Retired Blaketown beekeeper Roy Arbon - in jail in Australia after he was allegedly caught with 6kg of cocaine at Perth airport - says it could be 18 months before he goes to trial.

Arbon appeared in the Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court this week, and will next appear in early October.

He was arrested in February when he was caught trying to enter Australia with cocaine after a flight from South America. He is in the Albany Regional Prison, in Perth.

In a letter from prison, he said he could not apply for bail as his visa had been revoked. That meant he would be in Australia illegally.

He plans to ask if he can go to a detention centre.

"It could be 12 to 18 months before I have a trial," Arbon said.

Speaking before his court appearance this week he said he believed the charges had been downgraded from a commercial quantity to a marketable quantity.

Meanwhile, friends have raised $3434 on a Givealittle page towards his legal bill, saying the pensioner was "completely broke".

Originally from Whakatane, Arbon has lived on the West Coast since 1981. He was a volunteer during the 1995 Cave Creek disaster rescue effort, and was decorated for helping in the aftermath of the 1979 Erebus plane disaster.

- Greymouth Star