World Jamboree Year: 1979 Report Australia

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1979 - 'World Jamboree Year' Australia

Jamboree Badge

30 December to 11 January / Participants 12 000 / Countries 34 / South Africans 45

SA Jamboree Badge

As a result of the 15th World Jamboree in Iran being cancelled, 1979 was declared a 'World Jamboree Year' and the South African Scouts were offered the alternative of attending a Jamboree in Switzerland, USA or Australia.

This report on the tour prior to the Australian Jamboree was written for the Cape Western Scouter magazine by John Potter the Contingent Leader.

As the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet started its descent to Jan Smuts Airport (Johannesburg), the Chief Steward approached the leader of the Boy Scout Contingent which had attended the 4th Asia Pacific/12th Australian Jamboree in Perth, Western Australia and said that 'he had never before travelled with such well-behaved and likeable bunch of young men'. This just about summed up the whole tour which started when 39 Scouts and 6 adult leaders left South Africa early in December.

The pre-Jamboree coach tour started in Sydney with two days of comparative leisure to enable the lads to shake off the effects of jet-lag. Time was spent visiting the Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay, The Rocks and taking a ferry on the Parramatta River for a sight-seeing tour of the city and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Friendships were established between Australian and South African Scouts before the coach headed west through Katoomba, Bathhurst and Orange to overnight in Dubbo, a large sheep station town in central New South Wales.

Outside at the SA Embassy, Canberra with the SA Ambassador, John Oxlee

The tour continued through Coonabarabran and the Warrumbungle Mountains to visit the Siding Springs Observatory which houses the most modern telescope in the world. The next day consisted of a long tiring journey across 600 miles of 'outback' through Wilcania, a river port on the Darling River, to Broken Hill. During the mid-afternoon the mercury touched 400c. Hundreds of Kangaroos were lying dead on the side of this highway, victims of trucks and cars passing during the night.

Two days were spent in and around Broken Hill which included a visit to Silverton a 'ghost town' where silver, lead and zinc were first discovered last century.

The route next took us to the Victoria State border at Mildura and into the Sunraysia Valley, a large fruit and wine-growing district. Paddle-steamers still ply the Murray River using the elaborate system of locks to gain elevation. This same river system opened up the interior of Australia as a sheep and wool country, but paddle-steamers were overtaken, first by rail and then by road systems, and are now used only as tourist attractions and provide a quaint link with the past.

The next day saw us making our way through Swan Hill Echuca and Bendigo, all river ports of historical interest, before reaching busy Melbourne, a sprawling Metropolis of 3 million people. Two days of sightseeing in and around Melbourne with time off for Christmas shopping and writing home, prepared the chaps for the journey through the 'Garden State' via Wangaratta to overnight in Albury just over the Murray River in New South Wales.

Planting the SA flag on Mt Kosciusko

The next day we headed for the Snowy Mountains and were delighted that the snow which had fallen a week earlier was still holding on the higher peaks.

Early the following morning in hiking togs we set off through Smiggen Holes, Perisher Valley and Charlotts Pass to climb Mt Kosciusko, Australia's highest (7316 ft), and spent a relaxing day 'jacking around' in the snow. We planted the South African flag on the summit and left it flying proudly as we made our descent across the plateau towards Thredbo village to use the alpine-type chair lift to drop 1500 ft. into the valley where the coach was waiting.

The three days in the Snowy Mountains was the highlight of the coach tour as the chaps could do the things that Scouts like most - hiking, mountain climbing, snow fun, sailing and boating on lake Jindebyne.

On Christmas eve we left the Snowies and headed for Canberra where we camped for 3 nights. Here we visited the South African Embassy Building where we saw the Ambassador and sang our National anthem.

We attended the local Uniting Church and Lutheran Church on Christmas morning to sing Carols with the local folk. Here, like at all places we stopped at, we were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the Australian people.

With Christmas suitably celebrated with a roast turkey lunch in camp and a surprise gift to each member from Contingent funds, we headed for Sydney to pick up our flight for Perth and the Jamboree.

The Jamboree
The Jamboree, in which 34 Nations took part, was held in Perry Lakes, outside Perth.

Sandgroper Award

Our arrival at the Jamboree raised a lot of interest. As we alighted from the bus and formed up into Patrols waiting for information as to which sub-camp we had been allocated to scores of Scouts and public gathered around and commented on the smartness of the chaps. Later at the opening ceremony we received a loud ovation as the South African flag was hoisted in the stadium.

During the Jamboree the boys acquitted themselves well at both on-site and off- site activities, including courses on confidence, model-making, electronics, radio and many others. We rapidly gained the distinction of being numbered among the best Contingents in camp. Our performance at the International Concert brought loud applause from the huge crowd.

All of the SA boys won Sandgroper Awards (all western Australians are known as sand gropers) by taking part in various jamboree activities

It was with a feeling of nostalgia that we left the Jamboree and moved into home hospitality.

We at least had the opportunity to assess Australia's way of life at grass roots level. Our host Scout Group, 1st Wembley Downs, provided a programme which we can only describe as superb.

Mr Johnny Potter, Cape Town District Commissioner for the Scout Movement, who led the boys on their five-week tour of the Australian continent, said, his charges were a credit to the youth of South Africa and to Scouting.

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S A Scout Heritage

See Also