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Endeavour Region Reports from our Courses

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Semester 1, 2019

The Rise and Fall of Ancient Civilisations and Empires

We are a friendly group who enjoy coming together to further our knowledge of history.   We meet at the Crossroads rooms at 10am and have some chit chat before we get down to reading about our topic from notes or books. We all appreciate the TV presentations for the second half of our session which generally complements our learning for that day.

During the past 18 months, since the  sad loss of our long serving leader, Elsie,  we have researched and discussed the legacy of Alexander the Great of Greece; the amazing civilisations of Meso America such as the Toltecs, the Aztecs and the Incas before they were overcome by the Spaniards; the rise/fall/and rise again of China; the rise and fall of civilisations who occupied the ancient and much prized  cities of Jerusalem and Constantinople up to the defeat of the Ottoman Empire.

In the new term of 2019 we have moved to Eastern Europe.  We have begun by studying the settlement of the peoples of Ukraine around Kiev, during ancient times, which grew into a large principality known as “Kieven/Rus”.  We then learned about the subsequent occupation of this state, by surrounding countries over many centuries,  and the loss of independence for Ukraine.  In modern times we find that it finally gained its independence in 1991. Next term we plan to study Bulgaria and will then follow through with Russian history.

We appreciate the opportunity afforded to us by our U3A membership and for U3A head office providing us with a meeting space.  If you would like to join us please first contact our secretary, Dorothy Dalyell on 02 9520 5563 or by email:  as we are restricted to 15 members because of room size. – Margaret McDonnell, Joint Leader


When a member of our group suggested ‘’Mirror mirror on the wall” as the topic for the next session, some of us frowned. What on earth can you write on a subject like that?
Well, a lot, as the following examples show – from the rousing election piece to the reflections on a long life, the musings on age and decline and the sad story of a pop star’s nose. And in the last poem, the mirror gets what it deserves.
Isn’t it remarkable how we can all find a different angle on a subject

Please click here to view some samples of their work

Our group meets every second Monday at the Gymea Community Hall at 10am and we have room for new members. Why not dip your toe in?

For more information or to book, contact either – Ann O’Connor on 0424968380 or email Or Sandra Keller on 0417134210, email

Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds

Our April adventure saw members of the Harvester’s Group travel to the southern waterside suburb of Carss Park to visit Carss Park Community Garden.  The community garden’s volunteer guide gave us a brief outline of the history of their garden which was developed in 2008, transforming the old Carss Park Bowling Club into a locally focused ‘green-thumb hub’.

The sunny, sheltered site offers community garden plots as well as individual plots. It has its own super sustainable ‘Shed’ (photo 1) for meetings and workshops – not just for the gardeners but for locals as well.  According to our guide the Shed is super sustainable with its walls built from straw and lime render, while recycled tyres were used for the foundations, and salvaged timber was used to craft cabinets and doors. Water, collected from the Shed’s roof and then fed into tanks (photo 2), is  then readily available for use by the gardeners.

As we were taken on a walk to view the many plots, this community garden can only be described as awe-inspiring.  Plots of earthen mounds, others constructed of recycled cement roof tiles (photo 3), there are raised wooden ‘V’ shaped disability plots and a lone raised Vege-Pod (photo 4) for a gardener who is recovering from illness.  The garden was abundant, thanks also to help by flies (photo 5), bees (photo 6) and other beneficial insects. Vegetables such as asparagus, beans, zucchini (photo 7), leafy rhubarb, cucamelons, sugarcane, pumpkins, watermelon, passion fruit, ginger, turmeric, assorted herbs and flowers (photo 8), citrus, pomegranate (photo 9), pear and fig trees to name a few.  A bog garden is also part of this community garden, as is a majestic abstract sculpture.

Two gardeners were in action on the day tending their plots and offered us lots of gardening advice.  One gardener used every ‘square inch’ to its maximum – lush garlic (ever so hard to grow), newly planted Chinese cabbage, basil and Autumn tomatoes. The gardeners store their tools in the ‘other’ shed (photo 10).

The community garden is organic in nature and is supported by the Georges River Council.  The Council works with the gardening community to provide items of need – sugarcane mulch, cow manure etc.  Currently the community is negotiating the building of a neighbourhood composting area within the garden.

To end the day we sat in the warmth of the straw bale shed to eat our picnic lunch and talk over what we had experienced.  A highlight, as we were leaving, was the offer of ripe butternut pumpkins – how lucky were we!

