A Reunion from Jim Toner

A Reunion from Jim Toner

It is axiomatic that anyone who has lived and worked in PNG never forgets it. As a consequence we lapuns in Australia hold reunions. There are the big ones every year

  • PNGAA in Killara, NSW and the Kiaps in Kawana Waters, Qld
  • but also informal gatherings of expatriates such as that in Perth shown in the accompanying

The stories of the three men are illustrative of the very mixed provenance of both government and private enterprise people who worked in the Territory before PNG Independence.   On the left is Des Clancy from Sydney who was a Sergeant in the RAAF before becoming a member of that bunch of hard cases at ASOPA for the 1946 kiaps course. He spent the next three decades with Native Affairs and was written up in the papers as the patrol officer who discovered Shangri-La (the Lavani Valley in the Southern Highlands).

Of more importance to him was his posting to Lae as DO Morobe where he met a school mistress who had just completed a course at ASOPA. He and Margaret McDougall (in centre of photo) were married in Wewak.

As Independence loomed an interview with the Premier of Western Australia secured Des a super-kiap job (Gascoyne Regional Administrator) based at Carnarvon.

Subsequently he moved to Perth as Director of the WA Pastoralists & Graziers Association. Margaret taught school in Perth and is still using her knowledge and ability to write plays and texts for young children.

Far right is Terry Daw, born Simla, India, a Captain, Gurkha Rifles during the War and Commander, Malaysian Police afterwards. On migrating his family to Perth he took a job as a prison warder, noticed a more attractive post (Assistant Superintendent) in PNG and moved to Bomana.  Finally he found his true fit as Welfare Officer in Native Affairs and spent nearly twenty years in Rabaul before moving back to Perth.

In the rear is Jim Toner from Wembley, UK who after Army service with the RASC in Occupied Europe and then qualifying as a teacher went adventuring. After sailing to Melbourne as a Ten Pound Pom and  conducting a tram up and down the St. Kilda Road he was interviewed by J.K. McCarthy, shortly to become Director Of Native Affairs, who despatched him to Mendi as District Office Clerk. Where he shared a 2-man donga with Mr Clancy. Later, promotion to Rabaul led him to meet Mr Daw (often at the Kombiu Club).

An interview with the future Vice- Chancellor, Australian National University led to Toner being made Field Manager of its New Guinea Research Unit.   After being awarded a BEM for his work at Port Moresby he was sent to Darwin to assist establishment of a North Australia Research Unit where he remained for nineteen years. And has never been tempted to “go Down South”.

It was a happy afternoon in Claremont for the wantoks.

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