08 Jun

I grew up on a dairy farm in Cowaramup in the South West and, after primary school, spent five years at Bunbury High School before enrolling at The University of Western Australia in 1952. I moved in to the University Hostel at the beginning of my third year of a Science degree in 1954 after boarding privately for years one and two.

The Hostel was comprised of the WW2 Catalina pilot and crew accommodation and featured one block of four corridors for male students with 20 single rooms in each and an ablution area at the end. Adjacent was a kitchen, eating and relaxation block and behind that a two corridor block which was solely for female students and grandly titled the Women’s College.

We had a number of ex-service men accommodated in the Hostel and they added an interesting dimension to the lives of those of us in our late teens. A number of Colombo Plan students from Asia also added value to the Hostel. Inder Singh and Santokh Singh in particular, gave us an edge in the hockey competitions with the Colleges.

The facility was pretty basic and pales in comparison to the salubrious accommodation that replaced it – Currie Hall and now University Hall. However we Hostelites were a tight knit bunch and thoroughly enjoyed our life and studies and considered ourselves the equal of, or better, than the Georgies and Thomas More students. Contests between the three institutions in football, tennis, hockey and athletics were a highlight of the years.

I was an active participant in most sports and also played football with the University Amateur team. Our regular activities included sitting on the corridor steps listening to the Goon Show, visiting the Captain Stirling for refreshments and Bruce’s café for steak and eggs as a change from the drainpipes and sludge (macaroni and mince) we werPage 21 Memories University Hostel 1960e often served in the cafeteria. I spent 1954-55 in residence, 1956 teaching maths and science at Narrogin High School and returned to residence in 1957-58, to do a Dip.Ed.

Besides those already mentioned we had a mixed bunch of students living in the Hostel during my time there. Alan Bray, the “Vicar”, Glenn Storr who did Zoology and studied Quokka poo at Rottnest, Peter Owers, “New Guinea”, who rode his motorcycle into the Swan River, Paul Hunt who Presided over the Hostel Committee (we ran our own affairs), Hugh Knox who helped build the Narrows Bridge when he graduated, Barry Steele who slept most of the day and studied at night and Alan “Slim” Marshall who never seemed to be studying anything but finally ended up with a PhD in Geology.

My years at the Hotel were memorable and a great introduction to the challenges and joys of life and I still retain friends whom I met in those days. Standout memories are of Hostel Balls and the drive at daybreak to Mundaring Weir, marathons through King’s Park, volley ball at lunch time and after class, listening to classical music in the recreation hall, the Cap S meetings and trips with Women’s College girls to North Cottesloe for sun and swimming. In those days we had three terms and final exams at the end of Term 3 so it was “pass” or “fail” at that stage. No continuous assessment or other means of getting to a pass.

In 1953 I was called up for National Service and did the required 3 month training at Swanbourne and Northam camps. This was followed by intermittent service with the University Regiment before completing my military obligations. I remained a Private for the duration of this service. By 1958 I had a B.Sc. and Dip. Ed. and upped stakes and left for England where I taught in various London schools for a year (and that is another story) before going to Saskatchewan in Canada as Principal of a small Primary and High School in Aylsham in the North of the Province. The School had 150 students aged from 6 to 18 and 6 teachers, including myself. It was an enriching experience and very enjoyable as the students were keen and the School Board encouraging. After returning to Australia in 1961 I joined CSBP and Farmers as a Production Chemist in their Albany fertiliser factory.

Despite my overseas experience, the WA Education Department considered I had lost seniority by leaving and was only prepared to start me at a primary school in Ravensthorpe at the lowest pay level so as a result I moved into industry.  In 1966 I returned to Saskatchewan and worked in the Potash mining industry and completed an MBA at the University of Saskatchewan. Next it was back to CSBP in 1969 as a Training Officer and then Systems Analyst followed by a move again to a Senior Lecturer job at WAIT (now Curtin University) in 1975.

