What Others Say


  • Like some other members of this course I had some health issues during the course and wasn\\'t always able to participate as I would have liked but I enjoyed what I did and it was great to have something else to concentrate on when I needed distraction from my health.

  • The course got me writing, provided me with an audience for my writing, gave me the opportunity to see other people\\'s work and gave me plenty of ideas for future writing. It was unfortunate that participation was down but this appeared to be as a result of outside influences.

  • Very intense, Mardi gets you writing, keeps you writing, best course I’ve done, thanks.

  • The course was fantastic,I did not expect it to be so high and wide,it certainly got me going.

  • I enjoyed the course so much that I didn’t want it to end. This is the fourth writing course I have done with U3A, and I have enjoyed them all. However, I would have to say that this one is the best. Mardi is a fantastic teacher and her support, together with that of the other students, was wonderful. We were encouraged to explore deep within ourselves through the darker periods of our lives. This resulted in the sharing of a lot of very personal and intimate moments. I now feel quite confident in writing about those personal details. I feel sad to be leaving behind a bunch of dear friends.

  • The daily writing exercises on suggested topics produced a whole lot of writing. The feedback from the tutor and other students was invaluable. Forgotten memories began resurfacing, often prompted by the writing of another student. I now have a much clearer plan in mind for my final publication.

  • Very many thanks to Mardi Sands and the group - and to all the people who keep U3A running! I have thoroughly enjoyed the 2 courses I’ve followed recently - and now look forward to the NEXT one. I’ve had a bad year - and you all have helped me get back on my feet!

  • I have just got to the end of Autobiography and Journalling. Thank you for the Course, the creators and presenters have done a terrific job.

  • I hoped to overcome some of my inhibitions in my writing and I think I did that. In addition the memories that were generated by the suggested topics made me realise what a good life I have had. So many happy times and so few regrets. The course was excellent, and Mardi was a helpful and supportive guide. I learnt a lot about myself.

  • This course addressed my need to find the narrative of my life. Sharing the experience with others going through the same process was helpful on levels I had not anticipated.

  • I’m glad I chose A&J as my first U3A course. It was so good that I registered on Writing for Publication. Having used computers since main frames, the delivery method was ideal. My Adult Education College is just across the road, but with U3A I can learn writing in my garden.

  • My first writing course, A&J exceeded expectation. Excellent content, efficient delivery, brilliant tuition, and it was cheap. Mardi Sands is a gem. Portability was key. A South African start, English end, a glimpse of Oz & NZ on the way was the bonus cultural lesson.

  • The course was excellent. Exactly as described and very useful. The Instructor Mardi was committed and involved and encouraging to everybody. The right length, the right amount of work. Well done.. thankyou.

  • An excellent way to study at one’s own level and speed with sufficient discipline to ensure progress over the eight weeks. No pressure, plenty of encouragement and advice. Made better by an active group of contributors.

  • Time starvation limits participation for some, however, u3aonline courses could be a window on the world - a virtual peer interest network for homebound older adults, who are at risk of social isolation and loneliness. Less computer experienced would benefit from technical support checcklists.

  • The participants showed a willingness to share life experiences testing the strengths and weaknesses in writing their autobiograpies or finding the resolve to keep a daily journal interspersed with memories for self, family, friends or a wider audience. Posts showed empathy and non-judgement.

  • It was my first time doing a course on line and I enjoyed every moment. I still can’t believe that my class had two students from the UK. It blew me away. I most certainly will be doing other courses. 

  • It created a discpline for me to work to. I eagerly awaited each day’s work and was never disappointed. I have gained so much from Mardi and intend to keep writing for at least ten minutes each day. I hoped to join the next "Writing for pleasure" course but will be in Alsaka for three of the eight weeks. I look forward to other courses in the future. Thank you Mardi.

  • The course had weekly objectives. Mardi suggested daily topics for us to use as a basis to address the weekly objectives. Mardi’s feedback and the feedback of course members was positive and useful.

  • I enjoy learning online courses, as I can arrange my own time. I picked up helpful hints.

  • Living with chronic illness makes attending face to face courses problematic, so being able to do a course at home via the internet has given me freedom to do it in my own time and at my own pace, as well as enjoying being part of a group. I can recommend this way of learning to others.

  • As this was the first U3A course that I have done, I was unsure what to expect. I have been pleasantly surprised by the depth of the course, as well as the resources provided. I have also enjoyed being part of the weekly group discussions.

  • The course suited my needs because: 1) I could work on it when I was able to do so (I have a disability) and in my own time without any pressure. 2) I can continue to work on this project with no interruptions. 3) So far in the course I have completed my goals. 4) I have written a poem.

  • Its amazing to me but quite true that I had begun my autobiography about three months ago and without any knowledge of the New Autobiography had worked out that I had to dramatise important events to make them come alive and when I enrolled I expected to find that my approach was all wrong! Thanks for a course that is tailor made to my needs.

