Monday, August 22, 2016

Australian Sojourn – May 2016

Part 6: Goulburn

Since June I've been documenting my May 6-June 6 visit to Australia through a special series of Wild Reed posts. (To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)

Tonight's installment focuses on my time in Goulburn, New South Wales, a place that is considered Australia's oldest inland city . . . and the place where I lived and taught as a primary (or elementary) school teacher at Sts. Peter and Paul's Catholic School from 1988-1993.

While in Goulburn I stayed with my dear friends Cathy and Gerry (pictured with me above), their daughter Jacinta (whom I taught when she was in fourth grade in 1989), Jacinta's husband Antipas and their daughter Sophie.

Goulburn was and remains a very special place for me. In many ways I feel I came of age there. I'm also always humbled and touched by the warm welcome I receive from my many friends and former teaching colleagues and students every time I return – even after all these years since I lived there, and even when it's been (as in last year's visit) close to a decade since my last visit. I have discerned that if (or rather when) I return to live in Australia, it will most likely be in Goulburn, or somewhere close by, that I will make my home – in large part because it still feels like home, thanks to the many beautiful people there whom I'm honored to count as friends.

Left: With Gerry, Jacinta and Sophia – May 18, 2016.

Gerry had been a teacher with me at Sts. Peter and Paul, and his wife Cathy and I had studied together part-time at the Australian Catholic University in nearby Canberra in 1991-1992.

Above: Antipas and Sophia – May 19, 2016.

I taught two of Gerry and Cathy's three children, Jacinta and Bernard. Jacinta and her family are currently living in Goulburn after spending many years in Africa where Jacinta and her husband Antipas founded Suluhisho Trust, a non-profit organization that facilitates sustainable social and economic change within communities in Kenya.

Right: Gerry with his youngest son Joseph, a gifted musician, and granddaughter Sophia – May 18, 2016.

Above: My first home after graduating from college was the last little flat at the end of this row of flats in Church Street, Goulburn. I lived here for the first four years of my six years in Goulburn. My last two years were lived in a beautiful colonial-era stone cottage in Clifford Street (a picture of which can be viewed here).

Above: Goulburn's Big Merino!

For a century-and-a-half, Goulburn was one of the largest fine wool producing regions in Australia, so much so that it was dubbed the “Wool Capital.” The Big Merino, a popular tourist landmark, reflects this aspect of Goulburn’s history.

Fifteen metres high and eighteen metres long, the Big Merino is a three storey structure housing a gift and souvenir shop, an educational display depicting the history of wool growing and the wool industry in Australia, and a platform where visitors can peer through the giant ram's eyes!

Above and below: Scenes of Goulburn – May 16, 2016.

Above and below: Autumn in Goulburn is a particularly beautiful time of year.

Above and below: The Goulburn Wetlands project, which is working to convert an abandoned brick pit into public parkland and a natural storm-water treatment system by the restoring of the local wetland ecosystem. It's an inspiring project, to be sure.

On Wednesday, May 18 my friend Gerry and I drove to the nearby town of Crookwell, about 40 kilometres northwest of Goulburn. Here we visited the Lindner Sock Factory, where we caught up with a former student, Andy.

I was Andy's 5th grade teacher in 1992. The next year he asked me to be his Confirmation sponsor. I hadn't seen him in over 20 years until our May 18 visit to his family's sock-making factory and shop in Crookwell. It was great to catch up with him and his mum. . . . And, of course, I bought a couple of pairs of socks!

Above: With Andy – May 18, 2016.

Above: Later that evening I gathered with a number of my former teaching colleagues and friends for a lovely night out at a Goulburn restaurant.

Right: With Kathyand Marion.

Above (from left): Marion, me, Steve, Carmel, Gerry, and Michele.

Left: With Michele and Marion.

Above: Gerry, Jane, Marg, and Marion.

Above: Joe with his kindergarten, first, second, third and fourth grade teachers! And as his mum Cathy says, "they all lived to tell the tale!"

Above: Sts. Peter and Paul's Primary School, where I taught from 1988 to 1992.

The place has changed a lot since my time there. In fact, neither of the two classrooms I taught in exist anymore. And the garden I and some of the students worked on at lunch times and after school to cultivate and maintain has sadly long been paved over.

For images of my teaching days at Sts. Peter and Paul's, click here and here.

Above: On the day I visited St. Peter and Paul's my friend Jane's birthday was being celebrated. Apart from Jane, the only other person still on the teaching staff since my time there is my friend Toni Gaye, seated second from right.

Above: Goulburn sunflower.

NEXT: Exeter

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Remnants of a Past Life (Part I)
Remnants of a Past Life (Part II)
The Australian Roots of My Progressive Catholicism
Goulburn Revisited (2006)
Goulburn Landmarks (2006)
Goulburn Reunion (2006)
Australian Sojourn, March 2015: Part 9 – Goulburn

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

No comments: