Friday, November 17, 2017

MY HUCKLEBERRY FRIEND....


Blue Box Cafe...Tiffany's, New York
Ron and me at the Cromwell College At Home....1963


One Saturday afternoon in 1954, along with my friend, whose name, coincidentally, was “Rhonda Friend”, I sat in Gympie’s Olympia Picture Theatre.  My eyes were glued to the screen, engrossed, oblivious to everything and everyone around me – Rhonda and Jaffas included.  

On that very afternoon I fell under the mesmerising spell of Audrey Hepburn. To this day the status quo remains. 

Alongside Gregory Peck as her handsome leading man, Audrey played the runaway princess in “Roman Holiday”. 

From the moment she appeared on the silver screen her star shone brightly.  

Audrey Hepburn passed away on 20th January, 1993. In my opinion, her star hasn’t dimmed.

Vividly I remember the exact moment, and what I was doing, when I learned of her death.  I feel no embarrassment in admitting I shed tears.  Many a tear has to fall, but it’s all in the game we know as....Life.   My reservoir of tears will never run dry, and no desalination plant is necessary.

When filming commenced on “Roman Holiday” Gregory Peck, who was already a major star in his own right, after only a short while in Audrey’s luminous presence, recognised the wondrous aura surrounding the special young woman before him.  Peck, always the gentleman, told the producers Hepburn’s name should have top billing on the movie’s credits, not his.   The producers followed Mr. Peck’s advice. 

Audrey won an Oscar for her role as “Crown Princess Ann”. 

I think Vespa scooters should have received an Oscar, too. 

“Roman Holiday” alerted the world’s attention to the Italian motor scooter, the name of which means “wasp” in Italian.  Everyone wanted a Vespa...just about everyone had one after they’d watched Audrey and Gregory buzz around the streets of Rome.  Even though, at the time, I was too young, I pined for one.  A couple of years later, I did, in fact, go for a ride on a Vespa, as a pillion passenger on the scooter owned by another friend’s older sister.  It was fun pretending I was Audrey Hepburn aka Princess Ann, if only for a short while.

Nine years later, and nine years older, in 1963, with my undiminished love of Audrey intact I stood beside “Ms Golightly” at the windows of New York’s famous jewellery store in the unforgettable, wonderful “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  

Sitting beside me that Saturday evening in a Brisbane movie theatre was a young man named “Ron”.  He was older than me by four years or so. He was an older brother of another friend of mine.  Said friend was a school teacher in Gympie at the time - which is how her brother's and my paths crossed.  He’d paid a visit to Gympie, and we met at a gathering his sister, Marj, my friend, had organised in his honour. 

Ron was attending Queensland University at St. Lucia, a Brisbane suburb.  He was a member of the Cromwell College Alumni.  He was studying Electrical Engineering.  Cromwell was named Cromwell College in honour of Oliver Cromwell, sometime Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Every other weekend for a couple of months or thereabouts, (which was the duration of Ron’s and my non-torrid “romance”) Marj and I headed off to Brisbane to stay with Ron and his housemate, who also attended Cromwell College.  They were renting a house in Ashgrove.

Our romance was of a simple, pure and innocent nature.  Music, philosophy, movies and reading were our majors.

Sadly, Ron passed away 15 years ago.  He introduced me to the writings of C.P. Snow, CBE, the English novelist and physical chemist. The books I bought and read then, still have pride of place on my shelves.

I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.  I have it stored in a set-top box; I have it on DVD, and on USB disc.  I think somewhere I probably still have the video cassette version as well.  Similar applies to “Roman Holiday”. 

Also, among my million LPs is the soundtrack to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”....a fabulous album.

No matter how many times I’ve watched either movie, at the end of each, tears flow like a river in flood.    

Coincidentally, I once had a beautiful ginger cat, named "Cat", same as Holly's in the movie.  I'd named my lovely fellow "Cat" long before I'd seen the movie or read the novella.

Audrey Hepburn’s “Holly Golightly” was a captivating character.  It was Hepburn’s decision to portray her slightly differently to the original “Holly” of Truman Capote’s novella, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. 

Hepburn wasn’t a demanding diva, but she wished to soften the character in the movie version. Her wish was granted. 

