Friday, 17 February 2012

We're not the only ones celebrating 50 years ........

In Texas, Wichita Falls High School class of 1962 will celebrate their 50 years in September this year
Have a look at their web page: 
Wichita Falls High School Class Of 1962 - 50th Reunion, Wichita Falls, TX

The history page on the web site contains videos of important events from that year, including the Cuban Missile Crisis

Tuesday, 14 February 2012



After leaving Telopea at the end of 1961, I went into the Public Service for 18 months, but being cooped up in an office finally got to me. I was reading the Canberra Times, looking for a new job when I came across MENTAL HEALTH NURSING, at Kenmore Hospital near Goulburn. Goodness knows what I was thinking of, because I rang for an interview and they said “just come along and bring your suitcase!” 

Dad had gone out with a nurse from Bloomfield (Orange) and my aunt was a Mental Health Nurse (unknown to me at the time), so he decided to take me down for a formal interview. The Matron there was his old girlfriend from before the war, so my foot was in the door and she kindly looked after me for the next 2 years.

I left to get married in 1965, after a hippy kind of holiday in Cairns, but still married after 46 years. My husband is from Goulburn originally, from a transport business.

The next 12 years were spent having 3 children, moving to Sydney from Goulburn and back before finally moving to Sydney 41 years ago. I always wanted to go back to nursing but with 3 children and a husband away most of the week I just had to wait.

I finally started again aged 32, Psychiatric Nursing it was now known as, and finished in 1980 at Rydalmere Hospital near Parramatta. I nursed out in the community, as it fitted in with school hours, until I decided to do General Nursing before it went into the Universities. So, in 1984 aged 39 I was a student again, this time at Canterbury Hospital. I really enjoyed my time there (2.5 years) before going to the big Westmead Hospital for a year. In early 1987, a couple of former colleagues were nursing in a Crisis Team in Blacktown, in western Sydney. This kind of treatment of the mentally ill in the community was in its infancy, so I stayed for 3.5 years, enjoying the challenge until a new boss came along. I completed a BA (Social Science) along the way, and when I moved to the Inner West (1991) I completed a post graduate diploma in Community Teaching. I thought I might switch to Primary school teaching but the grandkids came along, and they needed more time than I could put into another course.

I have had an interest in politics, but nurses are a funny lot. They want to be in the union, but mainly vote to the right especially if they are from rural areas over the mountains.

We had been thinking about moving closer to the city, and some friends were nursing on a community team in the Glebe/Leichhardt area. So I went to that area,which is connected to RPA, Rozelle and Concord hospitals, and have been here in this area since 1991. We bought a townhouse in Leichhardt in 1994, and apart from the busy times under the flight path it has been a good move for both of us. I have made a lot of friends in nursing, and we all enjoy a hearty social life.

Our 3 children live in Sydney, the boys in the building industry and Sonja is an office manager for Railcorp.

I have deferred retirement as I have 2 grandchildren aged 12 and 14 who need our help, not every day but certainly every week, and what do you do?

We talked about travelling to Europe etc when we were a lot younger, commitments stopped us most of the time, and now we need Business Class!!  We have been to Samoa, New Zealand and Indonesia, most of Australia so we have been lucky.

I have only had one contact with someone from schooldays, Thea Preller for a few days up north in 1989, so I am looking forward to seeing you all next month.


I took the Leaving Certificate again in 1963.  A very wise move on the part of my parents, because I obviously gained in confidence and undoubtedly grew physically, academically and socially.  Of course I naturally regressed when I encountered the freedoms of university!  I took my B.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry at the ANU, played Rugby, but most importantly met my wife Kay Bussell (Elizabeth Cranston’s cousin!); we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in January.  Indeed how time flies when you are having fun!

I took a position with the then Department of Supply (later to be absorbed into the Department of Defence) as Defence scientist, and we moved to Melbourne where eventually we bought a home in Greensborough, while I worked at Maribyrnong conducting explosives research.  We had two sons, Scott and Haydn, and I continued to fill in my weekends playing Rugby for Melbourne University.  I also represented Victoria intermittently between 1975 and 1977.

A life-changing experience came for us all in 1981, when I was offered an 18-month Defence Science Fellowship posting to the US Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, in the Californian Mojave Desert.  It was a wonderful experience professionally and socially, and we vastly broadened our experiences.  We took full advantage of the opportunities to discover the US as a nation and Americans as people.  We also discovered that we are essentially small-town people, and specifically desert rats.

