A chance encounter with the Primrose Rugby Club

Primrose Rugby Club 2

On a blustery day in September 2012 my wife and I were relaxing in our seats in the rear of a plane on the tarmac at Cape Town’s international airport on our way back to Australia, when a babble of excited voices filled the aircraft and a group of young boys, accompanied by some adults, made their way to where we were sitting. We quietly braced ourselves for a long and noisy flight.

The boys were all dark-skinned and clearly belonged to some sort of sporting club.

Whilst growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid era, I had never once played sport against, nor even sat next to anyone who was not white. Under the laws of the time everything relating to racial matters was separate or ‘apart’ – sport, public transport, park benches, churches, schools, toilets and even public parks.

Having been active in the Anti-Apartheid movement for many years, it was a novel and heart-warming experience for me to share the plane with these excited, dark-skinned youngsters.

Their coach’s seat was not far from mine, on the other side of the aisle. I could tell that he had an excellent rapport with the kids. One of the boys came past and ruffled his hair. When they became too excited and noisy, he called them to order and they quietened down immediately.

“What is the name of your club?” I asked the coach.

“The Primrose Rugby Club. Our boys are going to compete in a rugby competition for Under 13s in New Zealand.”

I had never heard of the Primrose Rugby Club, so I asked him how long the club had been in existence. “It started in 1896,” he said. “It’s a community club. I used to play for them myself when I was young. We have at least one boy here who is going to play for South Africa one day,” he added confidently.

The separation or ‘apartheid’ between races when I grew up was so comprehensive that this rugby club, which had existed not far from where I had lived as a schoolboy, was unfamiliar to me.

“Do your teams sometimes fly to other parts of South Africa to compete?” I asked him.

“Oh no, very few of our players would ever have been in an aeroplane before.”

The excitement amongst the boys was palpable. One of them had taken more than a hundred photos on his digital camera in the plane even before take-off. Another exclaimed: “Look! They even have little televisions in here.” He turned to me. “Could you please show me how to switch this on?”

The plane started moving towards the runway. I asked the young fellow across the aisle from me if he had ever travelled in a plane before. “No, never,” he replied. “I’m very scared!”

As the plane gathered speed on the runway the boys’ voices grew louder and some of them cried out aloud in fright when it lifted off the ground. Suddenly, one of them started singing the post-Apartheid South African national anthem, “Nkosi Sikilel iAfrika” (“Lord Bless Africa”, in the Xhosa language) and all the others immediately joined in to sing their fear of flying away. It was an enthusiastic and beautiful impromptu performance.

Later, back in Melbourne, I googled the Primrose Rugby Club and found an amateur video of the boys on a New Zealand rugby field, standing in line and facing a long line of their young New Zealand opponents, who were performing the haka. I could imagine just how immensely the boys of the Primrose Rugby Club would have enjoyed that moment, and I was grateful that something like this had become possible in my lifetime.

Some months later I googled the Primrose Rugby Club again, curious to know how their tour of New Zealand had gone. One website informed me that they had made history as the first ever international team to have been invited to compete in the prestigious Annual New Zealand Junior Rugby Festival. Then I found a photo on another website that caused me to be overwhelmed with great emotion, as well as with a strange feeling of immense pride. There was the trophy for the Under 13 Champions of the New Zealand Junior Rugby Festival, perched on the shore of Table Bay, with Cape Town in the background.

Primrose Rugby Club trophy

 

*

 POSTSCRIPT

At the time of writing this piece I had tried my utmost to find a contact email address or snail mail address for the Primrose Rugby Club so that I could share this story with them, but to my great frustration I was unable to do so. Then, out of the blue four years later, I received the following message per email:

22 June 2017

Hi There

It was by chance that I came across your article which was written in 2014 about a group of young rugby players setting off to play for the very first time in a foreign country. 🙂 Boys from Primrose Rugby Club.

I was on that plane with those boys and I would love to share your post on my blog: zivs2.wordpress.com

It was a really fascinating story which I would love to share with you some time.

