Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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In addition to the more institutional periodical publications such as The Pegasus, Ad Astra, The Principal’s Newsletter and the various Bulletins, a variety of other periodicals have been produced within the School over the years. Many of these were very short-lived, based on original contributions and were generally compiled, edited and produced by students. The earliest known example is The Collegian but several other notable publications have been produced including the early Preparatory School News; Chez Nous; Icarus and Tardis.

Cover of the Periodical 'Eighteen Sixty One', 1961.

Cover of the Periodical 'Eighteen Sixty One', 1961.

A ‘scurrilous internal news-sheet’ was how Bert Keith, in the 1961 College history, described the student inspired newspaper ‘Chez Nous’ . Its irreverent and newsy pictorial style however, was a refreshing and innovative look that brought together a range of student and staff skills supported by the technical expertise within Francis Rolland’s House of Guilds. Whatever the contemporary views were, it remains a fascinating insight into College life in the 1940s.

‘Chez Nous’ though was far from alone in its creative impact. It is one of a multitude of newspapers, newsletters, and magazines that have emerged over the years from the Collegian mind. The focus of this creative effort was varied: - to inform, record, stimulate, entertain, display, showcase and occasionally to confront. Fleeting, ephemeral and often rudimentary in production they highlight our changing culture.

These mainly printed and recurrent publications, formed part of a much broader seam that included other creative media such as music, drama, audio and video much of which has now morphed into the digital world. Some publications traversed the boundaries between student and staff and some were aimed solely at staff. ‘Omnium Gatherum’ for example was a professional development journal of staff contributions in the early 1990s.

The earliest known of the student oriented publications was ‘The Collegian’ published in 1882, a product of one person, probably Alexander Henderson Moore (1865-1919), that attempted to provide a journalistic account of doings at the College. Produced in a handwritten form, it is unclear how it was reproduced or distributed. Like many of its later cousins it contained an eclectic mix of sports and College news, poetry and dubious humour. It claimed to be a weekly and is known to have reached at least eleven issues and, other than the College annual reports, provides the only known first-hand account of student activities in the nineteenth century. The ‘Dewdrop’ and the ‘Clarion’ followed in the early 1900s the ‘Dewdrop’ featuring ‘The Mystery of the Lost Chord: A Thrilling Adventure of the Immoral Sheerluck Jones’.

The ‘Prep Newsletter’ produced by staff and students from the early 1920s was the forerunner of several Prep publications such as ‘Equus Alatus’ of 1978 to 1980 with its whimsically drawn Pegasus covers. Many Old Collegians authors, writers and historians gained their first published outing in these periodicals. ‘Equus’ for example contains probably the first known published output of popular author, Gideon Haigh. ‘Prep News’ was at first, hand-written, and then later typed, it was relatively long-lived and presented its subject matter from the point of view of students and, especially in the early copies, included material written by students. It reappeared in several irregular reincarnations up to 1971. Its early distribution is unclear, though parents were clearly the audience and the roneoed copies, often with hand coloured covers, probably went home to all Preparatory School parents.

In 1921, Senior School students published ‘The Criterion: The Journal of the Sixth Form’ though only one issue of this has survived so its longevity is uncertain. Nothing further is held in the Archives until the flamboyant eruption of ‘Chez Nous’ in 1940.

The 1960s to the 1980s were the golden age of these publications with the single issue ‘Newsbag’ launching the era. Its successor ‘The Icarus’, despite its name, ran regularly for five years and probably holds the title as the longest running student magazine. Indeed ‘Eighteen Sixty-One’ published from 1967 advertised itself as the worthy successor of ‘The Icarus’.

The titles sometimes reflect their aspirations and their coverage though it’s hard to know what to make of ‘Mouldy Marvin’s Mothercraft Manual’ a collection of literature produced in 1972 or indeed of an unnamed newspaper of 1978 that advertised for its own title: ‘Hey Man, What’s this Buzz about a free record voucher, just for namin’ this here rag; Cool Baby Cool’. ‘Lizard’, an innocuously titled newspaper of 1972 departed from the mundane to preach a strident anti-establishment vehemence in a model of the ‘underground’ newspaper. It lasted one issue.

Many like ‘Stamp’ or ‘Railway Review’ appeared only in a few or even solitary issues, perhaps reflecting the enthusiasm of a small group of students rather than a groundswell of interest in the product. Competition from other activities, the indifference of many students, together with the herculean effort needed to solicit or gather material, edit, print, compile and distribute them meant that enthusiasm often waned rapidly. Usually sponsored by staff members their dependency on that continuing tutelage was critical for survival. Some, such as ‘Warrinn’, ‘Mackie House’ or Mossgiel Matters’ were produced and targeted towards a very specific audience.

Even before the age of photocopying, most magazines and newspapers were produced within the School though high production values were apparent in some. ‘Tardis’: Geelong College Literary Magazine’ for example was commercially set and printed.

These periodical publications tend to fall into two categories, those trying to disseminate news and entertainment such as ‘Chez Nous’ and ‘Prep News’ and those endeavouring to provide a stage for student work such as ‘The Icarus’ or ‘Aletheia’. In times past, ‘The Pegasus’ magazine flew between both these worlds. Prior to ‘Ad Astra’, its increased frequency voiced regular School and Old Collegians’ News and during the 1970s contained original student contributions. It was in the 1970s that it settled into its current role as a more passive record of the College Year.

Modern software and printing enables greater professionalism in the style and format of publications though the content seems little changed. A collection of titles from Year 6 of 2005, created in part as an educational exercise, underlines the ease with which periodicals can now be produced yet, ironically, the immediacy of social media and internet distribution have made such methodologies less appealing.

The following list is of those periodicals held in the College Archives. It is not necessarily comprehensive:

'The Collegian' (1882)
'The Pegasus' (1909- )
'The Dewdrop' (1917)
'The Clarion' (circa 1917)
'Preparatory School News' (1921-)
'Chez Nous' (1940, 1946-1949)
'Ad Astra Newsletter' (1959- )
Newsbag (1960)
Icarus (1961-1965
'Eighteen Sixty-One' (1967) (1967)
'Mouldy Martin's Mothercraft Manual' (1972)
'Fallacy' Cover, 1978.
'Weekly Rot' (1978)
'Equus Alatus' (1978-1980)
'Tardis: The Geelong College Literary Magazine' (1979-1983)
'The Collector' (1986)The Collector (1986)
'Ulysses' (1990)Ulysses (1990)
'Omnium Gatherum' (1991)Omnium Gatherum (Professional development Journal (1991)
'Sic' (n.d.)

Orbit (1967)
Otago (1975)
Library Newsletter to Staff (1977)
Ad Lib: Geelong College Student Magazine (1994)
Boat Shed News (1996)
Boarding Times (Mackie)
Mackie House (1997)
Mackie Newsletter
Mackie Notes
Mossgiel Matters (1999)
Ad Aquam: Newsletter of the Geelong College Recreation Centre (2000)
Lizard (n.d.)
On the Spot (n.d.) Preparatory School
Pen’N’Ink (n.d.)
'Railway Review: A Bulletin of the Geelong College Railway Society' (n.d.)

Sources: 'A Scurrilous News-Sheet' by Con Lannan 'Ad Astra' June 2017.
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