A few years ago, SWMBO joined the local branch of the U3A. ‘What on earth is the U3A,’ I asked. SWMBO replied, ‘You are always mucking around with Google, find out for yourself!’  Short, ‘sweet’ and to the point, as usual.

A quick visit to Mr Google informed me that the U3A ( University of the Third Age) was formed in Toulouse, France in 1972, spread to the UK in 1982 and arrived here in Melbourne, Australia  in 1984 and then spreading like wildfire across the country.

A further search led me to the U3A’s web site and an indepth explanation of what the U3A is all about. To quote from their blurb:

‘The University of the  Third Age (U3A) movement is an unique and exciting organisation which provides, through its U3As life enhancing and life changing opportunities.

Retired and semi retired people come together and learn together, not for qualifications but for its own reward, the sheer joy of discovery.

Members share their skills and life experiences: the  learners teach and the teachers learn, and there is no distinction between them.

The U3A movement is supported by its national organisation, The Third Age Trust.’

Now I’m no spring chicken but the thought of getting involved with a mob of oldies learning from each other was an absolute turn off and I decided there and then that SWMBO could have the U3A entirely for herself.

Then, early last year SWMBO enticed me to go with her on an U3A bus trip exploring the homes of some of Australia’s original British settlers.

It was a revelation for me. The people were great, the organisation of the trip was first class, the day passed by at great speed and I thouroughly enjoyed myself.

As a result I joined our local U3A, go on many of their escapades and twice a week participate in a walking for health program. In addition to that, twice a month I go to an U3A  Photography Group where we have fun with our cameras and camera phones, swap photography information and learn from each other.


It’s quite amazing how great it is to mix with people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences who are happy to share their stories, information about various subjects and are happy to sensibly discuss differing views without getting bitter and twisted as is so often the case.

I could go on and on about the benefits of being a member of U3A and list the many, many courses and programs that area available to members. However I know that if you are interested you too will visit Mr Google, look for your nearest U3A and see what they have to offer. I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Hoo roo for now.




TO KAYAK OR NOT TO KAYAK? THAT IS THE QUESTION. Apologies to the Bard of course.

In 2016, our local U3A introduced a walking for health program and from is members a Ramblers’ program has also emerged.

Then, a month or so ago, one of the walker/ramblers purchased a sit on, single seat kayak to paddle on our local rivers and extend the U3A physical activity programs.

To that end, he is actively encouraging members to purchase a kayak and join him on paddling our rivers and dams.

Sit on kayaks are a fairly recent phenomena and their use in river, estuary and ocean  fishing has spread to recreation paddling. Part of their appeal is the fact that they  don’t require the paddler to possess the same degree of skill  or fitness as those who paddle enclosed kayaks.

Most of the sit ons are of fairly modest dimensions, are light enough to easily lift onto a car, don’t require a rudder, are constructed of plastic and are quite robust and well kitted out for comfort. Perhaps their most appealing  element is their relatively low price right across the extensive range.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are both members of the walker/rambler groups and have discussed buying a couple of sit ons and resuming paddling. Prima facie it seemed quite attractive but some doubt remained.

Hence todays heading , ‘To Kayak or Not to Kayak?’

Back in the dream time we were very active sea kayakers and foundation members of the NSW Sea Kayakers Club Inc.

Here is an image of our two single ‘Seafarer’ kayaks and our ‘Seafarer Double.’We nicknamed her, ‘The Queen Mary’, because of hers enormous size.  Our Seafarers were 19 feet long and you can see how they were dwarfed the the Q.M.

SWMBO’s is the top yellow decked Seafarer, mine the orange decked, and of course the monster is the Q.M.

The thrills of open water paddling are still fresh in our minds even though more than twenty years have passed since we gave paddling away and  sold our beloved kayaks.

Our longest paddle was of three weeks duration when we set out from Airlie Beach near Bowen in North Queensland and paddled around Gloucester Island, Hayman Island, Whitsunday Island and Shaw Island in the Whitsundays Group of the Great Barrier Reef.

Camping under the stars in this tropical paradise should be on everyones’ bucket list.

Sydney Harbour was a regular location and we often paddled up and down the coast from our base near Cronulla, often overnighting in parks accessible from the ocean.

When out of sight of land, sea kayaking takes on a new and exhilarating  dimension especially when rocketing down the face of white capped waves.

To add to the fun, we equipped our kayaks with sails to take advantage of following winds Battery powered bilge pumps to get rid of water taken on board as a result of capsizes were also installed.

Here are a few images from our collection of our time out on the water. They are all scans from Kodak slide film. I always chose slides as they had a very wide subject brightness range.

Fun in the surf at Wanda Beach near Cronulla.
Through the break of a little wave. The tube on the right of the hull contains the mast and sail.
Tranquility off Cronulla.
SWMBO , cool as a cucumber.
Paddling up the river from Port Hacking near Cronulla.
Rafting up off Sydney Heads on a miserable day.
At sea somewhere. 
Out from Jervis Bay, south of Sydney.
Paddling home in the early evening light.
Looking skyward on the crest of a wave.
Coming ashore in the Queen Mary.
SWMBO near Lilly Pilly.
Our camp on Broken Bay with Peter.
Big is sometimes best.
Are we there yet? Well off shore on a gentle sea.
Sometimes the unexpected occurs. This was off Jervis Bay south of Sydney. The paddler lost confidence and he had to be towed to a safe landing spot around the point you can see in the far distance.
Returning to Jervis Bay to beat an expected Southerly Buster(wind).
My trusty Nikonos-V accompanied me on every Kayak trip. 100%  dust proof and waterproof to depths I would never attempt when SCUBA diving.

As you can imagine, it would be extremely difficult for paddling on our local rivers, creeks and dams, although interesting, to come anywhere near the fun and excitement of sea kayaking.

Accordingly, we have let our intrepid sit on paddler know that we are staying firmly placed on terra firma.

Hoo roo for now.