Best regards

Zivia Sallie

 

22 June 2017

Reblogged this on The World of Zivs and commented: It was per chance that I found this article today. To all the Primrose Rugby boys, staff and parents who travelled on this flight with us…I’m sure you will all just be smiling when you read this.

 

22 June 2017

Dear Tim

You cannot imagine my delight in discovering your article this morning. It brought back so many fond memories of this tour and I have already shared with most families linked to that tour.

I will take some time out and email you the details and I am certain you will find it extremely fascinating.

The tour was a great success. We returned to SA with a Silver plate and boys whose lives had been changed forever.

I hope to be in touch sometime soon.

Best Regards

Zivia

 

23 June 2017

I shared your post with many of the parents and they thanked me for sharing because it brought back so many beautiful memories for them too. One of the families now live in New Zealand and the mom, Insaaf, said that she was in tears just remembering that time. She has also travelled with the group.

Zivia

The marvels of modern medicine

In 1983, while working in Port Moresby at the National Library Service of Papua New Guinea, I contracted a terrible ear infection. In time the pain almost drove me insane. Blood, pus and black goo leaked from my ear all day and night. I had to sleep with my head on an old towel and I lost my hearing completely in the infected ear.

Over the next two months I tried two types of ear drops, went to see the doctor five times, underwent an ear syringing, completed five full courses of four different antibiotics and had three injections, with absolutely no effect.

An acquaintance at the University of Papua New Guinea, who had heard about my ongoing problem with the ear infection, rang me and told me that a certain Dr Ghosh, an Indian ear, nose and throat specialist, was in town on a temporary training attachment at the Port Moresby General Hospital. I promptly went to see my doctor and asked him for a referral to see this Dr Ghosh.

On a steaming hot day in March, nearing the end of the wet season, I walked into Dr Ghosh’s office, introduced myself, and told him, “I’m getting really depressed about this ear infection, Doctor. The damn thing appears to be incurable and the pain is driving me around the bend.”

Dr Ghosh raised both his hands as if to fend off my words. “Depressed? Depressed? My dear fellow, there is no need to get depressed. This is the Twentieth Century, after all. We can now cure almost any infection!” I nodded and kept my disbelief to myself.

The doctor proceeded to peer into my ear. “Ha!” he exclaimed triumphantly, after a minute, “no wonder the antibiotics have had no effect. What we have here is a fungal infection, not a bacterial one. Oh, no, no, there are no bacteria in that ear. Only fungus.” He then proceeded to tell me with great merriment how he had recently cured a young fellow’s nose problem by advising him to get married! It was with difficulty that I managed to hide my lagging confidence in the good doctor.

He wrote out a prescription for anti-fungal drops, which he handed to me. He noticed that I was looking a tad sceptical. “Oh,” he said, brimful of confidence, “you use those drops and within three weeks’ time you will say to yourself, ‘My goodness, Dr Ghosh has cured me!’”

Having no alternative but to hope desperately for a miracle cure, I thanked him and set off to the chemist to get the anti-fungal drops. As I was leaving his office he shouted after me, “Depressed? Oh, no, my dear fellow, no need to get depressed! This is the Twentieth Century, after all!”

The prescription I collected from the chemist was for Tinaderm drops. I carefully read the instructions on the label, which stated that Tinaderm would cure things like tinea, foot rot and crotch itch. There was no mention of using them in one’s ear.

I had little choice but to trust Dr Ghosh, so I gritted my teeth and put a few drops into my ear, repeating the process the next morning and the next evening. After two days I woke up in the morning and discovered to my amazement that my ear infection had vanished completely.

“Oh, the marvels of modern medicine,” I mused to myself. “No, no, there was no need to get depressed.”

 

Canberra to Katoomba. Part 2.

Part 2 of our trip.

 After having had such an enjoyable stay in Canberra it was now time to repack the car once again and get away early for our journey onto “Katoomba” which was a day of driving many kilometres.

