The Bark DECEMBER 2017 - Issue 11

I would like to say how very proud and happy I am, as a Candlebark parent, that myself and my family are part of such a loving, vibrant, inspiring community. The last few weeks of term have been very tiring and tough for all the teachers and staff in particular, but regardless you were true to that old show business saying that 'the show must go on'. And on it went, Marco Polo was a true testament to the dedication and love of Candlebark, and John, that all the teachers, staff and students shard. Congratulations to you all on a fabulous production!

John, wishing you a speedy recovery and a joyous and restful holiday season with your loved ones.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all the parents, friends and students of Candlebark! Its been a fantastic 2017, looking forward to more fun and adventures in 2018.

If you have anything you would like to contribute to future issues of 'The Bark' please feel free to email me; janeduggan26@yahoo.com.au

Jane Cahill - Editor In Chief


  • Morning Meeting Thanks
  • 'Tomorrow, When the Walk Began' Reflections
  • Tournament of the Minds
  • Grade 5 Mount Macedon Walk
  • Intergalactic Candlebark Fashion Parade
  • Grade 4 Artists
  • Chess Report - Junior & Middle Years State Finals
  • Bush Kinder 2017
  • Marco Polo - End of Year School production
  • Community Notices

Morning Meeting Thanks

At the morning meeting on Monday we acknowledged the outstanding bunch of Candlebark kids who recently returned from the epic 'Tomorrow, When the Walk Began' hike. This was an optional trip that involved carrying a heavy backpack for seven days across some of the most rugged and spectacular mountains in Victoria. Our entire Year 8 class and three Year 7 students chose this particular adventure, and most shared stories with us on Monday.

This remarkable group of students will move on from Candlebark at the end of 2017. Before they leave, we wanted to officially acknowledge the huge contribution they have made to our outdoor education program.

Over the past two years, Candlebark has experienced a golden age of outdoor adventures. Golden ages occur when there is a lot of interest in a particular idea or project or activity at a particular time. Some years we have a strong bunch of chess players and we may aim for state or even national finals. Some years we have super talented musicians or performers and this creates wonderful opportunities for the SKA band, soirees, and the end of year play. Recently, we've been fortunate enough to have a bunch of kids who enjoy being in the bush, and having adventures together. This has led to lots of great journeys to and through many wild and beautiful places.

Everything we have offered, this group have chosen. They have achieved things that some people would not have thought possible with kids their age. In doing so, they have proven time and again that they are adventurers in the true sense of the world. They have reinforced our belief that almost anything is possible with a motivated group of young people in the bush. They have inspired us. They have amazed us. They have filled us with pride. They have been mighty fine companions on many memorable journeys. For all these things, we say a massive thanks!

It has been an absolute pleasure to share the bush and these adventures with these students. With a bit of luck and some careful planning, we hope to share further adventures with them in the future!

- Sam Ford

'Tomorrow, When the Walk Began' Reflections

Our journey begins on the majestical Howqua River at Seven Mile Flat. Our group is made up entirely of Alice Miller kids, but most of them have also been Candlebark kids. They are familiar, comfortable, reliable – like a well-worn, much-loved pair of hiking boots. Two other Candlebark and Alice Miller groups are also on the mountains.

We encounter twelve river crossings on the first afternoon. We walk much of the way in bare feet. Progress is slow, but it feels like a good introduction to the remote and rugged place. Sunlight streams along a straight stretch of river. We eventually arrive at Ritchie’s Hut. It’s a perfect place to spend our first evening together.

The next day involves a 1000 m vertical climb. Our packs are heavily loaded and we earn every metre of elevation gained. Lilu produces a cheeseburger from a well-known fast food chain at our second break! The rest of us munch on scroggin – a tasty mix of nuts, chocolate, dried fruit and red raspberries. We reach Bluff Hut and camp there.

The following morning we press on through scattered snowgums and across alpine meadows. We get glimpses of the mountains further south as we make our way to the summit of Mt Magdala. We cross a carpet of purple wildflowers to admire the views from the top. We push on to find water and a lovely campsite at Hellfire Creek.

We return to Mt Magdala in the hope of seeing the sunset. We’re rewarded with what Michael Leunig might describe as a ‘near life experience’. Our senses are heightened as a solitary rain bearing cloud follows our path to the summit. Beneath this increasingly dark cloud and above the black silhouette of the mountain top lies a band of bright light which draws us ever closer. Rain begins to fall and the sunlight catches every single drop, giving the impression that we are walking through a shower of softly falling stars. We find ourselves in a scene that is beautiful beyond words. Thunder rumbles above us as we stand in awe and embrace these extraordinary moments.

On Tuesday morning we set off on what must surely be one of the most spectacular days of bushwalking in Australia. We reach the summit of Mt Howitt for morning tea and our minds boggle as we contemplate where we have come from, and where we are going next. We are surrounded by mountains so grand that we can’t help but feel small in comparison, and yet at the same time, we feel on top of the world.

