Janet Campbell: “The Red-Fanged Snake Cake”

The Red-Fanged Snake Cake

Cake! Is there any other word so guaranteed to start the smiles, the joy, the celebrations?

Our family’s cake story started nearly nine years ago, when my about-to-turn-eight years’ old oldest nephew pleaded with his parents for a red-fanged snake cake for his birthday party. He’d been a bit obsessed with snakes for a while… but this was an unexpected and rather daunting request.

At that time, I had no experience of cake decorating . . . but well, I put up my hand. I was able to borrow a couple of ring cake pans from friends. They seemed to be the style most likely to lend themselves to snaky body curls. Those red fangs? A red Freddo frog and a very sharp scalpel. And how to keep the snake’s mouth open so that we could all admire those red fangs? … a clear plastic decorative plate stand. Yes, it all worked and we had one super happy birthday boy.

A birthday boy with two younger brothers… my nephews’ birthday cake tradition had just got underway.

Fortunately, I was able to find a wonderful bakery offering cake decorating lessons. Thanks to Mandie at Three Sweeties, I’m so grateful for the skills and techniques that I’ve learned.

Every birthday offers a new challenge. My philosophy has been… whatever they want! These past years’ birthday cake challenges have included: roller skates, bats & spiders, a koala, Nerf Gun, Thomas the Tank Engine, Pikachu, Lego, Minecraft, Star Wars BB-8, Shrek Swamp House, Septiceye Sam, Sonic the Hedgehog and many more.

My oldest nephew is about to turn 17. Yet I have no doubt that he’s already thinking about this year’s birthday cake theme. I doubt they’re going to outgrow this given their Dad asked for a cake featuring the Star Trek Enterprise attacking a Borg Cube for his 60th.  I’m looking forward to many more years of crazy and very enjoyable family and friends’ cake challenges.

Lois Daley: “My Mother”

My Mother
(written for International Women’s Day 2021)

Jessie Georgina Craske was born 1904, the eldest of five girls, to John and Sophia who lived in a small rented cottage in Ross St Port Melbourne.

Jessie was a pupil at Nott St State school till the age of 14.

She found work at Johnson and Johnson Talc Powder Manufactures, working five and a half days a week, becoming an expert at Box Powders with beautiful ribbon silk bows.

Jessie and her Sister Hilda loved dancing, live theatre, train trips to Belgrave, and best of all outings along the Bay on the ship Hygea to Portsea at weekends; and of course their local Port Theatre was a favourite Saturday night outing.

Jessie’s Mother Sophia died in her fifties leaving Jessie and her Father Sidney to care for their family.  Kathy, the youngest, was born disabled so Jessie became a surrogate Mother for many years.

Jessie met Albert Daley in 1930 and they married in 1935 after they put a deposit on a new Garden City Bank Home of English design facing a beautiful reserve and with a large backyard to grow veggies and fruit trees; such a large block compared with most homes in the Borough.

Jessie made pickles, jams, chutneys and bottled fruit, and cared for her well tended garden.  She upholstered furniture, painted, mended shoes, cut our hair, made all our clothes; there was nothing she didn’t have a go at – she often said she loved her life in Garden City.

Her memory and presence is with me every day as this where I have made my home.  My life growing  up here moulded me to whom I am today and as her Daughter I am truly blessed.

Darling Mum I miss you.

Jessie died peacefully in her sleep in her home in July 1991 Age 87 years.

Written by her Daughter Lois Hilda Daley of Port Melbourne.

(Pictures shown are for effect only and are not connected to Lois or her mother)

Lois Daley: “Vegemite”

Vegemite – Aroma and History in Port Melbourne to Preserve

In the early 1970s my father, the late Albert Edward Daley, a boilermaker, often walked across Murphy’s Reserve in Port Melbourne from our home in garden City to the Vegemite factory to work on the boilers.*

My brother John, who died just recently, worked for Hewlett Packard and travelled overseas for the company.  Taking along with him his wife Wendy and four young children, he was away for nearly five years, setting up new branches in Germany, California and Singapore.

While overseas, they contacted us by phone to tell us they could not buy Vegemite in Mexico, so our dad bought tins of it from the factory to send to them, much to the delight of the children.

I remember sitting at the kitchen table writing letters to go inside the parcels; there was no internet or mobile phones in these times or places.

Listening to today’s stories of preserving the aroma still coming from the factory on Vegemite Way, we are reminded that one can often smell it as we alight from Westgate Bridge.

Going overseas in those days, to places so far away, was a big adventure.  Our parents were a little horrified that they needed this adventure with such a young family, but in the years to come, as Hewlett Packard expanded into many countries around the globe, their travels took them to many parts of the world.  Memories, memories and more memories.

* Postscript: In 1976 dad died from working on those boilers in factories around Port Melbourne, having contracted Mesothelioma from asbestos the boilers were lined with.  The disease was in his body for some twenty to thirty years before it took the toll of a condition not able to be cured – and not a death one would wish on any family, or any enemy either, as most died within eighteen months.

It was fortunate I was a nurse at the time, so came home to help mum nurse him for the fourteen months after diagnosis until his death, here in the home he bought as a 26 year old single man in 1928 when he was an apprentice boilermaker.

Lois Best: “Locked Out”

Clunk. Uh oh. That’s the sound of the back door locking behind me. I try the knob. Yep, it’s locked. This is not good. I am locked outside my daughter’s house, in her Fort Knox style backyard.