After an uneventful  drive, we finally reached the Katoomba Falls Tourist Park where we were to stay whilst we explored the walks of the Blue Mountains and  all it had to offer.
20161014_091024

The accommodation was first class and in a beautiful quiet setting and not far from the commencement point to many of the walks.
dsci0203

Whilst light was still on our side we ventured over to the “Furber Steps” that led us to the  lookout point where the panorama of the mountains opened to us and surely lit our visual senses as we were in awe of its magnificence.

For as  far as one could see,mountain ranges,waterfalls,”Mount Jamison” and in the distance the main attraction “The three sisters”could be enjoyed and that set us up emotionally for the experiences we were to have in the coming days.

From this location, the Scenic Skyway cable car could be seen crossing from one side of the escarpment across to the other.20161013_161552

Dusk had now appeared so back to our cabin to settle in for some dinner and a nice bottle of wine  in preparation for a cold 2* night and the following day’s upcoming adventures.

Next morning,with backpacks on we, were off to “Echo Point”via the “Prince Henry’s Cliff” walk which was classified as moderate difficulty,had abundant views, birds abound, magnificent bushland and with the warm early morning sun shining it is but another of life’s experiences I will always treasure.

20161014_102932

Eventually, Echo Point was reached where a completely different perspective of the ranges opened up to us and it is also a location where a never-ending procession of tourist buses stopped to allow the passengers to take close up  photos of the three sisters.

The Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

As lunchtime had arrived we walked about 1/2 K to a restaurant located high on the precipice where we sat outside and enjoyed our lunch and soaked up the wonderful views, after that via another route through the back streets we ventured back to camp.

Later that afternoon after our legs had stopped quivering our next trek was not  far to the “Eaglehawk Lookout” where another splendid walk along a meandering pathway through the bush to the lookout where what we had seen on the morning’s walk showed the massive sheer cliffs that had broken away millions of years ago could be viewed from another angle.

20161013_163910

Next day back at Echo Point a pathway that led down three sets of exceptionally long/steep stairways (so steep that I’m sure the imprints of my hand’s are still on the railings).On reaching the bottom of these stairways a short wooden bridge allowed access to the first of the three sisters where even greater views of the valley could are enjoyed.

20161014_124823

20161014_105343

In addition to the  bush walking we also went to “Scenic World”top station and purchased a daily ticket that enabled us to cross the valley to the eastern station via the Scenic Skyway  cable car and back,we next took the scenic railway (that is the steepest scenic railway in the world (being 52* incline) to the floor of the Jamison Valley and walked the 2.5K elevated boardwalk in the temperate forest then returned by another cable car back to top station. (The boardwalk is the longest elevated one in the world.)

20161015_094159

Well, folks, that’s about it for a brief overview of only some of the highlights of our Katoomba-Blue mountains getaway.

Next morning we fed the cockatoo’s on our balcony, repacked the car for a long journey down to Albury to stay overnight and return back to Bundoora the following morning and pick up the dog (Luckily he was still talking to me).

All in all a fantastic time away from touring the highways, exploring the countryside and in particular coming off the main highway several times to have morning tea/lunch or afternoon tea in very old country towns.

Jacko’s stay at Evans Head, NSW north coast

After leaving Melbourne on October 15, we meandered our way north, hugging the western side of the great divide through spectacular, but winding and steep terrain to Tenterfield, where we crossed to casino, and down to the gorgeous and largely unspoilt township of Evans Head, about 30km south of Ballina. This is our free camp at Black Springs on the way up.img_0396

The weather has been sensational and we haven’t been out of shorts and T-shirts since we arrived, a week ago. We have enjoyed lots of long beach walks, sensational humpback whale watching from several headlands, much fresh deep water fish from the Co-Op, other great local produce, and the company of the many friendly people we have met in the park.