Whenever I think about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” the hauntingly beautiful “Moon River” spins on the turntable in my mind. The image of “Holly”, sitting on her window sill, hair wrapped in a towel, gently strumming a guitar, meditatively singing - “We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ round the bend, my huckleberry friend, Moon River and me...” makes me long to be drifting with the dream maker.  

Henry Mancini composed the Academy Award winning song.  Johnny Mercer, who penned the unforgettable “Autumn Leaves”, “Days of Wine and Roses”, “That Old Black Magic”, “Alexander’s Rag Time Band” and myriad others, wrote the lyrics.  

When Randall (who later became my second husband...and second ex) came back after working and living in New York for nine years, he gifted me with a sterling silver key chain and a sterling silver telephone dial, both from Tiffany's and both in Tiffany's light blue packaging.   The key chain came in a box and the dialer in a felt drawstring bag.  I still have them in my cherished possession.

A couple of weeks ago I read Tiffany & Co.’s flagship store on the corner of New York’s Fifth Avenue and Fifth Street has made breakfast at Tiffany’s a reality. 

Out of mothballs come my long black dress (actually, I’m wearing a long, black dress this very moment...but it’s covered in cat fur...not really suitable for a visit to Tiffany’s), elbow-length gloves, my multi-strand pearl and diamond necklace, as well as my extended onyx and gold cigarette holder.  My large-framed dark glasses are at hand, always. 

This time I won’t be standing at the window looking in, dreaming...

The famed jeweller has opened “The Blue Box Cafe”, decorated in robin-egg blue, the store’s trademark colour of its packaging.    Diners can order coffee and a croissant for $29. Also on the menu is a choice of avocado toast, truffled eggs, or a smoked salmon bagel with cream cheese.  

 Grab your tiara and pearls...let’s have breakfast at Tiffany’s.  It’s okay if you’re running late...we’re just two drifters...off to see the world....at our own pace....

Smoked Salmon-Avocado Croissants: Melt the butter in a skillet; crack in 2 or 4 eggs, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook on low heat until eggs are cooked the way you like. Towards the very end, places slices of cheese of choice on top of eggs (Havarit is good, too) so it starts to melt. Place thinly sliced smoked salmon on one side of each of the toasted croissants. Place avocado slices on other side of croissants; squeeze juice of lime onto avocado slices. Place eggs on top of smoked salmon; sprinkle generously with finely chopped chives. Place halves together; serve.

Mushroom-Goat’s Cheese Omelette with Spinach and Avocado: Add 1-2tbs x-virgin olive oil to pan; over med-heat, add 85g sliced mushrooms; cook 5-6mins; transfer to bowl. Wipe pan clean; spray with oil; heat over med-heat. In bowl whisk together 3 eggs; season; pour into pan; cook until edges begin to set, 6-7mins. Run spatula around edges to release; slide egg onto plate. On half of omelette, layer the sautéed mushrooms, baby spinach, crumbled goat’s cheese and diced avocado; fold other half over.

Breakfast Veggie Egg Casserole: Preheat oven 175C.  Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Heat 1tbs olive oil in a large pan over med-high heat.  Add 1 small, diced onion; sauté 4-5mins.  Add 1 tbs olive oil, 1 diced large carrot, 450g diagonally-cut, bite-size asparagus, 125g sugar snap peas, 3-4c chopped broccoli florets and 2 crushed garlic cloves.  Cook 8-10mins, stirring occasionally, until the veggies have softened, and are cooked through. Add 250g sliced mushrooms and 1 punnet halved cherry tomatoes; stir; cook 3-4mins.Transfer about half to baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle evenly 55g crumbled.  Repeat process; sprinkle further 55g feta over top. Whisk together 12 large eggs, 1/2c milk, salt and pepper; pour over the veggies. Bake for 30-40mins. 

Crab-Avo Toasts:  Brush rounds of sourdough or halved bagels with olive oil; toast in oven; spread with mashed avocado; top with fresh crab meat.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

SURPRISE! SURPRISE!



De Havilland Grumman Mallard
De Havilland Trojan


De Havilland Beaver and Twin Otter






I’m often surprised.

