Old Sydneians’ Newsletter - Volume 24

Sydney Grammar School

From the President of the OSU

The COVID clouds are clearing and, although the long-lasting effects are yet to be fully known, I am positive that we are over the worst and we can start getting back to living normal lives. This means re-engaging with other Old Sydneians through reunions and events. There are many year groups who postponed reunions because of COVID restrictions last year, and I sincerely hope that, rather than letting them pass for another 4 years or longer, you arrange to have those much-needed catch-ups. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself, any member of the committee or Wendy Scotter if you want to find out more about reunions this year.  

I am also confident that we can hold other key events, including the Great Debate (July 2021) and our annual lunch (expected August 2021). Keep an eye out for more information on these events soon.

By now, you have also received and read the message that I sent to all Old Sydneians, with an accompanying message from the Headmaster, in response to the very serious issues that have been raised recently by Ms Chanel Contos. It has been great to receive feedback from many old boys, from a range of years. It is important that we continue the momentum that Ms Contos has initiated, and I will be meeting with the network of other alumni heads after Easter to look at ways in which Old Sydneians can support the School and work directly with the wider community on these issues. If any Old Sydneians wish to provide input, it is most welcome.

Lastly, and with great personal excitement, I am happy to report that the GPS Gold Challenge is back on this year – on the October long weekend, Friday 1 and Saturday 2 October 2021. It will showcase the cream of 1987 and 1988. For all old boys from those years who are interested in participating in this fantastic event, please contact myself president@osu.com.au and Gavin Lesnie glesnie@smartline.com.au for 1987 or Sandy Basten sandybasten@live.com.au for 1988. It is a marvellous GPS reunion event. It is not just a chance to relive old glories or settle old scores, but a wholly enjoyable opportunity to catch up with other GPS old boys. If you would like more information, please visit the GPS Gold Challenge Website.

Mr Walter MacCallum (OS 1987)


For information regarding reunions, please contact Wendy Scotter wes@sydgram.nsw.edu.au.


The fabulous new OSU cap, with the OSU badge on the front, has the option to have embroidered your year of graduation and your initials on the sides. It is a unique way of celebrating your ‘Sydney Grammar School Journey’. This is a perfect addition for reunions or a gift. The cap is being sold (with all embroidered options included) at a price of $50.00 + GST.

Please click on the link to organise your OSU cap today. 

Old Teacher Profile

Dulcie Emslie (Transition/Kindergarten Teacher) 

Andrew Michael and Graeme Lowry Jones (both OS 1975) suggested that we interview their St Ives Preparatory School's Kindergarten teacher, but sadly she passed away in early February at the age of 101. Her son Dean said that his mother often spoke positively about her life at Grammar, and he kindly agreed to answer some questions.

1. Where did Dulcie grow up? What was life like then? 

Dulcie was born on 14 July 1919 in the small town of Winkie four miles from the orchard and farming town of Berry in South Australia. Her parents, Carl and Augusta Fielder, had a farming property so Dulcie and her older sisters, Eileen and Peggy, had a very carefree childhood regardless of the lack of amenities taken for granted these days, such as electric lights and transport etc.

2. Where and how did Dulcie train to be a teacher? 

Dulcie's husband returned from the War, but sadly died aged 38 on 22 June 1954 and, as a 35-year old War Widow with a 9-year old son, she found life quite difficult. As there was a shortage of Kindergarten and Year 1 teachers, she applied and was granted the opportunity to attend Adelaide University to be trained as a teacher, graduating in June 1957 with a credit in Music. Her first position was at the Port Adelaide Infant Catholic School in July 1957, where she had a class of 20 little boys. She then taught at the Unley Infant School in Adelaide, from January 1959 to 31 December 1961.    