On study leave in 1980 I went to Bath University in England and undertook a PhD in Management which I completed in 1983 oAlumni Matters - Alumni Profile - Roger's youngest son Robert and his wife Aya on their wedding day in 2007 in Morioka Japann my return to WAIT. In 1984 I entered the consulting profession and worked in WA but mostly on overseas project missions involved in institutional strengthening with AusAid, the World Bank, UNDP and the ILO in many countries (Indonesia, Nepal, Malaysia, Mauritius, Fiji and Sri Lanka).

In 1997 I joined the Graduate School of Management at UWA (now incorporated into the Business School) and taught International Management and Management Consulting units until 2012.  At one point, as a Professorial Fellow, I directed the School’s MBA programs in Singapore, Jakarta, Manila and Shanghai (now all ceased). During 2005 I taught a Summer Term at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington State, USA. Gonzaga was the alma mater of Bing Crosby and he provided large endowments to the University which is evidenced by the many buildings he funded on campus.

While I have authored and co-authored books, published articles and presented Conference papers I consider myself more a pracademic than an academic. Presently I am a Senior Honorary Research Fellow and am also engaged in training programs for Chinese LNG managers run by the AIM-Business School Alliance and co-supervise a number of Doctoral students with Winthrop Professor Gary Stockport of the Business School.

I have many fond memories of my Hostel days and consider my time there as one of the highlights of my life. I often bore my children and grandchildren with tales of that life which is as remote for them as talking about Mars.  So much has changed from those Hostel days but they provided a solid base for the subsequent development of Currie Hall and now University Hall. I suspect that the current and past residents of these Halls will also cherish the memories of their time there and remain proud of being part of a long tradition of student life on that piece of land.


  • Gil Rooke June 16, 2015 at 8:22 AM

    A marvelous article. It captures the spirit of the Hostel, ‘Currie Hall’ as we christened it. There are names mentioned who I knew well. It was interesting to see that I was not the only one who left teaching because of its potential bureaucracy.

    Thank you Roger!



    • Editor-Marketing June 18, 2015 at 3:25 AM

      Thank you for your lovely comment Gil. We are glad you enjoyed Roger’s story and your days as a Currie Hall resident. We hope to share more stories on our alumni and their journey since leaving Currie Hall.
      – Kelly


  • Stephen Purdie August 15, 2015 at 11:08 AM

    Great article, though while unable to personally relate to these experiences I certainly can via my father in law Santokh Singh who is referred to here, in being one of the Columbo Plan students.
    Santokh was a geology student from Malaysia, who spoke with me at length on numerous occasions about his time at UWA & College Hall.
    He also had great memories of inter college sports, hockey & cricket in particular. So much so that in the family home in Kuala Lumper, on a wall, was a framed newspaper article with photos of his hockey exploits.
    He also told of being ‘coerced’ by his Aussie friends into playing a footy match, having never before played the game. Needless to say the physical nature of the contest was a major shock to the system and the body !
    He also spoke with pride of sharing some time with future PM Bob Hawke, who was a student at that time.
    Sadly Santokh passed away in November 2013, however his memories of student life and experiences, just like the theme of this article, remained very dear to hike.
    The Influence of Australia on his life has remained, as all 3 of his children have lived here for much of their adult lives.

    Stephen Purdie


    • Editor-Marketing August 26, 2015 at 7:55 AM

      Hi Stephen, thank you for sharing your lovely memories of your father in law. It is incredible to hear how he spoke of his time here and how they have impacted you and your siblings. If you would ever like to visit UniHall for yourself please let us know. We would love to meet you.


  • Angela Reimers August 28, 2015 at 7:20 AM

    Hi Stephen – thank you for sharing your story about your father-in-law, Santokh Singh. If by chance you still have the newspaper article with photos of his hockey exploits or other images or news clippings I would appreciate receiving a scanned copy. We are compiling a history of the Hall and it would be wonderful to include memories from Santokh Singh’s era.
    Best wishes
    Angela Reimers (Marketing & Admissions Manager)


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