Archive for the ‘Penrith Infants’ Category

Homeward bound,

Pacific Highway

Winding, snaking South.

Caravan in tow, a weight

Dragging, destabilising.

Roger driving.

Down the mountain into


A slight slip, shift.

I feel it, sit up, lean forward.

Slip amplifies into sway.

“Shit!” – softly but seriously.

My back stiffens.

Roger’s knuckles harden.

Car straightens.

Relax again.


* This section of the old Pacific Highway hosts an annual motoring event called the Bulahdelah Hillclimb.  Here is someone going through the section of the highway in an MGB – this is the section of the highway we fishtailed our way down.





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While we build sandcastles,

Untangle fishing line,

Watch for the iceman,

Hunt, with Mum, for coins,

Roger hunts different treasure,

Takes him door-to-door

Sales pitch rehearsed.

Sales get us home.

Our holiday an escape

Temporarily evading home foreclosure.

Cushioned from the strain & pain,

Our childhood joy intact

And we play.

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It’s cloudy,

I climb onto grey rocks,

Look out where river meets sea,

Rolling, rough, powerful waters.

Walking along the breakwater

To the end.


There is only

Clouds & sea, & me.


Shafts of light

Slices through the clouds

Plunging into the water.

Stirring rolling tides of happiness.

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A new game in the caravan park

The Treasure Hunt.

Search for hidden coins

The caravan, the site

The car,

A shiny new “zac”.

Lifting out car seats,

The treasure* …

Ha’pennies, pennies, trays, zacs or bobs.

Two bob – the pinnacle.

The meaning of the treasure

Hidden by adult game-makers

And lost on carefree kids.


* Pre-decimals. Ha’penny (halfpenny); penny; tray= threepence; zac=sixpence; bob=shilling; two bob=2 shillings.

While we’re talking about currency. Only a few years after this the following ad was running in Australia, educating us about the big change that was to happen on 14th February 1966.

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Caravan park nights

Belong to family

No TV, no radio.

Just each other.

We play, talk, argue, joke,

Comfortable silences connect us.

We invent …

A new board game.

“Around Australia”

Move around Australia answering questions

About location characteristics.

We design, research & create a prototype.

Should’ve sent it to John Sands!








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School’s  finished.

The caravan is hooked up,

We’re off, heading North.


Port Macquarie.

Fights for window seats.

The universal question:

“Are we nearly there, yet.” 

Travel games.

What’s the capital of …

Name the rivers …

Whose flag is …

BP Pick-a-Box* on wheels.

Happy times ahead.

Camped by the Hastings.


* BP Pick-A-Box was a TV quiz show, sponsored by BP. Bob Dyer was the hosted, ably assisted by his wife Dolly. This clip has Bob Dyer baiting Barry Jones who was a celebrated regular contestant on the show. Barry Jones would later be elected to teh Australian Parliament.

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Natural … Umm … Aahh … mmm ..


Triggers punishments.

Simple reflex punishments or

Conscious, considered acts prefaced by

“This is gonna hurt me, more than it will you.”

Bare hand on bare bum.

Calves rapped by wooden spoon or iron cord.

Iron & Iron Cord - aka: Disciplinary Device

Always stings, tho’ no deeper than skin.

Love cushions hearts ‘n’ minds.


No punishment happens in a vacuum. Corporal punishment has been the subject of study and debate for some time. It may well be that the family environment itself is a greater determinant of long term problems than the punishment program. In any case, in those days, there was little access to studies, learnings or debate he effects of corporal punishment.

The overwhelming sense then, was that wrong-doing earned a wack!!

Whatever the case, through my eyes, we were immersed in an environment where we felt wanted and loved. Any pain generated by any corporal punishment ended when the tears ended … or after a sleep … or when I realised that running away was far more foreboding.

Now, whether I learned any lessons from the punishment is highly debatable.

For the oldest – moi – punishment is somewhat experimental. I suspect the punisher learns more real lessons than the punished. And so, good parents modify the punishment regime according to the lessons they learn.

Younger brothers should thank the oldest brother for the lessons he taught to parents about corporal punishment. 

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Away for a week or two,

It’s not school holidays.

Teachers as parents, parents as teachers

Know too well what kids need

Or know nothing!!

A break from Penrith Infants pressure?


To Camden Infants.

Diligent, well-behaved visitor.

Angels land at Camden Nana’s.

A new brother arrives in Penrith – Phil!

Note & Extra:

* I know I haven’t put anything in 365 Short Memories about the births of either Stephen or Peter. That’s because I can’t remember those events – but you never know, this little excavation exercise may come up with something before the year ends. Oh! I can’t really remember Phil being born either (sorry Phil) but I do clearly remember spending time at a school that was foreign to me.

* What I know now, though I may have thought – and acted – differently many times, is fortune smiled on me, on us. When I first heard this Elton John song in 1970 I was probably the demonic, impatient, wicked oldest brother but I, nevertheless, was moved by it and thought it told a story relevant to me.

And all you ever learned from them
Until you grew much older
Did not compare with when they said
This is your brand new brother.

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Friday night.

We lo-o-o-ve Friday nights.

A night of treats.

Fish and chips for dinner.

… with soft drinks.

TV – more than the weekday “2-show limit”.

Permission to stay up later.

Sustenance for a late night supplied by

The Lolly Man.

Bags of sweets delivered.

Finally – ice-cream!!

Friday – nights of indulgence.

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Gymnastics mentor  George Sparkes – iron-fisted, toughFor us boys, it’s Mr Sparkes.

He pushes.

Onto wooden springboards over vaulting horses.

Handsprings, pikes, twists.

Onto mats

Back flips, bend backs, rolls – forward, back.

A stream of compliant boys.

Fearing that failure will incur wrath.

It doesn’t really.

Just feels that way.

The Boys Club ... and the original Penrith Rugby League Club. A small building with multiple uses.




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