3. Why and how did Dulcie come to work at St Ives? How long did she teach there?  

She relocated to Sydney from Adelaide, as her sister Peggy and her husband Peter, lived in Castle Cove. After working at Curzons Fashion in 1962, she gained employment at St Ives Preparatory School where she taught from 2 February 1963 until 2 June 1972 (at which time she and her son Dean returned to Adelaide to live).

4. Are there any boys who Dulcie remembered well?  

Dulcie certainly remembers Andrew Michael, as he was in her first class. She often thought back to that first day when she was shaking in her shoes and met Marg Michael who was enrolling Andrew for his first year at school and admitted that she hated hating to leave him. That was the beginning of a lifelong friendship between Marg and Dulcie, which lasted with regular contact.

5. What subjects/activities/tasks did Dulcie particularly enjoy doing at St Ives? 

She loved taking her class for a walk through the woods at the back of the school to collect beetles and different leaves. She loved any artistic and craft work activities, that she could do with the children. Not surprisingly, she often received compliments from the School Inspectors when they visited her schoolroom, which was always extremely neat, colourful and full of wonderful examples of the children’s art. She held the three "R's" as the benchmark for her students to strive to do well, as she felt this was the gateway for their future studies.

6. Finally, when I say, ‘St Ives Prep’, what do you think would have come to Dulcie’s mind?  

A very happy time where she learnt to move forward and embrace all that life had to offer. She was there for nine years, which was something of a record for Dulcie, as she loved change and had many jobs, houses and businesses during her long life.

Dulcie Emslie with her family on her 100th birthday! (Dulcie died at the age of 101 years 6 months on 1 February 2021. She is survived by her son Dean, her three grandchildren, James, Sally and Melissa and great grandchildren, Loren, Harry, Thomas and Cooper).

From the Sportsmaster

Cricket remains very popular with 195 players and seventeen teams playing each Saturday this summer. The cricket competition at Firsts and Seconds level was comprised of seven one-day matches, instead of the usual format of four two-day matches and three one-day matches. Grammar's First XI finished second to Shore in what was our best result in the last ten years. It all came down to a final day showdown between the teams at Northbridge. Grammar lost a very close contest, thought by many who saw it to be the best schoolboy cricket match they had seen. The Second XI finished sixth. Max Glen (VI), the Firsts’ captain, was selected in the NSW Schoolboy team. He also captained the GPS representative side.

In Basketball, Grammar had a fairly successful season. The Firsts won three GPS games against St Ignatius’ College, The King’s College and The Scots College. The Seconds also won a heroic GPS game against Sydney Boys High School and had multiple wins in various tournaments. Hunter Nicholls (VI) was a standout player and was selected in the GPS Firsts. In addition, he has been asked to trial for the CIS basketball team. The Seconds had an undefeated season, pipped on for and against by The King's College. 

The Firsts Tennis is a very young team and didn’t have a lot of success in what was a rain-spoiled season. Jeffrey Chen (IV), though, was a standout performer and was selected in the GPS side. 

The 147th Athletics Championships was won by SGN House. Standout performers included Age Champions Ryan Kapoor U13, Callum Cheung (II) U14, Sam Davis (III) U15, Bo Baffsky (IV) U16 and Matthew Wahby (V) U17. The Open age group title was shared by middle distance runners Rory Wylie (VI) and Luc Jeffriess (VI). 

Finally, our rowers had a solid overall season, with the First VIII finishing sixth in Head of the River. This crew has just returned from having contested the rowing Nationals in Tasmania, where they finished fourth in the B Final. 

Jason Zhu He (OS 2020), managed to capture some great sporting moments in our GPS competition matches in this short video.

Home Games (Weigall)

Saturday 24 April – Rugby (St Aloysius’ College)

Saturday 1 May – Rugby (St Stanislaus’ College)

Saturday 8 May – Rugby (St Augustine’s College),

Saturday 8 May – Football (Plate Round 3 v Sydney Boys High School)

Saturday 15 May – Rugby (Kinross Wolaroi School)

Saturday 22 May – Football (GPS Round 1 v Shore)

Saturday 5 June – Football (GPS Round 3 v Newington College)

Mr JK Redenbach

Memorial Service for Bob Ross

Here are the details about the Memorial Service for Bob Ross (which was postponed last year due to COVID-19). 

