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May 2, 2009


Snow Gum in the Snowy Mountains

Snow Gum in the Snowy Mountains

This is my first individual blog, and I’ve decided to name it taking words from my old high school song.  I have never forgotten it – perhaps because it seems so atypical in its “floweriness”. Here it is:

Minerva, by our southern seas,
Her sacred groves replanted
With whispering gums to woo the breeze
That floats o’er lands enchanted.
With ageless hills she rimmed her bower,
Her sunlit shrine of learning,
And here we keep through shine and shower
The Torch of knowledge burning.

Then grasp the torch another hand
Has cast for our endeavor,
By faith with fortitude this brand
We’ll keep aflame forever.

The treasures time has handed down.
Were dearly bought by sages,
The poison cup, the martyr’s crown
Lay guerdon through the ages.
Their faith with fortitude we’ll make
The mould of our endeavor,
And Hornsby, pride of place will take
Among the schools forever.

I should add that our logo was “the torch of knowledge” and motto “faith with fortitude”. Anyhow, my main aim is to talk books and reading, but who knows, I might talk about other things as well. I’ll just see how it goes.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2009 01:07

    Thanks for the background. I love the line “with whispering gums to woo the breeze” — it just carries me back to so many wonderful moments in Australia — particularly when camping out beneath those whispering gums.

  2. whisperinggums permalink*
    August 8, 2009 13:37

    Thanks Waltzing Matilda. I love that line too … obviously. I left that school nearly 40 years ago (yikes!) but I have never forgotten that line. Glad you enjoyed our gums too!

    • Glenda Price permalink
      May 23, 2010 00:03

      I left that school 42 years ago when I completed Grade 10. When I read the first lines of the song I knew it was from Hornsby even though I had not thought of it since then. Imprinted in us? Looks like we may have been in the same year . I’ve just returned (I live in Switzerland) from 8 days in Oz celebrating my mother’s 80th birthday with my family. Apart from the sunny weather I just loved seeing gums again.

      • May 23, 2010 00:11

        Great to hear from you Glenda – I wondered if I’d ever flush out any Hornsby-ites here. I have never fogotten that song – it seems so different to most rah-rah school songs. Anyhow, as you say, it sounds like we may have been in the same year. I was in 4th form/year 10 in 1968 (the old School Certificate). My Mum turned 80 last year – and my Dad 90 yesterday (well, two days ago now I realised as it’s after midnight here). I live in Canberra. Switzerland is lovely – though must admit I’ve only ever gone through it on a train – never stopped there.

  3. Glenda Price permalink
    May 25, 2010 06:27

    Yes, I was in Grade 10 in 1968! I then left to go to boarding school in Moss Vale. I love reading (I’m also an English teacher) which is how I stumbled on your blog. I enjoy reading A Striped Armchair – I think I came to you through one of the other blogs she links to. I remember I had a fabulous, young, English teacher in Grade 9 who left after that year and I think she went to Canberra – can’t remember her name. I’ll never forget her taking us outside to act out one of Shakespeare’s Henry’s. Pretty innovative for the time.

    • jill andersen permalink
      May 14, 2015 22:43

      Hi Glenda…I am also an old Hornsby girl. I was in year 12 in 1969. I too had a fantastic English teacher, young and inspiring. Her name was Miss Hoare I think. She got married around that time and I don’t remember her married name, but she was a great teacher.

      • May 14, 2015 22:57

        I love that I’ve flushed out a few Old Girls here. It was a great school. I remember a great English teacher in third form (year 9) – I was same year as Glenda. As Glenda said she had us do Henry V (at least that one anyhow). She also organised an end of year 1930s style review. There was a Miss Hoare but I’m not sure that was this teacher though I may be wrong. I’ll see if I can find it in the old Torch mags. I still have some.

  4. RubyGoes permalink
    July 10, 2011 20:24

    Thanks for using my pic.

    • July 10, 2011 20:26

      It’s a good pic — hope I attributed it properly. I try to do the right thing but am not always sure of getting all the coding right.

  5. June 8, 2014 18:52

    Cool 🙂

  6. Carol Ann permalink
    September 12, 2014 05:22

    Well, I’m glad I read that poem. Since, being the literalist I am, I attributed the name to a self deprecating euphemism of an aged writer who likes to write with her dentures out. (I was guessing about the gender until I Googled Hornsby.)

