HOME SWEET HOME: From left, Peter Madden, Terry Marsh and Allan Gough in Grafton yesterday.
HOME SWEET HOME: From left, Peter Madden, Terry Marsh and Allan Gough in Grafton yesterday.

Fishermen not hooked on return trip to Honiara

By IAN THOMSON

newsroom@dailyexaminer.com.au

THE three Grafton businessmen at the centre of family concerns during rioting this week in the Solomon Islands, are back home after coming face-to-face with the carnage in Honiara.

Peter Madden, Allan Gough and Terry Marsh were fishing on the remote island of Ramata with three other mates when political violence erupted in the capital on Tuesday.

They'd been in their slice of paradise since April 13, after choosing the Solomons as the venue for their annual Easter fishing expedition. Their troubles began when they caught a packed plane from Ramata to Honiara on Thursday afternoon. Because of the unrest in the capital, only one plane was available to take guests and locals off the island.

"The plane already had people on board from another island and there was no more weight left as far as baggage was concerned," Peter Madden said back home in Grafton yesterday.

"We had to leave 14 kilograms of frozen crayfish, lobster tails and reef fish fillets in eskies back on the island."

It was when they landed in Honiara that the trio saw the devastation wreaked by angry mobs after the surprise election of unpopular Snyder Rini as the country's Prime Minister.

"Our taxi taking us from the airport to our hotel was stopped at checkpoints three times by heavilyarmed police and soldiers wearing night-vision goggles," Allan Gough said.

"The cab driver was quizzed because we were outside the curfew hours of 6pm to 6am."

Terry Marsh said fires and debris lined the road on the five-minute trip to the hotel.

"We also saw armed security guards stationed outside damaged shops to prevent more looting," he said.

The trio used the hotel to freshen up before negotiating more checkpoints in another taxi ride back to Honiara airport, where they caught their scheduled Air Vanuatu flight and landed in Brisbane early yesterday morning.



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