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Endeavour Region Reports from our Courses

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Semester 1, 2020

Art – Sketching

The Art – Sketching class have been trying to perfect waves. On Thursday, June 11, the ShireSketchers went to Elouera beach to do sketches of waves. We went to the north side of the surf club, to avoid crowds due to the Covid19 and sat the necessary distance apart.  The weather the day before was wet and miserable, and there was rain all night long. Then the next morning….”Hey Presto!!!” our leader, Peggy waved her magic wand and the weather was perfect and the beach looked beautiful!  –  Julie

U3A Endeavour Armchair Travellers 2020

Armchair Travellers are missing their catch ups and sharing travel stories. When you can’t meet face to face, the next best thing is to share photos of trips via a slide presentation format. The first presentation was a great success, so members were asked to send in pictures again. Enjoy these pics from some of the members.  The below link will take you there!

Open Minds and Film Appreciation Discussion Groups

“Zoom is a web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop client and a mobile app that allows users to meet online,
with or without video. Zoom users can choose to record sessions, collaborate on projects,
and share or annotate on one another’s screens,
all with one easy-to-use platform.” …

Thanks to Zoom, my courses ‘Open Minds Discussion Group’ and ‘Film Appreciation and Discussion’ have been able to run throughout the duration.

I’ll admit to a shaky start. After a first attempt in which I failed to produce sound, I was ready to give up. However, due to the urging of a more tech savvy friend, I made my first tentative steps and eventually felt brave enough to hold regular meet-ups which closely follow the format of classes in the flesh!

We’ve had some terrific film discussions, bearing in mind the fact that cinemas are out of action. This week we had a classic film of our own choosing to discuss. We’ve selected films from SBS on Demand and Netflix.

The Discussion Group has included topics as diverse as ‘Modern Monetary Theory’ and ‘A New Design of the Australian Flag’. Our next meeting is on the theme of the ‘Road to Recovery’. Those who cannot attend the Zoom meetings for one reason or another have shared their thoughts via email.

My photo is supposed to represent me at my device preparing for a Zoom meeting. The challenge is doing this when it involves taking a selfie! You should see the number discarded on the cutting room floor.   –  Anita Spinks

Creative Writing

We have received a number of essays from the Creative Writing group, which are worth your while to have a look.  Click here Creat.Writ. Essays Jun2020

This time, they’re in movie mode!

Poetry is Alive

Thinking of You . . .  I’m not alone in my room,
I have my cat to share the gloom.
Home quarantine, is in the news,
Friendly gatherings, ALL refused,
We must separate and stay apart,
So growth of a virus, doesn’t start.
Remember my friends, to keep in touch,
With all your loved ones,
That means so much.

– Kate Moore, Poetry Is Alive

U3A Endeavour Armchair Travellers 2020

Please enjoy this small selection of holiday photos from some of the members from Armchair Travellers. We are all looking forward to the time when we can catch up and share our stories again. Enjoy, Kate Churcher

Click here: U3A Endeavour Armchair Travellers 2020

Creative Writing

Ann O’Connor has written a beautiful poem entitled “Mother’s Day 2020” specially for mothers this year.
Click here to read it : Mother’s Day 2020 Ann O’Connor


Open Minds Discussion Group

The Open Minds Discussion group were recently given a fascinating talk by by micro biologist Sarah-Jo Lobwein  on the presence of micro plastics in our environment. The talk was well attended and appreciated by all.  –  Anita Spinks


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Singing for Fun

The Singing for Funsters have been enjoying not only singing, but also several social days out to complement their music.  At the end of 2019, Leader Barbara organised a wonderfully uplifting outing to the ABC Radio “Sing Out” Festival of Choirs.  As well at this, members also attended several Musical Movie Days seeing “Judy”, “Fisherman’s Friend” and “Andre Rieu 70th Birthday”, with “Military Wives” slotted for March.  To start off the new year, Singing for Fun members also held a Gatsby Class, with lots of bright colours, feathers and fedoras worn, whilst we all sang the music of the Roaring Twenties. A lovely fun way to start this new course. –  Barbara Adams

