Welcome to the Swan Hills page

Swan Hills branch has an exciting program of Guest Speakers at our weekly Friday afternoon meetings at 1:30 PM at North Metropolitan TAFE – Midland Campus, Eddie Barron Drive off Lloyd Street, in Lecture Theatre Block “D” behind the Administration Block “A”. Visitors are always welcome.

Contact persons: Catherine, Email: catbax88@hotmail.com; Richard, Mobile 0419 911 918

Our Activity Groups:  Swan Hills encourages you to join our stimulating and social activities we offer seniors in the Midland and Eastern Hills area.

Brain Games:  is held on the 4th Tuesday of each month at 10:00am. Inquiries to Denise on 0417 934 406.

Discussion Group:  Meets at 11:30am on the 2nd Friday of each month at the Tafe Lecture Theatre Midland. Inquiries to Janice on 0437 477 297.

Coffee Morning:  meets at 10.00am on the 4th Wednesday of each month at varied venues. Inquiries to Lyn on  0437 477 297.

Study Group:  is held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month 10.30am —12noon and is online via Zoom. Inquiries to Janice on 0437 477 297.

Retro Film Group:  Held at a private residence. Starting in February on Wednesday 8th with “The Book Thief”. Inquiries to Denise on 0417 934 406.

Mahjong Group:  Meets every Thursday at 1:00pm. Inquiries to Catherine on 0400 952 585

Social Lunches:  Are held every 5th Wednesday at 12 noon at selected venues. Inquiries to Denise on 0417 934 406

Feb – April Program

Tactics of competitive sailing

Jerome Toonen and Tony Harding

Friday 10th June, U3A, Swan Hills, was visited by Jerome Toonen who is very involved with training young and old in sailing at Maylands Yacht Club. Jerome presented a brief history of the use of sails on boats and ships throughout history and followed up with telling us enthusiastically about his love of sailing since he was 10 years old in Tasmania, its tactics and rules. Australia has done well in sailing at major international competitions, including the Olympic Games, at which we won gold in the Laser Class once again last year.  Here Jerome is talking to Tony Harding, our president, who was a keen sailor in his young days. Afterwards, Denise Beer thanked Jerome for an entertaining presentation.


From Red Dog to Desert Vet

Dr Rick Fenny presenting his Red Dog

On Friday 27th May, Dr Rick Fenny held a very interesting talk at U3A, Swan Hills, about his life and how he came to love red heelers above any other breed of dog since his childhood. As a veterinarian in the Pilbara he was brought into contact with the real Red Dog who gave name to the much loved film of the same name and showed also how he himself was portrayed in that film. During the talk his present, very friendly, red heeler joined him to everybody’s delight. It went around to say hello to everyone.  Dr Fenny’s story was loved by all, and Jill Southgate thanked him for a warm and heartfelt tale.




The Dreyfus Affair

Tony Harding thanking John Macdonald

On 13th May, U3A, Swan Hills, listened to a well-researched talk by John Macdonald about the Alfred Dreyfus spy story from the 1890’s. It was a time of Germany’s build-up of its armed forces and its attempts to be a colonial power. The story showed the strong anti-Jewish sentiments in France by its conviction of A. Dreyfus, the innocent French Jewish artillery officer. Tony Harding thanked John for his lovely clarification of the well-known case.







Camera in Captivity

Yvonne Miller thanks Stuart Usher

Stuart Usher gave U3A, Swan Hills, a wonderful talk on Camera in Captivity, which is about how private George Aspinall of the Australian army in Singapore during WWII photographed as much as he could with his fold-out camera during his time in the defence of Singapore and later as a prisoner of war which he survived. Everybody in the audience enjoyed George Aspinall’s photographs which were so successful that the allied command used them at the war trials against the Japanese after the war. How could he do it without the knowledge of the Japanese, occupying, army? Stuart will tell you. Yvonne Miller thanked Stuart for an extremely interesting presentation.

John Kinder-Brown

Friday 6th May Swan Hills was visited by John Kinder-Browne, whose travel to Western and Central Turkey was the subject of an entertaining afternoon including beautiful photography, historical details of the region and harassments by the locals. The large number of questions afterwards showed everybody wanted more. Eira Peel thanked John for a lovely presentation.




Swan Hills Visits Perth Mint

The 29th April, 19 members from Swan Hills had a wonderful, entertaining and informative excursion to Perth Mint. The Perth Mint was once producing common day legal coinage, nowadays it produces gold bars and commemorative coinage for investors and collectors. Today, common legal tender is printed in Canberra. The Perth Mint has a great collection of natural gold specimens and gold coins, the 1-tonne gold coin will be remembered, and the gold pour and the story of the room in which it takes place is always a winner with the tourists. Afterwards all enjoyed a welcome lunch at The Grosvenor Hotel opposite Perth Mint. It is lovely to be a tourist in your own city.

