Royal Papua Yacht Club, Life Members



Among a small, select group of yacht club members, who have belonged to the club for several decades, is Ron Burgess the distinguished-looking one with the immaculately coiffured beard. In 1979, Ron Burgess had been a member of the Royal Papua Yacht Club for 30 years.

With Australia drawn into World War II, Ron joined the Fighter Section of the Combined Forces in 1941, becoming a liaison officer on Horne Island during the battle of Coral Sea – keeping tabs on the U.S. and Australian warplanes in their fight against the invading Japanese. Later, Ron was attached to the famous Papuan Infantry Battalion and saw service in the Markham and in Bougainville.

When the Japanese surrendered, Ron and his D company became guards to some 100,000 Japanese prisoners in Rabaul. Demobilisation occurred in 1947 followed by a year celebrating in Australia and then Ron returned to Papua New Guinea with the Australian Petroleum Company (A.P.C.) seismic survey and spent two hot, damp years in the Gulf. By now a fluent Motu and Pidgin speaker, Ron returned to Moresby and for nearly two decades ran the Mobil Oil installation at Idubada.

It was at this time that Ron Burgess joined what was then the Moresby Aquatic Club, sailing aboard “Southern May” Miles Lewis’ 45-foot sloop and York Davis’ “White Cloud”, two of a handful of big yachts in Port Moresby in the early 1950’s. In the late 1960’s, Ron joined force with John Waller of J.C. Waller, the shipping agents, as the operations chief. During the next ten years, Ron maintained his interest in the sea by sailing on coastal vessels and freighters and then on the yachts “Even” and “Chimere”.

Ron Burgess was then best known for his role as deputy manager of R.P.Y.C, during times of management rest or turmoil, a role he volunteered for. To visitors to the RPYC, Ron was perhaps the best public relations officer cruising yachtsmen had encountered. Many the arriving yacht had hardly dropped its anchor before the Club’s tender arrived with a welcome from Ron and a few complimentary beers. Ron was also Liaison Officer in Cairns-Moresby Yacht Races assuring competing crews of ‘5-star treatment’ upon their arrival in Moresby Harbour.

For his long association with the Club and his outstanding services to Club management, Ron Burgess was awarded Honorary Life Membership in 1977.