I’m staying here just to look after my teenage granddaughters’ rabbits during one of Port Phillip’s rare heatwaves. I’ve come outside first thing in the morning to give the rabbits some greens, cool water, and shade to keep them safe. Backyard bunnies don’t do well in the heat. My family are off looking after a house with a swimming pool and a dog. (I thought that gave me the easier job.)

My brain goes into overdrive. The back gate is locked and barricaded. The side gate is padlocked. (I’ve never seen a key for it.) I contemplate huddling in a heap and living on rabbit pellets and lemons until they come and rescue me. They would (eventually) notice my phone going unanswered because it is, of course, locked inside the house.

The heat is the problem, and the reason I shut the door in the first place – to keep the heat out of the house. (didn’t mean to keep myself out as well!)

So, what to do? Even if I could climb over the high fence, which is unlikely, it is hardly practical because I am clad only in my nightie. And add to that (and I realise this could be classified as way too much information) no glasses, no denture, no underwear.

I contemplate breaking into the house. But if I did smash a, multi framed, window there’s still the problem of clambering through it.

Instead, I will break out – through the side gate. I scour the shed for suitable tools. Armed with screwdriver and hammer, I attack the padlock. I break part of the gatepost (oops) but it means I can slide the bolt and open the gate.

My objective is the key-keep on the front porch. This, of course, brings on another dilemma. I don’t know the code. Thankfully my daughter knows her neighbours well, and they know me by sight. (But usually, I am more appropriately dressed and with all my teeth.)

I take a chance and bashfully creep through their front gate. Thankfully Amanda is up and to her credit she doesn’t laugh. She doesn’t know the code, so she texts my daughter. Awkward minutes pass then I say, “She’s sent the code to my phone, hasn’t she?”

Amanda’s next text produces the code. Then I need more help as, without my glasses, I can barely see the key-keep let alone its numbers!

Amanda’s boisterous new puppy is overjoyed by the early morning excitement and will not be left home. I happily carry him while she wrestles with the underused, awkwardly placed, key-keep. Eventually she calls her (grown up) son over to help. Oh, the embarrassment. Thankfully I have the puppy to hide behind. But it gets me the key.

Inside, reunited with my phone, and glasses, I find texts from my bewildered daughter:

Text 1: Hi, the pin is…

[and there is the magic number]

Text 2: Sorry the bike is in the way

[No answer from me, of course.]

Text 3: Everything ok?

[Well at that stage, no!]

I text back that the bike was the least of my worries and give a brief rundown of events. I’m able to reassure her that at least she knows that her house isn’t easy to break into.

Oddly, we continue to text instead of calling.

She texts:

Just got confused because:

(A) It was early

[I am notoriously not a morning person]

(B) you are always organised with keys


(C) you always have your phone!!

[Again, true and I briefly admire her ability to text in an orderly alpha style list]

She continues:

1st thought (literally) was that maybe you’d been up all-night partying and just got home! LOL! And lost your keys and phone in a bar or something.

[Who? Me?]

2nd thought was that you’d been out for a walk and didn’t take keys – that’s why I pinged your phone first – didn’t occur to me that that’s why Amanda was sending the message for you! Coffee not quite kicked in! What a drama.  I’m so sorry that happened to you! Thank goodness for amazing neighbours. I’m still trying to process it all. But glad you’re safe and sound. I think scout badge earned.

[I’ll accept that]

The flurry of texts eventually ends with her: Phew! Well played!!

[She’s right!]

It’s then that the adrenalin kicks in. I indulge in comfort food.

[I earned salted caramel ice-cream drowned in chocolate topping for breakfast].

When I feel brave enough, I prop the door open so I can check on the rabbits.

[At this point I no longer care if the heat gets into the house.]


There they are, oblivious to the drama. So cute, contentedly chomping kale.

There I am, completely exhausted before eight o’clock in the morning.


How to Enrol

On-line: after bookings have opened

On-line enrolments are preferred as this significantly reduces the amount of back-office work for our volunteers.

  • Login to the U3APP.org.au website.
  • Go to the Courses & Enrolling page.
  • Scroll down to find the course that you are interested in.
  • Does the course have spaces available?
    • Click on the course name to go to the booking page.
    • Click on “Book for this course or event”.
    • You will receive a confirmation email.  Please check your Junk/Spam folders as these automatically-generated emails often finish up there.
  • OR is the course shown as FULL?
    • Click on WAITLIST.

Paper Enrolment Form: before bookings open for First Semester

  • Obtain a paper Enrolment Form either from the Office or by printing an online copy available here.
  • Complete the paper Enrolment Form and submit it to the Office.

The start date for acceptance of paper Enrolment Forms for first semester is published on the U3APP website and in the e-Bulletin. Enrolment Forms received before this date are treated as though they had been received on the start date (ie there is no advantage to be gained by submitting early). On the start date and thereafter, paper Enrolment Forms are numbered in order of receipt.  Paper Enrolment forms are processed by U3APP volunteers on the same day as on-line bookings.

If your enrolment is successful, you will receive a confirmation email.  Please check your Junk/Spam folders as these automatically-generated emails often finish up there.

If your enrolment is unsuccessful,  you will receive an email telling you that you have been waitlisted.

Via the Office: after bookings have opened

  • Contact the office in person, or by email or phone.