Clive Stubbington

On Friday 22nd April U3A, Swan Hills, enjoyed a wonderful show by Clive Stubbington, Lesmurdie U3A, about his walks along The Bibbulmun Track from Mundaring to Albany on the south coast, which he will complete later this year. Clive entertained all with his showing of what he carries with him in his backpack and with his photos of his experiences along the track, including the sleep-overs available. Afterwards Tony Harding thanked Clive for his presentation and congratulated him on his stamina.



Eric McCrum – the Wallace Line

Catherine Baxter thanking Eric McCrum

On 8th April U3A, Swan Hills, had a visit by the legendary Eric McCrum OAM, Western Australia’s nature specialist and our treasure. Eric presented the Wallace Line down through Indonesia by help of dominantly orchids running us like a classroom of students by testing our knowledge, all in good fun. Afterwards, Catherine Baxter thanked Eric for his lively and engaging presentation regretting Eric hadn’t been her teacher of natural studies when she went to school.

History of Gold Exploration in WA

On 1st April Niels Dahl, U3A Swan Hills, presented to Swan Hills’ members a compilation of the history of gold exploration and mining in Western Australia through times as an introduction to Swan Hills’ visit to Perth Mint on 29th April. Niels presented the origin of gold in the universe, the history of exploration in WA and how gold is an addictive ‘drug’ to some through evidence of the wild west in which we still live. Tony Harding thanked Niels for a lively and enlightening presentation.


On 25th March Swan Hills U3A enjoyed a lovely presentation of fans by Kate Gentelli from Bellevue Bells Lace Group. Kate showed the wide range of fans she has come across in the world from Japan via Europe to the Americas by bringing many examples. It seems fans is big business. Kate makes her own patterns, at times with a hidden meaning, to suit the sticks in the fans she is making, and the delicate work can take days to complete for just one fan. Lyn Dahl, who now appreciates her own fans even more, thanked Kate for a delightful talk.






Birds of the Perth Hills

On 18th March Swan Hills U3A had a most enlightening introduction to a very proficient young lady from Gidgegannup in Perth Hills 20km from Midland, Talitha Huston. During 2 of her teenage years Talitha compiled her photographs of all the birds, 50 in all, that visited her garden and put them together in a book which is now for sale, Birds of the Perth Hills. So far, more than 3000 copies have been sold. She nearly lost all her data when her hard drive collapsed, but $1000 later they were retrieved in Melbourne. From her experience she provided us with a range of tips about photographing birds.
For each bird, she has described its habitat, breeding pattern, diet, differences between males and females and with a hand coloured map its distribution in Australia. As the first among authors of birds, she has included a Skittish Scale for the birds from 1 to 10.
Talitha has now completed high school and has presently a gap year before studying environmental science and film making. We wish her all the best. After the talk, Niels Dahl thanked Talitha for a very entertaining presentation.

Travels to Mongolia

Friday 4th March Yvonne Miller entertained U3A Swan Hills with wonderful slides from hers and her husband James’ travels to Mongolia in 2011. We learnt about the importance of the Nandam Festival in which Mongolians compete in horse riding, archery and wrestling. While able-bodied men participate in all the sports, teenagers and elderly men join them in horse riding and archery. Women also competed amongst themselves in archery. Yvonne’s and James’ experiences living in yurts and seeing the daily life of Mongolians on the steppes and into the desert finished our fantastic afternoon. Afterwards Jan Fowler, our world traveller and left on the photo, thanked Yvonne for her very interesting presentation.




Friday 11 March U3A Swan Hills had a late cancellation on the morning of the scheduled presentation about the sky by Quinton Tucker due to Covid 19. Niels Dahl stepped in with a hastily assembled  presentation about vikings, their culture, travels and settlements. Yvonne Miller afterwards thanked Niels for a lively presentation, following which we had a couple of lovely poems by our branch president, Tony Harding, read to us by Tony.





London Life in the 18th Century

On Friday 24th February Swan Hills members enjoyed an entertaining presentation by Elton Brown about life in London in the 18th century as depicted in incredibly detailed paintings and engravings by the contemporary artist William Hogarth. Here Pauline Zani thanks Elton for the wonderful compilation of William Hogarth’s sense of humour with one of Hogarth’s paintings (about arranged marriages) in the background.




The Story of Charles Burns

A wonderful presentation  by Richard Waller of Charles Burns, the first Aboriginal boy at Guildford Grammar School, who later served in both WWI and WWII. Charles Burns from Wyndham in Western Australia was taken under the wings of the Drake-Brockman family in Perth in 1905 and Richard portrayed his association with his adopted family and his life. Richard also revealed details of the Drake-Brockman family branches that touched Charles to explain to us their extraordinary characters.  Afterwards Gillian Teraci thanked Richard for his delightful talk.





