THURSDAY 31 AUGUST HOWARD SPRINGS
Another drive into Darwin this morning, this time to go to lunch at the Casino.
I had arranged to meet there with a long-time colleague, A. We had both started new jobs at the same school, in 1982, and had worked closely together. Whilst I remained at that school for sixteen years, until “retiring” to travel, A had moved to our linked school in Darwin – Kormilda College – and been there for years. He was working part time now, in his main speciality of music teaching.
It was great to catch up with him again. Unfortunately, his wife was at work and could not come.
I was interested to hear of the changes that had taken place at Kormilda over the past six years, since the Principal that I had known there, had moved on. It seemed to me that the school was now was mainly a day school serving Darwin and had shifted some distance from the concept at the time of my school’s original involvement – mainly to provide education to indigenous kids from remote communities across the Top End. It had been an ambitious and worthy undertaking, fraught with all sorts of unforeseen issues.
In the course of discussion I shared a memory with A of the time I had been at a Conference in Singapore with that Principal. At dinner one night he was called to the phone, and came back quite ashen faced. A well meaning teacher, freshly employed from Melbourne, had set up a football game to occupy the boarders. For ease, he designated that one team would be made up of boys from certain communities, and the other from different communities. He was not to know that there were blood feuds between some of the communities, going back into the mists of time. The game quickly degenerated into a cross between brawl and all out warfare. Many of the spectating boarders had run away – to relatives in the greater Darwin area, or just into the bush. It was a considerable crisis for him to manage. Fortunately, the Conference was winding down and he could return almost immediately to Darwin. We could now laugh about it, but it had been really serious at the time.
A talked quite a bit about their lifestyle up here. The initial attraction for him had been working with indigenous students, rather than living in the tropics, per se. He said they found it quite a cultural desert – especially in the Wet. They regularly flew to Sydney to go to shows and the like. He thought that when his step sons finished their schooling here, in another few years, they would move south again.
I really enjoyed our lunch. It was a pleasant break from just waiting around.