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25 February 2015


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I have just stumbled onto this feed and I thank you all for your kind comments. In reply:

Rob Parer: Mob 0418182600

John Rutter: the only Mendi based pilot who thought cash fares had to be repatriated to the company! I hope your aviation career was a happy one John.

Frank Johnson: 15yrs ago I was on hols in Queenstown and drove down to Invercargill to do 2 things. 1 Have a feed of Bluff Oysters and lobster. 2 find Frank who last heard of was a LAME with NAC there. Result some sort of disease in oysters and all lobsters exported to USA. No one knew Frank. Good to hear you are still in land of the living.Love to Maureen.

"Fums" Bladwell: I live 6mths on the Sunshine Coast and 6mth in Townsville glad to catch up.

Keith and Graham: Geoff was my brother, passed away from cancer aged 28. My contact for any more signed books.

Halfway through " Living on the Edge " & what an amazing writer as his descriptions of all he observed as an 18 year old kid are phenomenal.

Even every day stuff he brings to life.So once he gets to leaving his parents coffee plantation at Hagen & going to Madang to catch a coastal boat everything is new to him & can be seen through his eyes. Published in 2014 & wonder it hasn't won any awards!

I too went at the age of 17 to run Tadji Plantation at Aitape in 1954 & was there for over 50 years & heard so much of the fabled Western Islands of which Wuvulu Is. was only 80 miles from Aitape but never got to see any of them.

Over the years coastal boats " Meklon" "Sorengana" "Fatima Star" "Rudolf Whalen: and "Kathleen" came to pick up our copra & also went to various islands there & so heard so much about them.

The government boats were captained by legends. One legged Aarman Goya Henry, Commander Dick Tedd, Joe Patanach.

Laurie Thomas (aka The Screaming Skull) captained many small ships along the North-West Coast & was a bundle of tricks to say the least!

Just read your book, amazing stuff. Always new there was something more to you than a C185 Captain - remember the night, out of Mendi, ran out of light, slept in a smoke filled hut!!

Best regards Dick & well done with the book. John Rutter

Geoff was Richards father. My partner at that time used to work for the Broomhead's on clerical duties about 1969.

Richard - What a great read, Brought back a lot of memories. Missed you in Chimbu by a couple of years.

Alan 'Waddles' Wardell was our resident TAL Qantas
cadet in 1969-70. His farewell to Chimbu was to do barrel roles in the push-pull Skymaster over Kundiawa.

I last saw Alan on the TAL plant and transport spare parts
charter I got a lift on from Rabaul to Kimbe in 1979.
He was on leave from Qantas and earning a few bob extra
from Junior Buchanan to enlarge his garage in Sydney.

I last ran into the late Bill 'Cunning Bill' Cunningham in a magnificent yacht in Kieta in 1978. He was en route from Hawaii to Lae.

He said to me: "Bill, I have an American lady with me. You can have her."

I replied: "Bill, I have my 24 year old bride at home. I'm
unable to help."

Richard I wish you and yours all the very best.

Slim Kaikai informs me that "Jeff Broomhead fell in love with the coffee rich country of Papua New Guinea while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force during WWII. In 1956, after the war was over, Geoff’s grandfather returned to Papua New Guinea with his wife and four sons", one of whom was Richard.

Ah, warm memories of early Chimbu days. By any measure "Big Red" Dick Broomhead was always an imposing sight whenever he approached the bar of the Chimbu Club. From his carrot top to his tall and imposing frame and his friendly greeting of g'day.

This he did on a regular basis as he plied cargo along the mud-hole,which in those days was the Highlands Highway. If my fading memory serves me correctly, he drove for Buckland Transport and became a regular on the Kundiawa scene.

I know Dick worked long and hard to put himself through commercial pilot training. Clearly he made flying a highly successful career.

Wonderful to hear that Dick has put pen to paper to record his life and times in PNG during the 60's. Sad that it has been written under the pressure of fading health.

Dick, if you happen to read this post, I wish you all the best and hope to catch up for a coldie and a good yarn about our wonderful Chimbu days.

Of course on such an occasion,'Taddie" Jackson will also be good for a shout or two!

Is Richard any relation to Geoff who managed a coffee plantation near the Banz-Kudjip road and whom we got to know quite well whilst we were at Banz (1963/64)?

I recall that he had relatives in that area. perhaps a reader could confirm this for us - KJ

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