North Coast (Hamersley)

U3A North Coast Meetings are held each Friday at the Stirling Leisure Centre Hamersley, 20 Belvedere Road (off Beach Road Hamersley).   We are an active group of 200+ and welcome New Members.

Our main presentation starts at 1pm each Friday, with a program of interesting and informative speakers (and occasional live music) on a varied range of topics for those interested in both learning and staying informed, and is followed by a sumptuous afternoon tea within a happy social network.

Our Friday activities start at 11.30 am with a Music Appreciation presentation by a member on the 1st Friday each month, Book Club and Discussion Group (2nd Friday), Games (3rd Friday) and Poetry Group (4th Friday). Bring your own lunch and stay for the 1 pm presentation. A special event or outing is arranged when there is a fifth Friday in a month. 

Click for the detailed program

Activity
Scheduled
Time
Venue
Contact
Phone
Book Club
2nd Friday
11:30 AM
Stirling Leisure Centre
Anka
0450 100 801
Discussion Groups
2nd Friday
11:30 AM
Stirling Leisure Centre
Dee
0451 100 801
Games
3rd friday
11:30 AM
Stirling Leisure Centre
Dee
0451 100 801
Music Appreciation
1st Friday
12:30 PM
Stirling Leisure Centre
Dee
0451 100 801
Poetry
4th Friday
11:30 AM
Stirling Leisure Centre
John
0451 100 801

5 Apr 24 ‘The Tudor Inheritance – a Poisoned Chalice?’  – presented by Diane Tartt

Dee is thanked by Carolyn for another informative and interesting presentation.

Dee guided us through a tortuous time of the English royal succession following the death of Henry V111 only legitimate son and heir, Edward V11 at age 17; his nomination, likely influenced by powerful aristocratic families seeking even greater power, of Lady Jane Grey (aka Lady Jane Dudley), a Protestant, daughter of Henry V111 sister Mary Tudor, once Queen of France, and great-grand-daughter of Henry V11.  Henry V111 had declared both his daughters Mary, and Elizabeth, as illegitimate, as he sought a male heir from his many marriages.

Lady Jane Grey did not want to be Queen and ruled in 1553 for only nine days, before the Privy Council changed sides, recognised the Catholic Mary as Queen, and had Lady Jane Grey executed for treason. Called Bloody Mary for her religious persecution of Protestants, Mary married Philip 11, King of Catholic Spain, who embarked on financially disastrous wars in Europe. Queen Mary 1 died of natural causes in 1558 with no heir, and was succeeded by her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth 1, to the joy and relief of the population; the start of a golden age in English history.

22 Mar 24 – Convict Ancestor’s – presented by Bill Cutler

Bill is thanked for his presentation by Bill Berry

Bill recounted the lives of his three times great-grand-parents, carpenter Nathaniel Lucas, and maid Olivia Gascoigne, who arrived in Sydney Cove on the first fleet in 1788 as convicts.

Illustrated with photographs, he explained how he and his wife traced Nathanial and Olivia’s lives, travelling to the UK to where she worked, where her crime occurred, the trial courthouse, and cell she occupied below; and researched Nathaniel’s claimed wrongful conviction.

Tracing Nathanial and Olivia’s transfer in 1788 to Norfolk Island, where they married, had 13 children, and completed their sentences; they travelled to Norfolk Island to discover evidence of their 16 years tenure, including still standing structures constructed by Nathaniel, and identifying from archives a connection with island commandant, and later third Governor of Sydney colony, Philip Gidley King.

Moving next to Sydney’s Rocks area they located where they lived after returning to Sydney, many still used buildings Nathaniel was involved with as the colony’s Superintendent of Carpenters, and his grave next to St Luke’s Church in Liverpool, which he built in 1818.

Thank-you Bill for this fascinating first fleet family story and insight into early colonial life.

8 Mar 24 – The History of Jazz Part 2 – presented by The Melody Makers

A big turnout at North Coast enjoyed Part 2 of the History of Jazz from the Melody Masters trio: Brian Copping (reeds), John Healy (double bass and vocals), Tony Eardley (piano).

The U3A Film Crew was in attendance to record the vision and sound.

23 Feb 24 Changing Sea Levels and Climate Change with evidence from Rottnest – presented by Peter Alcock

Peter is thanked for his informative and thought-provoking presentation by Stella

Peter’s presentation brought together his knowledge as a geologist and Rottnest Island volunteer guide, tackling the complex topic of changing sea levels, within the broader subject of climate change. Evidence exists of numerous sea levels changes, both higher and lower, back to 500 million years ago, attributed to melting ice, tectonic plate movements, water temperature and surface and ground water distribution changes, tides, current, winds, meteor impacts; and Milankovich’s Planetary Climatology theory that our planet’s movement and gravitation impacts climate change; now proven from ice-core sample analysis, evidencing past temperatures and atmospheric composition.

Ice-core studies indicate peak temperature occurring in approximately 100,000 year-cycles. Peter said the data indicates we are now at a temperature peak, and that the next natural cycle is for cooling . He posed the question that the natural cycle is being disrupted since the 18th century introduction of steam and coal power.

Using sea level change data across the Perth Basin area, and photos of Rottnest shore-line geological structures, rock, and fossil formations; Peter demonstrated how sea level changes have changed and continue to change our coast-line. 

16 Feb24 – King Charles III and the Establishment – presented by Don Manning

Pauline thanks Don for his interesting and informative presentation

Don presented the fourth in his series on English Kings named Charles, previously explaining the turmoil of the reigns of Charles 1 and Charles 11, interceded by the England’s only republic led by Oliver Cromwell.

Moving to current times and Charles 111, Don outlined how the shadowy, elitist establishment, made up of wealthy aristocrats, large land owners, and hereditary lords; some families tracing their ancestry and position in society to Norman times; behind the scenes have influenced, managed, controlled, and often negatively impacted Charles life, from his early up-bringing, education, military service, and marriages. Events in his life, constant media attention, his promotion of unpopular long-held climate and environmental issues, now vindicated, have left him with a nuanced public image. However, behind the scenes he has challenged the Establishment’s influence and control, in a complex political situation where the role of the King and Royal family is largely ruled by precedent, and tradition; the Establishment as a power behind the throne; and as Don explained, a hereditary Constitutional Monarch in a country without a constitution.

