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THE WEATHER



The extreme weather in Katoomba (mostly the cold, rain and fog) is often mentioned by Old Boys.
It seems one Old Boy made his mark in history in just the sort of weather he had grown up in.



Contributor Arthur Fogarty (ex-Student and Old Boy)

One student I have enduring memories of was named Frank Riley, a boarder in the Intermediate year in 1946. He was quite a mature person who entertained fellow students with his good nature and sense of humour. Years later I was visiting the RAAF base at Williamstown when Frank appeared. It emerged he was regarded as an “Ace” pilot. However, he was then temporarily “grounded”. He had taken an army liaison officer for a pleasure flight and allowed him to take the controls with the result that the plane hit a tractor on landing. Frank had some embarrassing explanations to make.

Of more recent times I read an historical article in a newspaper about the famous Battle of Long Tan during the Vietnam War. A platoon of Australian Troops were on patrol only to find themselves surrounded by a battalion of Vietcong in a rubber plantation during a particularly bad storm. A heavy firefight broke out but the Australian troops were running out of ammunition.

A desperate radio appeal was made to the RAAF for urgent assistance.The weather was so bad the RAAF decided it was too dangerous to fly. Frank volunteered to undertake the task and successfully dropped the required ammunition. The Vietcong were routed. Frank was awarded the DFC for his gallantry.

He is now deceased, may he rest in peace.


Contributor Syl Noonan (ex-Student, Old Boy, Committee Member and Patron)

The Year the New School Opened (the previous year we were in the lower storey of St Canice's School)

February 1942 duly arrived and we fronted to find lots of new students from all over, both boarders and day boys. Students from Valley Heights and Lithgow travelled by train to Katoomba and walked down to St Bernard’s.

The winter weather with the weeks of heavy fog day after day were something to remember. Some days it was so thick we would walk down Lurline Street with hands on shoulders to keep in touch. If we were not careful, people coming in the opposite direction could bump into us. There were many such close calls.

This type of weather was a fact of life, therefore it was accepted. When playing sport in similar conditions and the ball went high, it was pure guesswork as to where it might land. However, we had plenty of fun.


Contributor Ross Murdoch (ex-Student and Old Boy)

Circa 1942

The bloody weather - only two seasons in Katoomba - bloody hot or bloody cold. But thank God for the cloisters outside the classrooms, which gave shelter from the elements, particularly on those wet, cold, miserable mornings, just after Mass, and just before breakfast, when we walked up and down, supposedly learning something (?) by rote.


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