K is for Konedobu

AtoZ2019KThis series of blog posts is part of the A to Z 2019 Blogging Challenge in which I will write snapshot memories of my early married life in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea.

Verbal jungle drums beat…

We’re on leave overseas

When the rumours hit town

My job is gone when I return

Flying over Gerehu in 2012 -it had grown enormously.

I am a temp after all.

We’re on the move again

Goroka to Gerehu[i]

Life in Moresby – the “big smoke”.

From Education offices in Konedobu

He wields his purple audit pen

On inspections country-wide

His “been there” knowledge

Kerema sunrise fm Peter
An audit trip and a beautiful sunrise in Kieta.

Makes his peers nervous.

On the home-front life goes on

But why do things always break –

Or the children get sick –

The minute he leaves town?

Sequential chicken pox anyone?

Later I join the family ranks

Judy Holland Lekei dunno and Pauleen Education Subsidies team POM 1975in Education at Konedobu.

Full time employment

The start of my career.

Judy Holland in the Educ Subsidies Office not paperless 1975
The Subsidies team and office, Konedobu c1974/75. I wonder where the other team members might be now.

Quonset huts and old buildings

Corral the compound

Files crowd the walls

Subsidies for school kids

In Australia or overseas

Fees and fares

I come to know every surname and school.

My first boss leaves and a new one arrives

Our friendship leads to another K place

As she leaves for Kathmandu and we visit.

One day a Papuan Brown[ii] slithers among the files


Staff leap on the desk and I end a phone call

Pauleen and Rach at Paga Hill POM 1977
From Paga Hill looking west towards Konedobu (behind the first hill), Hanuabada village and the back road to Gerehu.

Sorry, we have a snake, I’ll call you back later

Far away there’s indifference to our plight.

Driving home the back way past the villages and squatter’s camps

The raskols[iii] block the road….

With two small children in the car

It’s a case of hold your nerve.

A new identity all my own

And a turning point

No longer “just” his wife

or Les’s daughter-in-law

CASS Les and Kaye PNG Post Courier 19 Sept 1972 p17
Progressive dinner for CWA birthday (1972, September 19). Papua New Guinea Post-Courier (Port Moresby : 1969 – 1981), p. 17. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article251033983 I’d love to know what my mother-in-law served for entrees as she was a good cook.

Albeit temporary staff for ever

Just like his mother…

What’s a decade or two of work

For women who are married?

Forever a “Mrs” not just a misis[iv].

K is also for Kavieng where my in-laws lived (and sent us cray tails as treats), or Kainantu, Kabiufa, Killerton, Kerema or Kieta.

Tok Pisin:

Kiap – a government patrol officer

kaikai – food

kaikaim – eat

kainkain – all sorts of …

kina – PNG’s currency but also shells used for currency previously.

kakaruk – chicken


[i] Then a new suburb of Port Moresby, out past the University. Now known for gang trouble.

[ii] A potentially deadly snake…not one you want to have to look for in an office full of files.

[iii] A euphemistic word meaning raskals but really more like gang members.

[iv] A European woman, not necessarily a wife.


5 thoughts on “K is for Konedobu

  1. What I like about this series is how a letter, a place, a name can bring back a flood of memories. The reader doesn’t need to know the full story (though it would be nice) to feel in touch with the name or place. Cheers.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.