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Leader Peggy has led us through an adventurous year of sketching and using watercolour. We have managed views of the Camellia Gardens and of Cape Solander despite unseasonably cold winds, we have sat on our stools on the footpath at Sutherland outside the Florist; and at Taren Point to draw motor bikes. Members’ gardens provided inspiration on three occasions and Kareela Golf Course welcomed us for sketching and lunch. The Como area was visited several times as well. Members have had the opportunity to record some of the local area in their Sutherland Shire books, even painting the Council’s 2019 Christmas tree and beach scenes at Cronulla.

A trip to Kiama as guests of Sydney Sketch Club was a highlight and we have shared some other outings with them. Ellis Rowan and Charles Reid have both been used as inspiration and members have given presentations on various topics – Carol on defining edges, Carlos on ”loosening up“ our style, Joy on Charles Reid and faces, Wendy on colour mixing, Lorraine on nature (birds’ nests), Chris on making our own book and Julie on shapes.   Helen and Sharon posed for us, dressed of course!  Peggy continues to be our main coach, guide and teacher.

This year we start Term 1 developing our style in a new venue at Jannali.  –  Carol


The new premises offers more seats for some people who have been waiting to join us. –  Peggy

Semester 2, 2019

Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds

It is with happiness and sadness that I write this report as it will be our last – Happiness because of all the wonderful memories that have been laid over the last 3 years as the Harvesters travelled across Sydney to see magnificent Community Gardens run by dedicated, passionate and super friendly gardeners, and Sadness because the group is folding.

Our final expedition was to Charlotte Café (Photo 1) in Birchgrove where we shared brunch and reminisced about our many adventures. Lugging free 2L bags of the café’s coffee grounds (for our own gardens), we headed 250m down the road for a quick look through the Mort Bay Community Garden (Photo 2).

Before entering the Garden we were presented with spectacular views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Harbour.  Fortunately there was no dust or smoke to obscure our view. Mort Bay Garden itself, like most of the community gardens we have visited, was brimming with produce. There were trusses of tomatoes, purple dwarf beans, zucchini, Italian (flat leaf) parsley, tiny thumb-sized cucamelon, garlic chives and a few plants, which as hard as we tried, could not identify (Photo 3).

Like all the other gardens we have visited there are a number of components necessary to produce a successful harvest, eg

  1. A composting area (Photo 4) which is out-of-the-way (WHS).
  2. Vegetables left to go to seed and colourful flowers (Photo 5) to attract beneficial insects, native bees and the European honey bees.
  3. In times of drought plenty of mulch and water-saving drip irrigation (Photo 6).

Sofi and friend (Photo 7) just before we left the Garden for a short 400m walk down to the Balmain Wharf. The Harvesters thoroughly enjoyed the smooth ferry ride back to Circular Quay.  A wonderful end to an amazing 3 years. Thanks Joan for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us during this time.   –   Sofi

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The Art History Group is taking a break over the Christmas period, as is every other U3A group. The Albrecht Durer drawing of a rhinoceros, which we obtained from the US, was a special treat for our Christmas party.  Durer had never seen a rhino; he received a sketch from a friend and thought it interesting. It is now world famous.

Beverley Theodore



Leading the discussion group this year has been a privilege and a great pleasure. It’s heartening to see members from diverse areas of competence come together and discuss weighty topics a couple of times per calendar month and do so in such a civilised and respectful manner. Well done everyone. I believe this goes a long way to keeping my mind active as well as keeping me informed on different aspects and outlooks on current events. I liken this to a U3A version of ‘The Drum’ on the ABC.             – Anita


  • What is our vision for the future of Australia?
  • Should Australia process its own waste?
  • Should Australia store nuclear waste from other countries for a price?
  • Domestic abuse
  • Controlling hate speech.
  • Should population growth be curtailed a) in Australia b) globally
  • The Murray Darling Basin. Water shortage, Causes and remedies.
  • Women in power.
  • The economic potential of seaweed.
  • The Universal Basic Income.
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Stopping Racism
  • Should we go cashless?
  • Congestion
  • Uber and the gig economy.
  • Australia’s relationship with China
  • What is your life’s purpose?



