State of Mind with Warilla High School

I’m not a morning person. There are very few things that can get me up before dawn, especially if there’s no coffee involved – so the students at Warilla High School ought to feel pretty special.

Quick writing sprints help students to get their ideas onto paper.

Quick writing sprints help students to get their ideas onto paper.

We left Sydney at 6am and drove south for the first of our State of Mind regional adventures. We had to be in Warilla by 8:25 to get started on two days of story-writing workshops with teenagers from all kinds of backgrounds. In the end, the early start was well worth it.

If we hadn’t gotten up early, we wouldn’t have heard about Nathan's uncle wrecking his hotted-up car in a burnout contest. We wouldn't have heard about Carrie's struggle to come to terms with her mum's sexuality. And we certainly wouldn’t have heard about Mitchell stuck on the golf course for his day job and wishing he were surfing with his mates:

"I'll always remember the clouds racing across the green as the course becomes the ocean."

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  "I wish I was listening to the surf smashing down and the water washing up onto the shore": Mitchell's favourite spot, Mystics Beach.

"I wish I was listening to the surf smashing down and the water washing up onto the shore": Mitchell's favourite spot, Mystics Beach.

The State of Mind project is about collecting stories like these from teenagers across NSW. Our trip to Warilla was the first of our adventures outside of Sydney to work with students in non-metropolitan areas. The book we'll publish next year will be packed full of stories from different corners of the state, so we can really give readers a sense of what life is like for teenagers in NSW today.

For more information about the project please check out our State of Mind page, or email to enquire about booking workshops at your school.

Below is a sample of the amazing work produced at Warilla High School – and this is just the first draft!

by Nathan

Ring ring my alarm went off for me and my brother Jayden to wake up and get ready for Brashernats. As we were getting prepared, my uncle Shawn and aunty Loretta were preparing and loading my uncle's beast as Holden V8 Commodore into the back of the truck. Brashernats by the way is an all-day burnout/dyno comp – millions of dollars worth of cars build up to an extreme heart-racing feeling of loud V8 car sounds and the smell of tyre smoke.  

Brashernats burnout comp is a challenge for all contestants and all the judges are looking for in the burnouts are the way they look, sound, and how big and smoky the burnout is. As me and Jayden and my uncle and aunty were all ready we set of at the dusk of dawn to Eastern Creek Sydney Dragway to be there so we can find car parks and start the fun.

After a whole 2 hours we were finally there. Finding a car park we had to go through a huge line of classic, tuner and muscle cars and taking time and being patient. Finding a car park was easy as there were not too many people there yet! As we jumped out of the car we tuned and setted the big small block Chevy engine of my uncle’s Commodore and unloaded it and let uncle arrive at the line of burnout cars.  

Me, my brother and aunty went to buy ourselves a hotdog and went to the grandstand to watch a few burnouts. The first burnout was unexpected as I was eating, a Cortina small block came flying in and making a racket. That feeling of blue smoke covering me and the entire grandstand was awesome and exciting. 100 burnouts were loud noised to my ear and suffocations of good smell but really bad for my health. Coming across through all the cars was my uncle’s car, black with purple stickers saying retro tyres, a big supercharger with beautiful shiny wheels, something that I loved. As my uncle was driving down the streets I instantly knew it was my uncle’s turn.

At the starting line there was a guy with a flag and a beautiful car making a few revs. My uncle screeched away leaving nothing but smoke and tyre tread, coming down the road was a screech but not only a screech but also a bang. I was shocked. My uncle crashed into a wall at a fast speed. My heart pumped and pumped. Lucky for my uncle he was OK with a few bruises, but the car was in pieces a lot of money put into the car was devastating it took my uncle 6 or 7 years to create this beast.

Lucky for my uncle’s car it was safe and too bad to explode. My uncle’s car ran on methanol fuel. Coming 6th place my uncle packed up and we all thought of the lovely but devastating day we had and went home.

Shout out to Nathan for sharing this deadly story with us. 

Words by Matt Norman, intern at the Sydney Story Factory.