Dooralong Valley Resort 12-14th March 2004
Reunion of the 1972 HSC class has just been held at Dooralong Valley Resort. And what a weekend it was! 22 people arrived Friday, another 32 on Saturday plus 10 day-trippers on Sunday. This gave a total of 57 ex-students and 7 former teachers (plus 30 wives/partners and children) in attendance on Sunday afternoon.
Sadly the years have taken their toll – the search for the old gang revealed that at least 5 of those hopeful young men, who did their HSC in 1972, have failed to make it to 2004. Another dozen are not on the Australian electoral roll and cannot be accounted for – although some are suspected to be overseas.
But for all that it was a magical weekend. The tone of things was set on Friday evening when the early arrivals, relaxing with drinks on the Lodge verandah at Dooralong, were treated to the sight of a young kangaroo hopping across the lawns, followed a few minutes later by one of the Dooralong Deer.
Apart from a few drops of rain (nowhere near enough to cheer the farmers among us) the weather was benign: mild and humid throughout the weekend.
Highlights of the Reunion included the memorabilia display and the trivia night on Saturday. The memorabilia display featured (among many other things):
Copy of the 1971 document that ended the “short back and sides” era forever and made the wearing of hats optional for Senior students,
Display of biographical material re James C Hoskin, including his Sydney Morning Herald obituary,
Bound copies of James Ruse Gazettes of the time and extensive photo albums containing class and sporting photos (both thanks to Robin Legge at James Ruse),
George Jackson’s school hat in authentic condition (only students of the era will understand exactly what that means) and
Several letters to unsuspecting 12 year olds informing them of their selection for the 6 challenging years at Ruse.
The trivia night covered all aspects of the 6 years including sport, the musicals, personalities (teachers and students), academic achievements and 1960’s/1970’s music. Special questions were included throughout the night to maintain the interest of wives/partners.
Other activities included tennis and cricket competitions and a Cryptic Clue Hunt on Sunday morning for those who had not “kicked on” too late the previous night.
Former students came from as far away as Oxford, England to attend and others from Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and far flung rural parts of Western and Northern NSW. One was found in the oil and gas industry in Indonesia but was unable to get here.
Sunday afternoon was the planned climax of the weekend with a Buffet BBQ followed by presentations and speeches and a mini concert by former JR English Teacher Mike McClellan (the “Song and Dance Man”).
Popular Agriculture Master Earl Walters presented the Cricket prize to Jonathan Woodward and Grant Kennedy. Former Maths teacher June Spencer (nee Ash) presented the Tennis prize to Andrew Carson and Roy Shore. June was surprised that we still knew where she lived – perhaps she did not quite realise just how many teenage boys were in love with her circa 1969-1970! 1972 School Captain Dave Tucker presented the prize for the Cryptic Club Hunt to Coffs Harbour Radio DJ Terry Daniel on behalf of “Lisa’s Lost Souls”.
Legendary English Teacher Colin Anderson had the job of presenting the Trivia prize to “Jim’s Macadamia Nuts” led by Michael Miller. The “Macadamia Nuts” thanked Col with an impromptu performance of the Can Can, recalling Col’s hilarious 1970 Musical “Orpheus in the Underworld”. “Orpheus” was a daring production for a school in those days.
A surprise visitor was Matthew Ward, a member of the James Ruse HSC class of 1973. He is presently headmaster of Dooralong Public School, a few kilometres from the resort. Founding James Ruse Headmaster James C Hoskin actually attended Dooralong Public for a time in his youth. Matthew read a letter that his school had received from Mr Hoskin acknowledging the connection with the Dooralong Valley. Matthew was then given the task of presenting a James Ruse flag to Ron Lovitt, the initiator of the reunion.
Short speeches were given by Colin Anderson who explained and re-enacted his part of the classic “School of Barbarians” episode from 1964, Dave Tucker who recalled some amusing anecdotes and Ron Lovitt who suggested, rather unkindly, that the hale and hearty teachers who attended the reunion “couldn’t have been as old as we thought you were” when they taught us 30 years ago.
A big thank you is owed to classmate Grant Kennedy who is now the manager of Dooralong Valley Resort. Grant gave us discounted accommodation rates, a free buffet dinner on Saturday night and free use of the venues used for the trivia night, the memorabilia display and the Sunday afternoon BBQ and speeches.
It should be noted that on the previous weekend Grant had hosted a grand opening for Dooralong under its new ownership. People like John Singleton, radio personality Alan Jones, businessman Ross Turnbull, Telstra boss Bob Mansfield, Wallaby Steve Finnane, former Rugby League boss John Quayle and Prime Minister John Howard were entertained by John Farnham and Kamahl. Not a bad “warm-up” for a JR reunion, I guess!
The reunion was a magical experience. The teenage years from 13 to 18 are a highly impressionable time. As the weekend progressed people were astonished by just how much came back as memory after memory was triggered by contact with the companions of their youth.
If you get a chance to go to the reunion of your own year group, then go. You’ll be astonished by the way some of your mates have changed, amazed at how little time has affected others and you’ll laugh and laugh and laugh at the memories of how your mates and yourself jumped over, around or through the obstacles on the road to the HSC.
Next Reunion for 1972 class is proposed for 2009. If any of the years close to 1972 are planning a reunion let me know and I can help you out with contact details for a dozen or so teachers. They probably taught you too. Also contacts for guys who might have had a brother in your year. Get me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Website for 1972 6th form will continue to be maintained. Reunion photos are being added now. Address is: