The journey from Buka via Moresby and Cairns to Brisbane, Queensland was accompanied by major delays but, with only minutes to go, New Dawn FM manager Aloysius Laukai arrived at Queensland University in time to receive, on behalf of his radio station, a major international award on Friday night.
The Communications and Social Change Award is given for the most outstanding contribution to using communications for social betterment, and New Dawn FM won it from a large international field for making an important contribution to peace and reconcilation on Bougainville.
In a speech, Aloysius Laukai said that the station is about to build a second studio in Arawa and install new repeater transmitters that will carry its radio broadcasts to most of the island.
University vice-chancellor, Prof Paul Greenfield, who presented the award, said "you can't help but be inspired by what people do in difficult circumstances."
"Social change is a serious business and New Dawn FM is about serious business," he said
In response, Aloysius Laukai said "the crisis divided most of our people".
"We wanted to allow freedom of expression to help reconcile people after the conflict."
The Bougainville insurrection took 20,000 lives and displaced 40,000 people of a population of 120,000.
The Queensland University academic who heads the Centre for Communications and Social Change, Assoc Prof Martin Hadlow, said "Aloysius provided us all with an outstanding overview of New Dawn FM's history, operations and the way it is impacting positively on the day-to-day lives of Bougainvillean citizens.
"His additional presentation on the displacement of people from the Carteret Islands, due to rising sea levels, was both fascinating and alarming," Prof Hadlow said.
"Congratulations Aloysius and the New Dawn FM community radio team. Real people doing real work for the development of their fellow citizens and for the promotion of democracy."
New Dawn FM has also just been asked by the PNG national government to conduct a five-year long awareness campaign leading up to a referendum on Bougainville independence in 2015.