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Monday, July 11, 2016

Two fat ladies - 88


I just remembered that my old PNG-mate Brian Darcey is turning 88 in a few weeks' time. We last met in June 2011 when I visited Cairns and stayed aboard his yacht Tekani II (named in memory of his old mate Graeme Carson) which is moored at Bluewater Marina at Trinity Beach.

Brian and his family lived in Papua New Guinea for twenty-five years, from 1955 to 1980, with the last fifteen years on Bougainville Island which he last visited in 1988. He operated B.F.DARCEY & COMPANY PTY LTD at Rabaul until 1965, then at Toniva on Bougainville Island. They were cocoa and trocas exporters, but also had a store at Toniva selling artifacts, jewellery, clothing etc.

He was also the original Rabaul agent for CRA Exploration when geologist Ken Phillips first started the exploration phase and Frank Espie was still an up-and-coming middle-level exec in Collins Street, and he knew Col Bishop, Don Vernon, Paul Quadling, Frank Paholski and their families very well.

If you want to buy a copy of this book, email me at riverbendnelligen[AT]mail.com and I put you in touch with Brian.

In the early 2000s he wrote a book, Bougainville Blue, and asked me to advertise it on my Bougainville website and our friendship began.

Bougainville Blue is about Bougainville. It’s named for a spectacularly beautiful Bougainville butterfly but it is also about a ‘blue’ which is Australian slang for a fight. It’s about the beauty of Bougainville and its flora and fauna. And it's about the destruction of Bougainville.

Bougainville Blue - A synopsis

A novel based on some of the events which occurred on this isolated tropical island after the arrival of thousands of strangers and an avalanche of heavy machinery.

Australian expatriate planter Richard Robinson and his wife Ruth lose their plantation after its forced resumption to build a new mining town.

Josip Nugui, the first of his people to go to Australia for an education; law student turned insurgent who tries to stop the mine and succeeds, at the cost of his own life.

Rod Burgoyne; American geologist and mine manager faces opposition led by Nugui which grows into armed rebellion.

Governments in New Guinea and Australia fail to cope with the industrial onslaught on one of the last almost untouched islands in the South Pacific.

Not a detailed historical account of what happened and to whom, this is a work of fiction based on some of the actual events seen at first hand by the author when the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the government of newly independent Papua New Guinea fought each other to a standstill; one of the biggest mines of its kind in the world was closed forever, and black and white alike were caught up in a whirlwind of anger and bloodshed which very nearly resulted in the permanent disintegration of the newborn nation of Papua New Guinea.

It’s a novel but it also tells the reader about the Panguna Mine which was closed by a ragtag militia bent on reclaiming their land. Brian saw the Bougainville Revolutionary Army come into being. He observed the rise and fall of Australian rule in Bougainville . He watched the ‘blue’ take place. Listen to an interview Brian gave the ABC in 2008:

If this link doesn't work, click here

I knew how dear Bougainville Blue was to Brian and it surprised me that his marketing website www.bougainvilleblue.com now shows some Japanese gobbledygook. His personal website www.darceyco.com has not been updated since July 2012, and his twitter account dormant since September 2010. Remembering that at our age anything can happen and it's not usually a good thing, I emailed his daughter Belinda in Montréal who replied:

"Hi Peter, Dad's computer is on the fritz but he is fine otherwise :) He still has the boat but is spending less time there these days, and more in his apartment in town (Cairns). His health is fine and he's still driving. My sister, Susan (his eldest), now lives in Cairns permanently and is keeping an eye on him, although she's currently in Singapore on a temporary work assignment. I'm sure he would love to hear from you. And feel free to give him hell about getting his computer fixed ;) "

Phew! I'm relieved! I've just tried the phone number Belinda gave me but there's no reply. I guess he's out chasing the girls ☺