At almost the exact halfway point of our trip, we cross paths with another group of Candlebark and Alice Miller kids. It’s a momentous occasion which highlights the breadth of our Outdoor Education program – the younger students who inspire us to reassess the limits of what is possible, and the older students who have grown enormously through their involvement in this program over a number of years. Our pride in both groups is immeasurable.

We continue up and over Mt Buggery and Mt Speculation to find another fine campsite overlooking the Wonnangatta River valley. Our map refers to this area as the Terrible Hollow, but in John Marsden’s classic ‘Tomorrow’ series, this place is Hell. We spend many moments contemplating the valley and the surrounding and distant mountains during our stay at this remarkable spot.

Each evening at dinner we take turns to give thanks for things for which we are grateful. Our appreciation is far reaching – from those who packed or prepared food, to those who have supported our journey in various ways, to the people who have helped us throughout the day, to the places that surround us, to the birds and animals that cross our paths, to the weather. This simple ritual reminds us how lucky we are to be in this particular place, with these people, at this time.

We cover so much ground on the first four days that we decide to rest on the fifth. It’s a treat to be able to lie in our cosy sleeping bags and watch the sunrise in the morning. There is no hurry to go anywhere or do anything. Instead, there is time to rest, to admire the views, to splash in the nearby creek, to play cards, to sit and think and simply hang out together.

We make the pilgrimage to Mt Speculation for the final sunset along the higher stretch of our route. Rain clouds once again skirt around us and the sun sneaks beneath them to light a landscape that is spectacularly beautiful in every direction we look.

On Thursday we reluctantly leave our high campsite and make our way towards the upper King River valley. Half the group make a significant side trip to Mt Cobbler, an impressive peak that offers views to farmland beyond the mountains. The other half of the group commence a steep descent down Muesli Spur. The going is tough but we can't really complain - the two younger groups climbed up this same path!

The King River provides our first opportunity to swim in days. It’s an invigorating experience for those brave enough to immerse themselves in the icy water. With considerable time and patience, we cultivate a glowing fire from wet wood. We appreciate the warmth of the fire as we enjoy our final dinner and reflect on our shared journey.

The final day of our journey begins as it started – by crossing a river. There is something symbolic about crossing a river. We leave something behind, but something new awaits. The sun has found a way through the canopy of trees to share this celebration with us. Silent silhouettes make their way carefully through knee deep water. The stream sparkles as it traces a path around our steady legs.

Our final 4 km is an uphill grind. As we climb, we catch occasional glimpses of where we were two days earlier – the Crosscut Saw, Mt Buggery and Mt Speculation all seem further away than they really are. Our arrival at the end is acknowledged quietly, rather than celebrated wildly. If we were offered fresh food and the opportunity to walk on, some would certainly take it. There seems to be no real hurry to leave the mountains, but eventually, we do.

It's good to know that these places will always be here, and we can return at any time. - Sam Ford

Tournament of the Minds

The achievements of the Tournament of Minds teams in 2017 were outstanding. After winning their divisions in the Regional finals, the 14 students went on to achieve equal second (Honours) in the Victorian State Final. The students involved were Piper, Lauren, Brigitte, Lugh, Lucas, Zara, Cameron, Maisie, Lachlan, Ebony, Kai, Rook, Olivia and Jadzia. (A mix of students from Grades 4, 5 and 6)

Tournament of Minds is a problem solving programme, in which four teams are required to solve demanding, open-ended challenges, without adult direction or assistance. It provides an opportunity for students with a passion for learning and problem solving to demonstrate their skills and talents in an exciting, vibrant and public way. It aims to enhance the potential of our youth by developing diverse skills, enterprise, time management, and the discipline to work collaboratively within a competitive environment. (Taken from the Tournament of Minds website)

In Term 2, most of these students spent Friday Activity times working on team challenges, expanding their abilities to think creatively and learning to view the challenges from different perspectives. They had tremendous enthusiasm and an obvious delight in being given these opportunities.

Term 3 brought the actual 6 week challenges, which were complex and very involved. The team members used their free time and sleepovers to work together on solutions. At La Trobe University they wowed the judges (and us) with their enthusiasm, good humour, teamwork and creativity… and both teams won their division. During the Victorian Final’s challenge, both teams were in ‘Lock Down’ for 3 hours, while they worked together to come up with a creative 10 minute play which showcased their solution. Their ‘Spontaneous Challenge’ was another component they dealt with beautifully. Again, the performances were intelligent, lively, funny and very creative, with both teams just missing out on winning the Victorian Finals.

The students showed qualities we value at Candlebark: creativity, the desire and ability to work collaboratively, delight and a sense of fun in creating and solving problems, support and openness to others’ ideas, and the determination to see the project through to its end. Congratulations to these awesome students.

- Wendy Wright

Grade 5 Mount Macedon Walk

On Wednesday 8TH of November, fourteen grade 5s set out on a three day adventure around Mount Macedon. They would never be the same again….