9 Feb 24 – Establishing a Game Reserve in Africa – presented by David Howcroft

Bill Berry thanks David for his presentation

Another informative and entertaining presentation from David Howcroft who outlined how in 1993 he purchased a 1,200 acre cattle property north of Pretoria, South Africa; turning it into a eco-game reserve; with chalets for tourists, hikers and bird-watchers; providing a sanctuary for rhinos, giraffes, zebras, many species of antelopes, and a wide range of other animals, both large and small. Illustrated by an extensive album of photos, he explained the challenges in building infrastructure, the capture and transportation of wild animals, protecting their well-being, the inter-action between the family and monkeys, meerkats, an orphaned antelope, and surprisingly two rhinos, and his ever-present Jack Russell’s.      

2 Feb 24 Music Appreciation – The Making of a Musical – presented by Peter Flanigan

Pauline thanks Peter for his inciteful and entertaining presentation

Peter brought to our Music Appreciation morning a musical occasion with a difference. In 2020 while Covid raged, Peter wrote a book and lyrics for a musical he titled “The Name is James”, enlisting well known Perth music educator, musician, composer Rod Christian to write the music. Although the play has yet to be staged, the music was recorded, and we were privileged to listen to the songs, with Peter reading extracts of the dialogue, outlining the plays development process, and discussing with the group how the play could be staged.             

2 Feb, 24 Micro and Nano Plastics – presented by Graham Ezzy

Pauline thanks Graham for his topical and thought provoking presentation

Graham posed the question “Are plastics an invention of great value, or a curse for generations to come?” He commenced by reminding us of the serious health and environmental issues with asbestos first identified in 1897, which took almost four generations to be fully recognised and addressed.

Initially praised for being durable, plastic do not decompose naturally like organic matter, the polymers breaking down into smaller micro and nano particles, also releasing chemicals which may have been used to give the polymer additional functionality, but can be harmful. A 1 litre water bottle breaks-down on average into 240,000 particles. These particles pass into the environment and human, and other life forms, though physical wear from use, and disposal of plastic waste into the environment; by means of contact, inhalation, and ingestion; and is of increasing concern for both the natural environment, and our health. Graham concluded saying that as with asbestos, the cost of not recognising and addressing plastics pollution through more research, reduction in use or replacement, improved recycling, could be devasting for future generations.

1 Dec 23 Annual Quiz Afternoon

Dee Tartt and Bill Berry

North Coast members enjoyed our Annual Quiz afternoon. It proved a close contest with only 5 points separately all teams, and three tie-breakers needed to determine the winning team. Congratulations to the winning team.

A special thank you to Dee Tartt for organising this years’ Quiz and compiling the questions, Bill Berry for his sterling role as Quiz Master, maintaining the tempo and order of the afternoon, and Val Dekenah in assisting Dee in the adjudication of answers and score-keeping.

10 Nov 23 King Charles 11 Affairs of State & Heart – presented by Don Manning

Don Manning thanked by David Frankland

Known as the Merry Monarch, Charles 11 exiled in France led a lavish lifestyle, in the manner of the French court of his cousin.

Turmoil after Cromwell’s death saw him invited to return in 1660 as King to Puritan England; where he continued a lifestyle of disgraceful behavior, with many lovers, mistresses, and illegitimate children; the subject of virulent satire. Educated, intelligent, with interests in science, notably astronomy, time, and navigation, he sponsored in 1670 the Royal Society, and 1675 the Royal Observatory at Greenwich.

An arranged marriage to Catherine of Braganza, daughter of Portugal’s King, survived although she tolerated but not shared his lifestyle, showing him respect, gaining public popularity, and admiration; later, when wrongly implicated in a succession plot to install his Catholic brother King James of Scotland, she was defended by Charles.

It was not all fun and games, a childless marriage with no legitimate heir, plots around succession, religious friction with a nominally protestant King, Catholic Queen, and family, an unruly government, Dutch wars, plague, and great fire of London; he overcame by working with Parliament, unlike his father, sponsoring reform of Treasury, victory over the Dutch capturing New Amsterdam (renamed New York), expanding North American colonies, and a treaty with Portugal, bringing trade opportunities in Portuguese territories in India, North Africa, and Brazil.

3 Nov 23 – A Short History of the Romans – Peter Flanigan

North Coast member and regular presenter Peter Flanigan brought us ‘A Short History of the Romans’, an epic endeavour both historically and for a 75-minute presentation; dispelling the she-wolf myth, with Romulus after murdering his twin Remus, establishing in 753 BC a settlement in the Aventine Hills, in what is now Rome.

Using stirring words from Macaulay’s heroic poem of Horatio’s bridge defence against the Etruscans in 503 BC, Peter took us on a 1,000-year journey through Roman history, beginning with a dispute over taxation and replacement of Etruscan rule with a republic and Senate; creation of the world’s largest empire by military conquest and alliances; Julius Caesar’s defeat of the army of Pompey replacing the republic with dictatorships, family dynasties, emperors both competent, incompetent, and depraved; and ultimately the Emperor Constantine, embracing Christianity, his split into western and eastern empires; and finally the Visi-goths sacking of Rome in 455 AD, to end the western empire. Along this journey Peter explained how military conquests, slavery, infrastructure building, trade, and taxation fuelled the empires growth, however in the long term could not be sustained, leading to decline and its demise.

27 Oct 23 – The Unclothed Emperors – The Vredefort Impact Structure, Bushveld Complex, and Great Dyke of Southern Africa.

David Howcroft

We welcomed David Howcroft who has written a book on his sixty-five-year interest and research in search for the truth and proof of the origin of the Vredefort Meteorite Impact, the Bushveld Complex, and the Great Dyke geological structures; which has led him to believe that geo-scientists made a fundamental error in measurement of their age at more than 2,600 million years.