Place: The Pymble Golf Club (Cowan Rd, St Ives)

Date: Friday 9 April

Time: 2:30pm

Please rsvp to Timothy Ross if you would like to attend. His email is: timothy.ross@orica.com.

Anzac Assembly and Lunch

The Headmaster, Dr Richard Malpass cordially invites all Old Sydneians to the Anzac Assembly and Lunch on Friday 30 April.

The Assembly will take place in Big School (BS), College Street, promptly at 11:00am.

This year’s guest speaker is Air Commodore Robert M C Brown AM, (OS 1967), and we are celebrating 100 years of the Air Force. A lunch will follow in the Alastair Mackerras Theatre (AMT).

Please note: Places may be limited.

For more information, please email Wendy Scotter at wes@sydgram.nsw.edu.au

‘In Gallant Company’

Dr Philip Creagh’s (OS 1965- 1966) book honouring the Old Sydneians who died in World War I is available, at a cost of $65 plus postage via the link below. No other school in Australia made such a contribution or suffered so many casualties in World War I as Sydney Grammar School. This book includes short biographies of each Old Sydneian who didn’t make it home, comprising details of their school career, the circumstances in which they found themselves during the war and events leading to their untimely demise. Click here to purchase. 


Tony Spira (OS 1970)

Tony is learning about photography and a new software program called Capture One. He is being mentored by Chris Hooke (OS 1969), who is a world class photographer and keen traveller. Here are two of Tony’s pictures.

Bee and Flower

Fantail, Jenolan Caves

Alexander Briger (OS 1986)

Alexander is one of Australia’s preeminent conductors and in 2016 he was awarded the Order of Australia for ‘Distinguished services to music as a leading conductor’. He is considered a specialist in the works of Janáček, Mozart and contemporary music. 

In August 2010, Alexander founded the Australian World Orchestra, of which he is the Artistic Director and Chief Conductor. Alexander conducted the AWO’s 2019 performances that were met with critical acclaim by the international music community and reviewers alike. The Australian World Orchestra will be performing again with Alexander in June this year at the Llewellyn Hall ANU, Canberra. The program includes composer Paul Dean’s new work ‘Symphony’, which is Australian at its core, with a homage to the sounds of sunrise by the riverbank and the drama of an early morning Brisbane storm. The AWO will also pay its respects to Beethoven, who missed out on his 250th birthday celebrations in 2020, with the dramatic and sensitive Coriolan Overture. Finally, Robert Schumann’s Symphony No.2, arguably his greatest symphonic work, will also be performed.

Jonathan Egan (OS 1988)

Dr Jonathan Egan is a children’s intensive care doctor, who has become the unofficial world champion of the cycling phenomenon known as Everesting. The idea is to repeatedly ride up and down a hill, any hill, until you hit the height of Mount Everest (8848.86m). You can take breaks to eat and drink, but sleeping is not allowed until the job is done. Since 2014, Jonathan has notched up over 100 Everesting feats all over Australia and there are many like-minded hill riders who call themselves the Hells 500. Not surprisingly, the gruelling challenge became increasingly popular globally during the coronavirus pandemic when the world pro cycling tour was closed down. In fact, there have now been over 15 000 successful Everestings in around 100 countries. 

Jonathan’s preferred technique is to start around midnight or in the early hours of the morning and, with short stops, the ride takes 11- 24 hours depending on the steepness of the hill. Everesting is as much a mental as it is a physical challenge, and, although they get ever so slightly easier with practice, they remain a rewarding challenge pushing the limits.  

We wish him well in all his future rides!

Matthew Kentmann (OS 1995)

Matthew was recently in an exhibition with two other artists titled ‘Backyard’ at Piermarq Gallery in Paddington. 

