Tag Archives: Dead Poet’s Society

Climbing Cape Byron Lighthouse

Sometimes serendipity works for us and everything lines up. Yet, there are those other times when everything falls apart and something is clearly not meant to be…no matter how hard to try to push, shove or force it to happen. Sometimes, the reason becomes apparent and something even better is waiting just around the corner.

View Halfway up the lighthouse.

View Halfway up the lighthouse.

Monday, we drove to Cape Byron Lighthouse at Byron Bay but couldn’t get a park and ventured further afield. Tuesday we returned. Not only to get a park but also to find out that for the first time in over 20 years, we were able to go on a tour of the lighthouse and actually go inside, climb the stairs and stand on the balcony surveying Australia’s most Easterly point from higher up. Lighthouse tours are only available on Tuesdays and Thursdays so yesterday’s disappointment was today’s tribulation.

The view on the way up the lighthouse.

The view on the way up the lighthouse.

Ever since watching Dead Poet’s Society where John Keating played by Robin Williams gets the kids to stand on their desks and see the familiar from a new, fresh perspective and gain a whole fresh insight into the everyday, commonplace world around them.

“Just when you think you know something, you have to look at in another way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try.”

John Keating, Dead Poet’s Society.

The view of the walking track from the top of the lighthouse.

The view of the walking track from the top of the lighthouse.

So, as we started climbing up winding spiral staircase, I was mesmerised, captivated both by the scenes I captured through the windows on the way up but also that sense of following in the lighthouse keeper’s footsteps and stepping way back in time. I love history and I was almost getting high living and breathing it as we climbed those stairs.

The lighthouse stairs looking up.

The lighthouse stairs looking up.

A spiral staircase is a rarity and I only recently heard about Coco Chanel’s famous spiral staircase which was lined with mirrors and apparently she could stand at the top and see it all.

Naturally, the lighthouse staircase lacked all of that glamour but it did have brass railings, which were brightly polished back in the day. Children were not to touch them at all and smudge them with their fingerprints.

The lighthouse door opened up to such an incredible view!

The lighthouse door opened up to such an incredible view!

While it was wonderful climbing up the stairs and looking out the windows along the way taking photos, I almost held my breath as the guide opened the door with its shiny brass knob for us to step outside onto the balcony. This has always been a forbidden zone and now we were finally about to be let out. I couldn’t wait.

Guess who?

Guess who?

Perhaps, this great excitement explains my clumsiness. As I moved to step through the door, I tripped over my walking stick and went flying through the door and into the balcony wall, no doubt giving the guide a serious heart attack. Mister was right next to me and apparently I freaked him out. On my way down, I apparently grabbed him and he thought the pair of us were about to fly over the edge to our deaths. After all, neither of us is very good at flying.

Actually, Geoff, who as I’ve mentioned before, never lets my love of the story conflict with the facts, said that I apparently pushed him over when I fell. Not as spectacular as flying over the edge together but I did give him a fright.

Mummy can be a liability but I hope I’m proof that a liability can also be an asset!

Geoff and the kids at the top of Cape Byron Lighthouse.

Geoff and the kids at the top of Cape Byron Lighthouse.

The 360 degree views from the top of the lighthouse were absolutely breathtaking incredible. I was sprouting more superlatives than a real estate advertisement! ! Beaches stretching North and South and the incredible might and power of the Pacific Ocean to the East and Byron Bay and it’s hinterland including jagged Mt Warning to the West. I could have stayed up there forever and who knows, perhaps the sea gulls could have fed me instead!

Okay! I know I’m dreaming!

Looking down the spiral staircase. Quite striking but not quite Chanel.

Looking down the spiral staircase. Quite striking but not quite Chanel.

After our walk up to the lighthouse, Geoff and the kids followed the walking track down to Australia’s most Easterly point and onto the beach. It’s a pretty steep walk down and I didn’t think I’d make it back up so I stayed up the top by the lighthouse watching tourists photograph fleeting, pixel-sized flashes of passing whales who seriously must laugh at all the tourists snapping away at little more than bare ocean. Been there done that!

