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03 August 2010


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I lived at Rabaul (Nonga actually) and went to school there in 1971 and have been asked to give a talk on Rabaul at the CWA tonight.

It's been so lovely reading some of the history and articles on the place I hold dear. So very sorry to read that Chris Percival is deceased ... we were in the same class at school and I have fond memories of all our classmates.

I arrived in Rabaul in early 1979 fresh out of the Australian Army to become a teacher at Maltech.

Tamie to Paurier was the principal and some of the names I remember are Bill Soady, Graeme Grieves, Gerry Wynne, Graham Sutherland, Jim Hicks, Granger Nichols, Damien Gaynor and Pete Cortez.

I can visualise some of the others but names escape me.

Despite brownouts, no TV or decent radio, bouts of dengue fever, etc, it truly was a beautiful place to work and live.

I met and married my wife there and our first son spent his first two years there and was baby sat by Tammie's wife.

The scuba diving was second to none and I dove with Bob Clayton, Frank and Wendy Fischer and Stuart Mason to name a few.

The social life revolved around the New Guinea Club, scuba diving with picnics on the beach and the Filipinos.

We regrettably left in late 1983 after Maltech was to close and I was offered a contract at Arawa Tech. Lucky for us we did go as it turned out.

We still reminisce about the beauty of Rabaul and friends we made, some whom have passed on but others we still have long distance contact with.

I too have wonderful memories of Rabaul and I will be visiting in July this year to re-connect with my past.
My family was in Rabaul from 1966-1974 after spending time throughout PNG since 1956.

I attended Court St Primary and boarding school in Sydney but my teenage years were spent in Rabaul.

My father, (John Irvine Snr)was the Hospital Administrator at Nonga Base Hospital (now Nonga General) and my mother was a secretary at the hospital as well. We lived near the hospital and I had my own fishing canoe and used to ride my bike into Rabaul over Tunnel Hill (whew).

Names like Donald McKenzie, the Percival Brothers (Chris now deceased) and Ian Cuming come to mind. We had a ball in Rabaul learning to drink at the Kaivuna Hotel and the yacht club. Wouldn't change it for the world.

I hope I am not disappointed on my return but I still speak fluent Pidgin and hope the volcano hasn't taken away too many memories.

John Irvine

I was born at Nonga hospital in 1965. My father owned a bakery. I still get sad thinking about that beautiful lost town.

Went to school in Rabaul and we were there for the earthquakes.

We sat in class and counted until the teacher told us to stand and walk to the sports field.

The earth moved in waves and we staggered the distance. The rumbling was impressive and I thought it was the sound of the Beehives collapsing (one did and so did cliffs along the Kokopo Road and inland).

There was an evacuation plan in place at the time - we didn't use it because my Dad was working at OTC the night the tsunami was supposed to hit.

We lived in Tavur Street. I thought Rabaul the most beautiful place I had ever seen and sent school friends in Australia crazy just talking about it!

I was in Rabaul in 1971-72. My father was OIC at the weather station and I worked at the Commonwealth Bank.

I still think of how quiet, pretty and peacful it was and had visions of one day returning, but alas it is not how I remember it.

I have some photos of the tsunami that occurred on 26 July 1971. I remember both earthquakes for their strength; one was like a rolling wave and the other shook from side to side (we were watching the water tanks at the bank clap together as the ground went from on direction and back again!).

We lived at 35 Malaguna Road and I remember a houseboy named Bun-Bun who baby sat our house when we went out for the evenings - I gave him my guitar when we left.

I love to read about Rabaul. My wife and I went there in 1952 and stayed ten years.I managed town transport.

We carted scrap from the jungle - aircraft, torpedoes, you name it. Also a lot of propellers from the harbour, removed by some enterprising blokes.

I could have stayed but had five kids to educate. The Japs came back and removed the ships from the harbour. All very ineresting.

Rabaul will always be special in our family memories. I taught at Tavui Secretarial School (which became Rabaul Secretarial College and has now been re-established at Kokopo as a business college) and my husband taught at Malaguna Technical College.

Two of our children were born at Nonga Base Hospital and we still have many friends from Rabaul.

Thank you, Neville, for your history of Rabaul.

When I arrived the then TP&NG in 1961, I was fortunate to be sent to Rabaul, and I still love it. Been back a few times, including 1974-5.

The oil-palm seedling I planted [corner Mango and Namanula Avenues] survived the 1994 events, as I saw from satellite and aerial photos.

Long live Rabaul's beauty and charm, even if mostly in the hearts of us who live afar.

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