David explained his case in straight-forward terms, analyzing impact scenarios and geological outcomes from meteor impacts, illustrated by maps, diagrams, rock sample test results, and topographical photographs; to support the view that they are of a substantially younger age at 280 million years, formed simultaneously from a violent, meteorite impact, causing mass animal and plant extinction, the world’s largest mineral deposits, and continental drift, which is still ongoing.

Thank-you David for a thought-provoking presentation, well explained and documented, that kept our interest and attention for its entirety.

20 Oct 23 – The Incredible Indian Railways – Terry Harvey

Terry Harvey is thanked by John Buxallen

North Coast member and regular presenter Terry Harvey once again captured our interest, this time with ‘The Incredible Indian Railways’, from early developments in the 1840’s to present day; the design, engineering, geographic and other challenges, set-backs from natural disasters, 1857 Indian mutiny, 1947 partition, and safety. First established by the British East India Company, it was the British Colonial Government that drove railway development, linking major cities across the sub-continent for both military and commercial purposes, unifying both country and peoples, an important legacy from colonial rule, and still a unifying force today. However, India did not share the wealth generated from railway development, British industry profiting from manufacturing track infrastructure, locomotives, and rolling stock until independence. Today the railways are a major integrated economic institution employing 1.4 million; building, maintaining, operating the world’s fourth largest rail network. Thank-you Terry.

13 Oct 23 – Diana Tartt brought us Part 6 in her series Feisty Royal Women: The Tragedy of the Tudor Women.

Diana Tartt is thanked by David Laws for her presentation.

At the centre of turbulent political and dynastic struggles, intrigues of nobles, Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas Cromwell, marriages to European royalty used by Henry V11 to strengthen the Tudors weak claim on the English throne; the religious reformation used by tyrant Henry V111 to legitimise re-marriages seeking a male heir to secure the Tudor dynasty; tragic aptly describes these women’s sacrifice and suffering.

Catherine of Aragon, first married to Henry V11’s son Arthur who died soon after, then to his younger brother Henry, shortly to become Henry V111; played a key role as Regent in his absence at war in France, defending the realm against Scotland’s James IV invasion; her marriage later annulled with daughter Mary the only survivor from six pregnancies. Henry V111 re-married five times, to the intelligent, sophisticated, ill-fated Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth 1; Jane Seymour who died shortly after giving birth to his only legitimate son Edward V1; Anne of Cleeves; Catherine Howard; and lastly Katherine Parr who out-lived him.

U3A 50th Anniversary Concert

110 U3A Perth members and friends enjoyed the U3A 50th Anniversary Concert on 28 September. Welcomed by Peter Flanigan who outlined the history of U3A, they were then entertained by the New Orleans Heritage Jazz Band playing free flowing, pulsating, revivalist jazz style of New Orleans.

A special thanks to the Band (with North Coast Branch member Nigel Ridgway on drums), North Coast Branch members (Dee, Margo, Peter A, Graham, Peter M, John, and others) who gave their time to prepare and tidy the venue, man the welcome desk, kitchen duties, serve the refreshments, and Peter Flanigan for his opening address, helping make this another successful U3A Perth event.

6 Oct 23 – Harry Perkins Institute – presented by Judi Lane

Judi Lane is thanked for her inspirational presentation by Terry Harvey.

We welcomed Judi Lane, Community Education Manager of the internationally recognised Harry Perkins Institute, who gave us an inspirational presentation on their ground breaking collaborative medical research in Perth into cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and rare genetic disorders. Sadly, too many of us have lost family and friends to these diseases, after being told there were no more treatment options. Judi shared similar stories from her own and her families experience, explaining how the Harry Perkins Institute combines science, research, innovation, clinical experience, world class people, and facilities in targeting disease prevention, detection, and treatments for life threatening diseases for humanities benefit.

Judi explained how the community bridges gaps in their funding of the gift of science, which is both expensive, and long in duration to reach clinical outcomes, and explained how through our own generosity we can help.

22 Sep 23 – Shackleton’s “Endurance” Expedition 1914 – 1917, presented by Ken Baker

Ken Baker is thanked by Bill Berry who is holding a bottle of ‘Shackleton” whiskey, a replica of whiskey from a barrel recovered from the wreck of the Endurance in 2022.

Ken, a North Coast member, provided an enthralling insight into Shackleton’s 1914 to 1917 failed expedition to cross the Antarctic continent, passing through the South Pole. Much has been written of the endurance, determination, and courage of these 28-men who all returned safely; with Ken highlighting their battle with nature, illustrating it with daunting photos of the ice and expedition taken by Australian Frank Hurley, a crew member.

Ice-bound 60 miles from their expedition starting point, their battle with nature commenced as sea-ice moving horizontally and vertically, took them 1,300 miles in varied directions, crushing their vessel Endurance, forcing them to camp on the ice, to haul 3 life-boats 300 miles over ice, then onto ice-floes, before reaching warmer waters 700 miles north, and sailing to Elephant Island; from which Shackleton and 5 men famously sailed 300 miles through tempestuous seas to South Georgia to seek rescue for the crew.

15 Sep 23 The Voice – A Constitutional Law Viewpoint, from Dr Bertus de Villiers

Dr de Villiers is thanked by Roseanne Thomas

U3A North Coast Branch welcomed Dr Bertus de Villiers, Visiting Professor of the Law School of Curtin University, member of the State Administrative Tribunal of WA; who has widely travelled, lecturing, consulting, and publishing on a wide range of constitutional topics in various countries.

Dr de Villiers shared with the group a thoughtful presentation on the Voice from a Constitutional law viewpoint, better equipping us to make our personal decisions on the referendum question. Dr de Villiers concluded that regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the real work to close the gap for indigenous people remains ahead.

8 Sep 23 Elizabethan London – presented by Dee Tartt

Dee, brought us an interesting insight into changing life-styles in the London of Elizabeth 1, immense wealth for a few, mostly improving living standards for most, but some strange practices to our modern minds; reminding us that the process of change is no different today, likely only the speed at which it occurs.