Aerial; view of the lighthouse keeper's cottages from the top of the lighthouse.

Aerial; view of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages from the top of the lighthouse.

I also just happened to mention snakes to a few tourists too. After all, I get no royalty cheque from the Australian Tourism Commission and sharing tales of Australian wildlife is simply being a good host!

The waves pounding the shore....Byron Bay Lighthouse.

The waves pounding the shore….Byron Bay Lighthouse.

That was when I noticed a bride and groom posing for photos on the first lookout down on the track. From where I was standing up the top, I was looking straight at the steep, rugged escarpment and after all our trials and tribulations since the happiest day of our lives, I couldn’t help but think that this rugged road was a good reflection of some of the times ahead. That marriage, life, is not always about experiencing the smooth, easy road but going cross-country and blazing your own trail through the wilderness and all that entails.

I also wondered what it would look like if her veil was blown away in the wind and landed on the rocks? What would it mean?

Hence, I started scribbling down my poem: Beyond the Veil, which you can read here:https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/poem-beyond-the-veil/

The kids at Australia's Most Easterly Point, Cape Byron.

The kids at Australia’s Most Easterly Point, Cape Byron.

Eventually, the rest of the family returned and we were off for more ice cream…a serious family tradition at the light house. By the way, we’re not talking mass produced stuff either but ice cream cones. My favourite flavour is Mango Macadamia which puts you right on location close to the Queensland border in a tropical paradise.

No matter how many times I visit the Cape Byron Lighthouse, it never loses its sense of wonder, it’s beauty and a strange sense of permanence in an environment were the waves and sand are ever changing.

“I AM FOREVER walking upon these shores,
Betwixt the sand and the foam,
The high tide will erase my foot-prints,
And the wind will blow away the foam.
But the sea and the shore will remain
Forever.”

Kahlil Gibran- Sand & Foam

xx Rowena

University Antics!

As the years pass by and a spirit of creative rebellion fades away and the realities of work, mortgage, kids and life take over, it’s easy to feel that person was someone else. Perhaps you, like me, felt you belonged in Dead Poet’s Society going  out in the woods reciting Whitman, or indeed your own poetry, by candle or torch light or perhaps you really did fit into one of those Hollywood coming of age films…a cheerleader, the jock..or indeed the jerk.

Dead Poet's Society.

Dead Poet’s Society.

Yes, indeed there was also “The Revenge of the Nerds”. That was released while I was still at school.

University of Sydney 1870s

University of Sydney 1870s

When you first enter the University of Sydney through the iron gate into the Main Quadrangle, you can’t but be impressed by the years of conservative tradition and the incredible minds who have walked these hallowed corridors. As Australia’s first university, there is and always has been a lot of prestige, pride and a real sense of academic achievement, which is encapsulated in my graduation photo with the tradition black gown with ermine trim.

The historic sandstone building in the Main Quadrangle featuring the iconic Jacaranda tree which was planted in 1927 by EG Waterhouse. The tree is an unfortunate harbinger of bad news. As it's branches start to bud, exam time is looming.

The historic sandstone building in the Main Quadrangle featuring the iconic Jacaranda tree which was planted in 1927 by EG Waterhouse. The tree is an unfortunate harbinger of bad news. As it’s branches start to bud, exam time is looming.

However, when it comes to getting that all-important university education, what you learn outside the books is just as important that those set texts which will ultimately earn you that all-important piece of paper and the job of your dreams…a career.

