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Colin Huggins

IN 1961, THE POWERS that be in the Law Faculty at Sydney University complicated the lives of undergraduates by transferring to Law 1 two subjects previously examinable in Law 2

Being an immature 17-year old, I wasn’t part of the 40% pass rate and failed ingloriously

The panic button was then pushed by disgusted parents and I was banished to the public service for a couple of months of sheer boredom while my father decided what was best for this head-strong and now obviously dumb son. But at least I was being paid

Dad had been stationed in New Guinea in World War 2 and, as he deemed it had done him the world of good, it would also do for Huggins junior

At this stage of history, Papua New Guinea was a territory administered by Australia under charter from the United Nations and there was a Department of Territories in Canberra to do the administering

This department had a college in Mosman, NSW, called ASOPA that trained teachers and patrol officers for Papua New Guinea, Nauru and the Northern Territory

So, after a bit of string pulling, I found myself as a recruit for this two-year course

At the end of 1963, about 50 teachers in their twenties and late teens flew to Port Moresby and beyond to do final practice teaching (known as prac) before being assigned to their schools

With a small group of colleagues, I was sent for final prac to Rabaul and accommodated at the only hotel, the Cecil, where I living a pukka lifestyle for six weeks

Then, with little notice, I was packed on to a coastal vessel and despatched to the Morobe District, where I was to spend the next six years of my life

The first 18 months were at Dregerhafen Boys Boarding School. The buildings were the remnants of an American air and naval base from the war and by 1964 they were in a bad state

In addition to my teaching duties, I was made rations officer, which meant I was responsible for the provision of food for the boys and for native teachers from surrounding schools

The basically-trained teachers, who frequently did more harm than good in the classroom, were paid some cash but their remuneration was mainly in rice, tea, flour and sugar

I still have nightmares about the quality of the stuff I dished out to them. But none died

It was in general a very carefree and idyllic time. Social life revolved around the nearby Finschhafen Golf and Tennis Club and all the Europeans on the station were members

In New Guinea, after you settled in, you became either a Drinker or a Bible Basher. There was nothing in between. I was a member of the drinking fraternity

The club officially opened at four each day but there were many times it never closed for weeks on end, especially in the wet season when the engineers, road builders and others were unable to work

Not that they were renowned for doing much in the dry season

Henry Bodman

I’D BEEN USED TO VICTORIAN ponies. Just 6 oz of beer. Small but perfectly formed

Soon after arriving in Sydney, I discovered the Mosman Hotel that once graced Spit Junction in perfect ugliness and is now an aerobics shrine

There I was dished up a schooner (15 oz) of the so-called ‘new’. My first impression was “sweet swill”. This was also the enduring impression

It was swill that had me planning the big spit before I was half way through

I was held together, stomach in check, however, by the mortifying image of disgracing myself on my first venture into Territorian men's business at the Mosman Hotel

Somehow I struggled through this pitcher of pollutant while, beside me, a hardy soul was slurping down what looked like a cistern of molasses

“Whazzat?” I inquired politely

“Old,” was the effusive response

“Orright, I'll have one,” I countered

And so, at the next shout, my love affair with Toohey’s Old was born

Mother’s milk

Keith Jackson

LIFE AT ASOPA BEGAN for me outside the old Monterey guest house (now plush apartments) near Mosman wharf with a tearful wave to my parents as the Austin 8 disappeared up Avenue Road

I was to share a room with a fella who turned out to be a friendly queen, the latter fact ascertained when a fragrant, starkers Tony accosted me as I finished showering in the communal bathroom and attempted a good natured wrestle

After vigorously reinforcing the meaning of the term ‘heterosexual’, all I had to tolerate for the next day was some whingeing about bruises. But I decided to leave boarding houses behind while I still had a behind to call my own

Another bloke at the Monterey - a semi-spastic accountant called Harvey - was off to live with his widowed mother and aunt in a two-bedroom flat at Spit Junction (now an Indian restaurant)

These digs cost three pound ten a week all found, only half my stipend, but the atmosphere was cloying and claustrophobic. It was a quiet and unprovocative existence of little appeal