We met off the bus, around amenities, and while the rest of the school played chess, we distributed scroggin (nuts, raisins, apricots and jellybeans), went to the toilet, made sandwiches (hopefully not in that order) and drank water. A quick check of the first aid pack, a grab of an epipen and inhaler and we were off.

By 10.15 we had reached Michelle’s office, and we stopped to recover, share stories and get a photocopy of the map, provided by Sam. We also thought a quick check of the bags might be a good idea, and it turns out it was. There was a variety of bags in use: some way too big, meaning that the belt took no weight, as it was all on the shoulders; some far too small, meaning there were auxiliary bags bouncing around the edges, annoying after three minutes, cruel after three days; but thankfully most just right: the correct size, everything packed in the bag, and scroggin and water easily accessible. These kids were about to embark on one of the longest walks they’d ever done, and some were starting from a heavily disadvantaged place.

A few adjustments, some repacking, and we were off.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and not too hot, so we quickly made it to Mount Eliza road, then over to Eatons road. This was a road I’d passed for three years, and I was excited to be strolling up it. The kids were in great shape, chatting away while working through their scroggin bags and muesli bars. We had a brief snack stop to eat sandwiches, a police car drove past us (Ollie Tautkus disappearing momentarily from view…) and we decided to have a longer stay in the Mount Charlie Nature reserve, which is a stunning forest with a beautiful blanket of spring flowers. One game of Camouflage and a slightly sprained ankle before we were off again, wandering up the track and under the shady canopy of some truly magnificent gum trees.

There came a point where we had to take a right turn through a farmer’s field to get across to the Sandy Creek and Gap Road junction. Sam had mentioned some cows, but obviously as group leader, I wasn’t permitted to show any fear or reluctance: everyone knows that kids can smell it. It’s not an entirely irrational fear, it’s just a discomfort of having to share a field with cattle, born of being chased by mature bullocks in Scotland on the way to my Grandmother’s house, every year. Anyway, Sam wouldn’t put me and the kids into a field with anything but docile cows.

By the time we reached the cows, Elliot had managed to lose a sleeping bag, and make sure we were a good hundred metres away from the main group. This meant that I wouldn’t be able to hide in a huddle of soft, protective children. As I watched a particularly frisky cow, without an udder, have a little go at Charlie, then watch Charlie do a very good Usain-Bolt-with-a-rucksack impression to the gate, I began to silently curse Sam. Elliot asked what I was mumbling about. Carrying two rucksacks, I figured the lack of pace when I ran might be offset by the extra protection: a sort of mutant ninja tortoise. I got Elliot to walk on the other side of me, away from the cows, but closer to my tripping foot. I’m not sure what nonsense I nonchalantly conversed about, while the rest of the class sat on the other side of the gate watching us approach. All the cows, the calves and the bullocks sort of stampeded in a half-arsed fashion away from us. Except one. The One. I’ve met this One before, and we don’t like each other. Two egos, two watching tribes, one field.

The bull(ock) stared at me, just me, Elliot seemed innocently oblivious to the tension in the air, then, and there’s not a word of bull(ock) poo here, it did a full four hoof jump off the ground! A sort of American bunny hop: front two, then back two. Then it stared at me, as if to say, whatcha got? Clearly my thatched Panama hat (made in Ecuador) nor my prescription RayBans impressed this bull-y. Not even the fact that I could carry two rucksacks at the same time, was enough, so I resorted to a teacher’s key weapon. I raised my voice and waved my arms around. Elliot certainly seemed awestruck by the power and poise of this new teacher, but the bullock didn’t move an inch. Which was fine, as it wasn’t actually on our route. We had both saved face in front of our charges, and we knew it wasn’t worth the mutual assured pain of an actual clash: him with his ton of muscle and baby pointy horns, me with my opposable thumbs and thinning hair.

It’s amazing how far back your peripheral vision can stretch when truly and fearfully stretched. I remember telling Elliot to stay calm and just walk, or it may have been the other way round, but we eventually got to the gate. The kids all seemed suitably disappointed that they hadn’t witnessed their teacher being chased across a paddock by a baby bull.

A short kilometre later, and we had arrived at Kate and Murray’s beautiful cabin in the woods, where we were given a lovely field to camp in.

Pasta and pesto, Capture the Flag, table tennis, some weird card game that Charlie had brought, coffee, marshmallows, a real flushing toilet were just some of the highlights. Late at night, around the fire, a solo performance from Marchella of Croat radio vs traditional songs really highlighting the dearth of modern culture. Marchella dismissed the radio song as being girl meets boy, girl and boy break up, heartbreak; when asked about the meaning of the traditional song, there was love and battles and war, until she finally explained that it was too complicated to fully explain!

Around half the boys opted to sleep out under the tarp, and there was a heavy dew that night. Somehow Harry had managed to roll over, and in classic domino behaviour, poor Jack had been nudged out the far side and his bag was getting wet. I couldn’t face trying to carry Jack and his new sleeping mat across to the other side, so there was some dragging on mats, which neatly highlighted the various depths of sleep achieved.