If given due consideration, it’s possible we surprise our own self more often than we do others.  I’m not sure....I’ll have to think about it.  Speaking on my own behalf, I know I surprise myself at times.  I don’t jump at my own shadow, though, if that’s what you’re thinking.

Questionable behaviour of many humans continually surprises me.  I wish human behaviour would cease to surprise me, but it, or they, won’t comply.  Just when I think I’ve heard or seen it all - surprise, surprise - a rude awakening!

There’s no time for complacency. I hold onto hope, but the cord, stretched to extreme, has become surprisingly thin. 

Over the years – and there are many of them – another one (year) was added to my list a couple of days ago - I’ve been successful in planning three surprise birthday parties, one of which was for my late brother, Graham, who hated birthday parties, surprise or otherwise.  In fact, Graham wasn’t fond of parties of any kind.

However, the surprise party I surreptitiously planned for my brother when he worked with me on Hinchinbrook Island went off with a bang.  Graham ended up, much to his surprise (and to my delight), having a ball!  I wish I’d taken video as proof.  

Towards the end of the night’s festivities, to my surprise, he even kicked up his heels and legs while performing the can-can...or a wild tropical version thereof...with a couple of his female co-workers.    

Summer-mango season and the tropics play games with people...personalities change!  Throw a few, freshly-caught mud crabs into the mix and all hell of the best kind breaks out!

His birthday that year...28th February, 1986....was a happy, carefree night; one that occurred about 10 days before the resort was to re-open to the public – to guests.  The fun and games were just among the “island natives” aka my staff and me.

Another of my surprise birthday parties was for my ex, Randall, back in the mid-Seventies when we were living in Toowong, a Brisbane suburb.

I thought having a surprise party for his birthday was a great idea.  He wasn’t too keen on surprise parties, either. 

Upon exiting our bathroom, with only a towel tied around his hips, he received a hell of a surprise when he was greeted by a room full of smiling, ready-to-party party-goers.  He was almost dressed appropriately for the occasion...almost in his birthday suit. His Sunday demeanour nearly turned into a misdemeanour. 

He’d not had a clue what I’d planned, and had been planning.  Our kitchen cupboards were always well-stocked.  He was used to seeing me prepare food...lots of it...so my actions in the kitchen that morning and the preceding evenings hadn’t alerted him anything suspicious was going on.   

Adept at subterfuge, even Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t have stumbled across my well-hidden evidence, magnifying glass or no magnifying glass. I’d left no clues.  

It might come as a surprise to some, but we’re still good mates – my ex and me, that is - not Sherlock and me.   Mr. Holmes didn’t enjoy being beaten at his own game. He threw a tantrum and left in a huff. 

My first husband received the surprise of his life for one of his birthdays, too.  

I forgot his birthday!   

In the belief I’d planned a surprise party, he spent his whole work day preparing for what he thought lay ahead when he arrived home.  Diligently, he’d rehearsed his grand, Oscar-winning performance of mock astonishment.    

When I was made aware of my monstrous, momentous blooper it was my jaw that dropped. I had enough egg on my face to feed a cast of thousands.

All’s well that ends well, though – to their surprise, we ended up partying with our upstairs’ neighbours.  The four of us partied well into the night. 

My first husband and I are still good mates, too...surprisingly!

The person I’ve surprised most of all, though, is me. 
 
One of my biggest surprises was the lack of fear I felt flying in seaplanes – the De Havilland Grumman Mallard, the Beaver and Twin Otter flown by the marvellous company, Air Whitsunday, out of Townsville and Airlie Beach, respectively - when I managed the now-defunct resort on Hinchinbrook Island.  

Before my first seaplane flight I believed I was terrified of small aircraft. To my surprise, once I’d flown low over the magnificent island and the Coral Sea, I found I’d not an ounce of fear flowed through my veins – just adrenaline. 

Matching the thrill of flying in seaplanes was the buzz I felt when I went up in a helicopter.  A TV crew came to the resort, by helicopter, to interview me.  When asked if I’d like to go for a ride in the chopper, without a second thought, I grabbed the opportunity, and leapt aboard.  I didn’t need to be asked twice.  I believed I’d never get the chance again; and so far, unsurprisingly, I haven’t. 