Special thanks not only to our most inspiring Carss Park volunteer guide, but also to our leader who constantly surprises us with amazing ‘harvester’ adventures.   –   Sofi

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Australia, our Land

Some members of the Australia our Land group

We meet at Gymea Community Centre on Wednesday mornings at 10am and are a small group due to room size constraints.

We try to find books about less well known aspects of Australian history to read and discuss. In one recent book, we learned that Daisy Bates, anthropologist and worker among Aboriginals, had been married 3 times, perhaps simultaneously – once to Breaker Morant, followed by two others. She had a vivid imagination and virtually created her own background.

We are currently reading about the early history of the northern parts of Australia, including the settlers from China and other countries as well as the indigenous people. Our next book is about Antarctica.

We also sometimes watch videos about aspects of Australian history and have recently enjoyed a series on Federation. – Beryl Stenhouse

Armchair Travellers

Since my last report in Semester 2018, our group has continued to enjoy presentations from our members, sharing their memories through videos and photographs. We have  travelled to

1 Scenes from Tasmania

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2 Scenes from East Coast of Italy

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3 Scenes from Sri Lanka

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4 Scenes from The Maldives

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5 Scenes from Palestine

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6 Scenes from Rajasthan, India

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7 The South Pacific

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8 Scenes from Bavaria and The Alps

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9 Scenes from Jindabyne

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10 Scenes from The Jenolan Caves

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11 Scenes from Morocco

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12 Scenes from Spain and Portugal

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13 Scenes from Winter camping in Canada and USA

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14 Scenes from India

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15 Scenes from Broome

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16 Scenes from Cockatoo Island

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And our program for the rest of the year looks just as interesting and diverse.

If you love to travel, either in body, in spirit or mind, come along and join us! We still have vacancies as we meet in the small theatre upstairs at Cronulla School of Arts and there are plenty of seats. –  Leader: Kate Churcher


Comic Opera

One class member had declared on enrolling: “a laugh plus good music – not to be missed!” anticipating the delights of the three light opera sessions which were about to be presented in a new course which started last February. The class comprised both newcomers to opera and long-time lovers of the art form. The screenings were preceded by a short introductory talk, supplemented with a few background notes on each of the productions: all the works were subtitled. The operas screened were:

1. Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro – Acts 1 to 3) by Mozart, from Opera Australia – with its challenge to keep up with the many plot twists and turns; Teddy Tahu Rhodes was the titular lead;
2. L’Elisir d’Amore (The Love Potion) by Donizetti, from Glyndebourne – a love story involving a smitten farm worker, a rich lady, an army officer and a travelling salesman, which ended well; and
3. The Gondoliers by Gilbert and Sullivan, from Opera Australia – full of highly unlikely situations all creatively resolved into a happy ending with plenty of witty comedy along the way, beautiful costuming, and a young David Hobson in the cast.

The course is scheduled to resume at the start of the second semester with more “laughs plus good music” when a further three light operas will be screened on three nominated Tuesday afternoons. Full details will appear in the next Course Book.             – Jean Singleton-Turner

Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds

The densely populated areas of the city of Sydney, in this case Enmore and Marrickville, continue to surprise Harvesters with green spaces where communities come together to, not just garden, but to share time, eat and relax.

Our first stop was the eclectic Francis Street Community Garden Enmore.  According to its webpage the Garden is organic and features shared common plots.  Upon arrival we were amazed by the beauty of a ‘Gaudi-esque’ mosaic (photo 1) pathway which led us from, what appeared to be a children’s playground (photo 2) to a  pocket sized Garden taking up the back half of the site.  The Garden features artwork (photo 3) painted by the local children along with fruit trees, olive trees, and an abundance of herbs:  basil and mint together with parsley, sage and thyme.  Extra rain water to the Garden is from a friendly neighbour whose gutter downpipe drains into the Garden’s tank (photo 4 ).

After morning tea, and with the weather holding out, we decided to walk to our next port of call; Addison Road Community Garden (ARC Garden) Marrickville (photo 5).  Arriving at the Addison Road Community Centre we followed the Heritage Trail across the Centre’s nine acre heritage site to find the Garden tucked away behind ‘The Bower’.

According to its webpage the Garden benefits the thirty-odd members, including community organisations (early learning centre and centre for adults with disabilities), and locals and passers-by who may freely access the Garden.  It is a place to share ideas, to unwind in a haven, take home fresh vegetables for dinner and cuttings for home gardens, share seeds and use compost facilities for food waste.

