Impromptu and Anonymous Memories from the Dinner Celebrations

Jack Massey 1981-1983 - Terrain Analysis excursion  to the Grampians; Penfolds Club Port, Stopping the bus in the middle of a  country road to test us on our knowledge of Austliran flora complete with his  strong American accent! Steel capped boots clomping along the 9th  floor of the Redmond Barry Building

There was  a lady named Fincher,
Who  always looked quite a picture,
She went  away,
But did  not stay,
Thank  goodness Geography didn’t ditch her.

Reaching  over 15 on the ‘windscreen count’ of how many u-turns you have done so far this  field trip
Convincing  the rental company that our vehicle have been reversed into in the carpark at  the airport by some stranger, when in fact it was some one (who will remain  nameless) who reversed into it himself
Turning  up to Lake McKenzie (the most popular tourist beach on Fraser Island) with a  large group of students covered in mud (after coring in a swamp) looking for  somewhere to clean themselves. Needless to say, we turned the clear water  brown!

Dr Eric Bird was very annoyed to have to retrieve 4  male students from a remote farm on Lake Wellington at 2am in the morning!

All the graduates of 1964-65 still remember our  FIELD TRIPS! The one we recall best was to HATTAH LAKES…then completely dry.  Once there, string lines were laid across the dry lake bed and we proceeded to  map a transect of every single plant under that string! Now, what we all  wonder, is what became of this great endeavour? Was it ever used? Dr Cochrane  was always going to graph all the  transects and analyse the result. We would still love to see it – especially as  it is down underwater!

I became an abalone diver. I recall the mantra of  Jack Massey – spatial auto correlation. Things close together have more in  common than those further apart. That was true of the distribution of abalone.  If I found one, it led to another. If I found none, it led to more of the same!  (Robert Coffey, 1976)

Professor John Andrews, Anthropology, 1st  year. Reflecting on the importance of man’s development of tool making, he  reminisced on how long before a sparrow, who used gravity, sitting on the  gutter, to crack open nuts, would become the equivalent of homo sapiens.  (Robert Coffey, 1976)

Neil Sharpe (Tutor). For pointing out that the  designer of the human body was no geographer. A recreation reserve would never  be placed so close to a sewer outlet! (Robert Coffey, 1976)

Dr Victor Prescott, Political Geography. A buffer  state between India and Pakistan. Engineers asked a ‘boy’ (a local) to name a  mountain. He duly responded. Many years later, the Army Corps Engineers  returned and asked the locals for the local mountain top landmark. It was named  ‘Mt I Don’t Know’ (Robert Coffey, 1976)

My memory is of a geography field trip in second  year (water resources) to Gippsland. We were dropped off as a group of five  boys to track the Eel hole Creek and the various water uses along the stretch.  One of the houses we came across had four blokes sitting in the back of a Ute  out the front of the house drinking Jim Beam cans from the esky. We stopped and  asked them a series of questions about where they sourced their water (the  creek) and where their waste went (the creek) etc. I happened to spy some ‘plants’  being hydroponically grown, and asked ‘So what else do you use water for?’ They  mentioned ‘gardening’ and I offered, ‘What for? For those plants in there?’  Needless to say, they became very defensive and asked where we were from, to  which, as I happened to have a shaved head covered by a beanie, I responded  ‘Jika Jika’

A Recollection: A bygone era… The Melbourne  University Geography Society repeatedly persuaded the Geography Department to  provide vehicles for self indulgent field trips. I recall a one month trip  caving on the Nullabor Plains with Mark Ellaway. Mark needs special mention as  a supporter of the Geography program over the 1980s and 90s.

