specialists doing tropical medicine training up there. Straight after Michael was born I found myself on my back in a corridor wondering what on Earth was happening. Robyn and Michael survived better than I did.

He was a happy boy from Day One and would smile at everybody.


He really enjoyed a good sleep.

Goroka Show is world famous. This is part of the Showgrounds.


We took this photo with one of the area's Leaders. They loved little white kids and quite often would rub their hands on our skin to see if the "white" came off.

 Christmas 1975.
It seemed I was the natural choice to be Santa.
How's that song go? I saw Mummy kissing Santa Claus.

We had just over 12 months in Goroka. It was very good socially and professionally. In particular, my SAR skills got a real workout (unfortunately) with regular searches going on.