North Coast (Hamersley)

Welcome to the North Coast U3A page

0401 358 026 
0419 040 813.

Meetings are held each Friday at the Stirling Leisure Centre Hamersley, 20 Belvedere Road (off Beach Road Hamersley).   We are an active group and welcome New Members.

U3A North Coast has an exciting programme of weekly group meetings and other activities.  On those past occasions when COVID-19 Restriction prevented regular meetings, our Guest Speakers successfully maintained an uninterrupted programme of weekly Presentations by delivering their Talks online using ZOOM.    Other COVID-19 Requirements, like the QR code and Social Distancing, are applied as necessary.

We meet weekly throughout the year except for a six week break over the Festive Season.   A special event or outing is arranged when there is a fifth Friday in a month.  

Human Impact on the Planet” presented by Dr Ken Mullin

Ken presented a disturbing and thought-provoking explanation of how in less than 200 years rapid growth in population, consumption, and resultant agricultural and industrial intensity; have accelerated climate change including global warming; lost or damaged large tracts of habitat impacting animal, marine, insect species with many at or near extinction; reduced bio-diversity essential for eco-system health and made pandemics more likely. Humanities future is at risk from collapse of our eco-systems and irreparable damage to the planet’s life support systems. He concluded that it needs the combined efforts of individuals, communities, and governments, working towards a sustainable future, focused on health and well-being of humans and the environment, to avert a disaster. We need to raise our voices.

Peco’s Jane Doe – The Mystery of the Drowned Woman

On 21 April, 100 members and visitors welcomed back forensic toxicologist Professor Bob Mead for another of his engaging presentations.

Recounting the story of young woman found drowned in a Texas motel swimming pool in 1966, her companion who had disappeared, both having booked in under false names, their identities remained a mystery. Bob explained how fifty-four years later a family match for the young woman was made using advances in DNA testing and forensic genetic genealogy. Her name is now known, but not the man’s. Her family has some degree of conclusion. But has justice been served, the circumstances leading to her death and any criminal context remaining unknown?

12 May 23 The History of Jazz

The Melody Masters Jazz Trio took one hundred members and guests on an enjoyable journey illustrating The History of Jazz from New Orleans to the Jazz Age in Chicago, playing music from the Early Swing Era. 

Narrated by Brian Copping, who interspersed interesting historical facts with humour, and illustrating each genre with music from renowned artists including Scott Joplin, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, and Duke Ellington, amongst others. Our thanks to Brian (clarinet, saxophone, and flute), John Healy (double bass, and vocals), and Tony Eardley (piano) for a presentation that was different, both entertaining and informative. We look forward to a future return visit from the Trio to listen to their tribute to the great Louis Armstrong.

C Y O’Connor – Beyond the Pipeline

Don thanks Bill for his engrossing presentation on a man who made a significant and lasting contribution to our infrastructure.

Bill Cutler returned to complete his earlier presentation on C Y O’Connor, recounting the turbulent events leading up to his suicide in March, 1902, weeks before first water was pumped. With Premier John Forrest elected to the new Federal Parliament, O’Connor and the pipeline lost both his support and political protection. Pressure from overwork, stress from relentless vitriol, five dysfunctional WA governments in 1901 – 02 cutting funding, and a parliamentary enquiry (later a Royal Commission) into project delays, claims of mis-management and corruption, overwhelmed O’Connor, who committed suicide before giving evidence. Seeking to divert blame for his death from Government, the Royal Commission found that improper acts by his Deputy finally unbalanced O’Connor’s already overstrained mind, leading to his suicide. Despite the turmoil the pipeline was completed within his cost estimate, and belying corruption claims he left only a modest estate.

Preventing Trips & Falls – 17 Mar 23

Our member Peter Merralls, a qualified volunteer speaker with the Stay on Your Feet WA program, assisted by Jeanette Herrington, spoke on one of the things we most dread as we age, falls and their after effects. Peter’s message was falls are preventable. Develop your own Action Plan to improve your balance and posture with exercises to strengthen muscles and bones (particularly legs), and overall fitness. Improve your health and well-being by keeping your mind active, get sufficient Vitamin D from being out-doors, and calcium from dairy products and vegetables, and check medicines for side effects. Seek out and remove hazards from home, have regular eyesight checks, and wear safe footwear.

 For information visit

Fossils From Australia – Presented by Niels Dahl (Swan Hills U3A)

Terry Harvey thanked Niels for his illuminating presentation.