We returned to Melbourne and my career in the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), but 18 months later I was offered a permanent position at China Lake.  After due consideration we decided to accept this position, as much as anything for the opportunities it might open up for Scott and Haydn in the future.  So we emigrated, and I took up US citizenship with all that entails.  It always struck me as appropriate that the Presidential elections occur on Melbourne Cup Day!

Life was most enjoyable, but certainly different from our previous sojourn as tourists.  We now had commitments to maintain a home, but also to play our part in providing entertainment for our sons in a small town, with involvement Boy Scouts, and travelling soccer and swim teams.  Kay taught mathematics at the local schools (to help fund the boys’ college education), and my physical exercise continued with road racing (including the Boston marathon), climbing in the nearby Sierra Nevada mountains, mini-triathlons and finally cycling.

In 1997, with Scott and Haydn both through college, I was offered a position at DSTO Edinburgh in South Australia, to regenerate the explosives research programme after it was migrated from Maribyrnong.  So, instead of changing the door-locks when the boys left home, we sold the doors (and the house too) and migrated back to Adelaide.  (Adelaide does not like to hear it, but it is really just a country town, which suits us down to the ground.)  So I took out Australian citizenship, while Scott commenced practice as a lawyer in Chattanooga TN, and Haydn became a winemaker-cum-financial analyst in Napa CA.  Haydn has two sons Julian and Xavier (aka Spot), so there is much demand for frequent travel to the US to visit our grand-children.

So I continue to work while it still keeps me interested, to fund the travel addiction, and to keep Kay in the luxury to which she would like to become accustomed.


Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The years before 1958 ........ Recognise anyone? Recognise yourself?

Most of us started our schooling at Telopea in 1951. However, an uninterrupted education journey at the school was not to be. Canberra was growing and more schools were needed. 

The majority of us spent the first 7 years of our schooling starting at, then leaving, and then returning to Telopea. Firstly when it was combined infants, primary and secondary, then primary and secondary and finally when it was only secondary. The photos below show our 'travels' back and forth to various schools on the south side of Canberra                                                       
1951 ........... starting at Telopea
In 1952, some stayed ........ 

....... while some went to Narrabundah Infants
Back to Telopea in 1954 for everyone for 3rd, 4th and 5th classes. The Bristol buildings were a new addition and Macca McShane was one of our teachers
Our comfort zone soon disappeared. By 1957, Yarralumla, Griffith and Forrest Primary schools were open, so most of us were obliged to change school yet again for 6th class
At last, back to that beautiful old building in Barton. Life at Telopea Park High School for the next 5 years had started in earnest!

(In 1958, only high school classes existed at Telopea. That year saw the abolition of selective education and the introduction of the area rule. It was now compulsory for all students commencing high school who lived on the south side of the Molonglo river to attend Telopea, while those living on the north side were to attend Canberra High School)

I remember it well .......... or do I?

Of infants and primary school at Telopea, I remember:
  • the Bristol demountable buildings
  • when York Park was a park 
  • Mr Fry in his flowing black gown
  • flavoured 'milkshakes' at the tuckshop (vanilla, sugar and milk just mixed in a cup)
  • Mrs Woods, Miss Shakespeare and Miss Walsh
  • the tuckshop below the north wing
  • tuckshop sandwiches wrapped in white butcher's paper
  • the dental nurse in white with her set of 5x8 student cards
  • the Goitre tablet every Monday morning out of a huge brown glass bottle
  • tepid milk at recess
  • using an acorn cup as a whistle out on the oval or in the bus
  • Saturday morning swimming races at the Manuka pool
  • celebrating Empire Day at the Capital Theatre and then building a bonfire for Cracker Night
  • playing in the recorder band (still have my sheet music book)
  • being caned with the bamboo part of a feather duster by Miss Harrevil in 1st and 2nd class
  • Enid Blyton and the Magic Faraway Tree books read by Horrible Harrivil
  • Miss Harrivil started my love of reading
  • the one act play, 'The Crimson Coconut', starring Sandra Smith as Madame Gliserinski
  • singing pop songs from songbooks purchased from the newsagent
  • under the arches
  • RE once a week for half an hour
  • not being EVER, EVER allowed to play in/near the Telopea Park drain
  • the bitumen playground, where the assembly hall now stands
  • having class photos taken outside our class rooms, where a car park now stands
  • NSW Avenue actually accessing the front of the school
  • no fences around any school in Canberra
  • when the road around the school was 2 way
  • playing 'Queenie Queenie?' at recess
  • playing hop, step and jump in the quadrangle before school
  • NOT being allowed to play hop, step and jump before school (early days of OHS?)
  • playing the stepping game using the letters of your name (I always used my full name, Suzanne Upton, to get full use of the 'u's and the 'z'. Three 'n's was a real bonus too!)
  • hopscotch on the bitumen and taking a flying leap to get the last step
  • Allan Johnson singing'Rock Around the Clock' at my 9th birthday party (first crush?)
  • the old Children's Library behind the bus depot at Kingston
  • riding an old Malvern Star bike everywhere
  • when a subject name contained no more than 2 words
Most of these memories I share with many of you.