ARC Garden has also developed mutually beneficial relationships with the Addison Road Community Centre Organic Markets.  At the close of markets on Sunday afternoon Garden members collect “spoiled” produce from the Farmers’ Market stalls.  They then separate the truly spoiled produce from the merely unsalable.  Members enjoy an often abundant free ‘harvest’ from the markets and true waste is turned into compost or food for the many worm farms.  The soil in the ARC Garden is thick and rich from many years of adding good compost, constantly rejuvenating the soil.  Landfill is reduced and members are educated about recycling food.

As we meandered through areas dense with beans, corn, pumpkin (photos 6 and 7) and grape vines we happened upon one of the members who shared his gardening tips especially on growing corn (photo 8) and the importance of mulch (photo 9).  He even gave us Daikon seeds to try and grow!  Moving on we were amazed with the expanse of this huge Garden and the variety it offered:  bananas (photo 10), tomatoes both regular and bush, chestnuts, guava, native finger limes, comfrey, rhubarb and basil to name but a fraction of the variety.  The Garden also boasts a colony of honey bees on the roof of an old shed – ladder for access.  Tucked away in various nooks were seats and tables, where we can only assume much socialising takes place, including us for our picnic lunch. Afterwards we managed to get away to a bus shelter just before the sky opened up to deliver much needed rain.          – Sofi

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Walking In Sydney and Surrounds

Our Central Coast (Rathmines) Trip, March 2019 
This year’s week away was once again fabulously organised by member Geoff Hodgson.

What a great way to spend 5 days!

Twenty members enjoyed our annual walking group holiday – this time at the Catalina Lakefront Retreat at Rathmines, with its fascinating history of sea planes in WW2.

Walk One took us around the lake to Warner’s Bay. Now limbered up, the next day was a lovely 12 km walk along the “Fernleigh Track”, a disused railway line. For contrast, our final day took us from Merewether to Newcastle and provided stunning ocean scenery.

A special thank you to our dedicated caterers, Toni and Graham Lee, who excelled yet again!  – Jill McLelland

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Our class is held each Tuesday at the Gymea Community Hall. With semester 1 halfway through, the members attending have been subjected to some interesting challenges employing different mediums.  We all approach the subject in different personal ways, arriving at differing outcomes of the same picture/photo.

The last two weeks have focused on “INK”, with some of those finished drawings shown here. – Ian McLeod


Film Appreciation and Discussion

The Guilty  – Ross Bell

Who are the drowned?  Who are the Saved? – Primo Levi

This film explained in a few minutes watching what I have never been able to explain properly.  When people in distress call you and you are using a headset rather than a regular telephone receiver it’s quite a singular experience. I have always struggled to explain how the voices seemed to be right inside my head. I am unsure about what happens in outbound sales-orientated call centres, but in 5 years of telephone based hours counselling it was quite unique.

There is strong element of the Nordic style in this film. It is confined to 2 rooms and a hallway.  Film is such an intensely visual medium: but here the sounds are vital too – the sudden shift that moves you into the caller’s world, the background noises that hint at location and context and may hint at risk, the expressed emotions that seem amplified in the headset when the visual cues are removed.  In this film you can hear the cars, the road noise for example. And for the call taker, the underlying anxiety that much of the connection is beyond their control. The caller may end the call at any moment.  Another person may end it.  Circumstances like reception may bring the link to an end.

The male lead is on “desk duty” while awaiting a trial.  Call taking in Emergency is often prosaic and the film shows the usual calls of drunken louts, spurned sex-worker customers and bruised knees: all demanding attention. As an example, about 10% of the telephone calls to the 3 Emergency Departments I worked at were to ask if we were open.  Then the call comes.  A breathless 80 minutes of entertainment begins.

It would be too cheap a shot to say “It’s not real!”  Of course, it’s not.  It’s a movie!  Emergency call-taking is based on team work with managers and co-workers supporting each other.  It’s not possible for a single worker to receive a call and despatch a car and request a search without the command and control system logging, monitoring and responding AND supporting the call taker.   But this is a movie and the rules don’t apply, and so the tension escalates as the lead takes the task on his own.  In our imagination, we think we know what is unfolding. After all, are we not served up this pap on commercial TV news every night?  Words are in our heads: hostage, ransom, revenge, deranged husband, helpless female victim.  The movie insists that we engage.  We support the worker doing his best; we disparage the unhelpful radio despatcher.  This is the pap we watch on TV news whose motto is “If it’s bleeding, it’s leading”.  That is narrative we form.

