Rolf Harris knew he’d stuffed up but it would be 20 years before he fully understood the consequences! This week 9 October marks the 30th anniversary of the Queen closing the Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.
My favourite 1982 story comes
not from the closing ceremony but from the
opening, where thousands of school students
formed a map of Australia with red, white and
blue placards. One of them was Katherine,
now a Taringa hairdresser, who (about 10
years ago) let me in on a little secret.
It seems the children were getting
their cues from Rolf Harris as he sang Tie
Me Kangaroo Down, Sport. Trouble was,
Katherine told me, Rolf forgot the words:
“Good old Rolf missed out a whole verse!”
Years later, I surprised both Katherine
and Rolf by introducing them to each other
on radio. He confessed: “I’d written a special
verse about when the Games are over with
that final hurrah, don’t go rushing home, stay
and have a look around Australia. That was
the gist of the idea, and I forgot all about it.
I’d sung the song for 20 years and you go into
automatic mode. I just left out the last verse.”
Katherine chimed in, laughing: “That was
the cue to turn the placard over and pick up
Rolf replied: “Oh Lord! I mucked your
bit up. I’m terribly sorry. Can I apologise in
Now, whenever Katherine cuts my hair,
she talks about the day Rolf Harris personally
apologised to her!
School trip a hit
In the last issue (bmag, 18 September), I told
you how much I’d been looking forward to
accompanying Jack’s year 7 school trip to
Canberra. I’m pleased to report the week was
everything I had hoped for and more.
Children at that age (11 or 12) are great
company. On the one hand, they’re cheeky
and fun. On the other, they have a real thirst
At the National Gallery, they
were fascinated by the painting technique
and story behind Jackson Pollock’s Blue
Poles (controversially bought by the Whitlam
government for over $1million and now
worth more than $40million).
At the Australian Electoral Commission,
one girl challenged the law that says anyone
given a three-year (or more) prison sentence
cannot vote. Our guide was stumped!
And at Parliament House, when Australia’s
young MP Wyatt Roy asked the students for
the main issues facing Australia in 2012,
hands went up straight away, with climate
change and same-sex marriage topping
In the bus there was much singing and
laughter, and Gangnam Style (look up Psy on
YouTube if you don’t know what that is) was
the dance routine du jour at lunchtime (yes, I
may have been the one who started that!)
The teachers were pretty good company
too! And hard-working! They were on the job
from 7am till 9pm every day.
I saw how being a teacher is as much
about emotional wellbeing as helping
children to learn, not to mention ensuring
you don’t lose anyone along the way!
I also realise now how challenging it
must be for male teachers in this “all men
are paedophiles” society. They have to be
There were several times that
I thought about this (and I know the other six
parents did too).
For example, as we left Brisbane, Jack
asked me to take lots of photos. It took me
a few days to be comfortable doing so if
other children were going to be in them.
(Thankfully I did, as one of Jack’s friends lost
his camera and we were able to send him
photos I had taken).
I always sat myself next to the boys on the
bus, never a girl. I know, I was probably overthinking
it. But then on the last morning,
when one of the boys gave me a big hug
before turning to a male teacher, he was told
kindly but plainly, “we don’t hug teachers”.
It’s a shame that it’s come to that, but you
can understand why.
That aside, I would
strongly encourage any parents who are
given the opportunity to join a school trip or
camp to do so. You’ll enjoy observing your
child in learning situations, interacting with
others and having to be independent, and
you will come away knowing so much more
about your own son or daughter.