Our November adventure saw members of the Harvester’s Group travel to southern Sydney to visit the Gymea Community Garden and the Miranda Community Garden.

Kalpna, our Gymea guide, informed us that their Main Community Garden is an offshoot of a smaller Training Garden.  The Training Garden (photo 1) was established to help members of the local community develop horticultural skills. As interest in gardening increased so too did the size of the Garden, moving from 2 to 5 plots plus additional smaller planters.

At this stage the members of this community Garden are considered novices to gardening, but the quality of the produce on offer reflects a deeper understanding. All plots were green, growing and fruiting. The Training Garden contained mustard plants abuzz with bees, mature fruiting eggplants as well as standard and sweet potatoes. In the Main Garden one plot contained tomato plants laden with fruit. In another there were eggplant, garlic, kale, artichoke and a selection of herbs. Additional pots contained an assortment of fruit trees along with 2 trial bags of potatoes (photo 2).

The Main Garden was a hive of activity as it was National Community Day and a group of volunteers from industry were busy painting (photo 3) a large recycled wooden cable-wire spool which was to become a colourful outdoor table. Another group was laying pavers in a corner nook where the finished table will be located. It was difficult to leave this inspirational Garden but public transport waits for no man or woman and so it was off to our next destination Miranda Community Garden.

It was at Miranda Community Garden (MCG), where our Leader is a member, that the Harvesters Group began in February 2017 and so it was so very fitting to have our final Harvester’s adventure here three years later (photo 4). This community garden can only be described as awe-inspiring. The site for the MCG was chosen late in 2009 on a vacant block of land (photo 5) adjacent to and owned by the Gymea-Miranda Uniting Church.  The aims of the MCG are: to connect with people of similar interests;  to share gardening knowledge and ideas;  to have fun and help each other; and, last but not least, to grow fresh vegetables, fruit, herbs etc in an organic and sustainable way.

MCG is very lucky to have, as volunteer coordinators, a retired horticulturalist and a permaculturist. The first communal garden plot was laid down in January 2010 with just a handful of volunteer gardeners. Today the Garden has 23 (photo 6) full-sized communal plots, various plots of differing sizes along the northern fence-line, and pots of companion plants, along the main thoroughfare, attract native bees and beneficial insects that now live in their own member-made B&B. There are no private plots at all.  The Garden’s member numbers have grown also with over 30 volunteers – some come regularly on Saturday mornings while other members come only occasionally on a Wednesday morning.

The Garden, well watered from two large rain-water tanks, was groaning with produce.  Leafy rhubarb, potatoes, lettuce, broad-beans, corn under-planted with snake-beans (photo 7), kale, eggplants, an incredible array of herbs, espaliered quince (photo 8) and apricot trees covered with fine netting to deter fruit fly, and strawberries growing on an old upright wooden pallet, just to name a few.  It is truly a credit to this dynamic group of gardeners. The Garden is helped along by horse-manure supplied by a local stable and allowed to break down till ready, worm-wee fertilizer from the Garden’s 5 worm farms, its own compost is created using the 3-bay system, while the two scarecrows (photo 9), created by students of Sylvanvale School, try and scare away the pesky cockatoos.

Every Garden needs a Shed and MCG was successful in obtaining a Council Grant to erect, by those members with a bit of muscle, a fairly large Shed.  It houses all manner of gardening equipment along with filing and security cabinets, a long wooden bench/table, stackable chairs, an alphabetical seed storage unit, and tools such as rakes, shovels, forks etc hang (photo 10) in the neatest and most efficient way. The Shed also acts as the control centre with instructions, eg Work Health and Safety, posted on its walls while its portable whiteboard is written up weekly by the horticulturist and/or permaculturist with garden tasks for the members to choose and to carry out. One of the Harvesters mentioned the large Shed was not just any old shed but an impressive “brains centre”.