Neils took us on the 4.6-billion-year evolutionary journey of animal life, viewed through fossilised remains or imprints found in Australia. Starting at Marble Bar with fossilised evidence of first life as the earth cooled, primitive cells able to live in an oxygen free atmosphere, and the more oxygen tolerant stromatolites, still living today in the Mid-West at Hamelin Bay. Over 1.5 to 2.5-billion-years ago Earth’s atmosphere slowly became oxygenated, and walled cell structures as we know developed. Fossils from Flinders Ranges, SA. and Canowindra, NSW. evidence an explosion in multi-cellular life that started in seawater 750 million-years-ago. Land-mass and climate change from volcanic activity in Siberia 225-million-years-ago led to the evolution of dinosaurs, evidenced by footprints at Broome, fossilised bones across Western Qld. and at Coober Pedy, SA. from a long disappeared inland sea, fossilised sea creatures up to 10 metres long. An asteroid strike 65-million-years-ago changed Earth’s climate, ended dinosaurs, and as the Australian continent separated and Antarctica froze, mega-fauna as we know evolved on land and in sea, then human life, evidenced by skeletal remains 20 to 40,000 years old found near Lake Mungo, NSW.

“Anyone for a Cuppa?  The History of Tea.”  Presented by Terry Harvey.

Terry traced the history of tea, a social and medicinal beverage in the Far East possibly for millennia, its introduction into Europe in the seventeenth century, at first affordable only by the rich, but soon adopted by the masses. The calmness sought in taking a tea break has given us tea etiquette, tea ceremonies, afternoon teas, and tea houses. Tea has played a role in events that shaped history and society; the Boston tea party, Chinese opium wars, supporting morale in two world wars, and the status of women, where tea houses became a rallying point for the suffragette movement. Terry concluded saying that tea is here to stay, despite human rights challenges with poor working conditions for its largely female workforce, mechanisation, climate change and consumer taste changes.

Hobby  Writing:    with Nigel Ridgway

Nigel is a solo ocean-crossing sailor who has published three books, with another to come. He told U3A North Coast members his fascinating ‘story about story-telling’, reminding us that everyone has a story to tell. If you ‘get the itch’, writer’s block is common. The important thing is to start anywhere and write something, then your story will begin to fall into place and take shape. Most people soon find that the chore becomes an enthusiastic pleasure. It may help to set a regular writing time each day and join a Writer’s Group of kindred spirits. Then edit, edit, edit! Publishing can be disappointing. Expect to be rejected by publishers so there may be no money in it for the majority of aspiring authors. Consequently, some become self-publishing Vanity Authors. Finding a Publisher is a slog but, if successful, they do the boring bits Then you need to promote your baby with a book launch and in bookshops, reviews in newspapers, magazines, radio interviews and with public talks where selling direct to the public is more lucrative. According to Nigel there is no such thing as an uninteresting life. Write your Life Story before it is too late. It will be something to keep forever which may be a better memorial than a tombstone.

C Y O’Connor – The Golden Pipeline   with Bill Cutler

Bill is proudly descended from First Fleeter Convict Settlers and was born at the remote No.7 Pumping Station on the Kalgoorlie Pipeline. He was a career banker serving in Fiji, Hong Kong, Singapore and London, then he became a volunteer tour guide at No.1 Pumping Station at the base of Mundaring Weir. In fascinating detail, Bill told of the 1892 Coolgardie Gold Rush which resulted in a great inflow of miners – but there was no water in that arid location. Pack Camels were used initially until the railway was built but much more water was needed. WA State Premier John Forrest gave Irish Engineer C Y O’Connor the untried and seemingly impossible task of building a water pipeline ‘uphill’ to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, employing eight steam-powered pumping stations. Plate steel was imported from USA and Germany which was shaped into sections in factories at Maylands and transported by train to the progressively on-moving construction site. Other workers hand-dug deep trenches to shield the pipeline from weather and corrosion. O’Connor committed suicide before completion of the Golden Pipeline, due to being extremely hurt by a political campaign which raised unfounded claims of corruption. Contrary to those doubters, the world record pipeline is a great success and is an impressive monument to the foresight of John Forrest and the ground-breaking skills of CY O’Connor.