Wow!  That helicopter flight certainly was one I'll never forget...for all the right reasons!

Flying from Cairns to Normanton and return by light aircraft was also exhilarating.   

Viewing the Gulf Country...the Red Savannah...from above is awesome, as is flying low above the Atherton Tablelands.

In the late Eighties-early Nineties, I surprised myself by being the skipper of a boat...a 21-foot De Havilland Trojan, powered by a 175hp Johnson outboard motor.  Ferrying guests to and from Newry Island, as well as the island’s provisions etc., had never been on my radar.  Transporting guests and provisions to and from any island had never been on my Life’s plan...but there I was driving a boat, carrying passengers across the ocean.   

Wonders never do cease!

Even though I surprised me by partaking in many more exciting adventures throughout the years, I do admit I’m not as adventurous as many, many others, but that’s not surprising....

Breakfast Surprise: Preheat oven, 200C.  Scrub and prick all over, 2 med-large potatoes.  Place on centre oven rack; bake 40-45mins, until tender. Cool 15mins; slice each in half lengthwise; hollow out; scoop flesh into bowl; add 2tbs butter and 3tbs cream; mash until smooth; season. Spread some into bottom of each potato skin; sprinkle with shredded cheese; add 1 cooked bacon rasher to each half; rasher can overlap edges; top with raw egg. Place onto baking sheet.  Lower oven temp to 190C; bake until egg whites just set and yolks are still runny. Top with a sprinkle of shredded cheese; season; top with sliced chives.

Baked Eggs: Preheat oven 200C. In saucepan, heat 2tbs olive oil over med-high heat. Add 1 chopped onion; sauté until soft; add 140g spinach; sauté until just wilted, about 2mins. Remove from heat. In bowl, combine 1 can whole tomatoes,1tsp cumin, salt, pepper, 1/2tsp sweet paprika, and, if desired,2tsp  hot sauce. Add onion-spinach mixture. Divide among 4 oiled ramekins. Crack egg into centre of each ramekin; sprinkle on crumbled feta. Bake until whites are set but yolks still soft, 12-15mins.

Surprise Scones: Preheat oven 246C. Bring water to boil; add 2 eggs; boil 4-5mins; remove from heat; set aside. Cube 2tbs cold butter; put in freezer until needed. Combine 1c plain flour, 1tbs sugar, 1-1/2tsp baking powder, 1/2tsp baking soda and 1/2tsp salt in processor; pulse 1-2times until combined; drop in COLD butter; pulse until crumbly; don’t over-mix. Add 1/2c shredded cheddar; pulse until just combined; transfer to bowl; gently fold in 2tbs chopped chives.  Add 3/4c Greek yoghurt to mix; combine until just combined. Using about ¼ of dough, shape into plump biscuit; place onto sprayed baking sheet; press well in centre; place peeled egg in well sideways. Form another “biscuit”; place on top of egg; cover completely. Bake 5mins; reduce heat to 200C; sprinkle top with grated cheese and seeds of choice; bake 6-7mins until golden. Top with melted butter, if not topped with melted cheese, and chives to serve. 




Wednesday, November 01, 2017

LET THE PORT MORESBY ADVENTURES BEGIN...CHAPTER FIVE.... (Last chapter of this tale...the tale-ender).



Above are self-explanatory images of Bomana Cemetery, Papua New Guinea

Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels During World War 11


Still in relaxed, celebratory mode, and not wanting the evening to come to a close, after we left the hotel restaurant, a couple of members of our merry band of tourism “experts”, as well as the PNG Avis host, David and his wife, returned to my hotel room for a “night cap” rather than head to the cocktail bar.

Perhaps the knowledge in my room I had an unopened bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label I’d purchased at the Cairns’ Duty Free Shop, rather than my inspirational company, was the bait!  Whatever the reason, no arm-twisting or urging was necessary.  Mr. Walker Black was enticement enough.

Once ensconced in my room, everyone settled comfortably as if we were all friends of old.  Taking no prisoners, we did damage to that bottle, the soda, ice and cold water from my bar fridge.

