Jack Hobbs

President of the Earle Page College Senior Common Room

‘I have never seen anyone as passionate about a residential college as Jack (Aka Hobbsy). In college we often joke that Jack must have an Earle Page College tattoo on his chest.’ - Earle Page College resident Darcy Glassock

Jack first arrived in Armidale in 1965 after successfully obtaining an entry level academic job in the Geography Department at UNE.  As soon as Jack arrived at his new workplace his colleagues decided to re-christen him. You see, Jack’s legal name is John. His new workmates, however, decided this needed to change. They said ‘there are too many John’s in the Department already. How about we call you Jack after the famous cricketer?’ Jack was thrilled with being associated with one of his sporting heroes and readily agreed. These days, apart from his family, few people know Jack is not his birth name.

As Jack found employment at UNE, he needed somewhere to live. Fate stepped in and he found Earle Page College. In the mid-1960s Earle Page College was very different to how it is today. In those days UNE owned a selection of houses in the centre of Armidale. The people in these houses constituted the college community. Interestingly, the residents of the college still came on campus to eat their meals which were included in their college fees.  It was not until the early 1970s that the building we know as Earle Page College was built.

When the new college was built on campus there was much excitement. The students celebrated by attending The Newie and Bruyn’s Caledonian. Apparently, Bruyn’s Caledonian belonged to the University and this is where both staff and students went to drink. This was especially the case on Friday afternoons.

When alcoholic beverages were not on the wish-list, UNE students would frequent ‘Charlies’ Coffee Shop.’ This café was owned by Charlie Pablo. Interestingly, Armidale’s newest Wine Bar ‘Charlie’s Last Stand’ is a tribute to the past business owner. Popular wisdom in the 1960s was that the local brothel was housed in the unit above this coffee shop. Of course- Jack is unable to vouch for this fact!

In terms of Jack’s academic career, he completed a Geography Degree at the University College in London. He then finished a Graduate Diploma of Education at Nottingham.  He quickly decided he did not want to be a school teacher. Jack never regretted undertaking this teaching training, as it proved invaluable in his lecturing career. Throughout his academic career, Jack specialised in climate and weather events.  He was promoted all the way to Associate Professor and was also the Head of the Geography Department and the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

Jack did not always want to be an academic. In fact, before he studied Geography at university, he hoped to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the British Air Force. It wasn’t meant to be though. When Jack applied to join the Airforce he was told ‘Sorry Hobbs- the tests indicate you are not receptive to Airforce discipline.’ In other words, Jack would not unfailingly be told what to do!

Jack was born in Whitehaven in the North West of England during WW2. During the war Jack moved around a lot, but spent much of this period with his mother’s family in Suffolk. In fact, he has vivid memories of planes flying overhead during the war. As a teenager, Jack lived in Germany for several years. He has very fond memories of these years. One of his most vivid memories was following his childhood crush Susan Miller home whilst pelting her with snow balls. He thought this would catch her attention- we are sure it did, but probably not in the way young Jack hoped!

Perhaps Jack’s longest love affair is with his beloved Earle Page College. He is involved in every aspect of the college. He attends many of the sporting matches the residents are involved with. He even recently ‘strutted his stuff’ at the Earle Page College Fashion Parade with a selection of brave (or stupid?!?) Senior Common Room members. As he says ‘the kids like to see us oldies having a go.’ He is proud to boast he has not yet fallen off the stage!

Jack has also undertaken several formal roles in UNE’s residential college system. For example, he was previously employed as Assistant Head of College at Earle Page and the Head of Robb College and Mary White College for a time. He never lost his allegiance to Earle Page College though!

These days Jack fills his days visiting his favourite haunts. When he wakes he works out at the UNE gym with his wife Kath.  Jack then visits his beloved Earle Page College to see if there is anything he can do to help. He then treats himself to coffee and cake at Two Goats and Baa or The Two Brother’s Cafe. In the afternoon, Jack can usually be found in The Welders Dog indulging in some craft beer. The owners of The Welder’s Dog, Tom and Dan, are former Page members themselves. In fact, if former residents of Earle Page are visiting Armidale, Jack says that ‘you can almost guarantee I will see them in the Welder’s Dog!’

There is no doubt Jack is a distinguished academic who has made a valuable contribution to his many students and profession. In my opinion Jack’s true worth as a person is best evidenced by the love he has for Earle Page College. I suspect in 100 years’ time, Jack will still be remembered as ‘the heart of Earle Page College!’

The one thing Jack has yet to achieve is jumping off the Jetty in Coffs Harbour at the end of the college’s Coast Run event which is held in August. Jack- the students are confident 2018 is your year for achieving this goal!