Meanwhile, down at 6 Bromley Avenue, Mosman Bay, Bill Welbourne and Ian McLean were looking for cash flow, Barry Paterson having found better digs

So, when the invitation was issued, I leapt at the opportunity to move in

Ian and I shared a room the size of a snooker table and Bill slept in a small space adjacent to the kitchen

Bill cooked breakfast and drove us to college in his ute. Ian talked me to sleep at night and life was very pleasant

Bill Welbourne

AFTER FIRST YEAR, I married Pam, an NRMA girl I had met when I worked as a car salesman before ASOPA. Then the search was on for affordable rent, Mrs Cooney’s place on Mosman Bay not being within budget

Mrs C instead offered her house to some well-off Patrol Officers who, after the wilds of the Territory, had a wonderful time on the long course

The first landlord provided Pam and I with a small shed in the backyard without running water. We went to the house at a set time to wash so as not to clash with other lodgers

The owner, pretending to be half blind and chronically ill, became suspicious when we snuck in an electric heater to keep warm. We got our marching orders, fearing for our lives as he had to be held back from attacking us as we left

We then moved to another back room. But after three weeks the old lady had a change of heart. Maybe it was me pumping weights for athletics training

Then a stroke of luck. While shopping, we bumped into a worried Mrs Cooney, who complained about those rough patrol officers and compared them unfavourably with us nice education cadets

“Could you recommend some reliable tenants?” she pleaded

“Well, er, what about us? But the price?”

Bingo! She willingly took thirty shillings off the nine pounds she had charged the kiaps

Back to Mosman Bay

Barry Flannery

IN SYDNEY I SETTLED into an idyllic life with two elderly sisters (the Miss Fox’s) who took very good care of me

Then Rory O’Brien introduced me to Dick Robinson and Ian Page, describing them as two upstanding, hard-working second year students looking for a third person to share a flat. I was their man

I said goodbye to the good sisters and Dick, Pagan and I moved into a shared house owned by an Italian family

To celebrate our good fortune we drank some beer and vodka at The Oaks and boisterously returned to our lodgings. Next day I returned from ASOPA to be informed of our imminent eviction. Dick protested but a razor-wielding landlord and his Alsatian won the argument

We moved next morning to Benelong Road, Cremorne, where we held regular ‘ringside with the wrestlers’ nights (running spikes optional) and an open house with hundreds of horny males, a packet of chips, no drink and, for an unexplained reason, no females

Practical jokes were endemic. Walking down Benelong Road I met Dick and a distressed Pagan to be told Pagan had received a letter from the Registrar informing him his scholarship was terminated. Instantly I was on my soapbox espousing the rights of the working man

To up the stakes, Pagan wrote an abusive letter to the Minister for Territories

Later I was let in on the joke but was told not to tell its originator, Russ Derbidge. When Russ called by to see how things were working out, I rushed out, ostensibly to post the letter. He was told how upset Pagan and I were about the Registrar’s letter and I was about to post a searing reply. Russ went ape shit

I saw him running up the hill after me but before he reached me I dropped a letter (to my future wife) into the slot

After talking Russ out of setting fire to the mail box, I put him out of his misery

Diane Bohlen

HELEN JACOB INVITED ME to lunch at the home of a rich lady from the Lutheran church who lived in a palatial mansion in Vaucluse

As a church member, she mentored and supported young women in Sydney who were away from their families

The house was fabulous and the dining out of this world. White linen, silver service, flowers, all the trimmings. An eye-opener for me from the southern suburbs and the other two country bumpkins

Good upbringing helped us through lunch then, just before dessert, Helen’s friend went to the toilet and couldn't turn off the hot water tap

The lady got into a panic so we decided to find the hot water heater and try to terminate the flow

The lady told us the heater was in the ceiling, so Helen's confident Jillaroo-type pal climbed through a manhole, found the heater and turned off the water

We heard her crawling back across the ceiling to the manhole when there was a loud crack and two legs appeared, spreadeagling a joist. Ouch!

Chunks of plaster and a hundred years of dust rained down on us, posh table setting, carpet, furniture - and the beautiful dessert

We cleaned the dining room as best we could and everyone saw the funny side, but we were ushered out in quick time

Helen observed that we’d truly dropped in for lunch

Dave Argent

I HAD TAKEN A FEW too many sickies and was hauled up to front registrar Victor Parkinson about my absenteeism

I fed him some B/S about being a country boy in the big smoke who didn’t know a decent doctor to treat my malady

“Something nothing,” said VP, and sent me off to one of his GP cronies in Mosman

I finished up at the North Shore Medical Centre swallowing dye and being probed here and there until I wished I was a bloody flying fox

There were more tests to be done at a later stage but the thought of repetition suddenly transformed me into glowing health

VP, of course, inquired after my well-being

To which I replied, “Never better, sir, that GP friend of yours is the best I’ve ever been to”

Henry Bodman

AFTER EXAMS, A GROUP of likely lads went to Sydney town to pub crawl, or, if you believe Moose Davis, attend a seminar

Despite carousing in fine style, we had enough acumen to catch the last ferry to Manly

Moose was always a fair target for the niggle since, although slow to rile, he could become volcanic if effectively pestered

On the deck of the Manly Ferry, he hurled one of his favourite thongs at me - and over the side it went

Ever soar like a bird? I did as I took a Moose-assisted flight over the back rail to be dangled over the thrashing props

It was then I worked out that, after this startling burst of speed, Moose’s right arm was the only thing preventing my further descent

He gave me a good look at the terr (terrifying) sit, and I attempted to work out whether to pancake or try an angle dive away from the pulsating steel below

I understood how lives flash past in those final moments

Then Moose returned me to the deck with the same ease he’d used to launch me

It took a few minutes to catch my breath and return to baiting – but this time with five yards between the two of us

The incident brought new meaning to my grasp of the word ‘hangover’

Lyrics: Keith Bain
Score: Howard Ralph

THE STAGING OF the revue at Mosman Town Hall on the nights of 25 & 26 July 1963 (tickets 8/- & 6/-) was a monumental achievement for a college of just over 100 students

Nearly 80 of these were involved directly as actors, writers, ushers, musicians, singers, stage managers, producers, dancers and ticket sellers

Some of the scripts still resonate, none more so than Keith Bain’s prescient lyrics for the production’s title song, which are reproduced here

- Keith Jackson


They’re restless, they're restless
The natives are so restless
And so are all the people in sight
They're restless, they're restless
The natives are so restless
The natives are restless tonight


The Natives are quiet
There are no noises to hear
There seems to be nothing to fear
Or maybe they're sick of us
And they don't want us still around
And are they so quiet tonight

The Chinese are quiet
There is no border war now
There's no need for a furrowed brow
Or maybe they need more arms
And patiently they wait for them
And are they so quiet tonight

The Arabs are quiet
The Gaza strip is silent
There’s no need. to stir from your tent
Or maybe they’re signing pacts
And they’ll cut off our oil supply
And are they so quiet tonight

The Negroes are quiet
We needn’t turn all our dogs loose
With no children they’d have no use
Or maybe they’re ganging up
To nonplus our Ku Kluxing Klan
And are they so quiet tonight.

The Natives are quiet
No need to repeat Sharpeville
Their leaders are all in gaol still
Or maybe they’re arming up
With freedom, truth, and honesty
And are they so quiet tonight

The Russians are quiet
No women now to talk in space
To spread. tales all over the place
Or maybe they’ve troubles
in planning families way up there
And are they so quiet tonight

Soekarno is quiet
Malaysia seems so safe at last
Aggression’s a thing of the past
But maybe they’ve switched their glance
And Timor now they’re aiming at
And are they so quiet tonight.

