Friday, December 20, 2019

Australia tour - Part 2

Wednesday, Dec 18

Easily the day my wife and I will savour for the rest of our lives - - the day our son graduated from the University of Wollongong.

We started from our Burwood residence in a rented car for Wollongong around 7.15 am. Reached the Univ around 8.45 am. There we met one of the friends of my son, and his parents. The students were all dressed in the formal graduation attire, in gown and mortar board. 

After a light breakfast at the Univ cafeteria, we headed to the auditorium. Son and other graduates were seated in a group to the right of the hall, while we sat to the left. 

First it was the turn of the undergrads. Then came the post-grad students. We craned our necks to see when son's turn would come. We waited and waited, like any parent would. 

Finally, we saw him stand up and join the queue to walk up to the stage. He moved forward, climbed the short flight of stairs to the stage and when his name was called out, he made his way to the centre and stood before the chancellor. 

Handshake, handing over of the certificate, touch of the edge of the cap, and a bow of the head, in keeping with the time-honoured tradition. 

At the end of the entire event, which lasted nearly 90 minutes, the friends and relatives of the students stood up to give a standing ovation to all the students who graduated.

Then followed refreshments and multiple photo sessions in front of the University name board and emblem. It was the formal culmination of two years of rigorous training, and the beginning of a new phase in the students' life. 

We then went to the Wollongong Harbour and had lunch. In some parts of Sydney mercury had risen to record level, while at the Harbour it was gusts of strong cool breeze. 

Kangaroo Valley 

It was now time to unwind and chill out for the students, and parents too. I am at Kangaroo Valley, tucked away a good 90 odd km away from Wollongong. 

It's beside the Kangaroo River. The original inhabitants were Aborginala Wodi Wodi people, who were there thousands of years before the English came. 

With so many trees all around in the hilly area, the current bush fires did come to our mind and our thoughts went out to the people who have been affected by it. 

On our way to our rented cottage here we saw boards warning us of presence of animals. We saw what looked like a hedgehog. 

We all - son and his four university mates and their relatives and friends - a group of 16 - are now at a cottage. What a heavenly place! Totally disconnected from the outside world. No mobile connection or internet. The owner stays just across the road. 

There is a group of some 15 kangaroos close to the cottage we are staying in. (Apparently these are not kangaroos, but wallabies, a type or macropod very similar to kangaroos). This is an animal we don't get to see often; an animal that evokes curiosity and amazement in the way it moves around. 

A totally relaxed get together of students and elders. Drinks, snacks, food, songs, jokes, reminiscences, anecdotes, gossips, and some serious conversations too. It's about 1 am. The children are still having fun, while I type this out and save it. All the elders have retired for the day. So too will I now. 

Thursday, Dec 19

We left a Kangaroo Valley at 10 am. There was extreme heat weather warning, and it seemed to be very true, actually burning hot. 

We reached Kiama. It was such a relief that the weather was much cooler here. The major attraction at this seaside spot are two Blowholes: one the big one, and the other a smaller one.

It's all about a spectacular scene of water shooting up into the air through a hole in one of the rocks on the sea front. This happens as a strong wave lashes the rocks. Because of difference in the pressure, some of the waves, as they enter the crevice between two layers of rocks, the water shoots up through the hole in the rock on the top.

The Little Blowhole, some 10 minutes drive from the bigger and more well-known Blowhole, is much more spectacular.

We then came to Wollongong Lighthouse at the Harbour, which was first lit in 1937. It was designed in such a way that it's automatic and doesn't need a lighthouse keeper. The lens dates back to 1862.

We also saw there three artillery guns that were placed there first in 1880, as part of the defences of the Wollongong Harbour. Once they fired a 31 kg shot to a distance of 1.6 km and were manned by the local citizens.

We were back in Sydney around 6 pm. Four school mates of mine, who reside here, and their families, and we met for dinner. It was a good meet up, with sumptuous food and reminiscences of our school days.

(To be continued) 


  1. Congratulations to the graduate.

  2. Congratulations to your son.It is a great moment in one's life
    Happy you could take part in it and in the process tell your readers about the country and many interesting places in detail.Thank you.

  3. Hi Pradeep - congratulations to your son ... and here's to his future. It sounds as though you're quite lucky with the relatively comfortable summer days - poor Australia - just so difficult. Wonderful that you were able to meet up with friends and share your journey with others ... enjoy all that's ahead - cheers Hilary

    1. Thank you Hilary. Yes, we have been quite lucky with the weather. Thanks.