    This is a blog I hope to enjoy, although you are a little young. I have been exploring the world of blogging and hope to become a blogger when I am settled into my new role of widowhood. I am a voracious reader who is never without a book. But, I have become quite impatient with not finding other readers who insist in really good words and ideas. For twelve years I tried to raise the level of expectation in a book club I started as an expat in a foreign country. Still, some were only satisfied to read books they ‘felt good’ (pleasantly entertained) reading. Anything too provocative or stimulating was viewed askance. At least, we did venture beyond the novel, though, which my present book club (in Columbus, Ohio, USA) does not.

    My personal reading is pretty eclectic. My most life-changing book is Chaos by James Gleick, a MIT type book about science history and the development of chaos physics. I also follow astrophysics…namely through Neal deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium in NY, NY. A brilliant protege of

    You have an agile mind. I look forward to your posts.

    Carol Ann

    • September 12, 2014 08:06

      Thanks for this lovely response Carol Ann. Being so surrounded by Gum Trees it hadn’t occurred to me, though as a reader it should have, the whispering gums would be taken another way. But, I have had some funny searches find my blog based on the dental implications! Makes me doubly gold that I wrote that post about my name.

      Sorry to hear you are widowed. That must make for a big readjustment in your life. Sounds like a blog might be a great thing for you to try. And if you do, come back and let me know.

      I know what up mean about reading groups. I’ve been very lucky. I was a founding member of mine. It’s been going for 26 years and we read great stuff. Occasionally some will opt out of something really grim but we do look for books with meat. We often read the Booker and Miles Franklin winners, the odd Pulitzer, some nonfiction, some translated works, and every now and then we have a poetry evening. The main question asked when a book is put forward is, “is their enough to talk about?” And by that we mean something more than the usual Bookgroup questions like “what would you do?” But how was it written, what does it tell us about society, has the author conveyed his/her themes clearly, etc.

      I’ve travelled quite a bit in the USA but haven’t been to the Midwest States. I guess you hear that all the time! I’d i remember correctly, you are where And the ladies of the club was set? I loved that for its social history.

  7. Rosemary permalink
    May 13, 2015 13:06

    I was contemplating wisdom today, and the first line of my old high school song came to my mind. I googled “Minerva by our southern seas” and voila!- your blog. I was in Grade 12 at Hornsby Girls’ High in 1969.. Thank you for providing the rest of the words! I now live in Washington State, USA but still return to Sydney to visit my family there- and my friends from HGHS.

    • May 13, 2015 19:53

      Oh, I’m pretty sure I know who you are Rosemary … your family went to the same church as mine. If you’d like to email me at the email address I’ve provided on the blog, I’d love to talk more.

  8. Deepika Ramesh permalink
    February 25, 2016 05:27

    I have always wondered about your blog name. I am glad I found this. 🙂 That’s such a lovely song. I am in awe of our ability to remember songs that we learnt when we were really young. I cannot remember the lyrics of the songs that released last year, despite listening to them a hundred times. 😉

    I love the phrase ‘Whispering Gums’. So beautiful!

    • February 25, 2016 07:00

      Thanks Deepika. Fascinating how we tend to remember anything from our youth so much better! Fascinating, and sad in a way. I’d love to remember recently read quotes, poems etc. glad you love my name. I love it too, despite the fact that some searches finding it are from people with dental problems!

  9. Prisha permalink
    May 9, 2017 14:33

    I’m in year 7 at Hornsby Girls now!

    • May 9, 2017 15:40

      Hello Trisha. How lovely of you to find my blog and tell me. I hope you have a happy time there. I have good memories of my school days, and some friends who have stayed over the years.

  10. May 13, 2017 12:29

    thats my school song

    • May 13, 2017 21:15

      Then you must go to the same school that I did, a long time ago. I love that the song has survived all these years.

  11. AwesomeMe permalink
    April 9, 2018 17:10

    🙂 I also happen to be from HGHS.

  12. Marilyn Hood permalink
    May 30, 2018 13:08

    I am a student at macquarie university writing a review of Tara Winton’s Swallow the Air. I have read your post and would like to cite it but cannot find your name anywhere.

    • May 30, 2018 14:08

      Hi Marilyn. That’s my alma mater! I don’t reveal my full name on my blog. Whispering Gums is my pseudonym. However if you need my real name please email me at the gmail address given and I’ll tell you my name.

  13. Kerrie Lyon (need Parnell) permalink
    March 7, 2020 10:21

    I stumbled across your blog whilst jogging my memory with the words of my school song. Yes, I too, am an ‘old girl’. Enjoying your blog.

    • March 7, 2020 11:08

      Haha Kerrie. I’m glad you found it then. I really always loved that song. My reading group is named Minerva because of it (or, did I say that in the post?) Anyhow, thanks so much for wmmenhng. I had a Kerrie in my group of funds-but different last name.


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