Gloucester District U3A

Life-long learning

Training Tidbits 2010

Walking the Kokoda at U3A

A large group of U3A members gathered to hear about John Farley’s experiences walking the Kokoda Track in July this year.  John’s tour was organised by a Vietnam veteran that John met last year at a reunion in Vietnam.

He is an experienced tour operator, based in Papua New Guinea, who ensures his tours are not rushed. John said that the troubles you hear about with other groups have been minimised by restricting the hours walked each day, and by employing local young men to assist in carrying most of the food and equipment needed.

The group experienced hot, wet and even cold conditions during their trek. They saw many battle sites, war memorials, museums and relics along the track, including planes, guns and personal equipment. Trenches and fox holes used during World War II were also seen along the way.
John highly recommends this tour and would welcome enquiries from anyone interested in undertaking this moving historical adventure.

John Farley showing John Read the walking stick and machete he carried on his adventure

Land Water & Vegetation Management at U3A

Course Leader David Marston described the natural landscape of the Gloucester Valley in terms of its geology, topography, climate and hydrology.  This was followed by an understanding of the impacts that land use has had on the valley, including activities such as agriculture and forestry, flood plain management, urban development and mining.  These all influence the vegetation and biodiversity of the valley.

Means of mitigating these impacts were discussed, including agro-forestry, grazing management and maintaining riparian vegetation.

A short practical session of naming a selection of rocks David found on his property was followed by a field trip to view floodplain, lower valley and hilly situations.

After the day’s instruction, it was agreed that sustainability can only be achieved by balancing the economic, environmental and social aspects of the valley.


Course leader, David Marston (second from right), with the enthusiastic group: John Wallis, Collister Reynolds, Bruce Gilbert, Patsy Higgins, David Dibden, Shona Wallis, Brenda Payne, and Chris Pritchard  


U3A home maintenance’s long-term benefits

U3A’s home maintenance course attracted only four participants this term, but its benefits to those members will no doubt be long-term.

Gloucester Home Maintenance’s Damian Roevink is the tutor for the first and second sessions of the two-hour four-day course over the month of November.

He was a knowledgeable and capable tutor and during the first sessions the participants learned how to make and repair flyscreen windows.

Next week Damian will concentrate on the mysteries of repairing inside and outdoor water taps.

Participants were Johanna Heyink, Tony Langmead, Collister Reynolds and Peter Hazell.

Course participants Johanna Heyink, Tony Langmead and Collister Reynolds with home maintenance tutor Damian Roevink


Celtic Matters at U3A

A lecture on Celtic Matters by Roger Thomas proved very popular with the members of U3A, many of whom have Celtic ancestry. Roger is quite an expert on this topic, being a member of the Celtic Council of Australia, a Cornish bard and an inaugural guardian of the Standing Stones at Glenn Innes.

He spoke on the history of the Celts from 1300BC up until the present day, detailing their spread throughout continental Europe and the British Isles. The members also learnt about their culture, religion, agriculture and buildings, as well as their conquests and defeats over the centuries.

After a break for afternoon tea there was time for members to ask questions and look at posters and photographs that Roger has collected on his travels, plus some old Celtic books.

Roger Thomas explains the movement of the Celts throughout Europe to John Farley and Geoff Teece


U3A masterpieces?

Showing off their masterpieces at the final day of U3A art classes were Denise Gilbert, Leonie Carson, Colleen Minis, Jess Burley and June King. Tutor was Colleen, who is holding Shirley Hazell’s art work, and classes were held at Colleen’s home.

U3A Talkback

A popular course that is continuing this term is U3A talkback, a monthly “What’s Behind the News” discussion group. Course leader Chris Pritchard prepares topics of general interest each month, and the members also bring along something of interest from any newspaper, ranging from local to international issues.

Lively discussion ensues, and Chris makes sure that each participant has a chance to voice their opinion. At a recent get-together, some of the topics discussed were the David Jones sexual harassment case, the fact that Golf Clubs are losing members and what can be done to halt the slide, is there a difference between intelligences and how we cope with that as we grow older, and do we need a larger population in Australia.


Joie de Vivre at U3A

The French conversation group is U3A’s longest continuously running course. And no wonder! Ably and patiently guided by Carol Bennett, the group concentrates on dialogue, using as much French vocabulary as we can muster. Perhaps the word ‘concentrate’ should be qualified here. We do try to respond to Mme. Bennett’s ‘en francais’, but franglais or fraustralian is sometimes the result.

Topics for discussion have included travel, cooking, rose pruning, reading habits and politics. These can be serious matters, but often our efforts cause so much hilarity and noise that the neighbours have threatened to call the Fun Police. The group has developed a genuine camaraderie and we have found a wonderful way to spend an apres-midi combining learning and laughter at this great U3A course. A bientot!



