NSW Schools Spectacular(s)

Other than Mongolian rock I have been featuring the NSW Schools Spectacular on my Facebook recently, usually with an expression of pride in the achievement these events represent on behalf of all the NSW state schools. Sadly: “It is with a heavy heart that we announce that the 2020 Schools Spectacular is cancelled.”

The NSW Schools Spectacular is an Australian variety show featuring more than 5,500 students from public schools across New South Wales and was performed annually at the Sydney Entertainment Centre (later known as Qantas Credit Union Arena) between 1984 and 2015, after which the venue was permanently closed. In 2016, it moved to Sydney Olympic Park, and found its new home at Qudos Bank Arena. — Wikipedia

Let me focus on just 2016.

2016 had some outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island input, particularly this young man, 16 at the time, Sebastian Kelly-Toiava from Macquarie Fields High School in Sydney’s southwest.

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Here he is showing amazing passion in the anthemic Took the Children Away by Archie Roach.

This story’s right, this story’s true
I would not tell lies to you
Like the promises they did not keep
And how they fenced us in like sheep.
Said to us come take our hand
Sent us off to mission land.
Taught us to read, to write and pray
Then they took the children away,
Took the children away,
The children away.
Snatched from their mother’s breast
Said this is for the best
Took them away.

And in the even more anthemic Treaty by Yothu Yindi, including sections in language.

In 2016 another of the featured singers was Fletcher Pilon from the NSW Central Coast.  At 14 he had won the 2016 Australia’s Got Talent, and that is in itself quite a story. The second video below tells it.  In the Schools Spectacular he performed Ed Sheeran’s I See Fire.

Now to his audition performance for Australia’s Got Talent. “In August 2015, 10-year-old Banjo Pilon, Fletcher’s brother, was hit by a car while skateboarding and died. After his death, Fletcher wrote the song ‘Infinite Child’ in honour of his brother.” — Wikipedia.

I challenge you to watch this dry-eyed.

No, really! What genius is even thinking about this!

Isn’t this one of the most beautiful flowers you have ever seen? I think so, and have ever since seeing them in the wild 60+ years ago!


See Telopea speciosissima or Waratah. It is the floral emblem of NSW.


Apparently some turkeys want to change that! To quote Peter Hannam’s report in the Sydney Morning Herald:

No flower may be “so proud and stately and grand as the waratah”, so a popular book once told our children, but it seems devotion to the fiery red NSW emblem is fading within parts of the Berejiklian government.

The Department of Customer Service, which oversees branding, says it has “no plans” to ditch the waratah as the state’s logo, but leaked details of focus groups suggest some government staffers have other ideas….

The leak surprised government officials with one senior member on Sunday saying it would be “a bloody bad thing” to replace the waratah….

Too right it would be a bad idea!

The Herald poll seems to agree.

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My 1957: Kirrawee, Gymea, Grays Point

I have posted before on this year when I turned 14: 1957 or MCMLVII.


Avery Avenue, Kirrawee, where I lived 1956 through 1958, behind the tree on the left. And yes, we were close to transport. That’s the Cronulla line on the right. It took about an hour and a quarter to get to SBHS from here.

See also More “Neil’s Decades” –8: 1956 — 1, Random Friday memory 24: riding the red rattler, Random Friday memory 30: spotting the Pardalote, Friday nights in 1957 at Waratah Street West Sutherland, and most recently More 1950s Shire nostalgia.

Our part of Kirrawee was still showing traces of a semi-rural past, and nearby were the Royal National Park and other patches of bushland. In 1957-8 especially I would often explore the area either alone or with friends from Sydney Boys High. One walk I particularly liked was down to Grays Point, partly along the road, partly through the bush.

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Things one saw along the way:

8013688 The now heritage listed natural stone bridge over Dents Creek


Gymea Lilies


Around Grays Point

Among my picture sources: Discover Gymea Bay, Mapio.net.