Matthew came to College Street in Forms V and VI because he was interested in Art. He was particularly grateful for the inspiration given to him by Mr Mark Wilde, who recently retired at the end of 2019. In Matthew’s final year at school, he painted a portrait of his cousin for his HSC Major Work, and it was selected for exhibition at the AGNSW in Art Express. Since then, he has maintained a relationship with the AGNSW, including being a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2015 with his portrait of fellow artist Nigel Milsom. Matthew has also held solo exhibitions in Sydney and Melbourne, and was a semi-finalist in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize (2012, 2015 and 2016). In addition, he was a finalist in the 2018 Hornsby Art Prize, the 2014 Hornsby Art Prize, the 2011 and 2003 Dobell Prize for Drawing and the 2006 Redlands Westpac Art Prize.

Matthew currently works at Grammar in the Visual Arts Department, and says that he is always learning as an artist. For example, last year, whilst helping a Form VI pupil, he was inspired to learn a new copperplate etching technique.

Magpie, Garru, Messenger Bird - painted on canvas by Matthew Kentmann

Guy Brennan (OS 1996)

Guy originally worked in micro-finance in Congo, but relocated to Kenya in 2010 to found Ascent, an entrepreneurial investment fund that operates in eastern Africa countries. In 2018, Guy established Procera African Juniper Gin

He says that it all started years back when he was seated with his wife and mates in the garden when he held up a bottle of gin and read that all the ingredients were from Africa. ‘Why send these botanicals to Europe, make it there and then sell it here?’ he asked his group. ‘Why can’t we make our own gin here in Africa?’ Just like that, Guy's Procera gin was born. With the help of Roger Jorgensen, one of the greatest African distillers from South Africa, it was officially launched in 2018. Distilled with fresh African juniper in Nairobi Kenya, at 1638 metres above sea level, it won consecutive gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and scored 96 points in London's IWSC the holy grail of global spirits blind tastings, and can be found at London's most acclaimed bars. It has also become available in Australia, most notably at Sydney’s CBD bars Maybe Sammy and The Barbershop.

Guy is now developing a new product called Africa 55, which he hopes will help change people's perception of his adopted continent as a place of ‘disease and corruption’.

He wants people to see that Africa can make products that are among the best in the world and to understand why Africans are generally happier than people living in countries with higher GDPs. Guy says, ‘Africa 55 will showcase one botanical from each African country while giving money back to local communities. It will mean every country in Africa can be represented at the world's top bars.’

Barton Barrack (OS 1967)

Everyone knows about Ned Kelly but have you heard the true story of the unlikeliest of bushrangers Captain Moonlite (Andrew George Scott)?

After nine months of writing and researching, Barton has finished his new book Captain Moonlite: A Love Story. It is a short biography of ‘The Dandy Bushranger’ and his soulmate James Nesbit, whom he met in Pentridge Prison. The official launch will be at 11:00am on Wednesday 7 April at Bittons Café, Copeland St, Alexandria, and the kindle book is available at Amazon.

Companion (AC) in the General Division of the Order of Australia

The Hon. Malcolm B Turnbull AC (OS 1972)

For eminent service to the people and Parliament of Australia, particularly as Prime Minister, through significant contributions to national security, free trade, the environment and clean energy, innovation, economic reform and marriage equality, and to business and philanthropy.

Officer (AO) in the General Division of the Order of Australia

Prof. Alan H Cass AO (OS 1981) 

For distinguished service to medical research, particularly to the prevention and management of chronic kidney disease, to improved indigenous clinical care and health outcomes, and as a mentor.

Officer (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia

Dr T Justin Playfair AM (OS 1961)

For significant service to ophthalmology, and to professional colleges.

Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia in the General Division

Mr Robert James Leedow OAM (OS 1953) 

For service to veterans, and to the community.

