I was employed by Steamships Trading Co. to manage the Mobil Oil depot on Samarai. One of my duties was to refuel the Catalina Flying Boat which arrived every Monday. I refueled the last Catalina to fly out of Samarai.
Catalina Flying Boat at Samarai
Samarai Wharf in the 1950's
Samarai Water Front
Samarai Wharf 1950's
Samarai wharf area taken during the 1950's.
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At Easter 1966 fourteen brave males were given a loan of Burns Philp's vessel, the Lakatoi, and set off for a four day trip around Fergusson & Goodenough Islands. The cost to each of us was six cartons of South Pacific Lager. Most of this beer was shipped out to our ports of call in the weeks leading up to Easter with the instructions that it had to be cold for our arrival. The other part of the cost was that we were to bring the ship back fully loaded with copra. We departed on Thursday at 6pm, our first lucky port of call was Sewa Bay to see Jack & Jo Wilkinson, Ray Catford and any of Jack's daughters who were lucky enough to be home, none of them were.

On the trip we visited Norm & Mona Evernett at Sebulagoma, Merv & Mary Preece at Kededia, Jimmy Bird at Malakwasea, Johnny Rae at Dawada & Des Jones looked after us in Esa'Ala, all of them had followed the instructions on the beer shipments so we never had to suffer a single warm beer.

Our only trouble on the trip was regarding the loading of the copra. As it was Easter the labour on the plantations was on holiday. We tried to load copra ourselves but not one of us could handle a single bag, so we had to recruit labour, at a higher cost than was usual, to get the ship loaded. We were lucky enough to find the labour required at each plantation and returned to Samarai with a full load of copra. We drank the last of our 168 doz beers as we sailed into the China Straits on Monday afternoon, all in all a great trip.

An Easter Trip

I arrived in Port Moresby on the 14th Oct 1965 and was picked up at Jackson's by Mike Wood, Steamships Personel Manager. The airport was out in the sticks in those days and we hadn't long left the airport when Mike's car ran out of fuel. I was lucky it was a small sports car because I had to push it for what seemed like miles until we found a service station. When we finally filled up I also had to pay for the fuel because Mike had forgotten to bring his wallet. He dropped me off at Davara Lodge and told me he would be back later for me. Later that morning he picked me up and took me to the Mobil Oil Depot where I was to have a crash course in running an oil depot. Mike picked me up later that afternoon and dropped me back at Davara Lodge. Four days later I rang him to ask what I was supposed to be doing, he had forgotten all about me.

It took two flights down to Gurney in a DC3, a trip to Gabagabuna on the tray of a trailer pulled by a tractor and then a four hour boat trip to before finally stepping ashore at Samarai. I was taken to my mess by Robin Varney, Steamships Merchandise Manager. The house was next door to Les Simpson's bakehouse and was demolished in 1968. When we walked in I was introduced to Lysle Simons. Lysle was sitting naked in a galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen. He was drinking a pernod and a "houseboy" was scrubbing his back with a long handled scrub brush. He couldn't shake hands because he wouldn't put the pernod down and he had no hand at the end of his other arm, it had been amputated about half way to the elbow, but he did manage to wave this arm towards the sink and say, "there's kai for tonight". On the sink was a turtle, upside down with it's bottom shell cut off and it's heart still throbbing away. When Lysle had finished his bath he showed me his room, it was painted full gloss black and red. He called it his cave. Oh what I would have given to be home in Wollongong with Mum & Dad.

Over the next few days I met a few of the blokes around town who would become great friends, among them Jim Talbert, Bruce Hawkins, Mike Carvosso & Johnny Byrnes.

Jim Talbert
Bruce Hawkins
Mike Carvosso
All at Esa'Ala
In the class room at Esa'Ala
What we found out on our return was that all the single women, who had been left behind while we were away, had been up to no good. All our underwear had been taken from our messes and dyed pink, epsum salts had been mixed with the sugar in all the messes, the bedding in the Bank mess had all been placed in the freezer and garlic had been stuffed into our shoes. The leader of the female pack was Pam Gordon (later Carvosso).
On Dobu
At Kededia

Photos:- Top: Don Anderson, Jim Talbert, Phil Harvey, Ron Miller, John Byrnes and Russel Jennings.

Right: L-R Russel Jennings, Rory Calhune, Bruce Hawkins, Don Anderson, Russ(The Colonel) Griffin, Mike Carvosso, Don Hendrickson and Bob Day

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Jim Talbert
Bruce Hawkins
Mike Carvosso
Johnny Brynes & Don Hendrickson

Samarai Heading

 

 

 

 

 

John Byrnes & Don Hendrickson