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The pursuit of Marilyn

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Memories of Dookie Agricultural College 1965-67

Times have changed.  Australia no longer values agricultural education and many of it’s colleges and research stations have been closed.  I retain fond memories of my alma mater and there remains a strong bond between my classmates to this day.
We share something very special.  Australians call it mateship.

The residential college on 6000 acres of land was located 20 miles from the nearest town of Shepparton.  As 16 – 22 year-olds most students possessed drivers licences and a few even owned cars.  (Indeed the college provided driving lessons and licence testing as part of the curriculum.)

However, possession of any of the following items on campus could result in immediate expulsion.

1. A car
2. Alcohol
3. A girl, having been, or in the throes of being, or even in the vague hope of being, biblically known.

You might think that 200 young men confined in such circumstances would revolt against the system, but the 1960’s in rural Australia were much simpler times.  There were no recreational drugs.  I was not even aware that such things existed.  The only electronic devices were a communal black and white television in the dormitory common room, and our own transistor radios.
There was just one telephone for student’s incoming calls and a couple of public payphones.

Hitchhiking was our primary means of travel, to Shepparton or Benalla on weekends, or longer trips home during holidays.

Dookie College blazer…after 47 years the blazer is in far better condition than the model. Made by “Ashmans of Bendigo, The home of better suits. This garment is the work of skilled hand-craftsman”

The distinctive Dookie College blazer was recognised by motorists throughout Northern Victoria, and although it was a long walk to get to the Midland Highway, once there we were guaranteed rides to almost anywhere in the State.

There were six agricultural colleges in Australia’s eastern States
(Roseworthy, Longerenong, Dookie, Wagga, Hawkesbury and Gatton) separated by a distance of 1500 miles, and an intense rivalry existed between them in two fields of human endeavour;

A.  Inter-collegiate sports held annually.
B. The pursuit of Marilyn.

I have no idea how these Marilyn shenanigans commenced, but by 1965 they were well established.

When I arrived at Dookie there was a framed print of the famous Marilyn Monroe 1953 Playboy Magazine photograph hanging in the dormitory common room.  Junior students were instructed to guard the picture against theft because it had become traditional for other colleges to mount expeditions at unexpected times to steal the picture as a mark of collegiate superiority.

The picture vanished from Dookie soon afterwards and students at Wagga Agricultural College in New South Wales advised that they now had possession.  The only rule was that the picture had to be hung in the publicly accessible common room of each college, so a car (illegal expulsion-threatening) load of Dookie boys then drove many hours through the night, stole the picture back, and were rewarded with hero status upon their return.  We all once again basked under the warm glow of Marilyn’s magnificence until some other little bastards came and stole it once more.

During my three years at Dookie, Marilyn traveled thousands of miles around Australia in the grasp of some of the finest specimens of young Aussie manhood imaginable.

These were times of simple pleasures, many of which will come to light and be magnified tenfold at our 50th anniversary reunion in 2015.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *       *

Dookie College staff 1965

Dookie College float being prepared for Melbourne’s Moomba Parade circa 1966.

Dookie cricketing legends….or NOT, as the case may be.

About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

30 responses »

  1. Brings back memories of my time at Gatton College in 1954-55, but we were a rather dull lot. I never did see any pic of Marilyn Monroe. Probably just as well as we were all young gentlemen who would have looked away. Well, that’s what our parents were led to believe anyway…

  2. I feel obligated to tell your friends that in that cricket photo, GOF IS BACK ROW, THIRD FROM THE LEFT. You’re welcome.

    The Marilyn story is cool.

  3. What an awesome tale! Thanks for sharing. 😀

    • You’re welcome Lance…..rural Australia took a long time to get into gear for the Swinging Sixties.

      • Well it sounds like you found ways to have fun all the same. 🙂

        • I have really fond memories of the place. For entertainment we rarely bothered watching the television ……there were many sporting facilities on campus, table tennis, billiards etc and friendships were forged over late night snacks cooked up in our rooms from poultry, eggs, fruit and vegetables stolen from the college farm.

  4. And the blazer still fits?

    • Only just……as I was putting it on Mrs GOF said “Why are you sucking in your gut GOF?”

      • GOM in Oklahoma

        Well, at least she didn’t have to take a pair of scissors and cut it up the back. That’s the only way my dad is going to fit into his military uniform when he gets buried. (Of course, that’s how they dress people in caskets anyway …).

  5. it must have bin nice to live in a world where people had faith in humanity nowadays people seem to have faith in inhumanity treating others with suspicion instead of trust

  6. Enjoyed reading your account of your college days, GOF. And I’ll never get tired of the warm glow of Marilyn’s magnificence, because that is a classic image of feminine beauty.

  7. What fun to be part of transporting Marilyn all over Australia! Ah, the good olde days.
    Thanks to Inga for the ID of GOF in his youth!