Special thanks not only to our inspiring guide at Gymea Community Garden, but on behalf of us Harvesters, to our fearless leader Joan. Joan has led The Harvesters Group for 3 years and is calling it a day, hanging up her Harvester’s gardening boots and hoping someone else will take over the reins.  Joan constantly surprised us with amazing ‘harvester’ adventures and we were so very lucky to see what we did. Thanks Joan for all your hard work, as well as your enthusiasm, we learnt a great deal and your efforts are so very much appreciated.    – Sofi


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On 5th November our Tuesday drawing group who meet at Gymea Community Hall, decided on this appropriate theme for Melbourne Cup day.

We sketched and coloured, downing tools at 2.45 to pour champagne and to check the names of our horses as drawn from the sweep. With no wi-fi coverage, we depended on a radio as we nibbled on cheese, grapes and walnuts. Some went home happier than others! But everyone enjoyed the afternoon.

Some of the sketches were really outstanding and we hope to enjoy drawing again next year. – Pam

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Local Vocals

Endeavour Local Vocals celebrated the Melbourne Cup and all things horsey during their singing group class.  There was a horse quiz, best dressed and hat parade, with gold trophies awarded.  At interval, the singers retired to the “refreshments table” to drink (non-alcoholic) champagne with a side serve of strawberries.  We sang lots of horse-themed songs such as Mr Ed (A Horse is a Horse of Course, of Course), Widdecombe Fair,  Stewball the Racehorse, Camptown Races and Rawhide.  A fun time was had by all !!  -Barbara Adams                  (It sounds wonderful! – Ed)

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Rose Bay Community Garden

The philosopher Voltaire proposed that a garden is “a microcosm of a just and beautiful society.”  And this truth was evident on our recent U3A (Photo 1) Harvester’s outing to the Rose Bay Community Garden.

From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, this gorgeous and productive garden, our guides Michelle (Council Representative), Marika and Beth (Garden volunteers) could not have made us feel any more welcome.  The site consists of communal plots ($50 single or $80 family annually) as well as private plots (an additional $100 annually).  Thirty six (36) plots in all together with six, currently-laying, Isa Brown hens raised from chicks at Marika’s daughter’s Kindergarten; a Striped Brown Marsh frog population (photo 2); as well as the European Honey Bee Hives on raised platforms (photo 3) above the recycling hub; while the Native Bees (remember those at Casula!) are happy with their Air Bee ‘N Bee (photo 4).

Both the members and the community plots were brimming with produce (photo 5), of note were: the red-veined sorrel (photo 6), strawberry plants, rocket, lettuce, broad beans, asparagus, spinach, cape gooseberries (which were ripe and most Harvesters tasted for the first time – very tasty).  There were numerous herbs, plus turmeric and large ginger plants. The garden was also dotted with various beneficial insect-attracting flowers:  geraniums, marigolds, salvias and roses.  Like Camden Farm one member’s plot was simply flowers and here at Rose Bay purely roses (photo 7).

As part of the Department of Primary Industries push to monitor and subsequently prevent Varroa Mites from decimating the European Honey Bee population in Australia a sentinel monitoring station has been set up on this site.  Beth, one of our guides, is an expert amateur bee enthusiast whose passion in preventing the outbreak of the mites, works with the Department to continually monitor for any sign of these serious pests.  The knowledge she shared on the European and Native Bees was truly inspirational.

Marika (who lives just a couple of hundred metres from the Garden) guided us around the Garden.  She not only shared her tips and secrets for a productive garden but also offered us tastings as well as titbits to take home.  The tour ended with us enjoying cups of either hot lemon verbena or peppermint tea with our lunch, the chooks and Marika on the Garden’s Kitchen Deck (photo 8).

On our home leg we took a detour to state-of-the-art Woollahra Library which had previously donated two dwarf Apricot fruit trees to the Rose Bay Garden – one tree is now flowering (photo 9).  The Library in the heart of Double Bay is worthwhile visiting, if not just to view this amazing green living wall (photo 10).

Thanks as always to our Leader for a magnificent day.      Sofi

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In this course we spend a fun session learning how to create a photobook – not hands on, so it’s totally non-threatening!

Then everyone is invited to come along to the follow-up sessions to show what they’ve created. It’s the ultimate “Show and Tell”!

I so look forward to these days. We all pick up new ideas from each other and it’s also a great motivator if busy lives have gotten in the way of getting something started.

Many people make photobooks of holidays, grandchildren and birthdays, but we’ve also had tributes to pets, family history, the garden and hobbies. What a great idea to compile a book of photos of family and friends with large font names for someone with dementia.

Photobooks can be a great way to document special events, as in the annual Sutherland Shire & St George Youth Music Awards. Once one has been created, such a book can then become a template for the subsequent years.

How long does it take? You can “autofill” say a child’s day at the Powerhouse Museum during an afternoon. It can be quick when there isn’t much text and you don’t have to put the photos in any particular order. At the other extreme, a project like collecting hundreds of photos from people all around the world, to compile a chronological history for your old Girl Guide Company  will take months, but is incredibly exciting when 50 people want copies after the reunion!

At this last follow-up morning we saw a range from simple projects such as photo cups and fridge magnets to exotic coffee table books, from a happy bunch of U3A members.

Beware – making photobooks can become addictive!  Jill McLelland (Leader)

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Scenes from a recent session with a hippy theme.   –  Anita Spinks


Casula  Powerhouse  Kitchen  Garden

For our September Harvesters expedition we took the train to the south-west of Sydney to visit the Casula Powerhouse Bellbird Kitchen Garden (photo 1).  The Powerhouse itself has its own train station, Casula!  As the Head Gardener Lauren was absent we were greeted and guided by Daniel, who looks after the Powerhouse grounds (photo 2).

This roughly 15m x 15m organic Garden supplies produce (photo 3) to the adjacent Bellbird Café which is also part of the amazing Casula Powerhouse complex.   The Café’s food philosophy is to be local, seasonal, sustainable, affordable and accessible – 40% of the seasonal vegies are picked straight from the Bellbird Kitchen Garden and both the Café and the Garden are well worth a visit.  The Garden consists of a central enclosed area of mainly raised beds along with a Bush Tucker area (photo 4) just outside the front gate.  On the Georges River side of the Garden they are presently working on the Food Forest (photo 5), a perennial food garden designed to mimic the ecosystem using edible and useful plants.  To date the Food Forest has:  citrus and olives trees, blueberry shrubs, and strawberries as a ground cover plus many different herbs.  In the very near future a chicken house is to be established at the back of the Garden.

The central enclosure is kept watered by a timed drip irrigation system and the enclosure was not only busting with our recognisable vegies but also with some most unusual vegies.  Cabbages – red and green, purple Sicily cauliflowers (photo 6),  globe artichokes ready for picking, bronze fennel, green dragon broccoli, Bok Choy, Pak Choy and Wombok, ‘Yukomo Giant’ snow peas, eggplant, green onion, beetroot, purple broad beans (photo 7), lettuce (numerous varieties), asparagus, garlic and leeks to name a few.  Beneficial insects hovered, bees buzzed while the native bees were drowsing (photo 8).  Nestled amongst the produce were various eye-catching sculptures (including the ‘headless’ scarecrow) and plaques (photo 9).  You could really feel the passion of the garden staff as you walked around the bays with attention to detail being key.

Also, outside the central enclosure is a large worm farm in an old bathtub (just like we saw on Costa’s Verge) as well as a wooden-framed composting area both of which are used to provide essential nutrients to the growing plants.

