The Portal, Scotch College, Melbourne, Australia

Piano Lessons by Anna Goldsworthy


Piano lessons by Anna Goldsworthy is an elegantly constructed and deeply evocative memoir. It tells the story of Anna’s growth from a talented 9 year old piano player to virtuoso under the expert tutelage of Mrs. Sivan. Told with great humour and emotion, I highly recommend this book, especially to those students, staff and parents with a love of music.

Ophelia Hopkins
( Teacher of Drama )

If I grow up by Todd Strasser


The Frederick Douglas Housing Project is not a pretty place to grow up. Gunshots, drug lords and gang leaders impact the lives of the young people living there every day. DeShawn is smart and wants to avoid the joining the gang bangers because he knows that they all end up dead or in jail. But as his family goes hungry and struggles to survive, it is harder for him to stay in school and keep clean. This is a grim world and there is little real choice for our protagonist. It is bleak and disturbing, yet makes compelling reading.


Mr Peter Hillman

Marked by Denis Martin

 Cully’s life in a small town on the Coramandel Peninsula, NZ should be quiet and uneventful. Then he meets Kat and his young life is transformed. Unfortunately she is aloof and not in the slightest bit interested in him to begin with. The he notices that she is being followed and her explanation leaves him unsatisfied. Quickly the scene escalates and there are bodies, action, adventure and suspense abounding. This book is a perfect foil to wean young male readers from Muchamore’s formulaic writing and open the door to a wider range of books. Martin is a NZ author with a growing reputation and the book is written in an easy style but makes compelling reading.


Mr Peter Hillman

My Swans Family by William P.

My grandmother was raised as a South Melbourne supporter. Unluckily, she was born the year after South won the 1933 premiership. South Melbourne were one of the great teams at the time but when she was a young girl that came to came to a halt. They missed the finals in 1946 after losing the infamous ‘Bloodbath Grand Final’ in 1945.

She stayed loyal to the Bloods throughout their finals drought until 1970 and again in 1977 when they finished fifth.

My father was born in 1960 and was raised as a South supporter as well, as were his two brothers born in 1962 and 1966 and twin sisters born in 1971. All die-hard Swans fans they supported South as kids and, though disappointed, followed them through their move to Sydney in 1982, 49 years after the Swans last premiership.

Then it came to the year 1996. The Swans finished top of the ladder and looked like potential premiership winners after a 63 year drought. They won the first qualifying final against Hawthorn by a goal in a thriller, but North Melbourne who finished second on the ladder won their final against Geelong easily. Two weeks later playing Essendon in a preliminary final the Swans scraped through by a single point with the help of Tony Lockett’s huge point after the siren. My father took my elder brother who had just turned two to the Grand Final between North and South. The Swans outplayed North in the first quarter and lead by 18 points at quarter-time only for North to come back and win by 43 points. My Father then walked five kilometres home crying all the way.


It all started up again in 2005. My uncle joined the board of the Swans and all of the family was still supporting them, of course. My grandmother who has given the swans craze to the family had five kids who were all married and eight grandchildren (with another five still to come!). At the end of the home and away season the Swans were fourth on the ladder and went over to Perth to play the qualifying final against West Coast. They lost in a cliff-hanger against them.


The next week they played in Sydney against Geelong. They were down by 23 points early in the fourth quarter. My mother repeatedly told me to go to bed thinking we were going to lose. I didn’t listen to a word she said and stayed up to watch the rest of the match. My mother was then proved wrong by Nick Davis coming to save us with four final-quarter goals to get us over the line by three points. Then two days after my sixth birthday we played against St Kilda in the preliminary final. There was a bet on at the time between my aunty and uncle-in- law, that uncle was the only in-law who did not agree to follow the Swans tradition and kept supporting St Kilda. My aunty was pregnant and the bet was that the winner of that final the child would barrack for. At three quarter time the Saints were up by seven points, but the Swans stormed home to win by 31 points.


We then met West Coast in the Grand Final. I sat with all of my Swans relatives at the game. It was close all game and very low-scoring, leading by just two points at three-quarter time. It came down to the last 30 seconds, Leo Barry kicked out from the back pocket straight to Dean Cox who then Kicked straight back in. I saw everyone jump up. Being only 6 I could not see over anyone. I thought all the people who had jumped up were West Coast supporters. Then I heard the siren and realised that Leo had taken the mark.


My grandmother and the rest of my family had seen us win a premiership for the first time. My whole family was ecstatic and my father was crying. I almost felt guilty that I only had to wait six years but for my Grandmother it had taken 71 years for her to see one. She was absolutely thrilled. She saw her mighty Bloods win with all of her family.


Leigh Sullivan remembers the 2010 AFL Grand Final.

Hello from Vanessa O’Neill…

I am very much looking forward to running the Playing With Shakespeare sessions for Years 11 and 12, on Friday, exploring scenes from Hamlet and Antony and Cleopatra. If you have any questions about these plays or about Shakespeare in general, I am very happy to do my best to try to answer them…

Footy report: William P tells the story of his family’s passion for the mighty Bloods

Read William P’s terrific piece about following the Swans (the premiers, yayyyy!) at

Click here to read William’s yarn

and more from Rob Hamill…

Hi there again!  I forgot to mention in the previous post that during my presentation I will briefly mention someone who is perhaps New Zealand’s most famous person: Sir Edmond Hillary.  It’s not essential but if you’d like to do a little research on him then go for it!


Also, here is the trailer to the film Brother Number One.  The full film is 100 minutes long.  In the workshop I will be showing an abbreviated version.  We will then discuss following the screening.


See you all soon!



Bob the Garbo Competition

Who can write the best version of this story devised with Danny Katz today? Don’t forget to  include Justinette and the mega garbage truck! Entries close Friday 16th Aug. A fantastic prize will be awarded to the winner!

Rob Hamill writes to you…

Hi there!  I’m looking forward to joining you at the festival and hope the time spent together will be mutually beneficial.  Just to let you know, if you don’t already know, my presentation will encompass two main areas of content: the sport/adventure of ocean rowing and my pilgrimage to Cambodia to discover the truth on what happened to my eldest brother Kerry who was murdered by the Khmer Rouge regime.


It’s not essential but if you feel the urge to do a bit of research you might like to google Khmer Rouge/Pol Pot/Toul Sleng/Comrade Duch/ECCC war crimes tribunal.  You might also like to go to the following link that has study guides covering English and Media Studies, History and Social Studies relating to the film and Khmer Rouge regime


I’m happy to answer any questions you might have prior to my address or after the festival has finished.  I would of course love to hear your questions first hand following my presentation and/or the showing of Brother Number One.


Until then….



Brother Number One DVD, trailer and study guide