The defeat of the Spanish armadas, improved ships, navigation, the exploits explorers and adventurers, notably Sir Walter Raleigh, the discovery of the Americas, East Indies spice trade; brought gold, silver, new products, plants, diseases, and wealth from trade to London.

Climate change, with ice-fairs on a frozen Thames, impacted food production, changed crops, farming practices; with forage crops enabling animal husbandry through winter months, improving people’s diet. Thank-you Dee for this presentation.

1 Sep 23 – Memoirs of a Meteorologist, presenter Steve West

Bill Jacobs (L) thanks Steve West for his interesting presentation and insight in weather forecasting.

North Coast member Steve West, a retired meteorologist, explained in layman’s terms how isobaric charts are prepared, a key element used in forecasting our weather, the impact of the earth’s rotation on our weather, El Nino and La Nina, the varied needs, and users of forecasts; recounting anecdotes from his 54 years in forecasting.

Steve recalled how the advent of weather satellites from the late 1960’s bringing greater frequency of data capture, and computer modelling delivering faster processing speeds and mathematical capacity; significantly improved forecasting. However, this led to centralisation within Australia of forecasting, the loss of career opportunities for meteorologists, and the camaraderie he enjoyed as a Perth based meteorologist.

25 Aug 23 – Art with a Purpose presented by David Hounsome

David took us on a journey through Art, from Renaissance to post-modernism, Raphael, Hans Holbein to Picasso, Warhol, Christo, and Banksy. With communication as its social agenda, Art has often challenged the boundaries between social messaging and propaganda; used in the past by churches to promote faith, record important events, wars, natural occurrences, and through portraiture immortalize wealth and status.

The advent of photography in the second half of the 19th century supplanted many of Arts traditional roles, with Art evolving to become what-ever an artist chooses (three white squares, wrapped building, soup can), communicating the artists message, often intended to shock, sometimes difficult to interpret, leaving the message open to the viewers interpretation, at times placing the Art at risk of domination by the message.

Thank-you David for this fascinating insight in the world of Art with a Purpose.

18 Aug 23 – Oliver Cromwell and his Parliament

Don Manning

North coast member Don Manning brought us the second part of his English Civil War series on Oliver Cromwell, one of the most divisive figures and periods in English history. Don posed the question did King Charles 1 conduct warrant his execution, explained Cromwell’s rise to supreme military and political power, asking whether Cromwell deserved vilification for his dictatorial rule, mirroring many of the complaints made against Charles 1, and how a constitutional monarchy and Westminster parliamentary system evolved from this turmoil.

As Lord Protector Cromwell lived and acted as monarch other than in name; bad tempered, brutal, destructive, and puritanical. Rubber-stamped by a corrupt Parliament without elections, fermenting both political and religious strife, and much removed from his promised utopia, Cromwell’ rule had a lasting impact on English governance. Thankyou Don for another informative and thought provoking presentation.          

11 August 23 – Homelessness in WA

North Coast Chairman Nigel Ridgway and Program Co-Ordinator Dee Tartt with the first week’s collection of donated socks.

There was a terrific response from Branch members to Dr Ken Mullens suggestion of donation of socks for the homeless, in answer to a question at his presentation on 11 August of how we individually or as group we can help the homeless. Thank you to all members for your generous contributions.

11 August 23 – Homelessness in WA presented by Dr Ken Mullin

Dr Ken Mullin is thanked by David Frankland

In a change from past presentations on science topics, Dr Ken Mullin, a member of Rotary, dimensioned the growing homelessness problem in WA placing front-line service providers under stress. Driven by underlying community social problems, exacerbated by cost-of-living pressures, shortage of affordable rental accommodation; homelessness impacts the health and well-being of those affected, further increasing demand on service providers.

Ken outlined policy and assistance responses from all levels of Government; the lobbying and service delivery contributions from community organisations, including Rotary. There is no one solution, however Ken emphasised not enough is being done in prevention. An increase in public housing, with the alignment of support services needed to support the varied health and well-being needs of residents, is one concept Rotary has joined in lobbying for, with two WA Government projects approved for Perth and Mandurah. As a community we still need to do more.

4 Aug 23   T E Lawrence, the Man Behind the Legend

Nigel Ridgway is thanked by Vicki Cross

Our North Coast Branch Chairman Nigel Ridgway gave us an inciteful presentation on T E Lawrence.

Lawrence, was a complex man, modest despite his fame as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in the WW1 Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. A scholar, poet, writer, archaeologist, soldier, although with low regard for rank and protocol; his leadership, initiative, courage, will-power; a fluent Arab speaker with an affinity for the Arab people, culture, and customs, desire for statehood, and friendship with Prince Feisel; underpinned his military achievements. Captured and badly treated by the Turks he likely suffered PTSD.

Critical of British and French Middle Eastern colonial ambitions, becoming increasingly dis-illusioned with treaties and peace agreements, he wrote prophetically that creation of a Jewish State ‘would need to be done by force of arms and maintained by force of arms, amid an over-whelming hostile population.’

Post-war he became a recluse, suffering depression, rejecting honours, scarred by what he felt as betrayal of the Arab cause, dying tragically in a motor-cycle accident whilst likely saving others.

28 Jul 23 Five-minute Talks by Members

Our members were invited to bare their hearts in a five-minute talk, which brought us an eclectic mix of subjects; family stories ranging from the memorable and touching life-time events, to an amazing 19th Century close encounter with Jack the Ripper; interesting work and life experiences, places visited, and humorous travel experiences; tales from the pages of history or recounted from historic places visited; a newly released movie; and our ‘if no-other topic’ fossils; with 18 speakers too many to mention individually.

Thank you to all those who took up the challenge and made it another well received, interesting as well as entertaining, ‘Five-minute Talks by Members’.

21 Jul 23 Nuclear Energy presented by Ian Stann

Ian Stann (L) is thanked by Terry Harvey, who worked in the 1960’s in a UK nuclear power plant.