The next morning we all awoke to the dawn chorus of seven boys discussing the Bachelorette or something equally important, at 5.35. Normally I’m a real morning person, springing out of bed to welcome the day, but I knew this day would be physically arduous, and I stressed the importance of snatching another precious hour’s sleep from the comfort of my sleeping bag. I used a short, sharp command with no room for misunderstanding, so as to magnify the incredible importance of this particular sleep, before snatching another half an hour’s solitude in the foetal position, my head resting under, or perhaps even in, my rucksack.

By nine o’clock we had packed up, eaten, drunk water, forgiven each other and filled our water bottles again, relocated our precious scroggin, had three coffees, waved goodbye to the flushing toilet and agreed to meet Murray a little later up the road. Obviously I’d done my teeth, but I’m pretty sure none of the others had, so don’t believe them.

The start of the walk was quite a long, dusty climb beside a road, and within five hundred metres we were probably spread over two hundred. The morning people were up front, chatting away and stomping on, while I marshalled the slightly slower, slightly grumblier kids at the back. We were all now aware of the importance of chatting while walking. A random conversation about Brussel sprouts or the importance of flossing or what flavour is a white jelly bean, is far better than working out how far you have to go. Likewise, taking in scenery, or keeping your head down, helps a long hill become more manageable. We were all getting into a proper rhythm, finding natural allies on the trek, and trying not to focus on how far we had to go, but appreciating how far we had come.

It was a good long hard walk, which took us to Mountain’s Lane, then on to a rutted four wheel drive track, and finally through an incredible, cool, quiet forest, enroute to Sanitorium Lake. We stopped for snacks and games, then marched on, ever upward. And I want to be very clear, this track which Sam had casually mentioned, was UPWARD. So many random chats about TV shows, X-box games, popstars, going through the alphabet thinking of animals, unhealthy snacks, countries. The promise of sweet, sweet chocolate at the top. It went on and on. And on, up and up and up.

Until finally, slightly wheezing, almost in tears (but can’t show it, must be strong), feet screaming, shoulders burning, heart racing (nearest defib would probably be in Gisborne, maybe I should casually mention that to one of the kids…) we got to the top!! Of this bit of the track….

We now marched along the Sanitorium Lake track, which is certainly a lot shorter by car. Some of the kids were still struggling to believe that sitting down and standing up again, and again, and again, is actually, and again, more tiring, really?again?, than just walking, guess what, and getting into a flow. The sun beat down, and we marched on, flat land, but strong sun: a ragtag impression of Napoleon’s retreating army. Except in the sun. And we’d only been away twenty six hours.

Ava and I led the way, discussing the importance of having friends with swimming pools, while Ollie whipped them from the rear. Ava’s account of sleeping in the tent with her three female comrades across the slope, and the resulting rolling onto her all through the night, kept my spirits up.

We had now reached a major road beneath the Camel’s Hump, and after a minor map reading sort of error (Ollie) we regrouped went back up the steep slope we’d descended (how we laughed) and made our way to the carpark, where Murray had left his ute for us to shove our bags in. We felt a lot lighter, and we floated up the track where we found Murray, but momentarily lost Jack (looking for a short cut?!).

Murray had us all sit down as he calmly explained (Murray only works in calm mode) what was going to happen. Considering the kids were about to potentially go over the edge of a thirty metre cliff, you’d think they might pay attention, as if, oh I don’t know, their lives depended on it. But some habits are hard to break, and bickering over a muesli bar has far more value than listening to some guy explain how to put the harness on before falling off a cliff.

Kate had explained to the kids, the night before, the importance of challenge by choice. This essentially means that you have to decide to challenge yourself. There is far less merit or value in being made to do something, particularly by peer pressure. Wanting to conquer a completely natural fear is a personal thing, which, as part of our job, we will encourage you to do, but it is certainly not expected. There is no judgement made of you for deciding not to do something, as you are clearly not ready, and we are all on our own developmental journeys.

Aidan’s arm almost left its socket when Murray asked for a first volunteer. Which was a great way to start the session. From that, there was a steady stream of kids wanting to give it a go.

I can’t really adequately express what a perfect afternoon it was. We started at 2.30. There were rock climbers doing their thing opposite us, on the Witch’s Hat. We sat as an extended group, relatively near the edge, watching individuals choose to challenge themselves and overcome their own fears. I’d check they were harnessed up correctly, with a helmet on. Murray sat just back from the edge, explaining how to feed the rope through to allow themselves to drop down, whilst demonstrating how he could shut the safety rope off at any point. Then it was lean back, walk backwards with feet spread out for stability and eyes on us or the surface. Ollie would meet them at the bottom, unclip them and they’d walk back up and around to us.

