Category Archives: Bougainville

My first Bougainville project: magnetic reconnaissance

Practical joke, not amusing

Geologist Phil McNamara stopped in at Barapinang one morning. “Phil, we just got a radio call.  Don Carruthers wants you at the coast.  He’s sending a helicopter to get you.” “Yeah, for sure,” Phil said. “No, it’s true, Phil.  The … Continue reading

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Some Bougainvilleans become uneasy

As prospecting work went on at Panguna, some Bougainvilleans became concerned about what the exploration activity meant to them.  At first they were grateful the work and to be able to earn some money.  Generally, their economy was based on … Continue reading

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Barapinang camp

The Panguna prospect had two separate traverse grids, one nearer to Panguna Flat and the other near Barapinang camp.  After traversing the Panguna Flat grid I moved to Barapinang camp. Barapinang camp had only three regular residents.  Their duties were … Continue reading

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Chopper jockeys

Helicopter pilots working in Bougainville were a mixed lot.  Some were braggarts, others were quieter.  Some were flying cowboys, others were more cautious.  They all had one thing in common though: they had chosen to fly over mountainous jungle every … Continue reading

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Kupei Antap – one strange place

The highest ridges of Bougainville’s Crown Prince mountain range are in a cloud forest. It was cold up there at night. Every morning we were fogged in until the sun came up. The place had a weird feel about it. … Continue reading

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Kupei Antap

We spent a few days camping and doing magnetic surveying around the highest pass over the Crown Prince range. The name of the pass was Kupei Antap. Local CRAE workers had built a small hut for shelter some time before. … Continue reading

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The big chopper arrives

I was at Barapinang when the new, larger helicopter arrived, a Sikorsky S-58.  It was welcome because the two small Bell G-4s were being overworked.  For example, the Bells could only airlift one drum of fuel at a time from … Continue reading

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Drilling struggles and surprises

At dinner one evening, one of the drillers said, “We’re short of a hand on my drill tomorrow.  Can you help us out?” I said, “Sure.”  It’d be a good break from crawling across giant logs. The drill pipe came … Continue reading

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Malaria

Malaria was endemic in Bougainville.  Everyone began taking an antimalarial drug several weeks before going there.  We had been warned, though, that the drug available in Australia offered only partial protection.  At each camp, the dining table held a dish … Continue reading

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Helicopter thrill

One day walking the ridge near Panguna Antap,  I saw Dave Binney in his helicopter at the helipad there. Dave asked, “Are you headed for Panguna Flat?” I nodded. “Get in!” The Panguna Flat camp was six hundred feet below, … Continue reading

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