Mawson and Wilkins – Poles Apart   with Peter Alcock

Sir Douglas Mawson and Sir (George) Hubert Wilkins

Australia has produced two of the world’s great heroic polar explorers who lived, worked and died at the same time but were as unlike as chalk and cheese.

Sir Douglas Mawson 1882-1958 had a degree in mining engineering whose interest in geology, petrology and mineralogy was sparked by evidence of glacial retreat in Australia. In 1907 he joined Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition and was in the first team to reach the South Magnetic Pole and climb Mount Erebus. Peter told how Mawson joined or led some later expeditions of exploration and scientific observations, gathering geological and biological samples. He was the sole survivor of one party which studied massive glaciers. His image has appeared on the Australian $100 banknote.

Sir (George) Hubert Wilkins 1888-1958 was a self-taught South Australian farm boy who was attracted to risk-taking adventures as photographer, war correspondent, soldier and pilot.

  He was wounded several times in WWI for which he was twice awarded the Military Cross for outstanding bravery. Peter said Wilkins joined several Arctic and Antarctic expeditions, surviving multiple flying mishaps and, in one case, walking 13 days back to safety.

He also leased an old submarine to explore under the Arctic ice-cap and performed the first solo flight ‘over the top’ from Alaska to Spitzbergen.  His ashes were scattered at the North Pole in 1959 by atomic-powered submarine USS 571 Skate.

William Dampier (1651 – 1715) with John Shepherd

William Dampier (1651 – 1715)

John provided many fascinating details about a man who lived a full life of adventure in the hazardous days of buccaneers, discovery, and navigation under sail.  As a Privateer, William Dampier plundered Spanish settlements and treasure ships.  He circumnavigated the world three times and was a ‘patient observer’ who kept detailed maps and records of winds, tides, currents, weather, soils and natural history of new lands he visited, including Australia.  John said Dampier was the first Englishman to set foot on Australian soil, which is commemorated in the town which bears his name.  William Dampier’s books about his adventurous travels inspired famous novels by Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe.  He was a member of the elite Royal Society and has been described as ‘a pirate with an exquisite mind’.

Catching a Cold Case Killer: with Professor Robert Mead

Bob Mead made a welcome return to U3A North Coast with a fascinating story about the role of DNA Genealogy in solving baffling crimes. He told of a young couple who disappeared on an overnight trip from Vancouver, Canada to Seattle, USA in November 1987. A week later their bodies were discovered 60 miles apart in Washington State USA. The man had been brutally bashed and asphyxiated. The young woman had been sexually assaulted and shot. No significant leads emerged and the case eventually went ‘cold’. In 2005, when DNA profiling techniques became more sensitive, a profile of the rapist-killer was fed into the national DNA database, but yielded no ‘hits’ meaning that the killer was not a known criminal. In 2014, the newer DNA-based phenomics technology predicted many physical characteristics which generated a possible ‘sketch’ of the killer as he may have looked in 1987. Bob Mead enthralled U3A North Coast members with his clear description of the remarkable ‘forensic genetic genealogy’ used in 2019 to build a family tree of the murderer and to catch the cold case killer 32 years after the crime.

The History of Sea Rescue:   with Bob Jacobs

Ancient drawings and tomb relicts show that the Age of Sail dates back more than 5,000 years.   Weather and ocean conditions could be unpredictable; navigation was often unreliable; and sailing ships may become uncontrollable severe conditions.  There were hundreds of shipwrecks, often with 100% casualties because lifeboats, rafts or lifejackets were not provided and people thrown into the sea survived for a few hours, at best.  Passengers and crew relied on prayers – “ O Hear Us when we Cry to Thee For Those in Peril on the Sea “.  (Poem/Hymn 1860) .

Bob Jacobs, Commander of Whitfords Marine Rescue, enthralled U3A North Coast members with some stories of the dangers of ocean travel in the past and the many modern developments making modern ocean travel safe.   Early safety measures concentrated on saving the valuable ship and its cargo, with little concern for the passengers and crew.  The Age of Steam was a huge advance since it made ships more controllable in severe weather and scheduling became possible.  Over the past two centuries very strict maritime safety standards have been introduced, notably following the sinking of the Titanic which could have avoided the iceberg if radar, satellites, etc had been available. Hundreds of lives would have been saved if there had been adequate modern safety equipment for passengers. Today, we have a vast array of modern technology to aid navigation, avoid shipwreck, and to provide effective rescues in mid-ocean. Coastal emergencies are well-managed by Marine Rescue volunteers.