Talk by Denise Beer

Denise Beer reminisced to Swan Hills about her time at the Institute for the Blind. Some inspirational tales of people overcoming adversary to achieve great things. Member Joy thanks Denise for her insights.







Swan Hills Start 2022 with Lunch

Swan Hills started the year as they finished it with a wonderful lunch, this time at Pinneli in the beautiful Swan Valley. A good time had by all.

Swan Hills Christmas Lunch

Swan Hills U3A finished the year with Christmas lunch at Mundaring Hotel. A wonderful day in the Hills.

Swan Hills / Lesmurdie Hills Open Day

Join U3A Lesmurdie Hills and U3A Swan Hills at our Open Day and enjoy a cuppa on us. Discover stimulating and social activities in the Kalamunda, Midland and Eastern Hills area. Interesting Speakers, tea and coffee, social activities and more.

Tuesday 18 January 2022 10:00 AM to Noon

Falls Farm: 42 Cagney Place Lesmurdie

For more information call Heidi on 0437 441 024

Swan Hills AGM

Swan Hills U3A held their AGM this Friday. The new committee poses with members at North Metropolitan TAFE campus.





Cornwall – by Peter Merrals

Peter Merralls took Swan Hills on a tour of Cornwell on Friday, highlighting its charms, projects and pasties. Member Yvonne thanks Peter for his entertaining talk.

C.Y. O’Connor

Anne Brake from the National Trust retold the amazing story of CY O’Connor’s engineering feat in building the Golden Pipeline to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, including many historical fact along the way. Member Richard thanks Anne for her fascinating insight.






Fossils from Australia

Niels Dahl swept through the earth’s history highlighting the extent of fossils found in Australia for Swan Hills on Friday. Member Derek thanks Niels for his informative and wide ranging talk.







Zoe from Metronet took Swan Hills through this major project including extra rail lines, new rail cars  built in WA and all the new Stations. Wonderful insight into what all those construction sites are doing. Member Maxine thanks Zoe for her comprehensive talk.






Tony Harding

Tony Harding enthralled U3A Swan Hills with his delightful and quirky poetry providing a truly memorable afternoon. Member Joy thanks Tony for his excellent presentation.

Dynamics of Bushfire

Roger Underwood took U3A Swan Hills through the dynamics of bushfire and the need for preventative measures to lessen its impact. Member Esther thanks Roger for his interesting talk.






Cameleers and George Orwell

U3A Swan Hills had a double treat Friday with Yvonne Miller talking about the Cameleers in early Australia including a link to her own family tree. Derrick Myall followed with an informative guide to all things George Orwell and the observation of how many of Orwell’s predictions had come true. Swan Hills chairman Tony thanks both for their entertaining talks.







The Indian Ocean

U3A Program Coordinator Pat Palaske thanks Peter for his insightful talk.

Peter Alcock took Swan Hills through the birth of the Indian Ocean and explained its development and features. A fascinating exploration of geology.









Musical Favourites

Denise is thanked for her excellent presentation by U3A Swan Hills Chair Tony.

Denise Beer organised a wonderful musical experience for Swan Hills based on members favourite pieces. Such a wide range of genres.







U3A member and past President Denise Beer thanked Judith for her insights.

U3A President Judith Amey took a travel starved Swan Hills on a magical trip through Morrocco, covering its history, culture and heritage. A wonderful reminder of the joys of travel.








Visit to Enderslie Farm

Swan Hills enjoyed a visit to Enderslie Farm and a play highlighting the experience of our early pioneers. A wonderful day brought home the harsh but exciting lives they had.






Jan Fowler

U3A Chair Tony thanks Jan for her insights.

Jan Fowler entertained Swan Hills with interesting stories from her travels.







Wayne Reading – His Life in Music

Wayne Reading regaled Swan Hills with his life in music, peppering his talk with songs along the way. U3A member Jan thanks Wayne for the memories.

Mining and Technology

Michael is thanked for the entertaining talk by U3A member Peter.

Michael Waller, Interoperability Manager at Roy Hill mines, enlightened Swan Hills with the genius of how technology was revolutionising the mining industry. Truly amazing.










Show & Tell

For a change, Swan Hills had a Show & Tell afternoon highlighting the many talents of their members. Here they are with their handiwork.







Can Agriculture feed the world, or destroy it?

U3A member Richard thanks Walter for his excellent talk.

Dr Walter Anderson led Swan Hills through agriculture’s abilities and downsides and left the title unanswered. Very thought provoking.









Swan Hills enjoys Christmas in July

Christmas in July at Oakover Winery was just the thing Swan Hills needed for a wintery day and a thank you to Janice and the team for a successful Seminar last Saturday.

My Life as a Fighter Pilot

Member Catherine thanks Sue for her well presented, inspiring talk.

