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March 3, 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

March 1, 2017

Aerial View of Bougainville


 

February 28, 2017

Reopening by 2020?


 

February 9, 2017

What a story!

 

My Canadian friend from my Bougainville days complained about the freezing cold in his homeland. So I emailed him back, suggesting he should've stayed in Australia. I had barely pressed the 'send' button, when this Australian citizenship certificate appeared on my screen.

"Shit!" I exclaimed, "You're one of us! Is this a real one or something you found on the internet?"

"No, of course it isn’t real or I would be there, taking full advantage of it", he replied.

And he explained, "I did find that document, if you can call it that, about my permanent resident status in TPNG and now I remember that we were all issued one by MKF to cover their ass. They didn’t mean shit and it was some kind of an arrangement that they had made with the Australian Territorial government so that they could supposedly keep track of us. Didn’t work, of course ... it would be nice if I could print that Australian Citizenship document off on the right type of paper and make it work, but the likelihood of that is remote, to say the least. I would think that the only record Australia has of me, maybe, would be the fact that I paid taxes for three years, which makes me think that maybe they still owe me some money."

What a story! I wonder if any other ex-MKF employee can verify it. And to think that more than a year later, on December the 9th, 1971, I had to front up to Reserve Magistrate David Bruce Moorhouse in his office in the old Arawa plantation building to swear allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, and to observe faithfully the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen, before they gave me the same piece of paper.

Lucky for me, mine is genuine which allows me to right now wallow in a 40-degree heatwave at my home at "Riverbend" on the beautiful South Coast of New South Wales.

 

P.S. On second thoughts, there's something strange about this story because my own citizenship certificate of that time still prominently featured the Queen in all her bejewelled beauty. Did they give you the 'economy' version, Chris?

P.P.S. Well, going by the evidence sent in by another reader, there was an even more 'economy' version issued to those who came out as £10 Poms. The red colour was added by me to make up for the lack of it on the original.

 

Here's his story:

"Your BCL story had me checking out the quality of the certificate issued to me – they must have been on an economy drive at the time because there was no queen and no colour, indeed nothing fancy at all. Although I doubt the economy factor as Gough Whitlam and his band of merry men were in charge at the time and we all know how that ended up.

As an original £10 POM (or at least my parents were, I don’t know if they charged for children or even, perhaps, gave a discount for them) we British were never required to apply for Australian citizenship and probably very few ever bothered to do so unless they wanted to apply for an Australian passport or be involved in some other activity requiring citizenship. The point was that if you wanted it, you got it without going through the drama of a citizenship ceremony and there certainly wasn’t a requirement to be able to answer questions on Australiana flora and fauna or know the Don’s batting average.

And so it was and life moved on. THEN came the doyen of flashy dressers, Albert Jaime Grassby who decreed that ALL migrants, regardless of their source, would have to apply for citizenship under a new set of rules and participate in a citizenship ceremony. My recollection is that the timing of the announcement and the cut off date of 31 May 1974 was quite short and I was spurred into action, slightly annoyed at the inconvenience of it all particularly since I had never considered myself as anything other than an Aussie.

I presented my birth certificate and completed application form at the Sydney offices of the immigration office on the last day they accepted them under the old rules (i.e. 31 May 1974) and by letter dated 26 June 1974 I received my citizenship certificate acknowledging that as from that date I was truly accepted as a citizen of Australia. The certificate itself already looked a little worn, and as noted, totally without colour, but I suspect Al was reserving that for one of his many ties."

I wonder if they made him sit for the test:




January 30, 2017

Snorkelling at Loloho Beach


 

This is a recent clip of Loloho Beach but it's timeless and could've been taken back in the 70s when we all lived in Camp 6 and had all that glorious beach right on our doorstep.

Did we appreciate it as much as we should have? Perhaps not, as many of us spent what little time there was left after a long ten-hour working day inside the "boozer" which, thankfully, was also on the beach.

Still, I am grateful for the memories - as is my dermatologist who earns a good living cutting out the countless melanomas on my back which I acquired while snorkelling for hours off the beach at Loloho.

 

P.S. While watching the clip, please keep your eyes open for a left rubber sandal which I lost among the coral back in 1970 ☺

 

January 22, 2017

This says it all!

 

January 20, 2017

Owen Lysaght emailed from Melbourne:

Hi,

I worked for Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in the 1980’s and left in 1989. I worked at BCL through a firm called Skilled Engineering International, who for a short time were the Asia-Pacific part of Skilled Engineering, who are still operating now in Australia.

I worked at the Loloho Power Station on the original Bechtel drawings that were in German. My background was in Civil and Electrical from the Navy and we had one of the early versions of Autocad in our little design office, located next to the power station.

I was in my 20’s when I was at BCL and it was an adventure like no other. I can remember asking Ron McInnis one day if I could be shown how the assaying was done, no problem, try doing that in Australia. One day an ore carrier came in way too fast, went hard astern and our little office started to shake, we looked at each other and for a second imagined it coming over the road and ending up in the carpark.

I actually met Francis Ona in the early days of the conflict, before the towers started to be targeted and the BRA were still on speaking terms with BCL and the PNG government. It is tragic what has happened. How they thought they could secede from PNG when at the time BCL was 25% of the GDP.

After Bougainville, I worked for Riotinto iron ore in Perth and then Singapore, during the iron ore boom. I am currently in Melbourne and am looking for a role, maybe FIFO, somewhere in the world. The problem is, there are not enough mine shutdowns, gas turbines to be commissioned, ball mills that need to be built, and crushing plant that need to be designed.

Kind Regards
Owen Lysaght
Email: owen.lysaght[AT]gmail.com
Mobile: 0407 664 495
Skype: Owen.Lysaght

 

January 17, 2017

BCL Brochure