North Coast Branch member Ian Stann, whose CV includes nuclear engineering, undertook the daunting task of explaining the physics of nuclear energy produced using enriched uranium; positively charged protons, sub-atomic neutrally charged neutrons within the nucleus of the atom, negatively charged electrons spinning freely around a nucleus, fusion, and fission; harnessed in nuclear power plants to produce energy, like our sun. 

Ian highlighted limitations with known solar and wind generation technology; its intermittency, resource intensity, land mass requirements, relative short life span; making it unlikely with present technology that they can fully replace fossil fuels for base and intermediate load power generation; and that nuclear, despite past safety failings, military mis-use concerns, long construction lead-times, high initial capital costs, and waste management issues, should be considered as a renewable energy option. 

14 Jul 23 Catallinas on the Swan

Dr Kevin Smythe is thanked by Peter Flanagan for his presentation

Military historian and former air force officer Dr Kevin Smythe brought us the fascinating story of Catalina flying boats operated between 1942 and 1943 by the US Navy, and until 1945 by Qantas, from bases on the Swan River; bringing back memories for those present who remembered seeing Catalina’s on the Swan.

In the perilous early days of the Pacific war, a Japanese threat from our north, and an east-coat focused defence; WA and Perth relied on distance, and Catalina’s to maintain an air defence screen to detect and disrupt enemy activity, train air-crews, and critically break a Japanese blockade of the air route to India, interrupted by the fall in 1942 of Singapore. 

Qantas established in 1943 Australia’s only war-time commercial air-service, its Indian Ocean Service using Catalina’s and the Swan River, making 271 non-stop flights each carrying 3 paying passengers and mail, skirting enemy occupied territory, 5,600 kms to Ceylon in 28 to 32.5 hours.

30Jun 23 – Winterfest

North Coast Branch members and guests enjoyed our annual celebration of winter, an afternoon of fun, food, and good music from The New Orleans Heritage Jazz Band, a seven-piece band playing the free flowing, pulsating, revivalist jazz style heard in New Orleans venues.

All U3A members and guests can enjoy The New Orleans Heritage Jazz Band at the U3A Perth celebration concert marking the 50th birthday of U3A, first started in Toulouse in 1973, on Thursday, 28 September, at St Johns Church Hall, Aberdeen Street, Perth. Watch for more information in the coming months. North Coast Branch will be hosting this event.

23 Jun 23 – Convict Transportation to Tasmania

Jan West thanks Denise Beer for her interesting, enjoyable, and informative presentation.

U3A Swan Hills member Denise Beer presented “Convict Transportation to Tasmania,” recounting that over an eighty-year period from 1788, 162,000 convicts were transported to Australia, with around 45% sent to Van Diemen’s Land, a sad but important time in this country’s history, when forced migration of convicts was used to extend and retain Britain’s sphere of influence. 

Denise took us on a journey to the early Tasmanian penal and probation settlements, providing an insight into what was it like to be a convict, and how they attained self-sufficiency needed to survive these remote locations.

16 Jun 23 – King Charles I and Cromwell’s Parliament

Don Manning outlined events which defined relationships between English monarchs and population, and gave rise to our sometimes maligned, and often under-appreciated Westminster Parliamentary system.

The Stuart’s (King James 1 and son Charles 1), was one of the most turbulent periods with money, religion, and belligerence of the Stuarts, fuelling ill-will and disputation, with Parliament bargaining concessions on taxation, legal rights, and civil order, in return for release of funds for royal expenditure. Charles 1 attempts to under-mine Parliament’s authority, the conduct of his French born Queen, and harsher economic times, led to civil war, and the rise of a lowly ranked MP, Oliver Cromwell who organised and led to victory a Parliamentary army. Undecided on the King’s role, unable to reach a negotiated settlement; Parliament charged Charles 1 with treason, abolished the monarchy, had him tried, convicted, and executed; the monarchy remaining vacant for 11 years, until after Cromwell’s death. 

Rod Christian’s ULURU SUITE for Orchestra and Chorus

Rod Christian is thanked by Peter Flanagan for bringing us his music, and insight into his journey leading to this work.

Internationally acclaimed composer Rod Christian brought us a memorable musical experience. Accompanied by stunning visuals from Kata Tjuta National Park, he explained his experiences leading to this composition, his choice of instruments; how his orchestral prelude pays tribute to its beauty and spirit, from its early beginnings to the present, bringing atmosphere and life to the spectacular sunrises, sunsets, bird, animal life, at-times relentless harshness, heat, storms, and remoteness. In his choral section, paying tribute to the Indigenous Anangu people, custodians of this sacred place and their song lines from over 20,000 years; the voices capture both the beauty and spiritual connections, their dream time legends, using words from the Anangu language.

4 Aug 23   T E Lawrence, the Man Behind the Legend

Nigel Ridgway is thanked by Vicki Cross

Our North Coast Branch Chairman Nigel Ridgway gave us an inciteful presentation on T E Lawrence.

Lawrence, was a complex man, modest despite his fame as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ in the WW1 Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire. A scholar, poet, writer, archaeologist, soldier, although with low regard for rank and protocol; his leadership, initiative, courage, will-power; a fluent Arab speaker with an affinity for the Arab people, culture, and customs, desire for statehood, and friendship with Prince Feisel; underpinned his military achievements. Captured and badly treated by the Turks he likely suffered PTSD.

Critical of British and French Middle Eastern colonial ambitions, becoming increasingly dis-illusioned with treaties and peace agreements, he wrote prophetically that creation of a Jewish State ‘would need to be done by force of arms and maintained by force of arms, amid an over-whelming hostile population.’

Post-war he became a recluse, suffering depression, rejecting honours, scarred by what he felt as betrayal of the Arab cause, dying tragically in a motor-cycle accident whilst likely saving others.

28 Jul 23 Five-minute Talks by Members

Our members were invited to bare their hearts in a five-minute talk, which brought us an eclectic mix of subjects; family stories ranging from the memorable and touching life-time events, to an amazing 19th Century close encounter with Jack the Ripper; interesting work and life experiences, places visited, and humorous travel experiences; tales from the pages of history or recounted from historic places visited; a newly released movie; and our ‘if no-other topic’ fossils; with 18 speakers too many to mention individually.

