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I have mixed feelings about my time at Telopea. High school was a big shock after the happy, carefree days at Forrest primary school. Being the shy type, and wanting to remain in the background as much as possible, I sometimes found the classes quite confronting. I remember spending ages at home translating Latin passages about Caesar in case George Barbour should ask me to translate in the class with everyone watching. At other times, I would not let on if I knew the answer to a question as the fear of speaking publicly in front of the class was far greater than the desire to please the teacher. The ultimate embarrasment was when I was called to Mr McPherson's office and told off for not letting him know I had become a Queen's Guide, and then having him tell the whole school at assembly. It was not very cool to be a Girl Guide in the 60s. I am still wondering how my secret slipped out.
On the brighter side, there are good memories as well. I had some wonderful friends, and of course, this is where I met my husband, Geoffrey Harders.
I did have some great teachers. The one I remember with most fondness is Mrs Mildern, my yr 6 Geography teacher. She tried so hard to coach us in exam techniques as the HSC approached. She suggested questions that might be asked and bingo, she was right on most of them. The geography exam was the only one I came out of smiling and confident. I am forever grateful to her for this.
After leaving Telopea I completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the ANU then a Graduate Diploma in Librarianship at the CCAE. Geoffrey completed his Bachelor of Law degree at the ANU at the same time.
I worked for the first 6 months of 1973 in the cataloguing section of the National Library while Geoffrey finished the Honours component of his degree.
We married in June 1973 after a courtship of 5 years (!) then almost immediately headed to Papua New Guinea for a 3 year stay in Port Moresby. It was a really fun time where we met so many interesting people and enjoyed travelling in this fascinating country. I worked at the public library on Ela Beach and Geoffrey worked in the Department of Law. We were fortunate to be there for Self Government and Independence. We crossed paths with Kathy Cottingham and Clem Gollan while in Port Moresby.
After some travelling, we settled in Canberra and have been living in our Ainslie house since 1977. Geoffrey commenced work at the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and I worked for a short time in the Parliamentary Library before the birth of our daughter, Jenny, in 1977 and our son, Paul, in 1979. I was fortunate to be a stay at home mum until I resumed part time work in the National Occupational Health and Safety Commission library in 1986 for about 12 months until the Commission was moved to Sydney. I then worked as a special children’s assistant at various schools before finding a permanent position in the library and office at North Ainslie Primary School. I remained there for 20 years.
In 2002 our lives were disrupted when I was diagnosed with colon cancer. The operation was followed by lengthy chemotherapy then another operation the following year. Although the experience was not pleasant, it did add a new dimension to my life. I no longer take good health for granted. I am relieved to know that the condition is “familial” and not “hereditary” as was first thought.
We both retired about 12 months ago although I was a regular volunteer at the school last year. I have resisted this year.
Our daughter has a Law degree in the tradition of her father and grandfather. Her husband, Sean, is a chef. They have recently returned from a 5 year stay in Vanuatu and plan to settle in Canberra. Paul bucked the system and studied Marketing and Communication. He has been working in the Dept. of Health since his return from 4 years in London. He has a lovely partner, Bridie. As yet we have no grandchildren. We do have 3 "grand dogs" who have holidays with us.
For fun I love gardening, walking and reading. Geoffrey enjoys gardening, reading and sport of all kinds. We share the gardening. Geoffrey looks after the vegies and I do the flowers. The recent addition of a greenhouse has meant Geoffrey can grow a multitude of his favourite tomatoes and chillies from seed. We are both interested in horses. Geoffrey loves the racing side, hence the share we have in “You can call me Al” and I prefer the riding. Jenny shares my love of horses. While she attended pony club and competitions, I was content to trail ride and be her strapper. Although I have given up the riding, I still help to care for an aged mare on a property at Hall.
For over three years I have been volunteering at Pegasus (riding for disabled). This is really rewarding though challenging at times.
My mother, Phyl, and Geoffrey’s mother, Gladys, live at the Grange in Deakin. They are both remarkably well and enjoying life.
I have kept in touch with my special friends from Telopea over the years and have recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with several more from the class of 68.
Thanks to Brett, Jenny, Ruth and the committee for their efforts in organising the reunion and thanks also to the various experts who have worked to produce the wonderful website.