After two theory lessons at her home, Penny and the intrepid birdwatchers on two field trips; one to Copeland Tops and Copeland Reserve, and the other to Old Bar.

Hamming it up at the birdwatching course at Penny Drake-Brockman’s home.


Luscious Lamingtons at U3A

The ladies of the CWA are renowned for their wonderful cooking, and this year they have kindly offered to share some of their secrets with the members of U3A. In first term we learnt how to make superb sponges and hot cross buns in time for Easter. Then in second term they taught us to make short crust pastry and gramma pie.

This term we gathered at the CWA Rooms to learn to make lamingtons, and what delicious lamingtons they were. Judy Hopkins and Christine Bolton prepared the butter cakes and sponges beforehand, and then taught the U3A members how to measure and cut the cake and make three different varieties of lamingtons.

First there was the traditional version, covered in chocolate and coconut, followed by jelly lamingtons, covered with raspberry jelly instead of chocolate, and finally snowballs, which are covered with mock cream before being rolled in coconut. Next came the best part of the lesson, when we sampled them all.

We are very grateful to the CWA ladies for sharing their expertise with us. Next term they are going to teach us to make shortbread.

Denise Gilbert, Ann Smith, Norma Wilson, Val Viertel, Judy Hopkins and Christine Bolton prepare to sample the lamingtons


Manning Valley Excursion, Term 3, 2010

Here a some happy snaps from our recent Manning Valley excursion.

Due to popular demand, this was a repeat trip.




Going cryptically crazy with U3A, Term 3, 2010

Have you ever looked at the clues for a cryptic crossword and felt they were written in a foreign language?

With the help of U3A teacher, Liz May, the members of the Cryptic Crazies are learning to understand that language and, much to their delight and amazement,cryptic crosswords suddenly make sense.

At the first lesson, Liz shared some tips for interpreting the clues, and the class members were given a crossword to work on. It was a bit of a struggle at first, but they soon started making progress with finding the answers, and Liz was always there with a subtle hint for those who needed it.

Homework was handed out for next month’s lesson, and the members set off for home with a slight headache and a feeling of immense satisfaction.

Conquering the computer with U3A, Term 3, 2010

Those who are familiar with computers would agree that they make life so much easier in so many ways. But those who have had little involvement with computers during their working life, they are often see them as a source of great frustration.

Retirement is the perfect time to learn how to use a computer, or to brush up on existing skills. U3A’s computer teacher, Jude Hatton, runs courses for complete beginners, or for those who would like to build on what they already know.

This year there have been courses in:

      # Basic Computing

      # Continuing Basic Computing

      # Editing and Sharing Your Digital Photos 

      # Microsoft Word and Excel

Jude Hatton showing Rhonda Merchant, Denise Wilson, Ann Smith, Ann Vale and Claire Reynolds how it’s done with Microsoft Word

These courses have helped many of our members to make better use of their computers.

U3A explores our local history, Term 3, 2010

Under the guidance of local historian, Robin Budge, a group of U3A members set off on a bus tour to explore local places of historical interest.

The tour commenced with a question – Where was the church that Church Street was named after?  It seems there never was a church on Church Street – it was just the surveyor’s choice having regard tothe fact that a church was always built on the highest ground – St Clements was located outside the town.

They then moved on to learn about the first buildings in Gloucester and Robin provided the answers to several questions such as why the township did not develop until the early 1900’s  and why it took 40 years to have Gloucester Soldiers Memorial Hospital built as a memorial to the 1st World War soldiers.

They visited the commemoration stone that recognises the site of the corroboree ground that was destroyed by construction of public buildings many years ago,and heard about the factory for the processing and freezing of protein rich food (rabbits) destined for England during the Great War, and why it floundered.

Robin explained why the site of the original butter factory would now be in the middle of the Gloucester River, why there is such a large area of land around the railway station, and many other local mysteries. They saw the location of a coal mine that was located in the town and learnt the history behind King George V Park.

Robin’s passion for our local history, combined with his great knowledge, made the past come alive as they listened to him. Even the long-time residents of Gloucester felt they had learnt things they had not previously known.


Back from left: Tom Ireland, Robin Budge, Roger Waters

Middle row: John Read, Barbara Read, Julie Tanner, Irene Waters, Catharine Webb

Front row: David Dibden and Clive Colquhoun, ready to explore the Museum 

The tour finished at the Gloucester Historical Museum, where members were free to look around the extensive collection of exhibits.

A similar tour will be conducted on August 30.