My initial intentions had been to take the duty-free, unopened, full bottle of JW Black back to Hinchinbrook Island for my personal use – for me to leisurely sip, at will, if and when I felt like doing so after a long day and night’s work. However, that plan was thwarted, rapidly.  All that was left of Johnnie after my guests left was a depleted, empty bottle...a "dead marine".

Over animated, friendly conversation and much laughter, the bottle and its individual accompaniments had been demolished.

We visitors to Papua New Guinea did learn a lot about the lifestyle of ex-pats in Port Moresby that evening and early morning.

Life in Moresby wasn’t a glamorous life. It was an existence surrounded by danger and alertness.

Lyn, the wife of David, Avis’ Area Manager, explained, even though she was “accepted” among the Nationals’- the womenfolk, she felt an underlying animosity at all times.  She and her fellow ex-pats learned to recognise they would never be completely accepted.  They acted politely, knowing there was a demarcation line, one over which they never stepped.

It had been a very pleasant evening, spent with great company, both in the restaurant, and back in my hotel room draining the Scotch bottle. 

An early morning was ahead for us, as was a long day.  Finally, somewhat reluctantly, we called it “a night”. 

Knowing the next day we had planned trip to the start of the Kokoda Trail, as well as our return flight to Cairns later in the afternoon, we broke up our little party about 3 am.

Rising early, a little heavy with the effects of the previous evening, I was feeling very dehydrated. Raiding my bar fridge produced no results as all the water, ice and soda had disappeared, a result of our late-night frivolities.

Deciding a long cold or lukewarm shower would restore my sensibilities, I relished the thought of standing under the shower nozzle, allowing the water rush over my weary body in an attempt at restoration.

No such luck!


The water pouring forth from the shower was boiling hot.  It was impossible to stand under it. I tried everything, but there was not a drop of cold water flowed, or trickled, from the taps or nozzle!  Nothing!  Nought! Zilch!  Water, water, everywhere...but not a drop of cold water!

After our shenanigans of the previous evening, I didn’t even have any cold water in my fridge to splash on my face.

Darting my hands back and forth under the boiling water in the shower, I somehow managed, with great difficulty, to have a “spot” wash. I was by no mean refreshed, but I think the shock of the steaming water managed to wake me up a little.

Dressing quickly, I hurried down to the lobby to meet up with my fellow motley crew, who were milling around with rather strained looks.

Everyone, I discovered, had suffered the same problem as I had.

The whole hotel had no cold water! No cold water! I’d heard of running out of hot water, but never cold water!

Have you ever tried to shower under boiling water?  From personal experience, I can assure you it is impossible to do!  Take my word for it...

So, there we were…a hung-over, bedraggled, bleary-eyed, unwashed band of banditos (well, we were from south of the border)...kind of ready for the day ahead.

Once we were gathered together, and saw the funny side of it, we decided nothing was going to faze us.  We would not be beaten or defeated!  We remembered our “one for all, all for one” mantra.

Breakfast was a hurried affair. Soon thereafte we were on board the “Avis Bus”, headed for the hills/mountains behind Port Moresby.

Driving through the city it appeared everyone and his dog, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather and neighbours were out and about.  Old, rusted, battered Toyota utes were filled with smiling, black faces.  People were hanging out the vehicles’ windows and off the rear trays, waving at us as they went by.  After all...it was a public holiday.    

The crowds were making the most of the special day....Remembrance Day, 23rd July...

Before we left Moresby, our host took us to the historic Bomana War Cemetery, just outside the city limits on the road to Sogeri, our destination 46 kilometres (28.5 miles) away.

Arriving and disembarking at the war cemetery, our high spirits immediately lulled. An atmosphere of deep respect and sorrow took overtook our little party of visitors.

As we wandered sombrely throughout the beautifully maintained cemetery, I was not alone in my reverie. The Bomana War Cemetery is magnificent memorial to those who lost their lives fighting for the freedom and lifestyle we enjoy today.

Not one of us had dry eyes. It’s difficult to describe how I felt. Probably the best description is...it was an “out of body” experience. To this day I still become misty-eyed when I recall that memorable visit to Bomana Cemetery.
 