Mr Robert John Lloyd OAM (OS 1982)  

For service to children with a disability.

The Grammar Shop has some items for sale that may be of interest to Old Sydneians.

Price List:

Apron, black or denim $20

BPA Free Plastic Drink Bottle (white) $14 

Steel Drink Bottle (black) $18

Tea Towel $15

Leather Wallet $85


If anyone is interested in purchasing items, please email sgswashop@sydgram.nsw.edu.au.


A vast amount of hard copy magazines are 'returned to sender' each time the School sends a new edition out to subscribers through the post. If you are regularly on the move and would prefer to receive the SGS magazine online via email, or would no longer wish to receive a hard copy of the magazine via post, please kindly notify Alumni Officer Wendy Scotter on (02) 9332 5843 or wes@sydgram.nsw.edu.au.

Alternatively, you are able to view most editions of SGS and Foundations magazine anytime via the School's website

Archives on the Sydney Grammar School Website

A range of archival content has been digitised and recently uploaded to the Grammar website, aiming to make it easier for users to access the School Archives collection. Visit the School Archives to explore enrolment registers, copies of The Sydneian and Speech Day booklets and lists of Old Sydneians involved in World War I and II among other resources that will continue to be added to this page. For further information please contact Bridget Minatel or Charlotte McColl at sgsarchives@sydgram.nsw.edu.au or phone 02 9332 5833.

Do you have any old Sydney Grammar related photos you would like to donate to the Archives? If so, please let us know at sgsarchives@sydgram.nsw.edu.au.

Here are some photos that have been added to Flikr:

Calisthenics on Middle Playground 

Obstacle Race 1919

Upper School Laboratory 

Snapshots of Grammar

We are making a regular feature of showcasing photos that have been sent into Archives. Please send a digital or hard copy of your favourite photo, as well as a caption, to SGSArchives@sydgram.nsw.edu.au

Thank you to Tony Wehby (OS 1968) who submitted the following framed photo of a busy pontoon at the Boatshed (c 1963).

Recollections by Gregory Benjamin (OS 1969-1976)

Old Sydneian Gregory Benjamin sent some memories of his time as a Grammar boy to the School Archives, to add to our collection. Below are some snippets and photos from his recollections. Greg’s grandfather, father and nephew also attended Sydney Grammar School.

Here for the archives and those who might be interested, some recollections and a collection of photographs, reports and certificates from my attendance at Sydney Grammar School, College Street, for eight years from 1969 to 1976. Also included is information on attendances by my grandfather Neil, my father Bruce, and my nephew John. With thanks to Bruce, the names of the four generations are recorded on the back of seat W17 in the underground auditorium, the funding of which included seat sponsorship.

  • Neil Fernandez Benjamin - my grandfather (1901- 1971) age 69, Grammar: five years 1915-1919
  • Bruce Neil Procter Benjamin - my father (1931 - 2018) age 86, Grammar: four years 1946-1949
  • Gregory Bruce Benjamin - born in 1959, Grammar: eight years 1969-1976
  • John Robert Marquard - my nephew, born in 1995, Grammar: six years 2008-2013


Given my grandfather and father were at Sydney Grammar School, from an early age I was enrolled to also attend. We lived about 9 kilometres north west of College Street in the suburb of Greenwich where I began at Greenwich Infants and Primary School from 1964 up to 4th Class in 1968. College Street in the City was a closer option than the Grammar Preparatory schools at Edgecliff or St Ives. I have memories of sitting the Entrance Exam in Grammar’s impressive Big School hall where my grandfather had his name on one board for the Wigram Allen Prize for Mathematics in 1919. On another board was my father’s name for the Junior Knox Prize in 1947.

Fortunately, I passed, though I believe some favour was given to family who had been there. In 1969 I began “Prep” Form, or 5th Class, in Mr Trimble’s class of 26 students. In 1970 I moved on to “R.U.” (Remove Upper) Form, or 6th Class, in Mr Blackborrow’s class of 30 students. The big change was in 1971 moving into Form I with about 180 students. The classes were ranked, A, B, C, D, E, and F. My marks gave entry to class Form 1C being a fair indication of my abilities and performance in the years to come.