Back to the drawing board to think about high school .................



My life really started when I escaped a very strict primary private girls school to discover the freedom of learning with out bounds at Telopea Park High School. I was bribed to go there with the chance of doing fun subjects like Cooking, Art, Agriculture and lots of sport.

These subjects I adored especially the fun cooking classes with Carol Wade and Lyn Page. Then finding the joy and freedom of circus gymnastics under Mr McNab. Where we could do cartwheels and summersaults across the school oval, even Dianne Summerhayes watched me. What a buz. 

Going to Sydney to swim in the inter school competitions was a real adventure.  Our Hockey teams were the best, winning many inter-school competitions. Going to Cootamundra for hockey, was a climax to my sporting career at Telopea Park. Mind you the bus trips to the snow were pretty cuddly too…

My only sad time was when I got a 2H in Agriculture for the Leaving to be denied attending Wagga Agricuture College because I was a girl. At that time they did not have a girls toilet or that was their excuse.  It broke my heart so I chose my 2nd choice and took the shortest course a 2 year scholarship offered to me to Sydney Teachers College. Here I trained to be an Art, Home Science and Needlework teacher. Life is amazing, I never wanted to be a teacher, hated the course and yet now I adore teaching. To me it was like been sent to a finishing school. I was too young at 17 years to cope with inner Sydney tough teenagers, who were older and bigger than me and attempt to try and teach them something. So I gave that away and tried 5 different jobs in one year.

I finally landed a job at the ANU in the John Curtin School of Medical Research as a Technical Officer in “Electron Microscopy”. Here I could put the 2 loves of my life Science and Art together into a marvelous job which became my career. I had 10 years aside establishing the “Pig and Whistle” in Braidwood NSW. A wood working business with my first husband Allan Geier where we made rocking horses & furniture. A very rewarding time.

I have two wonderful children and 3 grandsons, my son Florian runs a Solar Electrical Business in Canberra. My daughter Colette with her husband manages a large sheep and wine growing property near Albury NSW

When I retired from CSIRO 30 years later I formed a Company called Insignis selling the designs from under the microscope and putting them on clothes, carpets, and curtains. I did this for 2 years selling all over Australia. During this time I met my 2nd husband Ross Pye and we moved to Maclean in Northern NSW and built a home at Ashby on The Broadwater. 


Well it was hard when I first retired trying to think up what to do with my self, but came up with the following things: 

I tried Tennis and Tap dancing not so good. There seemed to be a gap between my feet and my brain.

I love reading historical, travel, cooking, adventure and detective novels and working in our sub tropical garden where I breed Khaki Campbell ducks. 

Ross and I do a lot of snorkeling, crabbing and keep Koi and salt water fish.

We have done a lot of fun travel through out Asia and found our three adult
Godchildren in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, who we have helped with their studies and life, and in return they give us so much love and pleasure. 

I joined U3a and played Mahjong and started a cooking group, then I realised there were many adults here who look after their grandchildren at the beach and pool and cannot swim. So I created a Water Confidence class and then progressed to Swimming Confidence class under my business name of:
Water Confidence Australia.

My students range in age from 4 - 93 years. Imagine waking up one morning when you are 93 and saying to yourself  “I think I will learn to swim today"!

