Mar 312020

Posts by various of our classes

The posts below include the following classes:

  1. Craft Group (by Cheryl Winstanley and Lesley Wing Jan).
  2. Gentle Walking (by Val Wilkie).
  3. Golf For Fun (by Alan Clayton).
  4. Hurstbridge Creative Writing Group (by Pam Kemeys).
  5. Mahjong (by Lyn Frazer).
  6. Music Tutti (by Maree Krohn and Bob Stubbings).
  7. Play Cards Afternoon (by Mike Rich).
  8. Poetry Through the Ages (by Noel Butterfield).
  9. Second Tuesday Book Club (by Sue Lloyd).
  10. Shakespeare Rocks (by Noel Butterfield).
  11. Walking (by Gillian Essex).
  12. Weirdness of Light (by Guy Palmer).
Mar 312020

With my Club I would hit this coronavirus
Then bury it with my sturdy black Spade
No Trumps here with his fake news
No Misere though times are tough
But those Diamonds are sure to sparkle
And our happy Hearts will cheer
When we are rid of this coronavirus fear
I look forward to when we are able
To gather around the U3A card table.

Jan 262020

Our Craft Group meets each Friday afternoon at the Hurstbridge Bowling Club from 1.30pm to 3.30pm.

We have a wide range of interests, working together in a happy and friendly atmosphere. Our craft projects have used different media such as knitting, crochet, embroidery, quilting and bead work.

Over time, we have contributed knitted baby clothing to the Austin Hospital and crotchet knee blankets to aged care centres. We recently contributed around 100 sewn mittens to koalas affected by the bushfires.

Our social get togethers have included lunches, movies, tennis and, most recently, a day trip to Williamstown by train.

The craft class is a fun, interactive session working on both group activities and individual projects.

We look forward to sharing coffee, cake and conversations at each class.

Koala mittens Knitted doll Mixed media display
Oct 012019

Thanks for Gillian Essex’s’s article last month about the Walking Group. My husband John and I have enjoyed many walks with this group and echo the comments made in the article, particularly in relation to the great work put in by Rob (and Graham) to run the group. Participating in these walks, however, requires a reasonable level of fitness as they are of 1.5-2 hours’ duration, often involving walking on narrow, and sometimes steep, paths.

As you might be aware, at the beginning of 2019, Pam Griffith started a Gentle Walking Group to cater for those who would love to walk but are unable to manage the distance and/or terrain of the established walking group. This group usually walks on flat-paved paths for around 1 hour. John and I often now walk with this group, which usually has between 10-15 participants. It’s a great idea to have the two groups so that people can choose which one best suits their needs/abilities. As with the original walking group, members of the Gentle Walking Group also meet for coffee and socialising after the walk, which is held on Monday mornings at 9.30am. We really appreciate Pam facilitating this group.

Sep 012019

The walking group is one of Nillumbik U3A’s longest running groups and with good reason. We are blessed, in this region, with a proliferation of readily accessible walking tracks, affording excellent views and with many having an interesting history which few residents are aware of. But our leader Rob Gardiner is doing his best to change that, particularly in relation to the Aboriginal history of the area. Impressively, he is still managing to come up with new walks after many years on the job.

With the great outdoors as our classroom, we don’t have space restrictions so there has not, as yet, been a need to restrict numbers. There is no requirement to walk every week (though the opportunity is there even through term breaks). The term breaks afford us the opportunity to travel further afield – sometimes with an enjoyable lunch involved – as there is no need to get back for other classes.

When Rob is off walking somewhere else in the world, other members of the group step up as leaders – in particular Graham Clark. I personally find it a rewarding activity exploring on an occasional basis to find a new walk and researching the history. However, it also serves to remind me of the time involved and the effort required to do this week after week and makes me appreciate Rob’s commitment to our group even more.

We are a social group – an important feature of the walk is the coffee stop afterwards. While we have favourite coffee shops, we also make new discoveries as well.

We even have enjoyable weekends away to Gardivalia, the Gippsland Garden Festival, thanks to the efforts and hospitality of Jan Holland.