My sporting life at Grammar began with two sports. The first was Rugby Union where in 1969 I played in the 10A team, and in 1970 the 11A team where we practised at Weigall, Rushcutters Bay. Our coach for both years was the strong affable personality of Mr Reg Billing from Edgecliff Preparatory School, who used to call me Benj.

During summer I played Cricket, a game at which I was just average. Apart from an occasional highlight I was neither a good batter or bowler. In 1969 I played in the 10A team, and in 1970 the 11A team. The coach for both years was Mr Peter Harwin from Edgecliff Preparatory School.

After these early halcyon days, from 1971 I was in Big School. Whilst I didn’t continue with the Cricket, for a period I did play Rugby. Getting older, I found the matches were too gruelling and prone to injury. To the disappointment of the Sports Master, I changed from Rugby to Basketball where after each Saturday I was less fatigued. After several years, I captained the First Basketball Team in 1976 and was awarded Colours.

Photo taken by my father during practice before a game


Mr Earle and Mint Pattie

Second Master of Geology and Geography was old and amiable Mr Fred Earle who was also Tutor master of Group 6. On the top floor of the Big School building, above where Headmaster Alistair Mackerras had his office, Mr Earle taught in an old room which had a hole in the ceiling. I had heard Mr Earle had a liking for chocolate Mint Patties. In a stunt which I heard was not the first time, I happened to be passing the room where he was teaching when one of the boys had gained access to the roof attic, and, to the amusement of the class, lowered a Mint Pattie tied on a string, down through the hole in the classroom roof. All for a good cause, I understand the boy escaped detention.

Tutor Group 9 and 16

In the mid to later years of being at Big School, each student was allocated to one of twenty Tutor groups. In addition to attending regular classes, the Tutor master was there to help guide you, as required, through school life. I was allocated to Group 9 whose Tutor master was conservative Mr Ross, being Senior Master and Classics master. In due course I became Group Secretary and Vice-Captain.

Many wanted to get into Group 16 whose Tutor master was Mr Kevin McCaskill, a History master. I was fortunate to be inspired by the energetic and entertaining Mr McCaskill for History in Form IIC. Group 16 gained a reputation for pushing the boundaries. Unlike anything that might happen in other groups, Kevin McCaskill organised for members of Group 16 to see the 1975 film “Tommy” being a fantasy drama featuring music by The Who and Elton John as The Pinball Wizard. For a period, Group 16 was located in the old Palladium building before it was demolished. During school holidays Group 16 members came into revamp their room, including one of the boys walking with painted feet across the ceiling. With the demise of the Palladium, Group 16 relocated to the penthouse room on the Science block where they had couches, ping pong tables, and acquired street signs.

Gregory’s later profession as a chartered accountant can be seen here in his analysis of Sydney Grammar School Results and his own.


Many thanks to Greg Benjamin (OS 1976) who sent the Archives an extensive file outlining his ‘recollections’ of being a Sydney Grammar School boy. 

After leaving Grammar, Greg worked for many different commercial and chartered accounting firms, and he currently resides in Perth.

A Continuing Tradition MGS v SGS

Jim Catlin’s (OS 1961) book outlining the history of the Melbourne Grammar v Sydney Grammar cricket matches is available, at a cost of $50 plus postage via the following TryBooking link. It celebrates the feats of players from both schools in the oldest continuing inter-colonial (interstate) cricket match in Australia starting in 1876.


AAGPS Games to Play out

Bob Grant’s (OS 1959) book on the origins and development of the AAGPS is available, at a cost of $40 plus postage via the following TryBooking link. It is a celebration of a unique institution which emerged in the late nineteenth century, and which has had a significant impact on many lives.