Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia

Monday, March 9, 2009


ASOPA stands for the Australian School for Pacific Administration, which operated during the 50's, 60's and 70's to train people to work in the Australian Territories especially Papua/New Guinea. Some of us were Cadet Education Officers, (yes we were called CEO's) but we were really student teachers. In 2007 a group of us ex CEO's from Brisbane organised a 3 day reunion for all ex CEO's in Australia and from around the world. It took us a year to organise the reunion activities and in that time the Queensland group had many meetings and became a group of very good friends. From then on we have continued to have meetings without having a meeting, we just have lunch and a good time. However one of our group, Bill W., is leaving us to move to Victoria. So what a good excuse to have a lunch together. We had it at our place.

Bill W. (on the right) is a wonderful guy. He is one of the fittest 70 year olds I know. He has always been an athlete and has won many gold medals in a variety of world wide competitions for hurdling and running. He spent most of the last 10 years caring for his sick wife, who sadly passed away some months ago. He looked happy to be with us yesterday, even though he has to have surgery on his knee today.

BB was the chef...a Swiss chef cooking an Australian barbecue.

The QLD ASOPA group from R. Josephine, Richard, Colin, Denis, Ros and Bill W. ( Henry, Joe and Kathryn couldn't make it today). Everyone is enjoying BB's delicious menu.

Garlic Prawn Kebabs on a bed of rice with tarragon.

Rib fillet steak, beef sausages, Potato Salad, Bean Salad, Greek Salad, Pumpkin Salad and Russian Salad.

Apricot pie and ice cream, you can see it is still hot weather here.

Colin enjoying his pie.

Ros entertained us with some historic nostalgia. She found some letters, that Denis had written home to his mother when he had been posted to a remote island off the coast of Papua. He was only 19 years old in a primitive island village, with no stores. He waited for supplies and letters to come on a boat once a month. He asked his parents to number the letters on the back of the envelope so he knew which one to open first. He did the same with the letters he sent home. Ros read some to us.
The stories these people can tell of their lives as young people living in the wilds of P/NG are gob smacking. My stories are not so exotic as I was posted to Pt Moresby, which was like a country town.

Colin saying good bye to Bill, who is looking forward to a new life in Victoria with a special friend, who is also and ex CEO from ASOPA.

photos by Diane, Richard and Ros.


  1. What a wonderful group of friends! It must be very touching to re-read the letters and relive the memories. Your hubby is so happy looking! Is he always smiling?? The food look great - what is pumpkin salad?

    Have a wonderful warm day - we're expecting snow today - it's amazing how we can be "instantly" connected via the internet - yet worlds away in seasons!

  2. Hi Mum,
    Looks like another successful ASOPA gathering. The BBQ looks amazing. I am wishing I can come over to help finish off the left-overs!
    Miss you both loads

  3. Pumpkin salad as shown me by Bernie (sil)
    Roast cubes of pumpkin on baking paper on tray. Spray pumpkin with oil. Cook until outside is caramelised about 25 mins. Put in a bowl add baby spinach leaves, roasted pine nuts and crumbled fetta cheese. You can add a salad sauce and beans if you wish.

  4. The pumpkin salad sounds delicious Diane...Must give it a try....
    You have a wonderful circle of friends

  5. Oh, that sounds wonderful! Do you chill the roasted pumpkin or is it a warm salad? Thanks for sharing the recipe! :-)

  6. Grammie, You can chill it or have it warm. If it is warm the cheese melts through it all making a nice sauce.
    Mandy, Yes indeed we have some wonderful friends but we work at maintaining friendships, calling them, emailing, inviting them for lunch, movie etc. I strongly believe in the power of friendship. That's probably why I like blogging. I have found a friend in you.

  7. Diane - You are so blessed to have all these wonderful friends and BB too. I would love this type of life.

  8. Hello Diane,
    Having a great time you all are....happy group of people including yourself and your husband. I am sure you will continue to have fun for a very long time with your wonderful friends.

  9. You have such a lovely group of friends. It's a blessing to witness.
    I've been absent for a while. My daddy had a small stroke almost 3 weeks ago, so it has been an overwhelming bit of time. He is doing well though, thank goodness.
    I pray that this day finds you and your family well.

    God Bless,

  10. As always a pleasure to visit your place

    lizzie b.

  11. What a wonderful bon voyage party, a lovely gathering for your friend. I bet you will miss him. Great photos and oh what yummy looking dishes. A veritable feast. Lovely post!

  12. Good company, good food, it looks delicious) and good wine, that's life. BTW, Diane how is your "Schyzerduetsch"?

  13. Diane, a quick visit to compliment you on your ability to surround yourself with amazing friends. I love the effort you so obviously enjoy.
    Still not up to being on the keyboard but you are not forgotten.

  14. All occasions are a good excuse to meet old friends, lol ! When I see your Garlic Prawn Kebab, my mouth waters and it's only breakfast time here !

  15. We do have great groups of friends.

  16. Are like you and all of your friends gourmet chefs or something? You always seem to eat the most delicious looking meals ever.

  17. That's such a neat experience that you all shared, and I think it's really great that you've kept up with each other after all this time! :)