Emjay goes back to uni….


When we were in Oz last month the first week we stayed on the campus of Macquarie University (Sydney).  The same university that my father deposited me to at the end of February 1976!

The day before the journey was spent packing my “stuff” into the back of the old Ford ute and I effectively left home forever the next day.  There were many tears shed as my father left me there with fairly pitiful possessions, and drove away.  I knew no-one and it was a very long way from home.

The manservant and I stayed in a place which is run by the School of Business Management and which didn’t exist way back then.  I lived in Dunmore Lang College a student accommodation facility within walking distance of the university.  And, it still looks exactly the same:   This is the entrance walking from the uni.

The carpark where I tearfully waved goodbye to my father still looks  depressing.   This is actually the front entrance – a sort of abandon hope look:

Yes I went wandering around the campus on the *ONLY* rainy day of the entire month home!   This building is new….

Student Centre and the all important Student Bar:   Many student protests were held in this area (though it didn’t have that fancy “ground” then);  save the Franklin River and gay rights featured during my years there.

I had classes in these buildings – they look a little like bunkers don’t they!   Few windows mean less distractions I’m sure…. Dunmore Lang is a little hike through parkland from the uni and it was freaky walking home after late classes or after a night at the student bar!    I didn’t see additional lighting this visit that would suggest anything has changed!.

Imagine what this was like in the dark!!  I’m trying to remember if we even had asphalt way back then – it think it was just a gravel path!

This was actually the scariest part of the walk as it was easy to imagine trolls living under this bridge  – that’s Dunmore Lang in the background:


50 responses

  1. You must be old, Emjay, to have been around in the days when students actually protested against something. 😉 They’re a pretty docile lot these days.

  2. I’ve never been to Australia, but I’ve got an Australia all imagined in my head. I’ve got to tell you that my imaginary Australia doesn’t look anything like the Australia in your pictures. Your pictures look like Ohio.

  3. I love wandering the grounds of my university. In many ways it’s similar to yours. ….well, grass, trees, paths, buildings…ok…that was a pretty all encompassing generalization.

    If I had to walk that path at night, though, I would definitely freak myself out thinking about “Night of the Living Dead” and I would end up sprinting into a tree.

    • The path was a worry for all the female boarders. If we had late classes we would try to co-ordinate with others for the walk back. There were no mobile phones then so we really were on our own once we started the trek back alone – if you heard footsteps behind you you would start walking faster & faster till you were almost galloping through there – it certainly got the heart racing!

      It is very boring architecture though the grounds are pretty. The buildings of Sydney University are much nicer.

  4. Aw, the thought of you in tears as your father drove off and left you at the college makes me all teary-eyed. I know my daughters were weepy when I left them at college, as was I. My son just seemed relieved to get me out of his hair, and he said later I fussed over him so much—“Are you going to be warm enough? Maybe we should buy you another quilt!”— he was embarrassed.

    But I think there must have been this architectural trend in colleges of a certain vintage to make them look like bunkers. Your old college looks like sections of mine, without the massive stretches of concrete walkway.

    • When we dropped my oldest son off at college I cried the whole way home in the car. Hubby was driving. I was sobbing for an hour.

      Then I came in the house, got on the computer and started instant messaging my son. It was such a comfort having instant messaging!

    • I think I cried for about a week after my father left me. I remember going down to the common room and not liking the look of any of the students I saw in there! LOL. The uni was established in 1964 and opened in 1967.
      I found this info today: it was designed in the Brutalist style and developed by the renowned town planner Walter Abraham who also oversaw the next 20 years of planning and development for The university.

      Brutalist is very a very apt sort of name…..

  5. LOL the buildings might not win an architectural award but I love the fact that there are so many trees around and that it is a pretty green area. Most universities I have seen are usually a slap of concrete. Or of the older building type of course – but very bare, still.

  6. It’s a lovely, green-looking campus Emjay! Except for the depressing car park where you got dropped off. I remember getting dropped off at uni and being SO ridiculously excited but then I was only an hour away from home and my best friend from school was at the same one so it was easier for me. And Snowy is right, students are pretty docile these days although over here there are some rumblings from up and coming students about the proposed removal of the cap on tuition fees, meaning some of them are going to pay up to £12000 a year for courses. I’m hoping we see the rise of the militant student once again.