We are leaving tomorrow for 4 days at Woolgoolga, just north of Coffs Harbour

Estuary inlet at Evans Head. Caravan Park in the trees to the left of the Surf Club

Estuary inlet at Evans Head. Caravan Park in the trees to the left of the Surf Club

BasOMNI on the beach at Evans Head

BasOMNI on the beach at Evans Head

Looking up the estuary to the fishing fleet and Fishermans Co-Op in the distance

Looking up the estuary to the fishing fleet and Fishermans Co-Op in the distance

To Katoomba via Canberra. Part 1.

It was October 10th, 2016 and after dropping our dog off at the boarding kennels we were then heading off to do some trekking/bushwalking in the Blue Mountains at Katoomba, NSW with a stopover in Canberra for a few days before hand to see the local sights.

It rained lightly off and on from Bundoora to Canberra however  the journey was pleasant enough as the Hume highway was in first class condition and although there was flooding most everywhere near Albury the roads were not blocked so that was our gift for the day.

We stopped a couple of times along the way for morning tea and lunch until we neared our destination where we were to stay for a few days  whilst we explored in and around our capital city and surroundings.

The one hiccup we encountered was that the address we were to stay at could not be located by our GPS causing us to drive past the spot by an extra 5 kilometres; on phoning the holiday park for directions they advised due to their location being on the service road that runs parallel to where their address says they are many people find their GPS cannot find  the holiday park.Upon arriving and booking in and unloading our suitcases etc a cuppa and a short nap was the order of the day followed later on by a visit to the local country pub for a nice meal.

Our timing at Canberra was perfect as the Floriade Tulip exhibition (Blooms beyond the garden bed) was on so off to the display to enjoy the color and sunshine.20161011_102331

Our next port of call was Parliament House where we viewed the magnificent exterior of the building,the incredible marble entrance foyer, both the Upper and Lower houses,the portraits of all Australia’s past Prime Ministers as well as taking the elevator to the roof to where the biggest Flagpole I have ever seen proudly displayed our country’s flag.

dsci0171

From the vantage point atop the Parliamentary rooftop, a clear and uninterrupted view bordered by an avenue of trees, all the way up to the Australian War Museum was a sight to  behold .

The War Museum was next on the agenda to visit and the feeling of walking through the main entrance to see the memorial pool left a sensation of being in a sacred place.

20161011_123443The tour guide was excellent and shared many stories of horrific circumstances and heroism of both our men and women who suffered greatly during  the first and second world war,Korea, and Vietnam and reinforced how much we  owe  to those that fought,sacrificed and died for the freedom we so enjoy now!

Several of the battles were displayed in what is called a Diorama which is a scaled down pictorial version of fighting taken from photographs of that time and made into model form approximately six meters long .

20161011_125457

As time was still on our side the National Museum of Australia was next on our list so once again off we went and spent a couple of hours there enjoying old and  new Australiana plus an excellent exhibition of Egyptian artifacts on loan from the London museum.

Day three of our stay and off we head to the summit of Black Mountain  where the goliath “Telstra“transmission tower is located.It stands over 192  meters in height has 360* views from the restaurant located 62 meters above ground and has views of Canberra and countryside that takes one’s breath away.

20161012_113005

That afternoon after setting the GPS our next destination was the “Australian Coin Mint.”The mint was very interesting and showcased a historical collection of metal currencies from early settler times up to the present age.

A complete story of coin manufacture from sourcing materials,weighing,coin design, punching coin blanks through to the final pressing of the coin was explained and very interesting.

Late afternoon soon arrived which gave us just enough time to visit the “Australian Natural Botanic Garden” that enabled us to tour the “Eucalyptus Discovery Walk“where a huge variety of gums consisting of twenty different species were punctuated throughout a 1.8 kilometer walk  that also included a rainforest,gullies of ferns,red desert display and many other features that took over an hour to enjoy.

In conclusion, it is a must if you have never been to Canberra before as it  would have to be amongst one of the neatest ,well designed,treed and gardened place I have encountered,be sure not to miss it.

Part 2 of the journey to Katoomba will follow in the next blog!