However the world is a very complex place.  People are not what we expect them to be. Events are rarely as we construct them and almost never become part of the narrative we see in movies.  As the story unfolds, the horror narrative writhes and turns.  As a viewer, I had the experience of the film setting the agenda.  There seemed a moment when I came up for air when I realized it was not necessarily going to be a case of Everyone Lived Happily Ever After.

Instead of a simple ending, a concentrated glare at the dynamics of self-harm provides an electrically charged final piece.  I can remember being horrified when a “Lifeline Counsellor” told me with great relish about the people who had threatened self-harm on the phone to him.  He clearly enjoyed the role and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that all of his so-called “cases” were almost certainly para-suicides. This movie does show in the clearest way how anxiety producing are genuine self-harm matters.

And then, with perfectly timed control, the movie shows how our simplistic Hollywood-based narratives are deeply flawed:  How our understanding of the mentally ill is very, very limited.  And how all of us are mixed up in the soup of human kind.

This film is about just a man dealing with his job – but we enter into his drama and what a feast it is for movie-goers.  So the film ends… yes, it was just a film…

‘Our revels now are ended’

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, As I foretold you, were all spirits and Are melted into air, into thin air: And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,The solemn temples, the great globe itself,Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff As dreams are made on, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare: From The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

Sing for Life, Sing for Joy

Endeavour U3A Singing Group has had a couple of special occasions over the last few weeks. On March 7th co-leader Barbara Adams took the group on a musical journey through history by making use of her well honed research skills. We were led from the early days of music notation through the centuries while singing examples of music from the church, the palace and the village square.  An extremely pleasant and pain-free way to do history.

You can probably tell from the sea of green in the photos, the following week was a celebration of all things Irish. This was the brainchild of Peter Hubbard who very capably took us through our paces to the Sounds of Irish Laughter. –  Anita Spinks

Creative Writing

Joy’s take on the group:

We have a lot of fun on our fortnightly meeting of a Monday at the Community Hall, Gymea. The writers arrive with their written piece on the topic, as elected at the previous meeting.
Each reads in turn and this usually inspires everyone to their own reminiscences and experiences. It’s good for a laugh when similarities in memories from across the world and time makes us a little like children again.
I always choose to write a poem and I like to study different forms and meanings. I have written limericks, ballads, villanelles, sonnets and free form. I try to write in the form that suits the topic, serious or frivolous. Here is an example of my poetry. We had chosen the topic of “missed connection”.

Missed Connection

I should begin by saying how
I dislike the topic ‘missed connection’
If it was a connection, hurrah I
could discuss it.

It gets me right away because
I am trying to connect right now
so I can write the poem

Immediately I find the title frustrating
like the last page missing from a mystery
if you know what I mean

What I’m not sure about is the experience (missed)
is it a blank?
not there and so not available?
should I be sad or glad, angry
insulted, relieved ?

Or free and triumphant
or cruel, or in the wrong?
but maybe the poem will explain this
it’s a lot like a divorce.

– Joy Bye 29/11/18

Book Chat

We meet in the Cronulla School of Arts Activities Room, 1st floor, the first Friday of the month from 12.30-2pm maybe a little longer.

Group limit is 10 but we have some room for new members and we have some fun.

Just bring a book to recommend and share with the group.

–   Mary Small

Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds

First outing for the year was to the Paddington Community Garden – Nestled between Edgecliff and Paddington, on what could only be described as a perfect pre-autumnal day, Harvesters sat in the serene grounds of Trumper Park to enjoy morning tea and conversation. We then moved on to visit the remarkable Paddington Community Garden (photo 1).

What a find! In many ways it was similar in aesthetics to many other community gardens we have visited, but this garden had a soul. Upon arrival, Rob, the secretary of the garden, not only enlightened us on the history of the garden, but also outlined its underlining philosophy: the importance of community and building relationships over gardening per se. He also spoke of the intention to create a calm, peaceful space.