This remarkable Garden is well worth a visit to not only appreciate its beauty but to gain valuable vegetable growing knowledge (photo 10).  A big thank you to Ron for suggesting this Garden but also to our Leader for organising.      Sofi

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Anzac Park Community Garden, Cammeray

North Sydney Council provides residents with 600 square metres of pure bliss.  On another perfect winter’s day members of the Harvester’s Group travelled to Cammeray to visit ANZAC Park Community Garden.  It can only be described as awe-inspiring!  Local residents petitioned Council and Council listened.  As a result a gorgeous community garden, whose beds mimic the shape of The Australian Army’s ‘Rising Sun Badge’ of Swords and Bayonets (photo 1), was opened in March 2019.  Additionally some of the front Community beds take the form of sand-bagged (now cement-bagged) bunkers (photo 2) used during World War 1.

We were guided through the garden by the knowledgeable, passionate and hardworking Eric along with inspirational volunteer Sue.  Both of these individuals worked diligently to get the project up and running and to a speedy completion – the result is magnificent.  The Community beds house an assortment of bee attracting flowers (photo 3), numerous herbs, the most amazing Cape gooseberry, along with a frog pond (photo 4), an insect hotel and garlic galore.

Moving to the other beds in the garden the design caters for both tall and short volunteers.  The higher Plots (80 cm  high), mimic the Swords (7 in all) on the ‘The Rising Sun Badge’ and contain vegetables that are relatively low growing:  Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, bok choy, cabbages to name but a few.  The snow peas (photo 5) filled Plot 7, a Sword.  Vegetables were lush, plentiful and carefully mulched.  The Bayonets (6 in all) were the smaller Plots (60 cm high) catering for individuals that were smaller in stature such as children who, no doubt, are waiting for the potatoes, in Bayonet Plot 8, to be ready for harvesting.  Broad beans are in Bayonet Plot 6 while the sweet corn occupied another Bayonet.

The site can get quite boggy and so the decision was made to layer the 600 metres with recycled aggregate.  The effect is practical, as well as dramatic.  Planted in the aggregate are numerous fruit trees:  various pear (photo 6) and Tamarillo (photo 7) as well as paw paw, finger limes, citrus trees, passionfruit (along the fence line) and the pepino (photo 8), a small melon-like fruit, which needs to be kept off the ground.

The site also houses a pergola with grape vines such as the black ‘Autumn Royal’ (photo 9), placed strategically, climbing up chains to the pergola’s roof-top to eventually provide a summer shade.  There is also a massive work bench with sink, water tanks, mains water, a worm farm, a seed raising shade house (photo 10), storage shed as well as table and bench seats.  A gardener’s paradise!  All of this was provided free of charge by North Sydney Council and built by Eric himself, who used the volunteer muscle where he could.  The Council continues to financially support this dynamic group of volunteers providing for all their gardening needs.  This is such a jewel in a very built up inner city environment.

Special thanks not only to our inspirational guides Eric and Sue but also to our Leader for another amazing ‘Harvester’ adventure.     Sofi

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U3A Endeavour Campus Walkers 

On a lovely Thursday morning on Thursday, 2nd August, a group of Endeavour Campus Walkers met at Circular Quay to wait for their ferry to Neutral Bay where we planned to walk to Mosman Bay along the bush tracks of Sydney Harbour. After a quick coffee at Neutral Bay, 18 of us began to walk the foreshore paths of Kurraba Point and Cremorne Reserve and on to Cremorne Point.  It was a warm sunny morning with wonderful harbour views across the water to Watsons Bay and back to the Opera House and the bridge.

The beauty of this walk as you wander through native trees, look across the waters of Sydney Harbour and down to the curved beaches below was exhilarating.

We had lunch at Cremorne Point where the signposts described the local history and how this park almost became a housing development in 1891, but for the foresight and efforts of the local council (Borough of St Leonards).