Thank you to all those who took up the challenge and made it another well received, interesting as well as entertaining, ‘Five-minute Talks by Members’.

21 Jul 23 Nuclear Energy presented by Ian Stann

Ian Stann (L) is thanked by Terry Harvey, who worked in the 1960’s in a UK nuclear power plant.

North Coast Branch member Ian Stann, whose CV includes nuclear engineering, undertook the daunting task of explaining the physics of nuclear energy produced using enriched uranium; positively charged protons, sub-atomic neutrally charged neutrons within the nucleus of the atom, negatively charged electrons spinning freely around a nucleus, fusion, and fission; harnessed in nuclear power plants to produce energy, like our sun. 

Ian highlighted limitations with known solar and wind generation technology; its intermittency, resource intensity, land mass requirements, relative short life span; making it unlikely with present technology that they can fully replace fossil fuels for base and intermediate load power generation; and that nuclear, despite past safety failings, military mis-use concerns, long construction lead-times, high initial capital costs, and waste management issues, should be considered as a renewable energy option. 

14 Jul 23 Catallinas on the Swan

Dr Kevin Smythe is thanked by Peter Flanagan for his presentation

Military historian and former air force officer Dr Kevin Smythe brought us the fascinating story of Catalina flying boats operated between 1942 and 1943 by the US Navy, and until 1945 by Qantas, from bases on the Swan River; bringing back memories for those present who remembered seeing Catalina’s on the Swan.

In the perilous early days of the Pacific war, a Japanese threat from our north, and an east-coat focused defence; WA and Perth relied on distance, and Catalina’s to maintain an air defence screen to detect and disrupt enemy activity, train air-crews, and critically break a Japanese blockade of the air route to India, interrupted by the fall in 1942 of Singapore. 

Qantas established in 1943 Australia’s only war-time commercial air-service, its Indian Ocean Service using Catalina’s and the Swan River, making 271 non-stop flights each carrying 3 paying passengers and mail, skirting enemy occupied territory, 5,600 kms to Ceylon in 28 to 32.5 hours.

30Jun 23 – Winterfest

North Coast Branch members and guests enjoyed our annual celebration of winter, an afternoon of fun, food, and good music from The New Orleans Heritage Jazz Band, a seven-piece band playing the free flowing, pulsating, revivalist jazz style heard in New Orleans venues.

All U3A members and guests can enjoy The New Orleans Heritage Jazz Band at the U3A Perth celebration concert marking the 50th birthday of U3A, first started in Toulouse in 1973, on Thursday, 28 September, at St Johns Church Hall, Aberdeen Street, Perth. Watch for more information in the coming months. North Coast Branch will be hosting this event.

23 Jun 23 – Convict Transportation to Tasmania

Jan West thanks Denise Beer for her interesting, enjoyable, and informative presentation.

U3A Swan Hills member Denise Beer presented “Convict Transportation to Tasmania,” recounting that over an eighty-year period from 1788, 162,000 convicts were transported to Australia, with around 45% sent to Van Diemen’s Land, a sad but important time in this country’s history, when forced migration of convicts was used to extend and retain Britain’s sphere of influence. 

Denise took us on a journey to the early Tasmanian penal and probation settlements, providing an insight into what was it like to be a convict, and how they attained self-sufficiency needed to survive these remote locations.

16 Jun 23 – King Charles I and Cromwell’s Parliament

Don Manning outlined events which defined relationships between English monarchs and population, and gave rise to our sometimes maligned, and often under-appreciated Westminster Parliamentary system.

The Stuart’s (King James 1 and son Charles 1), was one of the most turbulent periods with money, religion, and belligerence of the Stuarts, fuelling ill-will and disputation, with Parliament bargaining concessions on taxation, legal rights, and civil order, in return for release of funds for royal expenditure. Charles 1 attempts to under-mine Parliament’s authority, the conduct of his French born Queen, and harsher economic times, led to civil war, and the rise of a lowly ranked MP, Oliver Cromwell who organised and led to victory a Parliamentary army. Undecided on the King’s role, unable to reach a negotiated settlement; Parliament charged Charles 1 with treason, abolished the monarchy, had him tried, convicted, and executed; the monarchy remaining vacant for 11 years, until after Cromwell’s death. 

Rod Christian’s ULURU SUITE for Orchestra and Chorus

Rod Christian is thanked by Peter Flanagan for bringing us his music, and insight into his journey leading to this work.

Internationally acclaimed composer Rod Christian brought us a memorable musical experience. Accompanied by stunning visuals from Kata Tjuta National Park, he explained his experiences leading to this composition, his choice of instruments; how his orchestral prelude pays tribute to its beauty and spirit, from its early beginnings to the present, bringing atmosphere and life to the spectacular sunrises, sunsets, bird, animal life, at-times relentless harshness, heat, storms, and remoteness. In his choral section, paying tribute to the Indigenous Anangu people, custodians of this sacred place and their song lines from over 20,000 years; the voices capture both the beauty and spiritual connections, their dream time legends, using words from the Anangu language.

Be Stroke Safe – Carolyn Prunster from Stroke Foundation WA

We all have seen the devastation to people’s lives when they suffer from a stroke.  Carolyn Prunster from Stroke Foundation WA gave a talk on Stroke prevention, explaining how they happen, who is at risk, what are the warning signs, and most importantly steps to take to minimise the risk of stroke.

Recommended stroke minimisation steps include regular health checks, a healthy diet, staying active, moderate alcohol consumption, and no smoking.

Carolyn stressed the importance of seeking immediate medical treatment by calling 000, even if you suspect seeing symptoms or believe they may have passed, mentioning stroke to the operator. Time is critical for stroke patients in minimising damage to the brain.