    • Luckily uni was free when I went – my parents would not have been able to pay for me to go otherwise. I qualified for the full TEAS (Tertiary Education Allowance Scheme – money from the government) because my parents had negligible income and that paid for my accommodation and text books and I had something like $3 a week left for all the good stuff – actually $3 went quite a long way back then LOL.

  7. It is a beautiful campus, Emjay. I feel rich to know your history.
    Your story reminds me of the day I entered the very strict private girls’ school dormitory when I was 12. My mother was in tears and half running out of the dorm hall. I never forget her quivering back. Being parents is tough, don’t you think?

    • Oh Magnifika I can’t imagine being left at school when I was only 12 – it was hard enough when I was nearly 19 !! My mother stayed at home while my father took me (there were 3 younger siblings at home to be looked after); I think my mother is more stoic than my father.

  8. oh memories-thank you for this. And I agree the houses looks like bunkers-not nice but I agree with Bettina, the shot with the tree is nice. In september I was with Matthias on my old Uni too (because geocaching:-) and Matthias was not impressed about the ugly houses.

    • I actually felt sad when I walked around to the front entrance all these years later! There was nothing inviting about the accommodation – you’d think all these years later they might make it look a bit inviting.

  9. I was so sad my entire first year of college, seemed like it rained every freaking day the whole semester. I hope things got better for you as time went on, you certainly did well for yourself since then!

    Oh my god the grounds are BEAUTIFUL! What pretty grass and pond, and that cool setting with those white trees look just like sycamores although I imagine there aren’t any in that neck of the woods, LOL! The photos and the way you captured the wet ground, well this is my favorite set of photos so far.

    • Thank you so much re the photos Emmy. It was just sprinkling when I set out (with an umbrella) but it started pouring and by the time I got back to our room I was soaked! It was the first time I’d been back since the late 70’s so it really was quite nostalgic – when I walked over to Dunmore Lang (the accommodation) I could feel the sadness that I’d felt on that day coming back! It was quite palpable.
      I did feel lonely there for quite some time. There was a phone in the hallway and I used to listen for it to ring incase it was my parents – they couldn’t afford to ring very often and I didn’t have money so I only spoke to them once every couple of weeks. I think I was very glad at the end of the first semester when I got to ride a train back home for a couple of weeks. And, then I got all sad again to be leaving LOL. Things did get better though and I met my (ex) husband there – it was co-ed accommodation 🙂

  10. Great walk back along your memory lane Emjay. I know all about the “tears being shed upon deposit” but they certainly weren’t Globets when we dropped her off on the Gold Coast…..it was those of her mum and dad.

    I like the way the trees have been retained in the paved area….nice.

    • Hi GOF – Not sure why I’d shed so many tears… I had a year off between finishing high school and starting uni and I’d moved into town and worked 9 months and then went overseas for 3 months so it’s not like I’d not been away from home before. I think I just realised that I was leaving home for ever – and it was only about a year later that my parents sold the farm and moved hundreds of miles away from what I thought would always be my home base.

  11. Colleges look a lot alike in some respects. the daughter and I did a tour of one near us and the buildings are large and utilitarian, the quad was big and spacious, very similar in a lot of respects. I wonder if there is some kind of general planning that goes into them. Like, one set of blue prints that get a little makeover every now and again. Or, maybe the layout just works.

  12. ” Few windows mean less distractions I’m sure…. ” That’s soo funny! And I bet it’s true.. and then when you’re older you can think.. oh I wasted part of my life in a bunker, and life’ll feel soo much better.. at least you’ll be happy that you’re done with school lol!

  13. Ohgosh – MacU was my first university (though I finished at USyd in the end. I lived over in Epping and walked the five ks to uni. The reason I chose this uni over all others? The philosphical bent of the graffiti on the toilet doors in so many of the ladies bathrooms. It was awesome.

    • LOL – the reason I chose Dunmore Lang College to live in over Robert Menzies was that they had both sexes on each floor! In those days Menzies was segregated by floor and you had to have your room door open if you had visitors! Some time through my second year there I moved out with two friends and we lived in Cremorne – talk about a commute! You’d have to catch one bus to Crows Nest and then change and then most of the buses terminated just past Lane Cove (just past the CSR building on the river) so you’d either have to wait for an Epping one or start walking! Thank God the El Rancho was there to break the journey LOL. 🙂

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