Celia Waldron

For all the graduating year 12s: Congratulations on reaching this life milestone. What ever you do with it – you have done it!

And now the decisions. Do you take a gap year to to experience a different kind of learning – other countries, your own country, a new environment, refreshment, and growth?

My daughter’s experience was to work in a 16th Century Castle school, a boarding school in the Cotswold  in rural England. For her, that was taking a chance having not been overseas before.

Her mother’s heart (mine) was beating up to her turn and wave from the boarding gate to London and Heathrow and a family friend to meet her at Piccadilly Circus.  This was the first photograph to come back – the two of them in London, surrounded by pigeons, a statue, her navy woollen coat freshly dry cleaned in grave danger of being spattered in pigeon poo.

But  having negotiated Heathrow airport for the first of many times in the next twelve months and finding her way to that famous landmark and then into a big hug from a loved aunt, briefly, before finding the railway to Cirencester and the school.

Then the first hiccup moment. She took a train to Spain in school holidays to meet a young Australian who married a Spanish girl he had met in the Australian Alps working in the ski fields. But finding she was on the wrong train to Valencia and nobody spoke English at the remote station, she made the first 3.30 am call to mum.  Her French must have helped because she eventually arrived in Valencia.

She was lucky in the school. The Principal’s family opened opportunity. His wife did not drive so there was a lot of driving in rural England and then came a hard decision – to return home that Christmas or stay for a white Christmas? How different that would be, and romantic. She stayed and flew back to Australia on New Years Eve of 2000, when no one knew for sure, what would happen at midnight – would planes fall out of the sky? They didn’t. And more.

Others of you – your destination may be India or New York or Alice Springs, or a massive Pastoral company of Queensland or the Northern Territory, or Indonesia or Antarctica,  or any Third World destination.  Trekking the world.

Whatever you do, it will be valuable, fun, awesome, sometimes scary. Bravery in doing it solo. It will be an adventure and an opportunity to meet new people.

But remember to keep in touch using today’s technology, or even yesterday’s technology – a letter. Mums and dads and family and friends will be happy for you, but anxious too. Don’t tell them you slept under a tree with a French guy or girl in France until you are safely home, brimming with joy and filled with life and ready to tackle what’s next in your ever expanding life.

It is hard for you, mums and dads, but let them go with confidence in your hearts.


Celia Waldron is a local resident and a member of the Editorial Committee for the Wombat Post. This is a repost of a column first published in 2022.