In January '63 I left Adelaide for Sydney, excited to be on my first Fokker Friendship flight. Up there, the beaches and Adelaide looked great and I was temporarily distracted from emotions of anticipation and anxiety. A day later to ASOPA, perched on a magnificent sandstone headland reaching into Middle Harbour, its nearby suburbs of upper crust Sydney - and their enormous influence on night life. ASOPA - a cocktail of course work, male bonding at the Mosman Hotel, parties, dinners and theatre, no time outs, no substitutes; the clock was always running.
1963 was filled with my first car (a '48 Morris Minor), the first ASOPA Revue The natives are restless (a sensation), Vietnam heating up, JFK assassinated, Pope John's proclamations, the emergence of The Beatles, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan. 1964 was very different: studies; highs and lows of courting Jan; Alice Springs for ten crazy days with John Waters, who had never been outside Melbourne and Sydney; the second ASOPA revue, If you can't beat 'em - eat 'em; graduation.
Many times over the past 40 years, I have contemplated the question of what ASOPA meant to me, and to all of us. Of this I am sure: ASOPA was unique among tertiary institutions - anywhere. Staff and students recognised the challenges to be faced on all fronts and stimulated in each other a laid back but committed approach that would stand us in such good stead when facing the exciting challenges of servicing the education effort in Papua New Guinea and the Northern Territory. All chose 'a road less travelled'. ASOPA was for me a time, a place, an opportunity, a flexible experience, a turning point, a time of clarification and focus.
Epilogue: I can recall landing in Port Moresby in the wet of January '65 and thinking to myself ‘This feels like home’ and it never ceased to be that way. I had arrived in God's little acre.
After 16 years in PNG, Peter moved to the Northern Territory, where he held a number of senior executive positions including CEO of Mines and Energy, CEO of Territory Health and CEO of the Department of Employment, Education and Training. He has now retired to the Sunshine Coast.