Human Impact on the Planet” presented by Dr Ken Mullin

Ken presented a disturbing and thought-provoking explanation of how in less than 200 years rapid growth in population, consumption, and resultant agricultural and industrial intensity; have accelerated climate change including global warming; lost or damaged large tracts of habitat impacting animal, marine, insect species with many at or near extinction; reduced bio-diversity essential for eco-system health and made pandemics more likely. Humanities future is at risk from collapse of our eco-systems and irreparable damage to the planet’s life support systems. He concluded that it needs the combined efforts of individuals, communities, and governments, working towards a sustainable future, focused on health and well-being of humans and the environment, to avert a disaster. We need to raise our voices.

Peco’s Jane Doe – The Mystery of the Drowned Woman

On 21 April, 100 members and visitors welcomed back forensic toxicologist Professor Bob Mead for another of his engaging presentations.

Recounting the story of young woman found drowned in a Texas motel swimming pool in 1966, her companion who had disappeared, both having booked in under false names, their identities remained a mystery. Bob explained how fifty-four years later a family match for the young woman was made using advances in DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy. Her name is now known, but not the man’s. Her family has some degree of conclusion. But has justice been served, the circumstances leading to her death and any criminal context remaining unknown?

12 May 23 The History of Jazz

The Melody Masters Jazz Trio took one hundred members and guests on an enjoyable journey illustrating The History of Jazz from New Orleans to the Jazz Age in Chicago, playing music from the Early Swing Era. 

Narrated by Brian Copping, who interspersed interesting historical facts with humour, and illustrating each genre with music from renowned artists including Scott Joplin, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, and Duke Ellington, amongst others. Our thanks to Brian (clarinet, saxophone, and flute), John Healy (double bass, and vocals), and Tony Eardley (piano) for a presentation that was different, both entertaining and informative. We look forward to a future return visit from the Trio to listen to their tribute to the great Louis Armstrong.

C Y O’Connor – Beyond the Pipeline

Don thanks Bill for his engrossing presentation on a man who made a significant and lasting contribution to our infrastructure.

Bill Cutler returned to complete his earlier presentation on C Y O’Connor, recounting the turbulent events leading up to his suicide in March, 1902, weeks before first water was pumped. With Premier John Forrest elected to the new Federal Parliament, O’Connor and the pipeline lost both his support and political protection. Pressure from overwork, stress from relentless vitriol, five dysfunctional WA governments in 1901 – 02 cutting funding, and a parliamentary enquiry (later a Royal Commission) into project delays, claims of mis-management and corruption, overwhelmed O’Connor, who committed suicide before giving evidence. Seeking to divert blame for his death from Government, the Royal Commission found that improper acts by his Deputy finally unbalanced O’Connor’s already overstrained mind, leading to his suicide. Despite the turmoil the pipeline was completed within his cost estimate, and belying corruption claims he left only a modest estate.

Preventing Trips & Falls – 17 Mar 23

Our member Peter Merralls, a qualified volunteer speaker with the Stay on Your Feet WA program, assisted by Jeanette Herrington, spoke on one of the things we most dread as we age, falls and their after effects. Peter’s message was falls are preventable. Develop your own Action Plan to improve your balance and posture with exercises to strengthen muscles and bones (particularly legs), and overall fitness. Improve your health and well-being by keeping your mind active, get sufficient Vitamin D from being out-doors, and calcium from dairy products and vegetables, and check medicines for side effects. Seek out and remove hazards from home, have regular eyesight checks, and wear safe footwear.

 For information visit www.stayonyourfeet.com.au

Fossils From Australia – Presented by Niels Dahl (Swan Hills U3A)

Terry Harvey thanked Niels for his illuminating presentation.

Neils took us on the 4.6-billion-year evolutionary journey of animal life, viewed through fossilised remains or imprints found in Australia. Starting at Marble Bar with fossilised evidence of first life as the earth cooled, primitive cells able to live in an oxygen free atmosphere, and the more oxygen tolerant stromatolites, still living today in the Mid-West at Hamelin Bay. Over 1.5 to 2.5-billion-years ago Earth’s atmosphere slowly became oxygenated, and walled cell structures as we know developed. Fossils from Flinders Ranges, SA. and Canowindra, NSW. evidence an explosion in multi-cellular life that started in seawater 750 million-years-ago. Land-mass and climate change from volcanic activity in Siberia 225-million-years-ago led to the evolution of dinosaurs, evidenced by footprints at Broome, fossilised bones across Western Qld. and at Coober Pedy, SA. from a long disappeared inland sea, fossilised sea creatures up to 10 metres long. An asteroid strike 65-million-years-ago changed Earth’s climate, ended dinosaurs, and as the Australian continent separated and Antarctica froze, mega-fauna as we know evolved on land and in sea, then human life, evidenced by skeletal remains 20 to 40,000 years old found near Lake Mungo, NSW.

“Anyone for a Cuppa?  The History of Tea.”  Presented by Terry Harvey.

Terry traced the history of tea, a social and medicinal beverage in the Far East possibly for millennia, its introduction into Europe in the seventeenth century, at first affordable only by the rich, but soon adopted by the masses. The calmness sought in taking a tea break has given us tea etiquette, tea ceremonies, afternoon teas, and tea houses. Tea has played a role in events that shaped history and society; the Boston tea party, Chinese opium wars, supporting morale in two world wars, and the status of women, where tea houses became a rallying point for the suffragette movement. Terry concluded saying that tea is here to stay, despite human rights challenges with poor working conditions for its largely female workforce, mechanisation, climate change and consumer taste changes.

Hobby  Writing:    with Nigel Ridgway

Nigel is a solo ocean-crossing sailor who has published three books, with another to come. He told U3A North Coast members his fascinating ‘story about story-telling’, reminding us that everyone has a story to tell. If you ‘get the itch’, writer’s block is common. The important thing is to start anywhere and write something, then your story will begin to fall into place and take shape. Most people soon find that the chore becomes an enthusiastic pleasure. It may help to set a regular writing time each day and join a Writer’s Group of kindred spirits. Then edit, edit, edit! Publishing can be disappointing. Expect to be rejected by publishers so there may be no money in it for the majority of aspiring authors. Consequently, some become self-publishing Vanity Authors. Finding a Publisher is a slog but, if successful, they do the boring bits Then you need to promote your baby with a book launch and in bookshops, reviews in newspapers, magazines, radio interviews and with public talks where selling direct to the public is more lucrative. According to Nigel there is no such thing as an uninteresting life. Write your Life Story before it is too late. It will be something to keep forever which may be a better memorial than a tombstone.

