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Today's quote:

Monday, January 8, 2018

I've just poured myself a stiff drink

 

Which is what I always do when I hear that an old mate from my New Guinea days has checked into an aged care home, or worse still, checked out altogether.

I last met Brian Darcey in June 2011 when I visited Cairns and stayed aboard his yacht Tekani II (named in memory of his old mate Graeme Carson) which was then moored at Bluewater Marina at Trinity Beach.

Brian and his family lived in Papua New Guinea for twenty-five years, from 1955 to 1980, with the last fifteen years on Bougainville Island which he last visited in 1988. He operated B.F.DARCEY & COMPANY PTY LTD at Rabaul until 1965, then at Toniva on Bougainville Island. They were cocoa and trochus shell exporters, but also had a store at Toniva selling artifacts, jewellery, clothing etc.

 

A sample bag from Brian's cocoa exporting days. He started in Rabaul in the early 1960s, in a tiny one-room shed whose only redeeming feature was that it was air-conditioned, a true luxury in those days. Later he moved to a larger office above the newsagency on Mango Avenue, next door to the Fish & Chips shop, which was next to the Palms Theater. Later still, he moved to Kieta, Bougainville, hence the address on this bag.

 

He was the original Rabaul agent for CRA Exploration when geologist Ken Phillips first started the exploration phase and Frank Espie was still an upcoming exec in Collins Street, and he knew Col Bishop, Don Vernon, Paul Quodling, and their families very well.

 


If you want to buy a copy of this book, email me at riverbendnelligen[AT]mail.com and I put you in touch with Brian.

 

In the early 2000s he wrote a book, Bougainville Blue, which is about Bougainville and named after its spectacularly beautiful butterfly but also about a ‘blue’ which is Australian slang for a fight. It’s about the beauty of Bougainville and its flora and fauna. And it's about the destruction of Bougainville.

It’s a novel but it also tells the reader about the Panguna Mine which was closed by a ragtag militia bent on reclaiming their land. Brian saw the Bougainville Revolutionary Army come into being. He observed the rise and fall of Australian rule in Bougainville. He watched the ‘blue’ take place. Listen to an interview Brian gave in 2008: click here.

Anyway, I've just had a long phone conversation with Brian in his new berth at the Regis Whitfield Aged Care Home in Cairns. He sounded okay but is probably a lot more fragile than his voice would suggest. "Hang in there, Brian, I'll be up there sometime soon again." In the meantime, I've added him to my speed-dial and poured myself a stiff drink.


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P.S. As for the future of the mine itself, click here for the latest news.