Archive for August, 2012

Stephen on the Barkly Hwy crossing into NT

The Barkly Highway 

Ends when it meets the Stuart Highway

At Three Ways.

Our camp site.

The roadhouse

Accommodates our thirst.

Age seems no concern.

It’s late, dark, we stagger

The short distance to camp.

Something trips us,

Fall, roll, rumble, giggle.

Next morning, complaint –

Drunken teenagers jumping on sleepers.

The Barkly Hwy: Cloncurry (A), Mt Isa (B), Camooweal(C), Three Ways(D)

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Bus rumbles along

Through hours of red dusty landscape.

One diversion, cards,

More engaging when

Playing for money.

Mr Ellem joins in.*

Pontoon, for cash.

Coins on a makeshift table

In the aisle of a bumpy bus

We play for hours.

Mr Ellem loses heavily

Schoolkids win,

My winnings … big – about $9.


* I am pretty sure this game took place along the Stuart Highway as we headed towards Alice Springs. The map below gives you a rough idea of our itinerary.

A, N=Penrith; B=Mt Isa; C= Camooweal; D=Three Ways; E=Katherine; F=Darwin; G=Alice Springs; H=Uluru (then known as Ayers Rock); I=Coober Pedy; J=Port Augusta; K=Adelaide; L=Mildura; M=Canberra




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There’s two buses

One exclusively older folk

The other, older folk prepared

To accommodate youngsters.

Back seats secured,

The bus rolls off,

Guitar comes out

Simple strumming, some picking

Makeshift surfaces for multiple percussionists.

Repertoire limited.

I wonder how many times

House of the Rising Sun*

Will be belted out.


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A long school excursion,

Travelling for a few weeks


Transport: buses
Accommodation: camping
Travellers: interesting mix – oil & water.

Male teenagers & retirees.*

Teenagers guard(ian): Geography teacher.**

Steve & I are in.


Outback NSW & Queensland,

Darwin, Red Centre,

Simpson Desert,

Salt Lakes,

Simpson Gulf,


Barossa Valley,

NW Victoria




* Below is a (poor quality) picture of the traveling troupe. I am in the front row fourth from the left. Stephen is immediately to the right of me. Some others I think I can identify are:

John “Trapper” Trevena  – front row on the left of me.
Craig Bale – front row, immediately to the right of the lady with pink cardigan
Michael Bale (Craig’s cousin) – on the right of Craig.
John Welch – the tall guy right at the back, in a direct line back from Michael Bale.
The bloke waving his hand is (I think) Arpad Rapsak

** I am pretty sure the teacher was Mr Ellem.

*** In Short Memory #18 I recalled an event happening at aged 16. Only a few days later some of my alumni (Garry, Ruth, & Jenny) suggested that the event happened at least a year earlier. Recalling this excursion and it’s timing (3rd form – or year 9) pretty much confirms their opinion.

The Touring Party for a NHS Geography Excursion circa 1970

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In a younger class

Our paths only cross

Across the quadrangle or

In school corridors.

Enough to connect.

First steps into the boy/girlfriend terrain,

A romantic “novitiate”.


By youth & naivete.

Enamoured through simple, innocent discoveries

Beaming smile, mischievous eyes, slight accent,

Entrancing, enlivening.

A precious time of light-hearted joy.


I debated myself about identifying individuals appearing in my Short Memories. In most cases I will but in Memories of this nature I thought it best to preserve anonymity unless I get the all clear from the unnamed.

By the way, anyone who wants to remind me of things, or add to, embellish, or correct these Memories … please feel free to contact me or add a comment.




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Located in my room:

“Speakers B”

Piping music from hi-fi in the lounge room

Where “Speakers A” deliver sound.

Vinyl LP’s* played remotely

Temptation for needling brothers

Lowering volume,
Powering off,
Switching to radio.

Hiding, giggling as I rush in.

Payback: “Speakers A” on

For late night tracks – LOUD!


* LP’s are Long Play vinyl discs, generally hold between 20 and 30 mins of music on each side.


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Moving into my teenage retreat

Now carpeted, furnished

Bed, desk, wardrobe, books,

And records.

Speakers hooked up

To living room stereo.

Place the needle on the vinyl

Rush to hear it’s start,

Through  rooms –

Lounge,dining, verandah, back door, garage,


Side 1 finishes, rush back in, repeat.

Loving it … for now!!

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The garage workshop.

A big room annexed

To its southern side,

Running almost its length.

We aren’t a family of DIY’s

(except for Stephen’s tinkerings
and Poppy, when he visits).

Wasted space.

With temporary lodgers (1 adult, 3 kids)

Soon moving in,

Decision easier.


Teenage boy haven,


My own “flat”.

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The house at 138 Station St

Comfortable, plenty of room

But is bulging

With the burgeoning family.

Four boys with expanding needs

For space and privacy.

Parents encouraging visits from all our friends.

(At least they know where we are!)

Means a vibrant house full,

Activities overlap,

Spaces trespassed,

Territories clash.

Solution needed.

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We have great grandstand seats

For the Randwick Racecourse concert of

Pink Floyd*!

There’s problems with

The staging, the sound,

Wind creating havoc.

Crowd restless.

Then …

Poetry shouted

From above.

Looking up

Hanging from the rafters:

Ian “Scab” Stevenson

His recitation gets cut short.

His mark is made – Penrith Poet.


* The concert was held on August 15, 1971 and surely will soon be the subject of its own Short Memory. Today the memory has Ian Stevenson is top of mind. This memory appears now partially due to yesterday’s post and partially due to fellow NHS alumnus, Garry Cockle observing: “Yeh. Scab! Cool dude, he could feature in a few “short memories”.

With that, I thought I had to immediately post my favourite “scab” story.

I’d love to hear your favourite Ian “scab” Stevenson memory. If you have one, share it by putting it in as a comment.

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