With the frosty mornings we’ve had recently, it’s been necessary to rug up and sturdy shoes are always recommended. However, in spite of this, some of our members still manage to look stylish – a feat I personally find impressive – as evidenced by the photo of Ros Camera and Heather McGain, both regular walkers.

When the sun is shining, the river is flowing, the wattle is blooming (as shown in the photo above, which was taken at Tikalara Park on a recent walk), and the company is convivial, what’s not to love?

Aug 012019

Would you like to step inside the life of an ‘untouchable’ growing up in India, journey to the court of Queen Elizabeth II with all its intrigues, or maybe experience the life of a female reporter in the Second World War? This is a snapshot of our reading so far this year. Why not come to the Second Tuesday book club and see what else is in store? 2nd Tuesday of each month, 10.15am-12.15pm, Eltham Library.

Aug 012019

Congratulations to John Jamieson for a hole in one achieved on Friday, 2nd August, 2019 on the fifth hole par three at Yarrambat Golf Club. It was a great shot with a five wood witnessed by his playing partners, Alan Clayton and Chris Steed. Not only did John achieve his hole in one, he finished his round of nine holes with a four over par net 40. 

Aug 012019

There have now been seven years of continuous ‘Music Tutti’ at Hurstbridge each Thursday from 10.45am-12:15pm. One of the original presenters, Maree Krohn, is still running the show, although she is now sharing the podium with four or five other enthusiasts with specialist skills. It used to be VCRs and CDs that featured but is now DVDs and films, including: the evolution of music from the beginnings to the present day; significant composers; major works; guest speakers and artists; and the history of it all. Some of the original cast are still with us, and wouldn’t miss their Thursday ‘fix’ with the friendships forged. It won’t end whilst there is music to be played!

Jun 012019

The Tuesday afternoon Mahjong group took great delight in helping Margaret celebrate her 95th birthday earlier this term. Margaret is truly an inspiration to us all. At 95, she plays Mahjong every week except when she is on Probus trips or has family commitments – often travelling interstate as the occasion arises. We look forward to her turn for afternoon tea as we know we will be treated to some delicious homemade baking. She is always willing to share her recipes via email. Hearty congratulations Margaret on reaching 95, keep up the good work and we all anticipate an even bigger celebration for your 100th!

Dec 012018

This year the U3A Friday Creative Writing Group at Hurstbridge has seen a number of works come to fruition and we are very proud of what our group has achieved.

Sabi Buehler’s memoir about her mother’s life and arrival in Australia, A Life in Two Suitcases: Gundel’s Story, has recently been translated into German and, in April, Sabi travelled to Germany for the official launch. Whilst there, she sold enough copies to pay for her short holiday in Croatia. The original version of Sabi’s book in English is available online through Amazon, Booktopia, The Book Depository and major book stores.

In November, the group hosted the launch of The Fraught Ambitions of a Man, Rebecca Hayman’s latest novel. Thank you to the U3A members who were part of the 40+ crowd at Eltham Library. Rebecca’s friend Luba Gong, who grew up in China, spoke of how accurately Rebecca has captured Chinese village life. Rebecca then spoke about the special man that she and her family met while living in China and on whose life the novel is loosely based. She read to us some enticing passages about her main character Fui Lai, while being careful not to give away the story. It was such a friendly gathering chatting over nibbles that library staff needed to move us on at the end of the night. If you would like to obtain a copy of Rebecca’s book, contact her by email (

Also in November, Chris Winkett published and launched a beautiful memoir, A Long Way from Where I Started, about her young life in England and her family’s migration story. Chris’s family, her friends and our writing group celebrated this significant achievement at St Margaret’s church hall. Instead of selling her memoir, Chris gave books away but offered people the opportunity to donate to the Asylum Resource Centre and this raised nearly $1,000 for the cause.

Jul 012018

Each Friday afternoon, members of the Craft Group meet at the Hurstbridge Bowling club for a few hours of industrious and convivial activity during which craft skills, techniques and handy hints are shared and practised. The members create beautifully crafted articles, most of which are donated to local charities. The group makes cushions and crochets or knits outfits for babies – bootees, bonnets and cardigans – which are sold at the Austin Hospital Gift shop to raise money for the purchase of hospital equipment. Small, brightly coloured knitted sets of caps and jumpers are made and donated to a charity that works in Myanmar.

