Day 17 Monday 5th August 2019:

Day 17 Monday 5th August 2019:

We are down for breakfast at 8am and there have been some issues overnight. Two of the boys had been out of their rooms after midnight. I speak to them and will consider actions later.

We assemble in the hotel foyer at 9.45am and it’s clear to me that someone had been drinking overnight. I question him and eventually he ‘comes clean’. I am very unimpressed and tell him that he has let himself and the group down badly. Again we will consider actions later on.

We arrive at Mater Maria at 11am and suspicions aroused that one lad is unlikely to have been drinking on his own challenge several others. To their credit they admit to doing so immediately. They are the older boys and have had several drinks in their room-it is disappointing-they have let themselves down and realise so. They are all very contrite.

En route to Mater Maria Niamh Bradley and Annie Gegeshidze raise some eyebrows. Niamh was interested to know who the hockey opposition would be tomorrow. “You’re playing Ryde HC,” Miss Preuss replied. Puzzled, Niamh asked, “What does the HC mean?” At this point, Mr Cullen turns around in his seat with raised eyebrows, “Hockey club, duh!” To which Niamh retorts, “Well it could have stood for headquarters!” Gowerton’s literacy skills shining through once again.

Moments later, talk turns to the evening meal. “Where are we going for dinner?” Annie asks. “Burgers and Ribs” Mr Cullen replies. “What do they serve there?” Mr Cullen and Miss Preuss look at each other in disbelief. “It’s an Italian” they reply. “Oh nice, I like Italian.”
We arrive at Mater Mariah. The netball starts at 12:30. The U16s kick off at 12:00pm while the U18s follow at 1:00pm.

News on the ‘left behind possessions’ front is beginning to filter through. Mr Meredith has left his group’s passports behind in the safe at the Travelodge and Ollie Freeman has left his ‘man-bag’ with his money and cards inside. We ring the hotel – they have them safe and we can collect them tomorrow.

We play two fiercely but fairly contested rugby games where the defence of both teams was unflinching. The under 16s win 12-0 with Taylor John being awarded the Mater Maria player of the match. The under 18s won 15-7 and after conceding a try in the second minute fought back to achieve victory, with again their defence being of the highest order as indeed it had to be as at one point they were reduced to 13 players when two yellow cards were issued for dangerous tackles. Captain Iwan Jones was awarded the Mater Maria man of the match.

The netball girls again came up against a talented team, but gave their all before going down 43-8. Every single player put their heart and soul into playing as best they could. It was clear to see that despite facing fierce opposition in each game the attitude of the team was resilient throughout. Casey Williams was player of the match.

During the games it’s great to meet up with Matthew Wedlake – Matthew had come on the 2006 tour and made friends with his Mater Maria billet. As a result he came over to stay with them again and has ended up staying in the country. He is now teaching in St. Augustine College which is about a 15 minute drive away. Ironically, after all our issues with getting billets in Sydney he said they’d have been able to billet us – we’ve asked him to book us in for 2022 if we come this way again.

After the games we changed and have a ‘sausage sizzle’ in the quad with all teams together.
Presentations are made to the schools and staff and also the players of the match awarded by Mater Maria.

They give the awards to:
U16 rugby: Taylor John
Netball: Casey Williams
U18 rugby: Iwan Jones

The students are sent off with parents/students from Mater Maria to spend the afternoon/evening around Sydney seeing the sights and given something to eat.

Mike Rulli, a good friend from previous tours of ours – both to Australia and then returning takes the staff on a minibus. Initially we stop at Palm Beach, one of Sydney’s 22 beaches, and in Mike’s opinion the best one – it’s hard to disagree.

While we are there, they are filming an edition of ‘Home and Away.’ Mr Cullen spots Dean Thompson; he, like my wife, is clearly a big ‘soaps’ fan.

We then travel to the North Harbour Yacht Club. It is a very prestigious building. We enjoy a meal with Mike and other staff from the school before transferring back to Mater Maria to meet our students who are due to be brought back by 8pm. All are back by 8:15pm and appear to have been well looked after. Several of their parents and our students say that they wish they could have been billeted here. Certainly it’s disappointing that some of the Catholic schools have taken such a stance as in my opinion the benefits significantly outweigh the potential problems.

While we await the last of our students to return that ‘card’ Mr Lewis decides to play a prank on Miss Morgans. He removes her case from bus 1 and puts it on bus 2. He nearly gives himself a hernia due to the fact that now the case is well above the 20kgs limit. However, dastardly deed done he now looks forward to her distress when we arrive at the youth hostel – who needs enemies with friends like that!

We drive across the harbour bridge into Sydney and have stunning views of the Opera House and harbour at night. We reach the Youth Hostel at 9:15pm which is a 5 minute walk from the harbour.
Miss Morgans is indeed stressed when she can’t find her suitcase, however, the last laugh is on Mr Lewis who in his mirth at the proceedings forgets to collect his own bag from the bus. Much to his embarrassment he rings the coach company to see if he can retrieve it. However, it’s closed and he’ll have to wait until the morning to see if he can get it back. Miss Morgans smiles and says, “Karma is a cruel mistress.” It looks like there will be plenty of contenders for tomorrow’s Donkey of the Day vote.

We arrange to meet the group in 10 minutes and walk down into the harbour to get a view of the area at night.

We’ve decided that the seven lads who let themselves down last evening should remain in the hostel as punishment for their indiscretions. At least they’ll be able to do jet boating tomorrow.
All are back in the hotel and go to their rooms immediately.

Tomorrow’s agenda – jet boating, shopping and the end of tour dinner.

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