Townsville Twist

Monday, 27 February 2006

Cuckoo Curlews

I've mentioned curlews in the past as birds that wake you up in the middle of the night by screeching in the college grounds, but my description was severely lacking. I forgot to mention their legs are made of wire and you can bend them in all sorts of wacky shapes. I made this one myself:

Pretty cool, huh?

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Friday, 24 February 2006

Oh the shame!

It must be fate.

When I was in primary school there was this girl with terminal cancer. Her name was Megan. Just before she started school she'd had one of her legs amputated to just below the knee. She was a beautiful singer and was always cheery even though she knew that she didn't have long to go. Kinda inspirational, hey?

Anyway, she came over to my place one day after school when we were in year 1. Roll-ups (the snack thing) had these promotional glow-in-the-dark stickers in every box, and I'd collected them all except this one with a dolphin on it. We were very big on sticker collecting back then. That day at lunch time Megan had revealed that she was the proud owner of the coveted dolphin sticker. I was so jealous. When she left the room I nicked it. I stole from a dying child! Megan passed away about a year after that episode.

Until now I haven't really thought about it. Then, as fate would have it, one of my roommates, Noni, showed me her folder for her weekly notes. And there, on the cover...


What are the chances of a sticker over ten years old showing up in Queensland in mint condition in the same room as me?

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Sunday, 19 February 2006

JFC: Home of the Quad Run

Every college has its own little traditions. The kind of stuff that the guys in charge know about but turn a blind eye to because it's culture! John Flynn has a few nice ones that I thought I'd share.

The Quad Run

Everybody who goes to John Flynn has to do at least one Quad Run before they leave/get kicked out. The quad is a big grassy area with a few trees in the middle of the college where people play footy, lounge about or go for rides in the resident kangaroos' pouches. At night however, the quad turns into a playground for something a little odd. Flynners from all over come (most of the time a touch intoxicated) to do a couple of laps of the quad, do some pushups, flex their gargantuan biceps and impress the ladies. Twist is, they're butt naked. Shoes are allowed, actually, and Batman capes have become quite fashionable lately.

My only complaint is that I live in L-Deck (also known as The Nunnery or The Convent). L-Deck is separated from the quad by one of the other college buildings, meaning that we miss out on all the Quad Run action. I propose that, since we have a very nice new concrete slab in front of the L-Deck buildings , the Slab Run be incorporated with the Quad Run so that the poor nuns get to see some flesh too.

Gavin Peterson is coot

Nobody knows quite when it happened, but a long time ago there was a boy called Gavin Peterson. Now, Gav was a bit of a ladies' man and was admired by many during his time at John Flynn. One girl happened to be quite taken with Gav, but she apparently wasn't too crash hot in the spelling department. Thus her declaration of affection yields the classic message "Gavin Peterson is coot".

It has become a tradition of John Flynn to write "Gavin Peterson is coot" anywhere and everywhere. You can see it scrawled on toilet doors, under beds, desks, on trees and even on t-shirts. People have seen it written interstate and even overseas. Impressive, eh?

I myself have written it four times in various places. I hate graffiti, but in doing this I feel like I am an exception to the rule - I'm doing my duty as a Flynnian!

The Bongo Van

A while back St Paul's procured a van. Not just any van, but the oldest, crappiest van they could find. They took out the engine and stripped it of anything it didn't really need for its intended purpose. It was christened the Bongo Van. The idea is that the fossils jump in and buckle up (if it even has buckles), then the freshers push it wherever it needs to go. It's one of the main modes of transport to inter-college cricket games.

My very first Bongo Van experience was during the 4.30am wake-up call on the first night at college. We neared the St Paul's carpark and noticed that there was one vehicle that didn't quite look like the others. As in it was lying on its side in the
parking spot.

It is a long-standing tradition that Flynners try to steal the Bongo Van. The greatest story ever told of this was that some bloke went over to the van in the middle of the night, dismantled the whole thing and hung the pieces from the trees in the quad. Brilliant, and it'll be hard to beat. On several occasions we've ventured over to the Bongo Van late at night to see if we could turn ourselves into legendary freshers, and on all of these occasions we've found the van to be heavily guarded. We're talking people sleeping on mattresses around it. Big people. It was unanimously decided to leave our hopes and dreams for later. A lot later.

The Haunted Rooms

This one isn't really a tradition but it's still creepy. There are several rooms in the college that are said to be haunted. We've been told that in the past there was a fireman going around and checking that all the fire extinguishers were in good nick. One of them wasn't and it blew up and killed him. I don't know whether it's true or not, but it still might explain some of the creepy stuff that happens. In one room if you throw open the door it sometimes bounces back - but there's nothing for it to bounce off. In another people complain that at night when they're sleeping they feel something pushing hard on their chests, like somebody's trying to crush them. When they get up to look there's nobody there. Spooky, huh? I guess living in a brand new building has its advantages - nobody's died in it yet. Hopefully, anyway.