Flight Leutenant Sue Freeman entertained Swan Hills with her fascinating story of life as a fighter pilot in the RAF and RAAF.









Half Safe

Intrepid traveller and member Jan thanks Ben for his enlightening talk.

Richard Walller presented the fascinating story to Swan Hills of Ben Carlin’s 10 year round the world trip in an amphibious Jeep. Adventurous or mad, you be the judge.










Chair Tony thanks Pauline in front of our Blue Poles, now apparently worth $350million.

Pauline  Zani reappraised Canberra for Swan Hills pointing out its history, features, people and future.










Norfork Island

Member Tony thanks Anthony for his detailed and informative talk.

Anthony Alborn took Swan Hills through the troubled history of Norfolk Island as a penal colony up until the present day. Fascinating insight into this little known Territory of Australia.








Swan Hills visits Guildford Grammar

Rosemary Waller, wife of member Richard, and archivist at Guildford Grammar showed Swan Hills over the school and explained the history and features of this wonderful architectural gem. Fascinating afternoon looking at memorabilia, memories and buildings alike.

Eureka Stockade

Member Derrick thanks Denise for her insights.

Denise Beer recreated the conditions leading to the Eureka Stockade for Swan Hills, highlighting the unfair conditions that caused the most famous armed insurrection in Australian history and whose long term goal of independence has still not been fully realised.







History of Perth Airport

Denise Beer thanked Geoffrey for his outstanding talk.

Geoffrey Thomas’ enthusiastic presentation and knowledge made his exploration of aviation and Perth’s airport for Swan Hills, an absolute delight full of humorous asides and stories. A walk down memory lane and wonderful afternoon for all.








Art in Isolation

Yvonne thanks Robyn for her polished presentation

Robyn Talbot lead Swan Hills through a body of work produced not only in this current lockdown but in previous isolation events and explained the intention and thinking behind each piece. Wonderful insights.






The History of Money

U3A Swan Hills Deputy Chair, Janice Brooks thanks Peter Flanagan for his epic talk on the History of Money. We heard it all from the most ancient coins through to crypto currency – a most fascinating topic.




Sailing on Tall Ships

Richard thanked Fran for her interesting talk.

Fran Taylor regaled Swan Hills about travelling the world on tall ships and the positive changes it can provide. An inspiring, uplifting story.








Swan Hills Observatory Visit

Swan Hills ventured out to Bickley Valley this Friday for a picnic and tour of the Perth Observatory. Wonderful day for star gazing and learning about the research they are doing on the sun.

Cruising European Canals

Member Peter thanked Ian for his inspiring talk.

Ian Deany teased Swan Hills travel starved group with wonderful tales of cruising around the canals of Europe. A delightful break from the COVID-19 reality of today.









Member Niels thanks Janice for the thought provoking talk.

Janice Brooks reprised the story of Jandamarra for Swan Hills highlighting the harsh realities and rough justice of early settlement.







Swan Hills does Croquet

Swan Hills were introduced to the intricacies of Croquet at Bayswater today. The afternoon tea put on by the club was just as awesome.

The Ten Pound Pom

Secretary Catherine thanked Tony for contribution.

Swan Hills was treated to Tony Harding’s life journey from Southampton to his success in Swan View Australia. His self depreciating style added enormously to the enjoyment of the afternoon. A fascinating tale well told.









Chair Tony thanks Niels for his interesting and enlightening talk.

Despite the double entendre Niels ran Swan Hills through the many and varied ways scientists are able to date things as diverse as stars, rocks, fossils and objects.








The Beatles 50 Years On

Chair Tony thanks Denise for her amazing work

Denise Beer led Swan Hills through the phenomenon that was the Beatles  complete with major hits and personal insights. Wonderful afternoon.







History of Telecommunications

John is thanked by member Richard.

Swan Hills returned for 2021 and enjoyed an interesting talk by John Paskulish of the WA Historical Telecommunications Society  on the History of Telecommunications on Friday. John took us on a fascinating tour through telecommunications history in Australia.






Swan Hills Commences in 2021

Swan Hills kicked off 2021 with a delightful lunch at Oakover Winery in the Swan Valley.

Swan Hills Xmas Lunch

Swan Hills final social lunch for the year at Parkerville Tavern. Good time had by all.Swan Hills looks forward to seeing all members back in 2021.

New Swan Hills Chair

Maxine Woods, Tony Harding and Denise Beer

U3A Perth Chair, Denise Beer and outgoing Swan Hills Chair, Maxine Woods, congratulate new Swan Hills Chair Tony Harding on his election at Friday’s AGM.







Carnivorous Plants

Paul Higgins shared his passion and enthusiasm for carnivorous plants with Swan Hills on Friday, complete with pictures and numerous specimens. An interesting insight into this specialist plant form. Here he is thanked by member Robyn.