We didn’t talk among each other. We broke away to wander alone, to be with our own thoughts.  No words needed to be spoken. Words would be redundant.

A rotunda stands proudly and serenely on a hill behind the cemetery. It is the memorial to the men of the Australian Army and the Papua New Guinea forces, the Australian Merchant Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force who lost their lives during the Papuan operations; the brave men who have no graves.

The total number of burials at Bomana Cemetery is 3,779.  This war cemetery commenced in 1942.

Bomana War Cemetery is a credit to those who lovingly, respectfully and carefully tend to it.

I feel honoured to this very day to have experienced the unexpected time I spent at Bomana War Cemetery – time spent among the spirits of those brave men.

Climbing up the winding range, the views around us were stunning - awesome.

Down low behind us to the south was the dry, dusty savannah of Port Moresby.

In the valleys immediately below us on either side on the winding road, were deep crevices covered in dense foliage.  The shadows formed dark, metallic blues in their hidden ravines.

It’s only forty-six kilometers from Port Moresby to the Sogeri Plateau, around 800 metres above sea level, (I think!), but it seemed much longer. It was definitely cooler than down below.  

As mentioned previously, Sogeri is the starting point of the Kokoda Trail.

Halfway up the range, we noticed a Papua New Guinea “warrior” in all his decorative glory standing out on a small escarpment to our left.

Pulling our Toyota Hiace off the road, we climbed out and went over to him.

Standing there in his make-up and colourful, feathered head-dress, the New Guinea National told us we could take his photograph for 5 kinas. (Don’t ask me what the exchange rate was, as I haven’t got a clue now –it was probably equivalent to about two Aussie dollars).

Each of us paid him 5 kinas, per his rate, and had our photo taken standing beside him. 

The trick was, we used our own cameras and our films (the days before digital cameras).  The accordingly-garbed “warrior” had no expenses other than his vibrant regalia!   

(I have my photo here somewhere...and I must, when I find spare moment or two go in search of it).

With a broad smile on his face, the fellow waved as we drove off. We waved back, cheerfully. We mused it was no wonder he had a broad smile on his face, he was probably thinking, “Sucker tourists!”

One of our astute members said, “Did you notice his watch? It was a Rolex! He’s probably got his BMW parked around the corner hidden in the scrub!”

Never a truer statement had been made!

Of course the colourful “warrior” had a big smile on his face! All he had to do was stand there on the outcrop looking “pretty gruesome”, at no cost to him, while he reaped in the kinas!  A very enterprising young man....

Onward and upwards we continued, awed by the stunning magnificence of the scenery surrounding us.

Finally, we reached the “Kokoda Inn”.   We alighted our van immediately upon arrival. We were, naturally, pretty thirsty, so we headed post haste to the bar for a cold, cold beer!

Stuck or pinned to the wall behind the very primitive, rustic, but atmospheric bar were hundreds of paper monetary notes from throughout the years. As well as local paper currency were notes from other countries, including Australia, the UK and the United States of America.

The display became the hub of our conversation, as did our myriad questions about Kokoda and its history.

Outside the main building was a primitive zoo holding a large variety of bird and animal life, most of which I’d never seen before.

By this time, our merry band of wanderers was hungry. The after-effects of the previous evening had given us a hunger, as well as a thirst, both of which needed to be sated, and quickly!

Finding a long, wooden outdoor table, we promptly accommodated.  We ordered from the luncheon menu that consisted of steak and salad - and steak and salad.

Our chatter around the table was lively.  There was much to discuss as we’d enjoyed a most interesting trip up to our destination. We were also enthralled by our destination, where the air was crisp, clean and refreshing.

Our meals arrived without delay. The steak (?) was the toughest meat I, and the others had ever eaten! We didn't know what animal it derived from, and we dared not ask.
However, our high spirits weren’t going to be dampened by a piece of “meat”! We made no complaints as we chewed and chewed our way through whatever beast it represented. The salad was garden-fresh.  The company was great; lunch was fun. The history surrounding the area was almost palpable.

Finally, as all good things do, our happy jaunt came to its end. It was time to descend the range, en route back to Port Moresby and to our hotel.

There we gathered up our belongings and headed out to the airport for our return flight to Cairns.