After we ate our lunch, we walked along the bushy pathway around Mosman Bay where we all caught our ferry back to Circular Quay.                – Jim Sloan



This semester 32 members have signed up for the cinema experience. This is the group’s fifth semester and the screened movies have a connecting theme. We began with the life & career of Orson Welles. Another semester we viewed great trial movies. This time it is Burt Lancaster, famous not only for his screen performances  but also as an independent producer.

We will view nine movies with Robert Englund introducing and leading the discussion on each and providing details of Lancaster’s life.

It is interesting to learn about the process of how these movies came to be produced. Brief backgrounds on and the behind-the-scenes interactions of directors, writers, actors, etc. are also mentioned.

The films to come are:

5 September-Sweet Smell of Success
3 October-Elmer Gantry
17 October-The Leopard
7 November-Seven Days in May
21 November-Atlantic City
5 December-Local Hero

There are plenty of places available for more members. The Course Book has time & place details.  –       R Englund


In celebration of 50 years of rock and roll after Woodstock, our U3A singing group came in costume. Hair, beads, flower children and peace signs graced the Cronulla School of Arts Activity Room on August 15th.

We commenced the session with a highly original selection of physical exercises followed by a retelling of events plus the singing of songs. You can probably tell by the expression on the faces of participants how much fun was had (and it had nothing to do with the content of the brownies made by head hippy Barbara Adams.)  –  Anita Spinks and Barbara Adams

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Confessions of a Course Leader  by Liz Peters

“Alison is starting a course on Australian Poetry next semester. Do you want to join?”

These were the words of my friend Jacki Hallahan in 2005. Why not? I hadn’t occupied myself with verse and rhyme since my school days; and back then I had mainly studied the works of Schiller and Goethe – in German. It was time to delve into the poetry of my new home country!

Alison Taylor’s class met in a room next to the old library in Cronulla. I found out that there is more to Australian poetry than Banjo Paterson, Dorothea McKellar and Henry Lawson. Much more. Les Murray, Kenneth Slessor, Judith Wright and Dorothy Hewett are just a few of the names I had never heard before.

After a few semesters, we ran out of Australian poets of note and spread our literary wings. From Maya Angelou to W.B. Yeats; from “The Jabberwocky” to “The Ancient Mariner”, we read and discussed international poets’ works.

When Alison called it quits, Jacki Hallahan took over the group and we continued on our merry romp through centuries of rhyming and non-rhyming poetry.

Patricia Green followed in Jacki’s footsteps. Pat had a solid background in literature and took us deep into English poetry. She also encouraged group members to present poems from their own home countries, be it Canada or Germany.

Sadly, towards the end of 2017, Patricia’s eye sight deteriorated and she put the hard word on me to keep the group going. What? Me? The person who grew up speaking German? The person who had never set foot into a university?

Well, there is only one way to find out what you are capable of.  Do it.

Our class is still going under the heading “Poetry is Alive”. Last semester we even dipped our toes into some exotic poetry. We have studied Indian, Syrian and Lebanese poets – along with some classic favourites and some contemporary works. We won’t run out of material in a hurry.

Members are encouraged, but not obliged, to present their favourite poems or even poetry they have written themselves. The group meets at the School of Arts twice a month and you are welcome to join us in Keeping Poetry Alive!

– Liz Peters


Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds


The beginning of a new semester saw members of the Harvester’s Group travel to the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney to visit, on a perfect Winter’s day, Waverley Park Communal Garden and Randwick Community Organic Garden.

Waverley Park Communal Garden (photo 1) was established in 2011 with the view of providing locals with a space to garden together.  The garden’s five color-bond beds use a wicking method (photo 2) so that plants can drink from a permanent reservoir below each bed.  While small in size the beds housed a variety of herbs and vegetables:  sweet potato, bok-choy, radish, water chestnut to name a few plus a curry tree and what appeared to be a newly installed bug hotel (photo 3).  Truly inspiring.