I’ve known most of these kids for a long time, and one of the many perks of this job is watching kids grow up. Obviously spending hours and hours, days and days together means you don’t always notice what’s happening right in front of you. But when they return from the holidays, or you haven’t been with them for a while, the jumps in development, the progress in character, the difference in height becomes much more apparent. To see my old grade fours, standing on a cliff edge on a perfect sunny day. To hear the eager words of encouragement to one another. To see the smiles as they returned from the drop, gave me such a sense of pride in these kids. How they are with each other: how they support and play and mess around and take joy in each other’s successes or bravery, how they pick each other up when it’s needed. It was wonderful. I think eleven out of the fourteen had the ropes on, and stood on the edge. Ten made it over the edge. Some dropped quite quickly at first, and I’ll admit to having my heart in my mouth. I’d call out, “You ok Lena?” and thankfully a voice would float back up and over the cliff, “Yes! There’s a big gap here, what should I do?”

Many of the kids got to the edge, and decided to return later on. To revisit their fear, and try to conquer it. There was no pressure from anywhere, but within. They chose to become uncomfortable, to be anxious, to get stressed, and instead of avoiding it, they confronted it, and not just survived (phew!), but actually thrived on it. Once again, it brought home to me as a teacher, the immense benefits of the school’s outdoor program, and how an afternoon out can really have a lifetime’s impact. I can still exactly remember my first time abseiling with the venture scouts, and I was thirteen, not ten or eleven.

At five thirty, we had to wrap up. Sarah was at the camp waiting with snags and hamburgers and Sam had very kindly set up our tents. We’d walked eight kilometres and now had an interesting dilemma. There were two more kilometres to the camp site, and Murray had offered to drive our rucksacks there….But many of the kids agreed that having carried the rucksacks so far, it would be a shame to “cheat” now. And so almost everyone got their bags on, and we began the march to camp. Around the side of the Hump, lost through some bushes, popping out on the correct track, then bumping into Clancy and Dad having a walk!

We camped. We ruined a toilet. We fixed it. Some were under tarps, others in tents. There was talk, the girls’ tent giggled, a lot, and then blessed sleep. The tarp boys heeded the lessons of the previous day, and managed to turn the morning chorus volume down.

We were up, fed, dressed, packed, watered, emptied and walking by eight. A one hour improvement on the previous day: we were getting into our groove, our stride. We were a sleek strolling machine, and this was our last day. Obviously most of the kids were looking forward to getting home and seeing their loved ones, but there hadn’t been nearly as much homesickness as I’d expected.

Another stunning day. Up a steep hill, along a road, cutting in and some bush bashing following some lovely ribbons left by the mysterious Sam then back to the never ending track. Discussions of time travel and multiverses, AI machines and jobs for the future. Down a couple of lanes, then up a couple, then in through the legendary Candlebark back gate! As clearly marked as the front. Up the last real testing hill. All the students attacked it, knowing they were so close to home. They’d finally stopped asking how far they had to go, and were now appreciating how far they had come. Past the new drop dunnies, then Wignalls, and finally it was on! School within smelling distance!

I’d wanted to say something to the whole group upon return. To point out what they had achieved, to stress how important it is face challenges, and deal with them in bite size portions rather than be overwhelmed by it all. To praise them all for doing it with a minimum of fuss, usually with a smile on their faces, and an eagerness to push on. I wanted to reflect on bad habits of mind: of seeing the worst, worrying the most, focussing on negatives and how it stops you achieving and how it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. And how it’s all in the mind. That they’re not even teenagers, and that they can choose to challenge themselves, or they can choose not to, but that if they let the doubts and fears rule them, they’ll never appreciate all the adventures in store for them through their lives. That they’re still growing, still changing, and that nothing is set in stone.

But they’d already run off, racing to get back to school, perhaps sensing a cheesy lecture and simply eager to sit down, or jump on the trampoline or go to Marco Polo practice!

Twenty eight kilometres, and they all did it, to the very end.

- Andrew Moffatt

Intergalactic Candlebark Fashion Parade

Some photos of the beautiful Intergalactic Candlebark Fashionistas

Grade 4 Artists

Wendy Wright has ever so kindly shared these photos of some of the Grade 4 Art work. What beautiful, artist minds can create from the simplest things - AMAZING!

Chess Report - Nationals

Here we are at the Nationals. It’s been a slightly discombobulating drive, and we’re all feeling a little off. It’s going to be seven games over two days, twenty five minute per player matches against the strongest in the nation with all moves noted for tutoring afterwards! We can only try our best, and play with determination and pride. Lauren first back with her result, an early, and slightly too quick loss. She’s not too keen to go upstairs for the IM coaching as it was a “really bad loss”. I’m keen to make her. Either way, a muesli bar for her troubles. Oscar with a good solid win, a wry smile, and a couple of proud parents! He’s off upstairs for his coaching. Nice to get the team off the ground. Jett has a loss, but a smile, and thinks he knows where he went wrong. Hopefully it will be confirmed! I’ve just popped in to the MY tournament. Great to see Martin playing a very highly ranked player, which is really what this day is all about, deliberating over his end game. One with a bishop, one with a knight, and he’s one pawn down. Very intense, the moves being noted down, and you could hear a pin drop in there. Brilliant. Ilario shares a smile, Marlo is completely absorbed, Dan up to his eyes in it. The room is panelled in oak, the students all emblazoned and the focus is total. More results dribble in, but with the added coaching meaning the kids know exactly where they went wrong, and being aware of what they should have done. Martin is beaten, but only just, and he’s rightly feeling wronged as he knows exactly where he dropped the ball, and allowed his opponent to promote a pawn. Lucas is thrilled with the coaching, and despite a loss, has a very excited air about him. Brilliant! He wanders off with Draco, around the quadrangle, discussing the merits of queen openings, and who knows, maybe in another seven or eight years, perhaps these two wise grade fives will return as tomorrow’s leaders, studying law and programming and still unsure of the queen’s gambit: a little taller, a shade wiser. I finally find Ilario, who has just come out of the coaching, and even though he lost, he is grinning and heading off to the next game. They are loving this day!

