Robert McKillop graduated in the relatively new Rural Science degree at the University of New England on 20 April 1963. He had gained a cadetship to the Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries in Papua New Guinea in 1961, which facilitated his activities at university. He was captain of the UNE first grade B cricket team in the local Armidale competition and included a number of UNE staff members and also played in the second grade Rugby Union team. As the secretary of the UNE Sports Union, Robert managed the Inter-Varsity cricket, tennis, rugby union and women’s hockey competitions held at the University in May 1962.
In late 1962, Robert became engaged to Kerry Barr, an Arts student from Lismore who lived in Mary White College. She and her friends completed their degrees at the University of New England then undertook teaching diploma studies at the Teachers College at Sydney University in 1964. Arrangements were then made for our wedding at the Presbyterian Church in Randwick and the Coogee Bay Hotel on the 4 January 1965. After a brief honeymoon we flew to Port Moresby on 13 January and then onto Goroka in the Eastern Highlands the following day. Kerry taught at Goroka High School until 1970, when Robert undertook studies in Agricultural Extension at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, while Kerry did relief high school teaching at Mount Gravatt High School. On the 26 February 1971, Robert and Kerry set out on a six month Tour covering Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Austria, Bavaria, Switzerland, France, England, Spain and Portugal, Germany, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, then to Leningrad, Moscow, Novosibirsk and Khabarosk, then Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, manila and back to Papua New Guinea. On his return Robert was appointed as District Agricultural Officer in the Eastern Highlands in 1971. In this capacity, he participated in the Eastern Highlands District Planning Committee which formulated forward infrastructure and community projects across the district.
Robert and Kerry moved to Port Moresby in 1972 after Robert was selected along with Gordon Dick to oversee the localisation of the Department of Agriculture Stock & Fisheries in the lead-up to Independence. The program designed by Robert and Gordon was regarded as the most successful of all the government departments.
Robert McKillop also completed an Arts Degree by external studies between 1972 and 1976 majoring in Australian History and Public Administration. Robert and Kerry McKillop returned to Sydney in April 1976 having purchased a home in Castlecrag on Middle Harbour. Robert taught in a range of subjects at the International Training Institute at Middle Head in Mosman from mid-1976 until mid-1977 with his responsibilities being to manage a Papua New Guinea Police Training course, an Extension Trainers course for international students from India, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Pacific Islands countries and a Storekeepers Course with participants from India, Nigeria, Indonesia, the West Indies and Pacific Island nations. Robert was also the Director for the International Agricultural Extension Course that comprised components managed by the New South Wales and Victorian Departments of Agriculture between April and June 1977.
DC3 and Piaggo aircraft at the MAL terminal Goroka Airport. July 1963.
School children reading at Okapa Station, May 1963.
Kerry Barr and my hausboi Paul at an Asaro village house, January 1964.
A neat village Haus Lain near Lufa Station, Eastern Highlands, June 1964.
Dawn at Gitinu village next to the Bena Bena ranch, July 1964.