Because Ross knew I could skate back in 1959 when he used to watch me roller skate on the basketball courts at Telopea Park on weekends, he assumed there would be no problems skating now. So he said, “why not join the local Roller Derby group”. I was terrified, having not skated for 50 years, but now it’s become my latest life’s adventure.  Mind you I can’t skate as fast as the 20-40 year olds I wonder why!!


Sunday, 5 February 2012



All my school life, from 1951 when I entered the “Transitions” class until completing the Leaving Certificate in 1962 was spent at Telopea Park (although part of the time it was called Forrest Primary). I very much enjoyed my initial time at school, particularly after I met Ruth Whitrod (now Blackburn) in 2nd class. Third class was rocky since I was singled out by Mr McShane for punishment, but he relented in 4th class by putting me into a school play, which involved many pleasant hours “working” outside away from the tedious repetition in the class. Does anyone remember the play? I also played in the school band at assembly, which was fun in itself, but also meant that I did not have to march, military style, to the classroom. I was a very diligent student, but my fondest memories are escaping to make tea for the staff in 5th class and being given the freedom with six or seven other students in 6th class to leave the classroom for many afternoons. I went to the library, played my recorder or just wandered around.

Only two or three months after starting at TPHS, I was again delighted to be able to escape.  My father, Trevor Swan, had been appointed by MIT to work on India’s five year plan. As a result, I spent 10 months exploring the U.S., Europe and Asia with three month stops in Boston and New Delhi. This trip greatly expanded my understanding of the world, including the problems from poverty in India, but left me severely behind in my school work, particularly Math and French.  Indeed, I failed French every year, until the Leaving Certificate, where I somehow managed to get an A and even pass the oral. The teaching of French was not always good. I wonder if anyone else remembers that in class 3A, the French teacher (I am not sure of her name) seemed poor at speaking French and, even worse, was not able to control the class. She rushed around the room trying the catch students making animal noises!  A couple of years after leaving school, I saw her in a typing class.

My plan in 5th year was to study Chemistry at University, but I had dropped Physics after 3rd year and I started to question this plan after Mr McGann (a respected and charismatic teacher who had taught me Math since 2nd year) advised me not to take more Math since I would likely not be able to handle it. Since I liked doing Math, I decided to ignore this advice and eventually completed majors in Economics, Statistics and Mathematics at the ANU.  My time at the ANU was really enjoyable. I was very surprised to find how easy it was to do well (even in Math), while studying a lot less than in my last years at TPHS. I took weekends off for bushwalking and skiing and made a number of close friends. After winning the prize for the top student in Economics in my third year, I decided to do a Master’s degree in Econometrics at Monash University.

While at Monash,  I married Hugh Spencer, who I had met at the ANU. As a result, my life took a dramatic change. Hugh had the opportunity of doing a PhD in Neurophysiology at the University of Manitoba in Canada. We arrived in Winnipeg in late December 1969. It was so cold and flat and desolate looking that I thought I had arrived on the moon by mistake. I had no boots, only sandals, and my feet nearly got frostbite as I got off the plane at 30 below zero on the open tarmac. I later grew to appreciate aspects of Winnipeg, including the friends I made, but it was hard to adjust to the cold. 

On arrival in Winnipeg I was lucky to get a job as a part-time lecturer in Economics at the University of Manitoba, but the pay was very low. In the first year, I remember living mostly on refried beans. We later froze vegetables from the short harvest period and every few months, I would buy a 60lb bag of oats (meant for horses) and make large quantities of granola. The situation improved after I published a number of papers and gained a position as Assistant Professor in 1974. 

My pay and position had risen, but I realized that to be taken seriously in Economics, I needed a PhD.  I also needed a change because Hugh and I had broken up shortly after he finished his PhD. (Hugh and I still keep in touch. He is now a “guru” of the environmental movement, running his own research lab and the Bat House at Cape Tribulation in the rainforests north of Cairns). In September 1976, I enrolled at what is now the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where I was offered a top scholarship and where I could join my younger brother, Richard Swan, who was doing a PhD in Computer Science. I was very fortunate to be supervised by Ed Prescott, who in 2004 won the Nobel Prize in Economics. Ed gave me a lot of his time and also let me skip a year of courses so as to take the PhD exams early (yet another escape from class work!). I immersed myself in learning a lot more math so as to be able to create mathematical models that captured the economic issues I was interested in.

