VAFA Premier C – The CYs Preview: Uni Daze

Uni Days


There were certain aspects of attending university which I found to be most agreeable. Large amounts of spare time, copious amounts of beer in the pubs adjacent to campus, and – probably because I studied at an all-boys secondary school – the wonder of sharing lectures and tutorials with female students. But overall, life in Parkville felt as comfortable to me as a hair shirt.


This may come as a shock to newbies who walk down Ferguson St trying to decide where to consume their smashed avocado on toast, but in the mid 1980’s Williamstown was about as familiar to most Melbourne University students as Afghanistan. And over the course of their lifetime, they were probably more likely to visit the latter. I vividly recall a girl asking me in an English tutorial just how long it took me to journey in from my western outpost; when I responded “25 minutes” she stared at me as if I was a simpleton. To this day I am unsure whether her silent assessment of me was correct, but I am damn sure that I was not fudging the length of the commute time.


Three decades on, the lectures and tutes have mostly been lost in the fog of time, but there a few memories that remain on the highlights reel. In Economics I barely scraped through with a pass. Which in hindsight was a commendable effort, as the lectures were held at 5pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I did not attend one single lecture during the winter, as footy training was the more alluring option. A stellar effort in Latin in Year 12 encouraged me to continue on with it at uni. It still is a magnum mysterium why I did so. Sitting around a trestle table with a dozen or so Xavier and Geelong Grammar graduates, debating (in that deadest of languages) the rights and wrongs of Aeneas’ relationship with Dido was more excruciating than listening to fingernails scraping down a blackboard. I do not think I ever attended a single British History lecture, but managed to convince a girl (who was not even studying the subject) to attend the lectures and take notes for me. She had such beautiful handwriting.


The end-of-year exams were arduous. Alas, there were no questions regarding the colour of the Formica tables at the Clyde Hotel, or the number of oars above the bar at Naughton’s Hotel. I had unwittingly boned up on those.


Arguably, my greatest achievement at university was the A+ that my Russian History essay received. This was even more meritorious given I had borrowed a number of books on the Bolsheviks and the Revolution from the Williamstown Library only the night before the essay was due. The problem being that it was Tommy who was studying Russian History, and the essay was written with him and Tucky in an all-night sitting during which we drank of slab of Melbourne Bitter. It was an exercise in collaboration and waffle. The lecturer was tipped off by my neat handwriting as compared to Tommy’s usual scrawl.


During my second year, in a game at Como Park, I elbowed my Politics tutor in the head. In return, he gave me a look of disgust which I interpreted to mean that any contribution I made in the future would be more useful only if it were written on toilet paper and used as such. I knew then that my university days were numbered. And since that day, I have maintained a dislike of Old Geelong.


But, as my son recently discovered, I am still available for hire as an essay-writer. We are eagerly awaiting the result. After which I will determine my on-going fee.




About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Great memories Smoke.

    And I do like a well-developed explanation of an antipathy. Like an essay really.

  2. hey smokie I wonder if we were in the same lectures. I remember Economics lectures on Tues and Thursdays at 5.15pm, some even in the Medical building for some reason.
    Economics hah! Let’s assume this, this, this and this. Then that will happen. Always at the end of lecture, just remember these assumptions are not realistic. I could not fathom the point of the subject at all. Dropped it after year 1 and concentrated on statistics.

  3. Smoke – Love that. Naughton’s pub hey! What a place. I had to make my $40pw stretch across as many pots as I could.

    So are you really telling the whole truth when recall that the only thing about the girl who took the lecture notes for you was that she had nice hand writing?? Come on Smoke!!

  4. Jarrod_L says

    Had the misfortune of attempting to enter The Clyde for a beverage during Fresher/O-Week this year after attending a mate’s PhD confirmation. We’d have had more luck breaking into a bank; it was a veritable zoo with music loud enough to substitute for entertainment at the new Perth Stadium. Did bring back some good memories though, I’m sure yours would have been similar, Smokie.

  5. Brilliant Smokie.

    Ahh, uni. Being broke and clueless was never so much fun!

Leave a Comment