Round 2: 11.30

Marlo distracted by the notational writing (forgot he was on the alpine walk all last week when we practised it) has a shaky game, and loses quite early. We pop back to the bus, and upon return, Clancy has had a quick win, and Lugh a quick loss. I’m a quite upset at how quickly both their games have finished. We’re here at the nationals playing FOUR games in a day, and they finish in around ten minutes: it’s not on. Lauren with a good win.

Leonid has turned up with his board, and is coaching a couple in the team. Ilario and Lugh have poor losses, and are annoyed with themselves. Ranking cowed Lugh, and Ilario just didn’t get started. Leonid is LOVING coaching Ilario through his game, really letting him know where and how he went wrong in that gentle nurturing style the Russians are famous for….”Why? Why you do this? Is stupid.” Etc etc.

Oscar in a very tense game. Draco just up from him, down to pawns and bishops. I watch Oscar for four or five minutes, both players down to pawns and queens, the race to promote, or capture a queen. It’s horribly intense, especially as Oscar appears to be winning, and now appears be about to lose. I can barely watch it, so playing it must be horrible. Oscar mops up the pawn on one side of the board, and I’m thinking the opponent is making a real mess of this, but he has actually very subtly got his king to the other side of the board to support his queen and get his pawn promoted. A little later, and I’ve just watched Oscar getting his tuition and it boils down to being able to spot skewers, pins, discovered attacks in the mid-game, something we could all improve on. Daily chess puzzles are the go, helping you to spot the opportunities throughout the game.

But, let’s be clear, there is a huge amount of time, twenty five minutes, and I feel as though you should be pausing long enough to see a trapped pawn, the beginnings of a skewer or pin, and that that’s why you’re here, not to knock off a game in ten minutes and look for a snack.

It’s taken me forty minutes to drive around the block and repark the car: Melbourne!

ROUND 3: 2.00pm

The kids all grab their booklets and trudge off to the next game.

We need to lift, and I try a slightly rousing speech, which is probably as useful as a plane that can slightly fly, or a wheel that sort of goes round.


Visualising nothing. They see the obvious next move, but don’t give themselves time to imagine other possibilities, to create other attacks. There’s a lot of very unimaginative chess being played, which is such a shame. Sometimes you need to sit and stare at the board, get a whiff of an idea, then look harder to see how to get to it. Take your time!

Cosi wins. Marlo has a smile on his dial. Jett looks switched on, Clancy misses a skewer attack, but seems to be going well. Dan asks where he goes when he has a win to report.

There’s reports of cheating by the kid against Oscar! The kid tries a couple of two for one moves!! Ilario gets his win, and has a smile and the biscuits.

Clancy misses a skewer opportunity, and is now down a piece or two. Draco is battling from a losing position, Lugh makes a blunder to lose the game from a good position. Lauren is fighting hard, but two pawns down and up against it. Clancy is struggling against the baby faced assassin, but fighting hard to the end. He looks like he’s in trouble. Lauren, who had played this player before, eventually succumbs, but not without a heroic fight. Clancy, somehow wins!?! And it’s more a testimony to resilience and persistence than any real skill, although, he waited for an opportunity, and when it finally presented itself, he struck. From a bishop and I think a rook down in the end game, he’s somehow got a win, and the little eight year old chap he’s been playing, is distraught.

Now the long wait until the final round at 3.30, but at least we’re playing pretty well.

Round 4:

It’s been a long day, and finally the last game is on. We want it for a lot of reasons. I’m trying to keep the energy levels up, but also focussed. It’s a delicate balance. I’m handing out snakes, but the kid I feel for is literally sobbing at his board. What a day for the poor wee man from another school with no chocolate.

I’m feeding them at the tables now, in an attempt to keep them there for longer, but also to annoy the opposition. Chocolates and snakes. It’s seems to be working so far. Lucas and Jett early winners. Clancy, Oscar and Draco looking super focussed. Martin races in with an excited draw, and off upstairs to find out whether he shouldn’t have accepted it. With another day to go, it feels a little like the Ashes! The team have almost hit their stride now. The first two rounds weren’t our greatest, but I’m pretty pleased with the response. Dan playing such a mature game to end the day. Draco and his opponent going mental with a king and rook each, unable to offer a draw.