After defending my dissertation at the end of 1978, I took a visiting position at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario and then moved to Boston College in 1980, where I was treated exceptionally well. My research, particularly those papers concerned with international trade policy, started to gain some attention, leading to my appointment as a Research Associate with the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research).The NBER has kept me well connected with the top people and current research in International Economics over many years. 

While at Queens, I had met Jim Brander, who was a new Assistant Professor with a PhD from Stanford. Jim and I wrote a number of joint papers and in 1985, my life changed again: Jim and I decided to get married. I moved to what is now the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia so as to join Jim and we are still there. We have one lovely daughter, Cathy, who is now a young adult, but she needs full time care due to some severe developmental problems and will continue to live with us at home as long as our health allows.  

Perhaps the pinnacle of my career was becoming President of the Canadian Economics Association in 2004/5. However, I am particularly happy that I was able to renew my connection to the ANU through my appointment to the ANU College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame in 2005 and also play a small part in my father’s legacy by giving a Public Lecture in the Trevor Swan Distinguished Lecture Series at the ANU in 2007. One of the attached pictures is unhappily much better than I currently look, since it was taken for the ANU in 2005. The other picture of me with a gorgeous puppy was taken recently. Since I am still enjoying teaching and research, I don’t plan to retire until I am at least 70. 


Saturday, 4 February 2012



This is a brief biography sent to us by Liz McNamara now Jones:

This is the current Liz
Liz completed a Bachelor of Arts at the ANU in 1965 and a Diploma of Education at Sydney University in 1966.

In 1996 she was awarded a Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) from the ANU.
In 2005 and 2006 she completed a post graduate Diploma in Civil Celebrancy at Monash University.

In 1968 she worked as a Volunteer Graduate in Bogor, Indonesia teaching English in both a university and teachers college.

She then taught humanities in rural NSW and various parts of Melbourne for the next twenty years.  At Brunswick Girls High she founded a small community school for those who had difficulty fitting into the larger school setting.

Liz as Ann Bon 1881
In 1973, Liz commenced working as both an artist and staff member at La Mama Theatre in Carlton.  At the end of 1976 she became Artistic Director and Administrator.  This became her full time occupation in 1987 and she has held this position ever since.

As a performing artist, Liz has worked with the experimental ensemble led by Lloyd Jones continuously since 1973.  She also had major roles in a number of productions directed by Ariette Taylor, Humphrey Bower, Suzanne Chaundy, Lynne Ellis, David Pledger and Margaret Cameron and Emma Valente. Her most recent performances have been in APHIDS’ Care Instructions at the Malthouse and at the Transit Festival in Denmark in 2009 and in Ilbijerri/La Mama production Coranderrk : we will show the country in 2011 at the La Mama Courthouse and 2012 in the Indigenous Arts Festival.

Liz in Special 2011
Liz was awarded the 1994 Kenneth Myer Medallion for the Performing Arts by the Victorian Arts Centre Trust.  In February 2000 she was awarded the Sidney MyerFacilitator’s’ Award.  In February 2001 was awarded The Green Room Lifetime Achievement Award.  In 2002 her name was placed on the Victorian Honor Roll of Women.  In 2008 she won the Dorothy Crawford AWGIE for Contribution to Script Writing.

In 1999 and 2000 she travelled to Europe, UK and USA as a Churchill Fellow to study the relationship between theatre and the community in key cities.

Liz has two children of her own, three step-children and eight grandchildren and is actively involved in their lives as thankfully they all live in Melbourne.  She lives in Williamstown, Victoria with her husband of 36 years Lloyd, and her cat and dog. When not at the theatre she enjoys listening to the radio, reading and swimming.


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Saturday 17th March ............. a couple of options after lunch

   'The Mousetrap'   

After our BBQ on Saturday 17th March, you might like to do a bit of sightseeing or visit old friends or family.

Or if you love theatre, perhaps the 2pm performance of Agatha Christie's thriller  'The Mousetrap'  at the Q theatre in Queanbeyan. If 2pm means cutting short the fun at the BBQ, then there's another performance at 5pm the next day, Sunday 18th. If you are staying over on Sunday, that may be the one to see. 

Sue and Gerd King will be going to that performance so feel free to join them.

Contact, booking and pricing details: 

or perhaps the NGA interests you ......