  8. Hi GOF,

    I run a blog on life as an Ag college student, I was wondering if i was able to re-blog your post? It is fantastic! 🙂 The link to my website is or



    • Hi Emma, I am absolutely delighted firstly that you discovered this piece of history, and secondly that there are still some ag students left in Australia. It would be an honour if you choose to reblog this story… was another world back then and I’m sure the restrictions placed upon us as students in the 1960’s would seem quite laughable and unbelievable to you today.

      I will follow your blog with interest.

      Best wishes with your honourable career.

    • Oh, and another Dookie story about the ‘orientation’ weeks for new students…..might be of interest.

  9. We (Orange ag college) got Marilyn from Wagga in 2011… Hawkesbury took not long after. Not sure where she is today!
    Great times had capturing!

    • Thank you for the update Nick. I’m astounded that Marilyn still exists…..especially as Dookie College no longer exists as an agricultural education facility. If it’s the original, she must be very tattered around the edges by now.

      • Dave (HAC 1987-89)

        Hi GOF (and all others)

        I was a student at Hawkesbury 1987-89 and was somewhat responsible for putting Marylin back into circulation in 1988 after researching the wonderful history of this magnificent tale. Since then, I know she went to Orange, then Hawkesbury then Orange again. I know she also did a stint at Wagga in 2013 but I have lost track these days.

        I have researched her history from her origins in Australia, arriving in the hands of the US Navy to the Flinders Naval Base in SA and being first “borrowed” from the US by our Aussie fighters there on 26 June 1956. Since then, she went to the Sale Air Force Base in Victoria then Royal Military College Duntroon in Canberra before being lured to Hawkesbury for the first time during the late evening of Sat 4 October 1958. Marilyn first toured to Dookie on 7 August 1960 where she stayed for 5 years and then headed to Longerong for the intercollegiate sports carnival on 31 July 1965 but went missing at that carnival before turning up in the hands of students from Wagga on 1 September 1965. Students from Dookie were successful in recapturing her on 12 April 1966, but that was short-lived as she returned to Wagga by 24 April 1966. I’m not sure of the exact dates that followed immediately thereafter, but records indicate she went from Dookie to Hawkesbury to Dookie to Hawkesbury and then on 10 July 1967, she went to Wagga. Hawkesbury got her back on 4 August 1967 but lost her to Dookie later that year. On 8 June 1969, she was taken to a new abode at Yanco Ag College. Hawkesbury again reclaimed her briefly before losing her to Wagga briefly but Hawkesbury got her back, again. Until this time, Marilyn had always been hung in a place that was accessible but Dookie took her from Hawkesbury in May 1970 and firmly secured her at Dookie in a steel cage bolted to the stair well on the 2nd floor. Hawkesbury tried to recover her in August 1970 but she could not be removed without damage so the attempt was aborted. Word spread quickly and the college community feared the tradition of Marilyn’s travels had been lost. Indeed, there were numerous letters written to Dookie but giving her up was not considered. In a quote from the Secretary of the Dookie SRC, Allan Tunstall, in a letter to the President of the Hawkesbury SRC on 5 May 1971, “We’ve gota an’ we’re keepiner!” However, on 11 July 1971, sixteen keen Hawkesburians toured to Dookie with a “ute load of power tools, crowbars, etc” and “provisions of grog” and proceeded to remove Marilyn and her cage from the Dookie wall. Unfortunately for this crew, that bold attempt was discovered and the sixteen were quickly run out of the campus by a large mob of jeering Dookie students. However, not to be outdone, five of those sixteen returned at 3:30am the very next morning and completed the mission. Marilyn was returned to Hawkesbury that evening. The next part of the tale is vague, but records indicate Hawkesbury retrieved Marilyn again (not sure from where) in November 1975, so she must have been somewhere in the meantime. Following that, we are led to believe that Marilyn may have been confiscated by Hawkesbury officials and letters written between various Ag College Principals to ensure a stop to this “game” in fear that unforeseen damage could be done to person or property otherwise. However, I do know that Marilyn was erected at Hawkesbury in 1988 where she stayed for a couple of years before going to either Wagga or Orange. Since then, she has had various stints at Orange, Wagga and Hawkesbury and maybe elsewhere, too.

        So, could some from the more recent generations of Ag College student please help with the dates and adventures of Marilyn from 1987 to now, and we might just get this great story completed, or at least up to date. It’s a wonderful tale and very much part of the character of rural Australia.



        • Hi Dave,

          I’m utterly flabbergasted at the extent of your research and the miles covered by Marilyn. Thank you so much for sharing. I will pass this on to other members of my year who are on facebook…..maybe more information will come to light. Your story makes wonderful reading and it truly represents part of the character of rural Australia,



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