We then walked a short distance to catch the bus to our next destination, Randwick Community Organic Garden.  Here our guide Mary, whose hospitality was humbling, greeted us.  The kettle whistled and gentle music played on our arrival and we were soon seated under a grapevine (photo 4) in the dappled sunshine, sipping freshly brewed tea, eating Mary’s delicious homemade muffins (we have the recipe to try!) and reading poetry, primarily Rumi; a Persian poet.

Once we were fed, watered and our souls nourished we wandered the organic space with Mary who provided information on historical as well as current gardening practices.  It was originally established (2012) as a circular shaped series of beds (photo 5) and as interest grew so too did the number and shape of the beds.  There are many plots, public and communal, all organic.  Water was once free via a pipeline, to the Garden’s large painted tank (photo 6), from the adjacent one-time Inglis Newmarket Horse Stables.  Water now comes from Randwick Council’s Paine Reserve pipeline and accessed still from the original hand-made taps scattered throughout the garden.  This community garden can best be described as calming.

The Garden was abundant with so many herbs (photo 7) and vegetables:  artichoke, garlic, fennel, spinach, potatoes, leafy rhubarb, snow peas and bee attracting borage to name a few.  The Garden also contained numerous citrus and fig trees.  A bog, an aquaponic fish tank and an hydroponic garden were also part of the mix.  The massive composting area (photos 8 and 9) was also a former beneficiary of Newmarket – free horse manure.  Now the horse manure comes from the Mounted Police Stables at Redfern whenever a Garden member can collect it.

There is a very long chicken run and a native bee area.  An assortment of abstract and inspirational sculptures (photo 10) as well as tile mosaics could also been seen throughout the garden.  According to the Garden’s website their present motto is “he who plants a garden plants happiness.”  Happiness exudes from this beautiful garden.

Special thanks not only to our inspirational guide Mary but also to our Leader who constantly surprises us with amazing ‘Harvester’ adventures.   –   Sofi.

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Harvesting in the Suburbs and Surrounds


The Harvesters last outing took us to a quiet and unique suburban area of Sydney which is just a stone’s throw from Sydney Airport and Botany Bay.  The suburb was Kyeemagh.

Having met up at Rockdale Station we then travelled to the Occupation Road heritage-listed 1892 Chinese Market Gardens (photo 1) by bus.  We walked along the entire length of the road to view the garden and there were a couple of old cottages (with new roofs) now only used for storage (photo 2) and also some very old corrugated iron sheds (photo 3).  The area is massive with, originally, four 5 acre Lots most of which seemed like acres and acres of very healthy flat-leafed-parsley (photo 4).

Not only was there parsley but Asian greens; an embankment of dwarf green beans; roadside sweet potatoes; spring onions being picked and packed simultaneously into plastic bags; and a vegetable we did not know (photo 5- the flower) and (photo 6  – the vegie).

AND, the planes flew overhead constantly ­– mainly Qantas.

We turned into Bestic Street and wandered down to the now defunct Fishos Club where the small Bay Community Garden (photo 7) lies adjacent to the old car park.  The garden members pay $100 per year for a single plot (photo 8) or $50 per year for a shared or a smaller plot  All members spend some time working together in the communal plots and share that harvest (photo 9) wow!  A variety of fruit trees as well as figs, olives and a well- pruned native lemon myrtle form a green fence dividing the garden from the children’s playground and the playing fields.

We have never seen old boats recycled as garden plots before.  One boat already overflowing with herbs (photo 10) while the other two boats are temporary compost bins.  Labour saving too as the compost, when decomposed, will not have to be removed, just manure and soil added and the boats will be ready for planting in.  The garden was in very good shape:  well mulched, no weeds and very healthy looking plants.

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Over lunch, at a little round wooden table next to the frog pond I talked to Emmy (who, as far back as she can remember, has had a passion for gardening) about her early life in Germany and Poland – How the Russians and Germans took over and kicked her family out.

Thanks to our Leader for another great day out   –   Ron McPhail

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

View previous Reports from our Courses by year


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