Many years before Schoolies became a headline grabber, the Gold Coast was still a mecca for high school graduates, looking to let their hair down after six years of graft.
My companions for a camping ‘schoolies’ break at Kirra in 1970, were Andrew Clarke, Rodney Jenkins and Phil Batty, with ‘big Phil’ an interloper, given he had left school 12 months earlier to start a printer’s apprenticeship.
There was no alcohol, in our tent, at what is now beachfront Roughton Park. But we got to the pub once or twice, and I remember going to The Cabbage Patch at the Queensland Hotel, Coolangatta, where there was a band playing in the style of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
There was lots of touch football at the camping ground. On one occasion, Phil Batty forgot there was a toilet block in front of him, and hit the wall harder than he had hit any defensive line, during his time as a prop with the Old Boys club at Murwillumbah (where he earned the nickname Cliff, after British prop, Cliff Watson). Phil survived, but the toilet block was never the same.
There were girls. Elizabeth Rowe, who was staying with fellow Murwillumbah High School classmates, Anne Dawson and Sue Darby at Tweed Heads, went out with me one night.
There had been one other end-of-school-year camping trip – to Kingscliff in 1969. The people in the tent opposite us were from Lorikeet Street, Inala in Brisbane. Funny how I recall that detail. ‘The place’ to go in Kingscliff was the picture theatre, where the usher, Warren, ran a tight ship. He didn’t like Jaffas being rolled down the aisle. I think there were canvas seats.
No alcohol, or drugs, on that trip.
Boring, I know.
But at least I remember my ‘Schoolies’.
Footnote: Phil Batty became an executive at Tweed Newspapers, and now lives on the Gold Coast; Andrew Clarke became a teacher, lives at Inverell; Last I heard of Rod Jenkins, he had an indoor cricket centre on the Sunshine Coast. There is a Rod Jenkins who coaches the Australian over-40 indoor cricket team. Could be our Rod.
Photo: Schoolies 1970: (From left) Phil Batty, Rod Jenkins, Andrew Clarke.