Apart from the donated articles, the group members regularly add spare change to a collection tin and the contents are forwarded to the Children’s Hospital. Members also share patterns and ideas to make; for example: oven mitts, delightful stuffed toy bears (hanging bears), intricate embroidery work, and handy carry bags made from recycling jeans.

The warm and welcoming atmosphere of this group is enhanced by the afternoon cuppa and cake during which the members claim they ‘knit, stitch and chat’. They claim they don’t do anything that rhymes with ‘stitch’!

Oct 012017

Poetry is neither stuffy nor boring. Poetry is all about words and images that convey humour, realism and fun. One of my favourite poets is Jan Owen. Jan is a modern poet with transparent links to the past.

The Australian Poetry Library website includes 479 of Ms Owen’s poems. Of these, I particularly recommend:

To give you a flavour, here is The Pangolins:

Throwing the I Ching by the northern wall
(Mountain over Water: the cataract clears),
rereading the dubious message in dubious light,
dusk there is as brief as thirty years.
The dogs were off at the end of the garden, barking
at moonlight or monkeys, tenor and alto and bass.
Under the rambutans it was lighting-up time,
teetering lanterns in the bushes and grass
were practising emerald — becoming, yes, here;
the fireflies above were loopy with desire.
A pounding of fists south-east from the Surau
was the kampong boys on their Thursday drums. The air
yearned after the odd missed beat like a tired heart.
And then the stranger came. Out of the neat
fit of the dark. Self stood back. No-name
trundled up, snuffling the mulch with her slender snout.
She was the presence of many grandmothers, homely,
buttressing wonder, nosing around the boles
of the clumped bananas; tip to tapering tip,
a relaxed bell curve validated with scales
perfectly graded — 3:5:8:13 …
Her back was firm terrain under my hand,
an equable riddle with a waddle (Earth over Earth:
a friend will be lost, a friend will be found).
I squatted down. She paused and quirked her head:
this was no tree. To run or not to run?
To amble. With dignified haste like the shopping-bag rush
for the 5 p.m. to Rawang in Ramadan.
What goes on four legs at night and none at noon?
At dawn alert next day Suwanti chained
the dogs away from their round jungle-green enigma
then bowled the baby into the hedge to its kind.

Jul 012017

The Shakespeare Rocks group recently had an enlightening and entertaining presentation from Dr. John Bigelow on aspects of Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night, as well as his sonnets and poems. John’s background is philosophy but he has a passion for Shakespeare, particularly the sonnets.

In Twelfth Night, John provided insights into the circumstances of Mavolio’s imprisonment and torment after he is tricked into making a buffoon of himself. The ‘Fool’, disguised as Sir Topas, questions Malvolio on aspects of Pythagorean philosophy – he answers correctly – a conversation that could have seen him charged with heresy. In Elizabethan times, this could have been tantamount to a death sentence. It sounds like heavy stuff but the play, despite some typically dark Elizabethan undertones, is very funny.

The first sonnets were written in the 14th century by Italian poet Francesco Petrarch. Over the years, the structure was modified by French and English poets but Shakespeare returned to the original format. Shakespeare wrote his sonnets over a number of years but they were first published in 1609. They were then almost completely ignored for over a century as lesser art forms until championed by the romantic poets John Keats and William Wordsworth in the 18th century. Classically, the format follows 14 lines of iambic pentameter; three, four-line alternately rhyming quatrains; ending with a two-line rhyming couplet. Whilst Shakespeare predominately maintains the classical Italian structure, he is able to add non-discordant departures almost at will to suit his message.

The sonnets cover broad aspects of love from romance to more base desires. In all there are 154; the first 126 are dedicated to an unidentified and, much speculated upon, beautiful young man or boy, whilst sonnets 127-152 concern tormented dealings with a mysterious ‘dark lady’. Sonnets 153 and 154 appear irrelevant to the previous 152, although on a similar subject of love.

Shakespeare offers something for everyone’s interest, theatre, literature, history, philosophy, psychology. But, of course, there is pure enjoyment in just the beauty of the words.