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)