St Augustine’s Formal by Jack Miller, Year 12
9th September 2020
A rare event in the pandemic-challenged social scene took place on Wednesday, August 5 when the senior class of St Augustine’s College, with great lashings of style and panache, returned momentarily to days of yore. Although the college formal was notably different to previous incarnations, it was all the more memorable because of these differences.
No change, however, occurred to the obligatory pre-formal photos where students and their partners were captured at various locations around Cairns – the Esplanade, the Botanic Gardens and, of course, Cairns Wharf, where vintage cars jostled cheek by jowl with sleek modern wheels to stand out from the crowd. The majestic mountains overlooking Trinity Inlet provided a perfect background for paparazzi parents admiring their sons and partners as they mingled in the sensational Cairns sunshine. Chauffeured to the college, they were greeted with wild applause by the school’s boarders who formed a vocal cheer squad for the couples as they strolled across the red carpet. Following sage advice from Harry Winston who said, “People will stare. Make it worth their while” – each couple would easily have graced the who’s who pages.
The guests were then transported by bus to a spectacular COVID-safe location at Yorkey’s Knob - a decorated barn, the Sugar Shed, which many students remarked, “Could not have been more unforgettably Queensland”. Crisp tablecloths were in stark contrast to corrugated iron walls, an earthen floor and the enveloping green of the surrounding cane fields. This contrast did not detract from but rather augmented the formal experience. After all, the host of the venue, Czek Kersevani, a notable old-boy teacher, had made every possible adjustment to produce a modern venue.
Ochre Restaurant not only transformed the shed, which one might have easily mistaken for a hip New York restaurant, but catered an outstanding three-course menu in which the classical Australian cuisine complemented the uniquely Cairns venue and was praised by guests. Regular formalities were also enjoyed, with the notable exception of dancing which was, unfortunately, disallowed due to restrictions.
“When you’re given lemons, make lemon souffle.” This was obviously the guiding principle for principal Mr Matthew Brennan, head of Year 12 Mr Andrew Dorahy and their team when planning the formal. As a result, it was the most memorable and, perhaps, one of the best the school has ever seen. Let’s just hope that next year dancing and the other iconic elements may return with the eradication of the pandemic.