Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

We Three Hundred

April 2018, no. 400

We Three Hundred

April 2018, no. 400

I signed away ten years of my life at high school. Three hundred or so teenagers did likewise around the country; from Sydney and Melbourne to the wind-rustle quiet of burnt umber townships. We had similar reasons – wanting to be heroes and leaders, chasing self-respect, escaping loose ends, following Simpson and his donkey.

After graduation we cut our hair to regulation length, checked off items on a list in a thick wad of mailed instructions. We packed our luggage, teenage surfeit shrunk to military limits. Stiff in two-piece suits and shiny new leathers, family members farewelled, we converged on Canberra.

Canberra from above, in the throes of summer: a slice of suburbia deserted amid the pivot of a tumbleweed dust bowl; kindling grass chequered with vacant car parks; dark green mountains at the edge of the plateau. It was almost deserted. The politicians had gone home; locals had fled to the coast. The bushfire season consumed the headlines at a newspaper stand by the luggage carousel.

Buses with tinted glass awaited us. In a strange quiet, cocooned by the thrumming air-conditioning, we endured an anxious trip along the highway. Halfway up a gradual rise overlooking dry scrubland dotted with brick whitewash, our convoy turned through insignia-crusted walls. Into a strange city we burrowed, among Brutalist buildings stacked on the concave hillside like a Brazilian favela. Strangers began shouting at us. I caught the eye of another passenger and we shared a moment of sangfroid. We had arrived at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

You May Also Like

Comments (2)

  • This piece is a memoir essay or personal essay. Lucas Grainger-Brown uses narrative devices to mold his life experiences into a strong and appropriately structure piece.
    Posted by Jennifer Althaus
    21 September 2018
  • This is a personal memoir -- not an essay.
    Posted by John Lechte
    30 March 2018

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.