As far as my education at Sydney University was concerned, it was all focused on “Manning”. Manning was a three-story student haven. The bottom floor was for the early birds and where you could get a morning coffee and veg out while skipping lectures. The second floor had the cafeteria and the all important “Manning Bar” scene of much philosophical musing, pursuit of the flesh and the annual band comp. The third floor of Manning was where the private school people hung out and in retrospect was rather elitist. While I might have qualified for the prestigious selection criteria, I felt much more at home among the bar flies, although all I used to drink was a single West Coast Cooler, which, by the way was rated as one of the daggiest drinks along with Passion Pop.Brentonb

The crew I mingled with at the bar, were often living out of home in one of the rundown terrace hovels around campus and unlike the folk upstairs who were flaunting their designer labels, there was something greater at stake at Manning Bar…street cred. UNfortunately, I had no street cred whatsoever and not even a pair of Doc Martin’s to pretend. My “colleagues” would indulge in bottles of McWilliams Royal Reserve Port, which had doubled in age by the time you’d walked home. It was raw stuff which, again damaging to my street cred, I used to drink with coke or lemonade.

Orientation Week Stalls.

Of course, the big event each year on Campus was Orientation Week where, in addition to taking care of all the business of enrollment, the clubs and societies held stalls out on the front lawn. These clubs and socs promised everything but a debauched feast straight out of the Middle Ages. I belong and even ran the university’s writer’s group Inkpot and was involved in poetry performances and jam sessions of sorts. Another hit was S.U.C.R.O.S.E (Sydney Uni Chocolate Revellers Opposed to Sensible Eating). I remember one event held in winter and we were all wearing coats with very deep and multiple pockets and in addition to shoveling all I could eat into my gob, I also loaded up my coat for a midnight snack.Of course, there was also the Sydney Python Appreciation Movement (SPAM). I wasn’t so into Monty Python myself but I loved all the spectacle and theatre…and the way out costumes. There was the Grim Reaper and also Erik the Viking. I think we ended up singing the SPAM song on MTV although I couldn’t be sure. University days are filled with myths and legends.

Image result for monty python spam song

Monty Python’s Spam Sketch: www.youtube.com/watch?v=anwy2MPT5RE

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to find out that I ran for editorship of the university newspaper, Honi Soit. Our team was called The Antonyms and we did a whole lot of promotional posters using ant words such as “brilliant”. Like all political campaigns, the competition was fierce. Our main promotional strategy, aside from posters around campus, was writing slogans in chalk around campus.Our opponents, the Newshounds, got hold of some super-bright fluorescent chalk, which I’m sure, could have been seen from space. We also made a huge blank ant (pictured), which we drove around. A friend of mine who got behind our campaign, had an idea to turn the tunnel between Manning and the Holme Buildings into an ant tunnel so there we were about 4.00 AM in the bitter freezing cold turning the tunnel poo brown and painting black ants throughout. It wasn’t even surprise when we ran into the Newshounds who’d set up at the other end of the tunnel. The battle was on. Unfortunately, our more nature-inspired ant tunnel was no match for their bright paint. Needless to say, the Newshounds won the election and I think our team had fallen apart before the election was even done. But it was great fun!

Here I am posing in front of the Ant-Mobile running for editorship of Honi Soit in 1991.

Here I am posing in front of the Ant-Mobile running for editorship of Honi Soit in 1991.

University also provided me with my first opportunity to get published. I had a letter to the editor published, which protested the introduction of fees. However, I really made a bit of a name for myself as a bit of a roving Germaine Greer writing about sexuality and in particular double-standards on campus. The first article was called: “Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t: Attitudes towards Female Sexuality” and the sequel was about the Sensitive New Age Man (SNAG). I also had a poem about a guy who had an affair with his computer published. I’ll have to post that once this A-Z Blogging Challenge is over. I’m in survival mode at the moment. Tomorrow being ANZAC here commemorating 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli, I’m needing to get onto that as well as wake up at 4.00am as the kids are marching in the Dawn Service with Scouts. Geoff’s Great Uncle served in Gallipoli and I’m desperately trying to put details together while writing this and baking ANZAC Biscuits, which are bound to burn with all this multi-tasking!

Just like what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, the rest of what happened at university stays at university.

This has been U for University Antics for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

Anyone game to cough up any of their university or college antics? Don’t be shy!

xx Rowena