Who would have guessed? Once more we had a two-hour wait for our delayed flight!

At the duty-free shop, I purchased a PNG wooden artifact, and I also bought another bottle of Johnnie Walker Black to take with me to my island home, this time intending to take longer to savour its mellow contents...alone, and over a period of time...not in one sitting only!

I think not one of us minded the delay in our flight, because it gave us time to come together as one as we happily discussed the events and the laughter we had shared over the past couple of days and nights.  We’d spent a unique, fun time; we’d been treated most hospitably.  

The people we’d met in Port Moresby, and up at the Kokoda Inn at the start of the Kokoda Trail, our decorated “warrior” and those in over-crowded Toyota utes had all welcomed us with beaming smiles and a ton load of goodwill.  

 “Manuel’s” innocent, well-intentioned antics would never be forgotten, not be me, anyway.

I never did see Graeme, our self-appointed expert tour leader again during my time in Papua New Guinea.  I shed no tears.  While I think of it, I can’t remember ever seeing him again...at any other tourism event.  Perhaps he’s still up in the Highlands somewhere, arrogantly bellowing at some poor body!  Or he's in a cannibal's pot....

My trip to and from Port Moresby, the short period of time I spent in Papua New Guinea will always remain fondly in my memory. I remember the fun and the laughter; the camaraderie, the bond we quickly formed. I will always remember the emotions I felt when I visited Bomana War Cemetery.  The people of Papua New Guinea deserve high praise for what they’ve achieved there.

The “mañana” attitude continued on our return flight to Cairns. Again, my silly sense of the ridiculous came into play.  And I spent most of the trip trying to conceal my amusement. I confess to being a people-watcher.  Why not?  People are interesting subject, to say the least.  

When a passenger asked for a drink, the flight stewardess would return to the service area...pick up the ONE drink, return to the passenger who had requested it.  Then, the action would be repeated – one person, one drink at a time.   The flight is only 1 hour 25 minutes in duration (the wait at either airport, in our case, both ways, was longer than our actual flights).  


I purposely make a point of the length of time spent in the air...because at the rate of knots the stewardess was taking to serve each passenger on board our flight a drink, someone, somewhere along the line was going to miss out!  Need I go on?  
There is humour everywhere, in everything, if you’re prepared to look for it.

My three day trip to Port Moresby was, in the best of ways, memorable, indeed.  Also, I’m very glad I was given the opportunity.

I can’t finish this story without sharing with you the poem written by Australian digger, Bert Beros.

At 4 am one morning, on the Kokoda Track, after having been in a stand-to with the enemy, the Japanese, Bert Beros wrote his poem in honour of the wonderful “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels” who helped and guided our brave young men on the Kokoda Track during that horrendous battle.  As described in my previous chapter, the New Guinea “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels” were answers to the prayers of the mothers of our diggers.

It is recorded that an officer sent a copy of the poem to his mother.

Impressed by the poem, at the time, she had it published in the Brisbane “Courier Mail”.

The Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels

Many a mother in Australia,
When the busy day is done,
Sends a prayer to the Almighty
For the keeping of her son,
Asking that an Angel guide him
And bring him safely back
Now we see those prayers are answered
On the Owen Stanley track,
For they haven’t any halos,
Only holes slashed in the ears,
And with faces worked by tattoos,
With scratch pins in their hair,
Bringing back the wounded,
Just as steady as a hearse,
Using leaves to keep the rain off
And as gentle as a nurse.
Slow and careful in bad places,
On the awful mountain track,
And the look upon their faces,
Makes us think that Christ was black.
Not a move to hurt the carried,
As they treat him like a Saint,
It’s a picture worth recording,
That an Artist’s yet to paint.
Many a lad will see his Mother,
And the Husbands, Weans and Wives,
Just because the Fuzzy Wuzzy
Carried them to save their lives.
From mortar or machine gun fire,
Or a chance surprise attack,
To safety and the care of Doctors,
At the bottom of the track.
May the Mothers in Australia,
When they offer up a prayer,
Mention those impromptu Angels,
With the Fuzzy Wuzzy hair.


Sapper H "Bert" Beros
- Bert Beros...1942


The End