Papua New Guinea and prizes

This is the next instalment of my Special Moments, Magic Memories series for the 2022 A to Z Blog Challenge.


When you find yourself in a country that is vastly different from your own, just ten days after you’ve married, it delivers WOW on a daily basis. When homesickness strikes, and family and friends are so very far away, it’s not always a happy wow, but without a doubt Papua New Guinea (PNG) changed my life forever. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to learn about and love this country my husband called home from when he was a small boy. It still pulls at our heartstrings all these years later.

My blogging friend Linda has been writing about life in the 1970s for A to Z 2022. It’s made me realise that my own A to Z theme in 2019, also tells the story of my own life throughout the 70s. I’m not going to repeat my thoughts again, just refer you to the link above which tells that story.

If I had to single out just a couple of WOW moments from my life in Papua New Guinea (apart from family moments), it would be the Independence Celebrations in 1975 which I’ve written about here and here.

The other amazing sight was the Goroka Show which we saw in 1972 and 1973, while living there. Thousands of warriors from multiple tribal groups and areas, all gathered together on the Goroka Showgrounds with spears, axes and arrows, in traditional tribal sing-sing attire. It was an amazing spectacle, and even more so when a bit of a stoush erupted on one side of the field, Police let off tear gas and the nearby crowd demolished the high fence.


One of my biggest personal WOW moments, was publishing my Kunkel family history, called Grassroots Queenslanders, the Kunkel family. I was very much the proud mother when the book arrived and couldn’t quite believe my eyes or stop picking it up.

The second, related, WOW was winning two prizes for the book: co-sharing first prize from the Queensland Family History Society for a Queensland family history and the first prize, Alexander Henderson Award from the Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies for an Australian family history.

The best thing about publishing the history hasn’t been the prizes – they’ve been the Wow icing on the cake. The really great thing is how much pleasure it has given the wide members of the family and how it revealed our shared family history. I feel very privileged.

What would you regard as pivotal experiences in your life?

Were they positive or negative and did the challenges really change your life?

17 thoughts on “Papua New Guinea and prizes

  1. It is certainly a Wow moment to have recognition for all the work you put into your book. I have a few regrets when I see your New Guinea pictures. Had I stayed at Teachers College for the third year I would have had the opportunity to go practice teaching in NG. That would have been 1971. However I chose to do the third year part time so I could start teaching and earn some money. It would have been a great experience, especially at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would have been very exciting for you Linda but life takes us on funny paths. If you’d been in PNG, Mr Cassmob’s dad might have been your Inspector as that was his job for quite a number of years. Now that would have been a coincidence!


    1. How interesting about your teacher…sorry she wasn’t any good…obviously not a relation. LOL. Kunkel is a much more common name in the US than here where there are only two families back in the 19th century. More here post WWII.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your life in PNG must have been an incredible experience and also stressful at times. I lived in my hometown until I was 52 when I moved just 100k away. I suffered dreadful bouts of homesickness even at that small distance. I’m sure you longed for home at times

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some of us are home bodies and some are more willing to wander. I was very homesick for a few months. By the time I was in Brisbane a year later people would ask if it was good to be home and I’d tell them, very truthfully, it wasn’t home any more. I guess I missed people more than place.


  3. My family travelled by ship to Australia in 1968 for two terms – I didn’t see it as pivotal until we got back whence I wished we could do it all again and I would take notes – but to see the wide world obviously changed something…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, those experiences change us don’t they? I’m still disappointed that mum burnt my letters to them in a fit of pique…I’d love to remember how I felt at the time, so I can understand why you wish you had notes.


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