Lugh with a really impressive win at the last. He took six minutes to find the right move apparently. Instinct and experience kicking in, and he gave it the time to appear, eschewing the obvious for the smarter.

day 2

Dinner in Edinburgh Gardens, breakfast in Carlton: fantastic. Quick chess lecture from a female Russian Grandmaster, then off to the first game of the day. Someone said we’re doing quite well. I’m not interested in where we are now…. (sixth)

Three kids in the top 15 tables: Cosi, Oscar and Clancy, with a cluster coming through behind….

But now up against the big guns. Rankings in the low 1000s and high 900s.

Clancy lets the rating get to him, and doesn’t play his best game. The analysis showing he castled to the wrong side. Lugh leaves a knight unprotected, which costs him the game. Marlo is unlucky. It’s a really hard thing, to pick up from the previous day, and bearing in mind the strong finish, it means the start is even harder for us.

Cosi in a massive battle, the little devil in a sky blue uniform has caught right up in the end game, and is now in the ascendency. (We haven’t had a single win so far). Draco, first cab off the rank. Oscar, Clancy and Cosimo are all playing kids who are around 300 points above them. That’s why we’re here though, to play and learn with some of the most talented chess players in the country. And I’ve just spoken to Mr ChessKids himself, Tim, and the slightly twitchy child that Cosi was playing is the offspring of the female Russian GM that spoke this morning, and her husband, who was speaking downstairs and is, what are the odds, a Russian Grand Master as well. So there’s a coincidence. Anyway, nature vs nurture, Cosi was up against it. It would be great if some of the parents at Candlebark could take a little more interest in Russian GMs.

Lauren gets to fifty moves with the king, to survive against a bishop and a knight. Very well done!

There’s a crowd on table one. Such an interesting mix of long grey haired, dodgy-permed fifty something year old men, and well-presented Tiger mothers, glued to the pen-chewing decisions made by ten and eleven year olds.

And so ends perhaps the worst round I’ve seen us ever have, and we plummet to eighth in the country: disgraceful.

Round 6:

Because of our strong chocolate and sour snake finish to the day, we were pushed right up and ended up playing a whole different breed of chess nerd. Sadly we couldn’t sustain the sugar rush overnight, despite as much BBQ sauce as I could get onto their fish. Anyway, we were pulverised, and I’m desperately trying to get some more snakes into them, even though it’s 11.30.

There aren’t any more snakes, so we’ll have to make do with the Piedmonte’s sour dough rolls and Gypsy ham and mayonnaise to lift their spirits.

Cosimo gets off to a good start taking advantage of an opponent’s blunder. Lugh loses interest once his queen is gone. Clancy, Lauren, Draco and Lucas all looking focussed and fighting for the points.

Have I mentioned we’re into the second day of this marathon chess session? It’s hotter today, and we’re trying to stay hydrated and well fed. The kids are being fantastic, trying their best, staying positive, thinking and playing hard, and it’s a little exhausting.

Marlo with a hard fought, well-earned win. The Middle Years team wouldn’t be here without his efforts at State, and this has been a really big step up, and I’m so so impressed with his attitude and resilience in what is a really daunting tournament.

Oscar is fuming, so I’m assuming an annoying loss, possibly from a winning position.

Martin registers a win in a tough game, and you can see and hear the pleasure that’s brought. Big win for Lauren, she manages to bluff her way through a major error at the end of the game, and win.

Lucas is kicking himself for a bad miscalculation at the end of the endgame, turning what should have been a victory against Doncaster Gardens into a loss.

The Primary team is seventh in Australia, whilst the throw together middle years is a paltry eighteenth in this great nation of ours, it’s embarrassing…!

I for one am tired. BIG PUSH for the last round. Cmon Candlebarkians!!! Last round is to be played at 1.15.

Round 7:

I’m not sure anything I can write here will convey the sense of pride and the emotional state of mind I’m in. After two days of competing at the highest possible level, all these kids, all of them, are trying their absolute best to get over the line in the top ten of the nation. Nobody’s head has dropped, nobody is a quitter or a wreck, and let me be clear: everyone has been through a rough patch over the two days. We’re a little emotional for John, we’re at the end of a huge year of chess, it’s an incredibly busy term. I’m not in the business of comparison, but if this team had to write a list of all the things they’ve done this year beyond getting to the Nationals, they’d still be writing tomorrow, while their opponent’s mouths would be opening wider and wider.

Lucas coming in like he’s had the worst day in the office, but he’s keeping it together for the sake of the family.

Lugh (who is playing in the Middle Years, ahead of time) has that wrinkled nose of sheepishness.

Martin matter of factly has a loss, and he did “have a chance.” But he, “has no regrets!” and he shoots off to commiserate with Lucas in the quadrangle.

Draco can’t even look at me.

Did I give them too much chocolate?

