About the Tech with Geoff Brown

A few weeks ago we published a video clip from 1993 which featured Chaffey Secondary College, formally Mildura Tech School. In order to confirm some of the detail posted alongside the footage, Geoff Brown surfaced as an authority on the topic, having published a history booklet on the Tech for it’s jubilee celebrations. As you’ll find out from our chat, Geoff had been involved with the school one way or another every decade between 1950 and 2000. From student to teacher and then to Assistant Principal, it’s an interesting story.

Taken in 1961, Geoff is seated 3rd from the right in the front row
Construction of a wing at the new Tech

9 Replies to “About the Tech with Geoff Brown”

  1. Very interesting interview with Geoff Brown. I was a student at Mildura Tech from 1961 to 1967 . I don’t remember Geoff. Maybe it was because he was before me when he was student, and after me when he was a teacher. I enjoyed my time there especially because of the variety of opportunities with different trade classes in addition to math’s, English, history, chemistry, science, physics. I was never had natural skills i English and history but I remember Ross McKinnon was my English teacher in form 4 and he was fantastic. He encouraged me and explained English o me in a way no other teacher could. I needed it. I was naturally better at solid geometry. (got 100%) math’s and physics. I think I already had a creative mind leaning towards building, construction and building design. But the school didn’t seem to offer any opportunities in this area so I was grappling with what course I would follow on to. Most of my fellow students, in year 5 and 6 were going take on Engineering as that was a stream offered. IE John Forrest, Adrian Grant and others went on to Ballarat at the School of Mines. Luckily I was shown an RMIT course curriculum book by a Chemistry teacher. Can’t remember his name. This then became my bible of what courses were available to take. I ended up taking on Interior Design first, followed by Architecture. Architecture must be in our families blood as there seems to be a history of architects before me. (I didn’t know this at the time) My brother, Ken who went to the Mildura High School also became an architect. In addition My daughter, Eliza, has become an architect.
    Going back to my fellow students at MTS. John Forest went on to be a successful Engineer and was a state member of parliament. I think he lives in Swan Hill now. He would be a worthwhile interview.
    John Arnold was another class mate. I think he ended up being a Mayor of Mildura.

    Some of Teachers I remember were; John Oates, Ian Hinks, Mr. Griffiths, Headmaster, Mr. Londsdale, Principal, Mr. Watson. Ross McKinnon, Mr Jardine. Both English Teachers. Mr. Jardine introduced me to Shakespear and classical theatre. Not what you would expect at a Tech School. The music teacher introduced us to all the instruments in a symphony orchestra and took us to see the MSO that visited Mildura.

    When I think today about the education I had at Mildura Tech, It was absolutely antistatic, full and varied and as good as any private schools here in Melbourne.

    1. Thanks so much for your reflections Robert. It seems as though so many of us who attended Tech have carried great memories of our time there along with a certain gratitude of what we were taught and how.

    2. Hello Robert. Yes, we would have overlapped in 1961 (the photo is of form 4A), as I went on to attend the SMB (School of Mines Ballarat 1962-63), then RMIT (1964-65). Our school (the Tech) spawned many well-known identities and institutions (you mention John Forrest), including speedway champion Phil Crump, as well as spawning Irymple Tech (later SC) and SCOT (Sunraysia College of TAFE) – both on the grounds of MTS.

      1. Hi Geoff I guess the fun I had I your art classes is one of the reasons I became an art teacher, mainly in the NT! Jenny (Gray) Shepherd

        1. Hi Jenny. Yes I do remember you, Jenny. Great that you enjoyed art enough to make a career out of it! Where in the NT did you teach? I went up there in the 70s and taught mainly at Tennant Creek Area School (similar to P-12 schools here now). I went there when the Commonwealth first took over all the services (police, education, health, etc.) from the SA government, joining the Commonwealth Teaching Service. Got promoted and was about to head up an exciting young team of teachers at Nightcliff HS, when we were watching B&W TV back down in Mildura (visiting family over the Christmas break)) when a news flash on Christmas Eve 1974 declared Darwin a disaster area due to Cyclone Tracey. Where are you now, Jenny? If you are in Mildura I would love to catch up. All the best.

  2. Yep, I was a Tech School kid, same age as Geoff but about 4 grades lower, maybe 1f. I did first year motor mechanics with Col Watson. Athletics with Geoff Holmes. Geoff became my athletics mentor in later years when I competed in veteran athletics all over Australia. He was a sprinter, I was a long distance person. Brian Keeble was the fast man! I never went on with Motor Mechanics. I didn’t realise your hands got dirty! Joined NAB the VIC Pol.

    1. Hi Brian. Yes, Geoff Holmes (no relation of concurrent Headmaster, Roy), who, coincidentally currently lives in Red Cliffs, was both my Social Studies teacher, Form Teacher and athletics coach. I agree, a great mentor. Fortunately Brian Keeble was in a slightly different age group in athletics, so my main competitor in sprinting was Graham (Pommy) Adnams. The photograph of 4A would indicate, by your absence, that you may have been in another form (or absent)? I still remember the names of these 4A contemporaries (L-R): Back Row – Terry Buckingham, Robert Rigby, Norman Ellsley, Bill Viney, Jeff Dowsley. Middle Row – Edward Tkacz, Geoffrey Lancaster, Graeme Heley, Neil Wright, Laurie Gidding, Ian Cody, Brian Prentice, Tom Brown. Front Row – David Carmichael, Malcolm Williams, Graham Adnams, Geoffrey Brown, Robert Brown Bradley Pike. As Ian Mac has said above, we all have carried great memories of our time at “the Tech.”

  3. Great interview Geoff. The group of us who were at the Tech through those years all have great memories & most of us had a successful career, some even were great achievers. I visited John Howden, our old maths teacher, 18 months ago in Melbourne. Even Reg Macey, another maths teacher, is also alive & kicking. I believe that Joan Kirner made a bloody big mistake by closing down tech schools.

    1. Hello Robert. Agree with you that we would all having great memories (mostly – I do remember going to the toilet near the B Wing entrance to the Maths Dept and being wrongly included in a bunch of boys who were getting up to tomfoolery, rounded up by John Howden and given “six of the best” – which made me a lifetime opponent (as a teacher) of corporal punishment!). That 4A group photograph of us (above) I have individually named (hopefully correctly) in my response to Brian Erskine. Do you know what further studies the group members did (and where), careers they followed, whether they’re still alive? I remember us having to do F&M (Fitting and Machining) over at the High School and having to grab our navy blue aprons from our lockers before heading over via Havilah Crescent. Also remember Malcolm Williams falling over in the machine shop and dislocating his elbow. There were pros and cons with Tech Schools closing. They did represent a very real class system (you’ll remember the adage “if you’re good with your hands, you go to the Tech; if you’re good with your head you go the High”), which was largely nullified when apprentices were hived off into the new TAFE college (SCOT), when secondary colleges were expected to deliver a broad education, and when senior colleges built facilities for Technology Studies. Cheers!

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