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Friday, 17 February 2006


I'm sure many people have fond memories of their first night at college. Undoubtedly there will be a lot of booze, a lot of yelling, a lot of vomiting and then a lot of hangovers. Ours was no different.

First I must explain the fresher dance. Every year at John Flynn (JFC for short) the student exec teaches all the widdle freshers a dance that they have to do whenever they hear the designated song, no matter where they are or what they're doing. This year it's Hung Up by Madonna, and the dance consists of such classic dance moves as the Mr Bean Thrust, the Shopping Trolley, the Sweeper and the Monkey.

You can probably understand that getting up at 4.30am is not enjoyable (Alison will tell you this fairly often). Put that together with a late night of heavy drinking and spewing and you have the sort of cruelty the fossils inflict on the freshers. At said time we rose from the dead to our DAs beating our doors down to get us up and into the quad. Upon arrival the tell-tale tick tock of Hung Up started belting out from somebody's room and we were forced to dance. Alas, this was not the end of the morning's activities. The hundred or so freshers were then rounded up and marched to all the other colleges, where we proceeded to wake them up with rather loud group "GOOD MORNING!!!"s, war cries and (my personal favourite) airhorns. It was a long and difficult journey seeing as though many of us were still a bit tipsy, but we did it in the end and laugh about it now.

Don't you just love O-Week?

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Thursday, 16 February 2006

Welcome to sunny (one so true) Townsville!

Townsville, Townsville, Townsville. What is there to be said about this sleepy little town where all the shops are closed on Sundays, where petrol is 10c cheaper than Sydney and where multi-laned roundabouts pollute the streets like toxic prawns in the Harbour? Well, that's about it actually.

James Cook University is a diamond in the rough of Townsville. One could quite happily live there and not need to venture outside the campus, as long as they didn't have various college activities requiring purchase of outrageous costumes. The Douglas Campus, as it is known, is quite small in comparison to many universities in Sydney. The med students complain about the ten minute walk from the college to the faraway Medical Sciences building. Of course, this arduous trip can be made in two minutes by car, which is an option a number of students choose.

The university is in the middle of a national park, meaning that a great variety of animals can be found mingling with the students. Bush turkeys are apparently quite fond of the smell of the refectory and can be found outside fairly often. Curlews, birds that look like kookaburras with stilts, enjoy late-night shrieking just outside the dorms and are thus the natural enemy of pre-exam students. Besides the birds, it is not uncommon to see kangaroos eating the grass next to your dining hall, butterflies trying to rape your sparkly fresher hat and cane toads hanging out in the puddle of washing machine water. Ahhh, such are the delights of nature.

Among the bizarre trees that congregate in the university grounds, there lie great tombstones...or at least, that's what the buildings look like anyway. There are a number of questionable architectural ventures, for example the Chemistry building

Can't even begin to imagine what they were thinking. Probably about lunch. We can't forget these beautiful window shades adorning several Humanities buildings. Note that this is the closest area to the colleges and takes a horrendous 3 minute walk from door to door.

The two general main lecture theatres are the HLT and CLT. The big sign outside the HLT says "Sir George Kneipp Auditorium" and the CLT hardly even has a sign, so it is only by word of mouth that we know where and what either actually is. Then there's the matter of what HLT and CLT really stand for. Most people get the 'Lecture Theatre' part out, but the H and the C are still a mystery even to the uni admin staff I asked. Upon asking a second year I solved the dilemma: "Huge Lecture Theatre" and "Crappy Lecture Theatre".

That's the uni sorted, what about the colleges? There are seven on-campus colleges and anyone who lives off campus wants to live on-campus. Until this week, I thought the movies had hammed college life up. I was wrong. It's even more crazy.

For example, take my college: The John Flynn College. John Flynn has its foundations based firmly on Christian values, and last year's fresher shirt read "Flynners do it like ANIMALS!". I've never come across the terms 'fresher' and 'fossil' in Australia until now. A fresher is a brand new shiny uni student and a fossil is a returning student. Upon arrival at John Flynn in 2006 all the freshers are greeted by the student executive committee and given a sparkly hat with their name on it. They are not to remove the hat unless showering or sleeping - it is to be worn at all times. Punishment for not wearing it varies from standing on a chair and singing Mary had a Little Lamb to pushups and having to introduce yourself to everyone with a megaphone, among others. There are many variations of the sparkly hat in evidence. Showercaps, stripey bibs, foam visors, bandanas and dorky caps with the peak pointing up have all been used by the different colleges over the years.

Further analysis will be given to life at JCU and JFC a little later, as they are playing Madonna's Hung Up and I must go out and do the fresher dance to it.

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