Fab Feb Photo Collage Festival: Day 8 Girl Guides

4 x 7UP collageLike many young girls of my generation I became a Girl Guide when I was about 10. However unlike many others I hadn’t followed the normal path through Brownies. Joining the Guides was a big deal because in those days it had the reputation of either not being friendly to Catholics, or vice versa. Certainly one of the deciding factors was that the Guide leader of our company was herself a Catholic and would take the three or four Catholic Guides with her to Mass when we went camping.Pauleen Guide test

I don’t know what the rationale of the objections might have been. Certainly there doesn’t seem too much in the Guide oath to be threatening:

I promise that I will do my best:
To do my duty to God,
to serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people, and
To keep the Guide Law.


The equal prominence of the British flag as well as the Australian is interesting yet typical of the era.

Perhaps my joining up had to do with my neighbourhood friend who joined at the same time and whose parents would often drive us to events. On other Saturdays we would walk through the shoulder-high grass along the creek bank with one or other of our parents watching us until we reached the NARM bridge (near the local tannery) and they could see us heading to the Guide hut.Pauleen Guide tests crop

I really enjoyed much of my Guiding experience and learning and passing all the various tests. The image featured today is one of my tests, possibly the one entitled “Nature” for my Second Class test. I also remember doing another one for which I documented the changing seasons, flowering trees and birds in the bush at the end of our street. Along the way I learnt a variety of skills, some useful and some not. I remember being aghast that people didn’t know the names of all the streets in their area, and now I’m one of those too ….remembering where places are but not bothering with street names.

It doesn't look like any of us were having fun here.

It doesn’t look like any of us were having fun here.

There were also local hiking and picnicking outings, always making sure to bring our plastic sit-upons so our personal sit-upons wouldn’t get wet. We would make damper and cook it over the open fire. There would also be periodic camp fires near the Guide hut and we’d have a fine time singing.

The other fun thing about Guides was going on camp and my first Guide camp when I was about 10 was the first time I had overnighted, or perhaps spent more than one night, away from home. I distinctly remember that my parents had felt quite lost without me <smile> or that’s what they told me.

My old Guide badge for our group.

The old Guide badge for our group.

Whenever we went on camp we would travel in the open back of an old five ton truck driven by another Guide’s father who lived near us. We would sing Guide songs as we went along and it was great fun, though these days of course it would never be permitted for safety reasons.

We used to have those great big heavy canvas tents and flimsy sleeping bags ( I had mine for years) and woollen blankets. The dining area was in a big marquee and all the meals were cooked in big metal dixies. I suppose we must surely have helped with the meals but I don’t recall. We would also dig our own latrines and erect hessian screens around them. Bathing was done in big round metal tubs in another screened area. My first camp was at Brookfield and was beside a creek bank. I remember that we were provided with fresh milk each morning straight from the farmer’s cows, and also that there was a water snake in the creek when we went swimming.

Guides flooded Samford

Flooded in at Samford. We were on the land to the right, Water Police mid-stream and anxious adults on the far side.

However my most memorable camping trip is one I described a while back. You can read all about it in this 52 weeks series post on disasters…my sole experience of being on the front page of the paper.

I did enjoy Guides a lot but gave it up when I was heading to my Junior or Year 10 exams, probably just after being awarded my First Class Guide Badge. Unlike some of my friends I wasn’t tempted to continue along with the more challenging Queen’s Guide text.

Fab Feb image

Family Hx writing challenge

This post is part of the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.

52 weeks of personal history & genealogy: Week 10: Disasters

We are now in Week 10 of Amy Coffin and Geneablogger’s 52 weeks of Personal history and genealogy. This week’s topic: Disasters. Did you experience any natural disasters in your lifetime? Tell us about them. If not, then discuss these events that happened to parents, grandparents or others in your family.

With the 2011 events in New Zealand and Australia, I’m reluctant to lay claim to being involved in any natural disasters of the magnitude of the recent earthquakes, fires and floods.

So my story is really about natural dramas, not disasters, thank heavens.

My most-public drama occurred when I was in the first year of high school, during our May school holidays at the end of first term. My Guide company had gone camping on a spit of high land on a farmer’s property in the then-rural area of Brisbane. There was a pleasant little creek on one side and we set all our tents up and presumably did the usual Guide things –campfire, bush skills etc. Truthfully that part has mostly disappeared from my memory. On the Sunday evening a small handful of us went to Mass at the nearby Catholic Church with one of our leaders who was also Catholic….for whatever reason in those days, few Catholics joined the Guides….or perhaps that was just in my company. We drove home across the dry gravel creek-bed to the campsite as it got dark. During the night it rained and rained.

In the morning we woke up early to discover that the peaceful little creek had burst its banks and was now lapping at the area where our latrines had been situated, and at least one tent was flooded. The gravel creek-bed was dry no longer and was now a wide, swiftly-flowing stream and impassable, with the water steadily rising. Can you imagine the anxiety the leaders must have felt with responsibility for a dozen young girls and no way to raise an alarm –remembering this was pre-mobile-phone days by about 30 years. Even harder to imagine they took the difficult decision to send the strongest swimmer  amongst the Guides to swim the flood waters with a rope around her waist, and fetch help. How brave she was! It seemed logical enough at the time but now we’d all be thinking about worst-case scenarios and law suits.

Jann reached the other side safely, raised the alarm, and in due course the Water Police arrived from Brisbane (somewhat ironically from their base near my school). They managed to get a rope fixed across the flooded creek and then ferried everyone and their belongings across.

The next day a small group of us had our photos on the front page of the local paper, The Courier-Mail, and inside was a longer story. You might imagine that when I returned after the holidays I’d gone from being an inconspicuous new student at my large girls’ high school, to having a small modicum of “fame”. First and last time on the front page for me, thank goodness!