The people are quiet
In town and country everywhere
At first sight all things now seem fair
Or maybe the people
Are revolting against tyranny
And are they so quiet tonight


As reported [Vortex 1962]

During Term 2, it became necessary to prove that the newcomers to ASOPA’s education officers’ course possessed more football skill and more bruising power than colleagues a year removed

Tension and needling reached a climax in the days immediately prior to the game; some players from both groups were ambushed by opposition members and had certain items of clothing forcibly removed from their persons

Female supporters became noticeably heated during recess breaks and vicious comments concerning the virility of the opposition’s players were bandied around the canteen

Because of the shortage of tough, hardened males and the inherent knuckling the game possesses, it was deemed necessary to play the 13-man-a-side rugby league game

Players noted for their ability to become involved in fiery incidents were recruited from among other more famous football codes and a willing referee discovered from the ranks of the Patrol Officers

On the Thursday lunch-time of the clash, spectators quickly assembled in vantage positions upon The Hill and the teams gathered for a last-minute pep talk

And so the big game began. 1st Year backs immediately started to throw the ball around and a star player in this division was quickly marked and pummelled by an opposing forward

In fact, the player concerned reeled from a pack clutching his face and the fire which highlighted the game was on for one and all. A dangerous-looking thrust down the far wing by 2nd Year was quickly smothered, and the winger received a couple of gentle rabbit chops for his trouble

Tackling became harder and midway through the first half the two fullbacks involved in a scrimmage outside the touch line: this event had an electrifying effect on the crowd, which rose as one man, voicing loudly their approval or otherwise

Inspired by this clash, the 1st Year backs made a spectacular breakthrough and crossed for a try

The second half resolved itself into a dour struggle, with 2nd Year attempting to bridge the gap, and 1st Year defending grimly yet successfully

The game was livened up considerably when a 1st Year winger ran amok, throwing hefty but ill-directed punches at a 2nd Year forward

A well-known coach, standing inoffensively on the sideline, found himself embroiled in the resulting fracas, but his pleas for more scientific play went unheeded

Again and again the 2nd Year forwards hurled themselves at the line, only to be repulsed by the unyielding 1st Year tackling. At times their advance was halted only feet short of the try line

With minutes to play, a promising run by 2nd Year was stopped with a flying head high tackle, and the game ended in a clear and decisive 3-0 victory for 1st Year

Highlights –

The brilliant cooperation between Dave Argent and Rod Hard, which ended in the only try for the match

The fortitude shown by Val Murphy who stood up to a lot of tough punishment but gave as good as he got

The good work done by halves Fluffer Flannery (1st Year) and Russ Peters (2nd Year), which helped the referee’s job greatly

The hard running of players such as Smithy, Barry Field, Kenny Godden, Dave Keating and Moose, which made this game such an entertaining spectacle

The great attempt by Al Hicks to score near the end of the match and win for his side

The hard, unrelenting tackling, sustained throughout, which kept the crowd on its toes

Dick Jones, 1B

As experienced

Val Murphy, the enforcer, was to soften up the new boys but no-one had considered Ken Adeang, who matched Val in build and strength. There was a blinding flash as these two clashed and, when the dust settled, Val was out on the ground and Ken was looking bored

Handy Andy was quickly on the scene and reflected the staff dismay with his outraged, “You can't do that”, to which Ken replied, “Well, I have and (taking a step forward) will again if given an excuse”. Exit Handy Andy

A pretty tight game and at full back I didn't have to bother with this stupid ‘pass it back to go forward’ stuff

Alan Hicks weaved his way into my patch and with only me between him and glory he did the tricky side step as I lunged at his head. He wasn't there and I came down on my back with a thump

I rolled over expecting Hicks to be covered in glory. Not at all. I looked behind and he was as discomforted as I. I’d apparently executed a fine Sniff move called a coat-hanger and saved the day

Henry Bodman

As witnessed

There was a volatile build up to the game - a bit of niggle, a lot of bluster - and by the time lunch hour came around the School was electric with anticipation. To observe from the sidelines was bliss. The squealing women, sighing with every hit. The squirming lecturers - wanting to intervene but realising they had no role and no hope. The closeness of the game. The tension of a low scoring contest. The passion and grit of the play. Handy Andy getting his comeuppance. Quite a liberating influence on a young man.

Keith Jackson

Our brave boys

The 1st Year XIII (as reconstructed forty years on): Ken Adeang, Dave Argent, Henry Bodman, Jeff Chapman, Bob Davis, Barry Field, Barry Flannery, Rod Hard, Richard Jones, Dave Kesby, Les Lyons, Brian Smith, Barry Vincent