C Y O’Connor – The Golden Pipeline   with Bill Cutler

Bill is proudly descended from First Fleeter Convict Settlers and was born at the remote No.7 Pumping Station on the Kalgoorlie Pipeline. He was a career banker serving in Fiji, Hong Kong, Singapore and London, then he became a volunteer tour guide at No.1 Pumping Station at the base of Mundaring Weir. In fascinating detail, Bill told of the 1892 Coolgardie Gold Rush which resulted in a great inflow of miners – but there was no water in that arid location. Pack Camels were used initially until the railway was built but much more water was needed. WA State Premier John Forrest gave Irish Engineer C Y O’Connor the untried and seemingly impossible task of building a water pipeline ‘uphill’ to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, employing eight steam-powered pumping stations. Plate steel was imported from USA and Germany which was shaped into sections in factories at Maylands and transported by train to the progressively on-moving construction site. Other workers hand-dug deep trenches to shield the pipeline from weather and corrosion. O’Connor committed suicide before completion of the Golden Pipeline, due to being extremely hurt by a political campaign which raised unfounded claims of corruption. Contrary to those doubters, the world record pipeline is a great success and is an impressive monument to the foresight of John Forrest and the ground-breaking skills of CY O’Connor.

Mawson and Wilkins – Poles Apart   with Peter Alcock

Sir Douglas Mawson and Sir (George) Hubert Wilkins

Australia has produced two of the world’s great heroic polar explorers who lived, worked and died at the same time but were as unlike as chalk and cheese.

Sir Douglas Mawson 1882-1958 had a degree in mining engineering whose interest in geology, petrology and mineralogy was sparked by evidence of glacial retreat in Australia. In 1907 he joined Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition and was in the first team to reach the South Magnetic Pole and climb Mount Erebus. Peter told how Mawson joined or led some later expeditions of exploration and scientific observations, gathering geological and biological samples. He was the sole survivor of one party which studied massive glaciers. His image has appeared on the Australian $100 banknote.

Sir (George) Hubert Wilkins 1888-1958 was a self-taught South Australian farm boy who was attracted to risk-taking adventures as photographer, war correspondent, soldier and pilot.

  He was wounded several times in WWI for which he was twice awarded the Military Cross for outstanding bravery. Peter said Wilkins joined several Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, surviving multiple flying mishaps and, in one case, walking 13 days back to safety.

He also leased an old submarine to explore under the Arctic ice-cap and performed the first solo flight ‘over the top’ from Alaska to Spitzbergen.  His ashes were scattered at the North Pole in 1959 by atomic-powered submarine USS 571 Skate.

William Dampier (1651 – 1715) with John Shepherd

William Dampier (1651 – 1715)

John provided many fascinating details about a man who lived a full life of adventure in the hazardous days of buccaneers, discovery, and navigation under sail.  As a Privateer, William Dampier plundered Spanish settlements and treasure ships.  He circumnavigated the world three times and was a ‘patient observer’ who kept detailed maps and records of winds, tides, currents, weather, soils and natural history of new lands he visited, including Australia.  John said Dampier was the first Englishman to set foot on Australian soil, which is commemorated in the town which bears his name.  William Dampier’s books about his adventurous travels inspired famous novels by Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe.  He was a member of the elite Royal Society and has been described as ‘a pirate with an exquisite mind’.

Catching a Cold Case Killer: with Professor Robert Mead

Bob Mead made a welcome return to U3A North Coast with a fascinating story about the role of DNA Genealogy in solving baffling crimes. He told of a young couple who disappeared on an overnight trip from Vancouver, Canada to Seattle, USA in November 1987. A week later their bodies were discovered 60 miles apart in Washington State USA. The man had been brutally bashed and asphyxiated. The young woman had been sexually assaulted and shot. No significant leads emerged and the case eventually went ‘cold’. In 2005, when DNA profiling techniques became more sensitive, a profile of the rapist-killer was fed into the national DNA database, but yielded no ‘hits’ meaning that the killer was not a known criminal. In 2014, the newer DNA-based phenomics technology predicted many physical characteristics which generated a possible ‘sketch’ of the killer as he may have looked in 1987. Bob Mead enthralled U3A North Coast members with his clear description of the remarkable ‘forensic genetic genealogy’ used in 2019 to build a family tree of the murderer and to catch the cold case killer 32 years after the crime.

The History of Sea Rescue:   with Bob Jacobs

Ancient drawings and tomb relicts show that the Age of Sail dates back more than 5,000 years.   Weather and ocean conditions could be unpredictable; navigation was often unreliable; and sailing ships may become uncontrollable severe conditions.  There were hundreds of shipwrecks, often with 100% casualties because lifeboats, rafts or lifejackets were not provided and people thrown into the sea survived for a few hours, at best.  Passengers and crew relied on prayers – “ O Hear Us when we Cry to Thee For Those in Peril on the Sea “.  (Poem/Hymn 1860) .

Bob Jacobs, Commander of Whitfords Marine Rescue, enthralled U3A North Coast members with some stories of the dangers of ocean travel in the past and the many modern developments making modern ocean travel safe.   Early safety measures concentrated on saving the valuable ship and its cargo, with little concern for the passengers and crew.  The Age of Steam was a huge advance since it made ships more controllable in severe weather and scheduling became possible.  Over the past two centuries very strict maritime safety standards have been introduced, notably following the sinking of the Titanic which could have avoided the iceberg if radar, satellites, etc had been available. Hundreds of lives would have been saved if there had been adequate modern safety equipment for passengers. Today, we have a vast array of modern technology to aid navigation, avoid shipwreck, and to provide effective rescues in mid-ocean. Coastal emergencies are well-managed by Marine Rescue volunteers.