Clancy, Lauren, Marlo, Dan, Cosi: all losers! I mean, unlucky in the last. Thankfully the gallows humour is beginning to kick in, and we’re beginning to have a laugh while we cry. This could be the worst end EVER. Jett spoils it with a win. Only Ilario and Oscar to come.

I wander over to watch Oscar lose his rook, and now it’s his king against a king and rook. I’ve got a feeling about this….

And yes, Ilario. Poor Ilario, the last chance to avoid the worst last round ever (exaggeration) has lost. I’m laughing at them for getting so upset, and some of them are beginning to get it, to keep a sense of proportion, as we try not to get too upset at not finishing in the top ten chess schools in this great nation of yours….

We plummeted to twelfth in primary, and eighteenth in the MY.

And so ends the year of chess. Some will return, others will find interests off the board and be lost for a while, yet other fresh players, particularly in this year’s Grade 3 will swell up our numbers and replace the sixes as they move on up to the Middle Years, where glasses, braces, and pimples really are almost mandatory. Thank you and good night.

- Andrew Moffatt

Bush Kinder 2017

On Tuesday 5 December the Bush Kinder kids of 2017 had their last session. There was a lot of excitement as the children were presented with a reader bag each, given to them by the Preps of 2017and it started to dawn on them that they would soon be the Preps and beginning their Candlebark journey. There may have even been some tears, but that was mostly the parents.

A big thanks to Kris and Krista for showing the children their way around Candlebark, making sure they are comfortable and confident in their new environment and for taking them on some wonderful adventures throughout the year.

Marco Polo - End of Year School Production

Our heartfelt thanks go to Taran for the terrific songs and musical arrangements. To Jo, Blizz, Wendy P and Liz for countless hours making costumes. To John for writing a script which provided structure, freedom and opportunities. To the kids who always give it their all on the night with such gusto and sheer talent. Thankyou to our dear Donna whose drama skills are unsurpassed.

Our thanks to you for your warm and enthusiastic response. Now all we have left to do is to:

"Take the dirt road, take the faint track.

When things go haywire, don't look back

Because the world is so full of wonderful things

I'm sure we should all be as a happy as kings!"

Enjoy your children over the holidays.

- Kate Tucker

Here are the wonderful words from Sam Ford delivered by Wendy P:

Our wonderful school is made up of many important parts, just like the human body. Our school and our bodies function at their best when each of these important parts connects with those around them. When this happens, anything is possible. Some of these parts we see every day, while others perform essential operations that occasionally go unnoticed. Tonight, we would like to acknowledge the many important parts of Candlebark body.

We give thanks to the feet – for taking us back and forth between the two most important places in our lives, home and school. Thanks Neill, Bibi, Ever and the bus driving team.

We give thanks to the legs – for running around and doing all kinds of important work. For being willing to bear heavy loads. For being strong, reliable, and hard working. Thanks Bob, Mike, Luke, Mitchell and Ollie.

We give thanks to the tummy, or more importantly, to those who have filled it with good food throughout the year. We value the energy, comfort and inspiration that the food you prepare, provides. Thanks Fiona & Skye.

We give thanks to the hands – one of the most practical and high functioning parts of the body. Able to perform countless, extraordinary feats, and to hold everything together, all the time. Thanks Michelle.

We give thanks to the bones and muscles – for providing strength, stability and structure, and for working together so seamlessly. Thanks to the unwavering efforts of what we believe is very special staff team.

We give thanks to the heart – for bringing this place to life, for sharing your passions, and for the deep love you have for this place and the people you share it with. Thanks to the majestical young people of Candlebark.

We give thanks to the skin – the largest organ in the human body. It surrounds us, encloses us, and protects us. Thanks to our wonderful school community who support what we do in so many ways.

And finally, we give thanks to the head – the control centre of this entire operation. A storehouse of useful information. A driver of thinking and learning. An infinite source of ideas, inspiration, thoughts and feelings. Thanks to our courageous principal, John Marsden. While he may have suffered a significant injury, he has enormous strength, resilience and a remarkable ability to heal, just like the human body.

The human body is a truly remarkable thing to inhabit, and Candlebark is a remarkable place to inhabit. Occasionally, our bodies require rest and a break from their regular routines. They need time to be still, time to be active, time to reflect on the many good things that have happened. They need time to prepare for what comes next.

2018 promises to be another enormous year at Candlebark…

Community Notices

2018 Registrations for Lancefield Junior Football & Netball Club ...come and be part of Tigerland

Football and Netball Teams

U9, U11, U13, U15 and U17

$190.00 Football*

$137.00 Netball

(plus $53 Victorian Netball Insurance)

For our families with 2 or more children please see the below offer

Second child $40 off, third, fourth, fifth child pay only the insurance $53.00

Online registrations open in January 2018….Club BBQ 9th February 2018...

Preseason starts 14th February 2018

Register your interest for free at www.trybooking.com/329652

Contact: Stacey Deimos 0466 156 132 stacey.deimos@gmail.com /

Kylie Sankey 0403 532 527 ksankey1@bigpond.com

*Insurance included

Created By
Jane Cahill

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