An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A Day Off ... Whatever You Call It

ANZAC day / Remembrance Day / National Day ... it is still a holiday no matter what it is called. And yesterdays turned out to be an eventful one at that ... with most of it was happening before breakfast.

As stated before the dawn service was planned to be attended and we did. Although it was a close call. The rain overnight was a big factor in this. It absolutely dumped down all night. Not to mention serious thunder and lightning that occurred. I don't usually wake for much, but during the night I was awoken at least half a dozen times by the sheer noise of the roof being drummed at fever pitch by an incessant storm and the thunder that literally shook the house for 5 seconds at a time, so violently that it felt like an earthquake.

Getting up and getting ready pre-dawn was difficult because the storm knocked out the power at some point but in pitch-blackness I managed to get ready.

Roger came and picked me up just after 5 and we collected another participant and then headed off to the Lae War Memorial in the dark and rain.

At the Memorial we met up with others and joined the smallish crowd around the cenotaph. The crowds were down on other years, no doubt because of the rain. The service was a typical ANZAC service with the local PNG Defence Force guys making up the catafalque party. The four Australian Defence Force guys from the local barracks were there as well, and seemed to provide all of the logistics for the event. The funny thing for me to note was that a local security company had turned out in force. There were more security guards manning the place than actual locals that turned up. Perhaps the PNGDF need protecting?

Afterwards we all headed down to the Yacht Club to have a gunfire breakfast put on for the day. The only problem was that this was dampened - literally - by the fact that my mate's company's boat was now berthed underwater. The rain had been heavy enough to sink the open style 18 footer. To make matters worse a brand new Yamaha engine had just been fitted a few days before and my mate was officially in charge of it for the weekend.

The thing is usually on the back of a trailer and in a warehouse, but for this weekend with the testing of the engine it ended up berthed at the yacht club overnight. It hadn't rained for 4 nights.

After initial worries about how we were going to remedy the problem turned out to be not a particularly hard task in the end. We attached ropes to it and hauled the listing hull back up the right way and to the surface. With some delicate weight balancing, with people standing at the bow, the water was then bailed out. The trailer was brought down and what should have happened the day before was brought to fruition with it being lugged back to the warehouse, with the immediate remedy work to be carried out on the saltwater drenched engine.

Breakfast was good. The early beers a novelty and so was being drunk before lunchtime. A sleep in the afternoon was definately needed after a memorable day.