I remember 4 lectures on the anopheles mosquito and  correctly predicting there would be an exam question on it! (Valda Connelly,  1963-5)

Victor Prescott was renown for his satirical  splendor so a group of honours students tried to upstage him for the final  political geography lecture by dressing in formal attire. Entering the lecture  theatre deliberately late we found Victor in jeans and a Rhodesian t-shirt,  lecturing on that country. Halfway through the lecture, he paused for an ‘ad  break’ taking off his t-shirt to reveal a Foster’s t-shirt before revealing a  South African t-shirt which was the theme of the second half of the lecture. It  was the students that had been completely upstaged but an hour later we were  all back in our usual attire. (David Beard, 1976-82)

Two particular field trips come to mind. The first  was for Geography of Famine and the trip out to the You Yangs region. You  started out nice and comfortable on the mini bus (false sense of security at  the front of the bus). As each gate was passed more people were transferred  from the bus to the less than comfortable 4 wheel drive at the rear. As you  were lucky enough to be the next gate closing volunteer. My tail bone is still  recovering from the suspension (or lack of) bouncing around in the back of the  4 wheel drive! The second was on the Water Resources trip to Sale. We ate our  oranges before we were supposed to, so our water flow measures were a little  suspect due to the difference in the way a stick floats compared to an orange!  (Catherine Bonner, 1988-91)

Two field trips stand out in my mind though after  so many years the details are a little hazy. The first one was to Raymond  Island to do field work for Eric Bird. A punt took our group from Paynesville  to the Island. Halfway across the punt sank, resulting in the soaking of all  our luggage as well as ourselves. For the next couple of days we spent our time  trudging through the swamps wearing wet, smelly clothes. The other field trip  was to Hay and Griffith, to study, I think, the wheat industry in those areas.  I barely knew where these towns were, but the following year, I remember they hit  the headlines with the murder of a suspected drug dealer. Mum and Dad had lots  of questions about what one does on a field trip! (Jenni Bolton, nee Fawcett,  1965-67)

Field Class, NZ, 2005 – Woken from our bunks by a  tsunami warning alarm: 20-something students scrambling up a limestone gully,  some genuinely frightened (including staff!), others calling Melbourne on their  mobile phones! (Rachel H)

Robin Pryor and Raymond Island: June  1967 – it rained all day the first day, so we all got soaking wet, and never  dried out. This was despite the gallant efforts (albeit somewhat reluctantly)  of another likely lad named Barry Hall and myself. For some absolutely unknown  reason, he and I had been dobbed in by Robin, Ian Bowie and co. to chop the  wood and light the water heaters each day – You try lighting fires with wet  wood!!! It was the worst job in the camp!!
After a disgraceful pub episode in  Traralgon on the way to the island, Eric Bird and the crew had banned grog for  the duration of the camp. Somehow, however, some was smuggled in. we gentlemen  in the bunkhouse voiced our opinion of the ban by stacking our empty cans in  front of the door, the one Robin walked in each morning to wake us up in his  inimitable way. The results were predictable as he walked in the door.
And what was that inimitable way?  Robin would throw the door open, stride in while yelling ‘Wakey wakey’ and  proceed to lift up the ends of sleeping bags – while the occupants were still  in them! They ended up in mumbling heaps on the floor. Robin’s a big bloke!
Robin and co. also distinguished  themselves in another way. We poor students were being used as slave foot  soldiers, doing free field work for Eric Bird’s next book on coastal  geomorphology. We were dropped off in groups along the coastline of the  Gippsland Lakes, to tramp along for several miles, mapping the human, physical  and vegetable features. My group had considerable difficulty in reconciling  what we observed with the map outline we had been given. This was not  surprising, as our intrepid leaders had dropped us off in the wrong spot!
On the last night before festivities  ensued, we had a ‘summary meeting’. I made a suggestion: rotate the wood  chopping job next year. Without batting an eyelid, Robin replied in a droll  manner: ‘Okay, we’ll bring a circular saw!’ (Rod Martin, 1965-67)

In 1976, the finale to the third  year urban geography field trip to the LaTrobe Valley was a short visit to the  old mining settlement of Valhalla. I was just easing the Land Cruiser over a  rocky road when the student sitting in the front seat said ‘I wonder if you  would mind taking it a bit more slowly, I’m over eight months pregnant!’
Moral: never take off road trips in  the middle of a Victorian winter when students are wearing heavy clothing.  (David Wadley, Lecturer 1974-78)

One  page would not do four years of Geography justice. But one word encapsulates  most of it: Grampians. (Michael Ballock)