To promote serenity in this tennis court sized garden space the colours of key structural features are kept to background colours of black, brown and green. The communal as well as the private garden allotments are enclosed in railway sleepers (photo 2); the council provides mulch for paths in order to create cushioned walking; and the hand-watering, using recycled tennis club water (photo 3), ‘only’ added to the Zen experience. A rustic rotunda (photo 4), with its dirt floor covered with leaf-litter, was built as a communal gathering space and it is envisaged that this rotunda will be eventually covered with grape vines.

The garden prides itself on being organic and was spilling with snake beans (photo 5), capsicums, chillies, lettuces, aubergines (egg plant), figs to name a few along with an assortment of herbs. Rockmelons, raspberries, corn and citrus trees were also spotted. To improve yields the gardeners use: compost (photo 6) created on site, worm wee and the work of a colony of native bees (photo 7) together with snail beer (slops from a local pub). A recent PhD study looking at the productivity of urban gardens was surprised by the high yields for such a small total area. Seeing the passion of the volunteers on the day an outsider can see why.

A surprise addition to the day – we walked only a short distance to have lunch (photo 8) at the Windsor Street Communal Garden. A piece of paradise nestled in Paddington’s back streets . A very tiny 3½ sq m but again productive garden with a mix of vegetable, herb and insect attracting flowers, surrounded by fruit trees and welcoming seats (photo 9).

This adventure was truly a wonderful start to the New Harvesters Year.

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Film Appreciation and Discussion 2019

Member Profile: Sue Hart.

Sue has been a member of this film group since 2015. She has always been a lover of films and would describe herself as a film buff even before joining because she loves foreign and independent films. Fortunately she’s not afraid of subtitles.

An example of Sue’s reviews come with two paragraphs. One from celebrated Netflix film Roma, and the second from popular Polish film Cold War.

Roma: During Cleo’s pregnancy she watches her employers’ marriage breakdown. The philandering, absent Antonio arrives home and announces that he has a new love. He is driving a Ford Galaxy, almost too large for the driveway. Upon arrival he drives into a pile of Borrass’s poop and then when he leaves home for the last time, steps into another pile. It was typical for a man at the time in Mexico to abandon his children. Laugh or cry?

Cold War: Wictor is tall (Gregory Peck look alike) in his 40’s and Zula 20. Zula wants to escape her low class origin and they are mismatched. It’s a film about being in exile. They make and break promises , support and betray each other and resume identities to survive behind the Iron Curtin. Zula had spied on him for the Communist Party. They are happy but this is cut short when Zula doesn’t turn up for their planned escape from Poland.

  •  A sample of Sue’s work, copied by Anita Spinks

Creative Writing

Leader Ann O’Connor advises her landline is no longer current and the new contact number for Ann is  0424 968 380.

Art – Sketching

Every weekend ShireSketchers go out sketching interesting locations and we can tolerate heat, rain, insects and traffic. We have become pretty hardy and usually carry our own seats and refreshments.
A delightful lady who had been reading her 2019 Course book, decided to call me and say “Would you like to sketch in my garden?”
She provided chairs and morning tea, and with beautiful foliage arrangements and vistas in all directions we passed a very pleasant morning sketching.
We feel extremely fortunate that we were able to paint in her lovely garden. – Peggy

Open Minds Discussion Group 2019

The year 2019 has got off to a good start for the Cronulla Discussion Group going by the name Open Minds.

Our first topic: “Should convicted child sex offenders be put on a register and should this register be open to scrutiny by the public?”… was discussed by all members of the group and a diversity of opinions aired.

After the initial topic suggested by me, the group was encouraged to submit topics and it was hoped members would take up the challenge of presenting their own suggestions. This is a learning experience after all, and making a presentation is part of this experience, though this is not mandatory by any means.

Further topics gathered from group members include:

Has Australia become a puppet state of the U. S.?

Women in Power.

The Murray Darling Basin water shortage. Causes and remedies.

Should (Australian) population growth be allowed to happen naturally or be augmented by immigration?

Domestic Violence.

Government spending on medicine. Where should it go?

Should we move Broken Hill to South Australia?

Pill testing. Yes or no?

The #MeToo movement.

To top it off, each semester will be concluded with a lightweight topic chosen near the end. Perhaps a favourite book/film or television program? What is it and why?  – Anita Spinks

Aspects of Australian History

This group meets 2nd and 4th Monday of the month 1.30-3.30 pm in the Cronulla School of Arts theatrette. As well as interesting talks on various aspects of Australian History, this year we will also be focussing on our own Australian stories.         (This sounds interesting – Editor)



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