WHEN Ray Ham and Jim Dunn unfurled the Australian flag at Maroochydore, Queensland yesterday morning, it had special significance for the two Gympie-born and bred men, reports the Gympie Times.
The two men grew up in Gympie, Queensland spent some of their working life in Papua New Guinea where a life-long friendship was forged and now live in retirement on the Sunshine Coast.
Yesterday, the Australian flag they hoisted on the flagpole at Mr Ham’s home flew for the first time in more than 34 years and was a reminder of the time they spent in PNG.
The flag is one of the last Australian flags to fly in PNG.
It was lowered on the eve of PNG Independence in Kavieng, New Ireland province at 6pm on Sept 15, 1975 and has never flown since that day.
After being lowered on that day it was neatly folded and put into its plastic bag and left in a cupboard in a tea room of the main Government administration building in Kavieng.
The next day (PNG Independence Day), the Papua New Guinea flag was hoisted for the very first time in Kavieng and this flag was pushed to the back of the cupboard and forgotten.
Over the past 34 years, Mr Ham has kept the flag but never got around to displaying it.
“I found it a few weeks ago and thought it was time to honour it so I bought a new flagpole and the ex-PNG Australian flag will be hoisted at my Maroochydore home, for the first time on Jan 26,” he told the Gympie Times recently.
Mr Ham first went to PNG with the Methodist church in December 1963 as a volunteer, and since then has worked for 34 years on and off, on many projects all over PNG.
Mr Dunn first went to PNG in 1955 with the Australian government and for a period of time was based in Kavieng.
Ray and Jim first met each other in Rabaul in 1964 where they both played in the Methodist church’s cricket team and also were both involved in athletics, baseball and hockey.
They have remained the best of friends and often get together and reminisce about the good old days in PNG. www.gympietimes.com.au