  • From your course info, ideas started to form and I have now completed the contents pages and the outline of my book. I have made a set of Working Notes and have started to write different parts of the book as the mood takes me. The book will be about 70,000 words, and will have an Appendix that will collect all the photographs, tables, lists and memorabilia etc. So you can see, your course has been a great source of inspiration for me and I refer to it daily as I search around for all sources of information

  • Just thought I would let you know that the content of the course has really got me going. I can't believe I have become so enthusiastic. I'm running around with a journal jotting all sorts of things down. I guess for people who write down a lot of things this isn't unusual, but for me who usually keeps most things inside it's very cathartic. It amazes me in the act of writing how many more things are coming back to me. My son is very proud of me just for starting, he'll probably throw a party when I finish.

  • The level of e-mail activity which this course generated helped me feel much closer to the other students than I have in most other courses I've taken.

  • This course was undoubtedly one of the most thought provoking that I have ever taken. While the exercises could be done at multiple levels and had NO right or wrong, if you took the assignments seriously and even streatched your brain around some of the self-discovery work (without actually writing it all out) you should be well on the well to writing biographies and/or autobiographies more comfortably.

  • Thankyou for all the lessons. I have followed a number of online writing courses and I wanted everyone to know how much I have enjoyed Cate's lessons. They are among the best.

  • Congratulations for the way you have prepared this course, and for the inclusion of all those additional sources which we now know are available on the internet. I have made several attempts at writing my life story without getting very far and now I have the confidence to get on with it.

  • I'm really enjoying the course so far. I have all the lessons now and I think that I've enough to occupy me for the rest of my life, for which I thank you. I'll spend the rest of my life amplifying the entries and hopefully will have something worthwhile to leave my kids and grandchildren etc. Thank you.

  • This was the MOST enjoyable course I have ever undertaken with U3A online (my 3rd course with a Leader). The interaction between students was great and the support and encouragement from Mardi the Leader was appreciated and really valuable, as was the input from everyone supporting each other – a lovely bond was formed and it encouraged us all to continue each week with our writing, I am sad that the course has ended


  • Excellent tutor. I learned  how to do Journaling and to write about my life in a meaningful and a organised way.

  •      I enjoyed the course with Mardi.  She worked very hard to make it interesting and inclusive against quite some odds.  Unfortunately the commitment level of students did not rise to that enthusiasm.  If one signs up for such interactive courses then the idea is surely that everyone participates for the good  of all participants ?  To push oneself beyond the comfort zone is surely what education is about at whatever age ?

  • It helped me in becoming creative again after a lapse, gave me focus and ideas and the other course participants were also very inspiring

  • I have done this course twice and can see how I would benefit from doing it again as my autobiography is a work in progress.  I have considerable demands on my time (family commitments, long stints of around the clock babysitting), plus I travel a fair bit.  I’m grateful for the flexibility Mardi and the class have allowed me to participate when I am able and to not be judgemental when I’m unable to complete assigned tasks.

  • A & J with leader

    Only a small group, but over the course we enjoyed the diversity of each other’s writing and being able to comment on one another’s work.
    Lots of encouragement from the course leader  Mardi Sands  - other participants very supportive, friendly and encouraging.

  • Autobiography & Journaling with Leader -
    I found this course to be an amazing way to interact with such a diverse group of people from across Australia and internationally. We all shared the common interest in writing, had wildly varying levels of skill and experience, but were all encouraged equally to “keep writing”.
    The tutor gave exceptional support – extra information, suggestions, resources, ideas – encourages participants to share their own helpful resources

  • A few years ago, I did the Autobiography and Journalling Course under Mardi’s guidance. I’m a slow learner and so, I participated as a student three times.  At the time I had two dreams; one was to write my late husband’s story, the other was to compile my family story as it was told to me by my grandfather in 1983. 


    Mardi’s course gave me a structure to work with and the confidence to do it and to stop thinking my writing wasn’t good enough.  I wrote both books and Splinters (the family story) is available on Amazon now.  In honesty, neither are writing marvels, but it’s the truths they contain that I still believe worthy of the telling.


    During Covid, I was presented with the time necessary to write a third book; “10.55 to Cranbourne” the story of my son’s train vs semi-trailer level crossing crash in outer Melbourne in 2012.  This too is now available on Amazon.  For those interested, the back cover says …


    One Saturday morning in outer Melbourne, a semi-trailer is en route from the Melbourne wholesale markets to Dandenong, laden with vegetables and flowers. The driver is tired and losing concentration. A Metro train is on the 10.55 run from Flinders Street to Cranbourne. The driver, 30 year old Trevor King, is on his last run for the day and for his working week. They are both approaching the Abbotts Road level crossing. The warning bells sound, the lights flash and the boom gates come down but the truck driver doesn’t notice. The train driver blasts his whistle, and still the truck doesn’t slow down… A life is lost, several are injured and the train driver is critically injured.

    Originally intended as a comprehensive record of the events for the train driver, who has no recall; this is the story of the events that follow and the train driver's journey along the jagged line that divides life and death. It is told by his mother using her journal entries, messages to friends, media reports, photographs and memories shared by the driver’s wife and others who were there.




    So, I’m writing to acknowledge the value of the lessons I learned with Mardi at U3a Online and to say, if you have a story in you, write it and don’t let your own worst enemy (yourself) tell you that you can’t.  I may never write a best seller, but I know I have written three stories that would otherwise be lost in the fullness of time.   I’m very grateful for what I learned.


    Thank you,


    Susan Warburton 

    Mardi’s Autobiography and Journalling Classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016