The University of the Third Age (U3A) has nothing to do with the modern idea of a university with its connotations of qualifications and prior studies.

Rather, it is a group of like-minded people satisfying an inner urge to learn. It offers low-cost, self-paced learning opportunities and the sharing of interests, skills and knowledge. 

This voluntary, self-help learning movement started in France in 1973, and has since spread world-wide.

The Ballina/Byron branch, using the same guidelines as the international model, began in 1994.

Nor is the U3A limited to those in their ‘third age’, or retirement. Anyone with time on their hands is welcome to attend classes.

U3A classes cover many areas, from the purely physical, such as bush walking, tap and Scottish country dancing, table tennis, yoga and tai chi, to the entertaining, such as the movie discussion group, which always seems to include a visit to a nearby café.

The mentally stimulating courses cover a swag of history classes, a bevy of computer classes, environmental issues and craft groups.

Then there are creative writing and poetry, languages, cryptic crosswords, as well as forums and exploration trips held once a term.

If interested, a complete list of classes will be available in the newsletter, out early in the new year and also on the website. Classes are held in Ballina, Lennox Head and Brunswick Heads.

Every one must enrol for any courses they wish to do. This can be done at Ballina Fair on 13-14 January, 2010 between 10am-3pm, when committee members will be available to answer your questions. Some classes have limited numbers, so it is important to get your name down early.

There is a one-off joining fee of $5 for new members or those who have let their membership lapse and an annual subscription of $30 single or $45 couple.

This is valid for 12 months from the payment date and allows you to attend as many classes as time will permit.

Some classes do incur a small extra cost to cover consumables that may be used.

The Fripp Oval office is unattended during school holidays. Phone enquiries 66814450, leave a message if unanswered; website www.ballinabyron.u3anet.org.au