Airstrip at Lake Kutubu
I read with interest Chris Warrillow’s letter in the December issue of PNG Kundu and his correction regarding the location of Moro airstrip, which is, of course, situated at the north-western end of Lake Kutubu.
In late 1951 Bill Brand and I camped for a week on a piece of flat land in dense rain forest, marshy in some parts, and cut a survey line to determine the size and suitability of the site of what was to become the Moro grass airstrip.
In December of that year Bill and I discovered the Tege Oil Seep in the Hedinia Anticline to the west of the lake. We could never have imagined that, 35 years later, drilling of the area would develop into a multi-billion dollar oil and gas project, and our little Moro strip would become a major airport, servicing huge
Russian Antonov transport aircraft and helicopters, bringing in heavy vehicles and mining equipment.
The Moro grass strip was completed by Bill Brand and Tim Terrell after my departure, and Tim and later Judy, and I became lifelong friends. Many years later by chance, we found ourselves living in the same Canberra suburb, a couple of hundred metres apart!
Tim’s older brother Alan was a Qantas captain and on many occasions flew a Catalina in to Lake Kutubu with our mail and supplies. In 1966 my family and I were posted to Europe, and who should be the captain of our Qantas flight but Alan Terrell!
In 1960 I was a/ADO at Erave and flew to Moro with my wife and small child on a post inspection. Full of pride, we landed in a Cessna on the Moro grass strip, and on taxiing back we became bogged in the middle of the strip! My embarrassment was palpable. Frank Howard was the O I C at the time and will no doubt remember the incident.
Tim Terrell was a great friend and colleague, and he and Judy represented the very best of the field service in the 50s and 60s.