|Towamba Public School pupils and two teachers
David Gilpin and Charles Smith. c. 1884/5
So where did you go to school?
LEO. I went to school at Burragate for four years and about eighteen months at Bega high school. All the high school taught me was a lot about people. Because where we came from, Burragate was a pretty close little community and everybody knew everybody and was friendly but nobody put shit on you. But take you out of Burragate and put you in a bloody hostel in Bega and then go to high school and have all these teachers putting you down because you had different clothes and we had a homegrown haircut and so forth. They gave me a hard time and I was only little too, and thank Christ I was!
*** Excerpt from Leo Farrell's interview in 'The Forgotten Corner Interviews'.
MOYNA. The school had a post and rail fence. Did you know that? At the school, our building, well there used to be a little privet bush, so long, just out from the school next to the school house and we also had a shadow stick but that was taken out, our shadow stick used to tell us the time.
So everyone would have tied their horses up out the front?
MOYNA. No. There weren't that many. Gloria Clements (this Gloria Clements is Clive Clements' sister. Clive later married a lady with the same christian name) from down at 'Model Farm' she used to ride occasionally and the horse yard had been built down at the bottom of the school paddock near the river there. But we'd put our horse in the church yard. Unsaddle it and put it in the church yard. And if it rained our saddle got wet. We had pit toilets at the school too. We had an open fire in the school room. I can remember when they did up the bathroom in the school house and then they put a pump on the tank and we'd take turns in pumping that up into the top tank.
Was it a hand pump?
*** Excerpt from Moina Price's interview in 'The Forgotten Corner Interviews'.
The early Colony of New South Wales spread
from the central point of Port Jackson up
and down the eastern coast before going inland.
The Blue Mountains were not crossed until
1821 when the Western plains were opened
for settlement. By this time there were belts
of population extending from the harbours
of Moreton Bay, Port MacQuarie, Port Stephens,
Botany Bay, Twofold Bay and Port Phillip
Bay. Obviously these settlements closest
to Port Jackson developed most rapidly, but
Twofold Bay and the extensive area it served
was recognised as a Port for all southbound
The facilities of the Bay meant that Whalers and Fishermen were settling there and as the surrounding land was brought large sheep stations commenced operations. It was not long before settlers realised the suitability of the pasture for cattle grazing and so the cheese industry developed.
Most of the land in this area was occupied by squatters who took possession of large tracts of land without official sanction. There were of course grants of land trade to recognised gentlemen such as the Imlay brothers who controlled a large section of land in what was then the Imlay shire.
Although gold discoveries on the South Coast did not occur until the early 1879's, the early rush did play a part in the early growth of Wyndham. The early gold discoveries attracted thousands of diggers who left their jobs, their homes and their countries in anticipation of making their fortunes. Few did, and many were left without any means of income at all. The young Legislative Assembly in an attempt to retain these thousands passed several Land Acts resulting in the "Selectors" as they became known.
The unsettled areas around Panbula, were soon selected and with the existing and relatively accessible means of transport, settlement grew rapidly. Men married and brought their families to their selections and utilised their strength and energy cultivating crops, supervising livestock and giving little thought to their children's educational means, until they could be spared from domestic chores.
Meanwhile educational facilities in the Colony had been increasing and improving. From 1833 until 1848 education had been provided by the Churches with some Government assistance. In the latter year, following an extensive inquiry into education in the Colony, Governor Fitzroy set up two education boards providing dual administration. Briefly to cover non sectarian schools on the one hand and Church sponsored schools on the other.
*** Excerpt from 'A History of Wyndham Fourth Edition 2003'
Education had a slow rise on the priority ladder in the early days of settlement in the Towamba Valley. All hands were needed to clear the land, build dwellings, sheds and erect fences. Those settlers who built up dairy herds, either needed to employ several people (as all milking was done by hand) or raise large families. The larger properties did both. They employed married couples to share-farm on their properties and these couples generally had large families or employed others to help.
Schooling off the property meant the loss of a worker. However, as settlement progressed and the number of children increased, education was encouraged by members of the community.
Rough buildings on donated land, later by Government Grant, and teachers who often wondered why they agreed to come out to these isolated areas, gradually improved the education levels of the district children.
'The Sydney Morning Herald'
23 July 1863
Of the 178 schools reported as being in operation in 1861, six were closed in 1862, from insufficient attendance of pupils, mainly occasioned by the migratory state of the population.
By a return hereto appended, it will be seen that during the year 1862 we had 208 schools in operation, attended in the aggregate by 13 392 children, showing an increase of 36 schools and 1992 children. The schools opened in 1862 were as follows :-1, Ashfield; 2, Adelong; 3, Botany Bay; 4, Bowra; 5, Bandon Grove; 6, Bingera; 7, Campsie; 8, Croobyar; 9, Dobroyde; 10, Dingo Creek; 11, Deniliquin; 12, Five Islands; 13, Forbes; 14, Green Swamp; 15, Gunnedah; 16, Inverell; 17, Lismore; 18, Mundoonan; 19, Murrumburra; 20, Muswellbrook; 21, Morpeth; 22, Maitland; 23. Moorfields; 24, Nowra; 25, Oxley Island; 26, Petersham; 27, Peterboro; 28, Saumarez Creek 29, Summerland; 30, Towamba; 31, The Oaks; 32, Tomerong 38 Thurgoona; 31, Uralla; 33, Warogon Creek; 36, Wallsend.
'The Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser'
Friday 10 May 1872
School Opening.-The Towamba half time school was duly opened on Thursday 25th April. C. Stiles Esq. in the chair. Present were the revs. P. Slattery and Fitzgerald who delivered addresses appropriate to the occasion. A large number of children and adults favoured us with their presence and appeared to enjoy the sports till the threatening aspect of the day foretold a sudden downpour of rain, which fell early in the afternoon. All who could, took shelter in the temporary pavilion, and retired at intervals to the commodious school room, where dancing and other amusements were kept up till Aurora had ushered in the morn. The teacher in charge complains of the needlework. No female assistant has yet been appointed.
'The Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser'
11 October 1882
Schools.-The attendance at Provisional Schools at Towamba, Rocky Hall, and Lochiel has so increased as to entitle a promotion to Public School rank, and the advance will soon be made. From Rocky Hall we hear of the resignation of Miss Beck. At Towamba Mr. Colin Spalding has been able to bring up the average attendance to 21 for the last quarter; 30 names on roll. This school building is one of the most primitive in the district: slab walls and bark roof with desks and seats to match. With the higher rank about to be given, will come, in due course, a more suitable schoolhouse and teacher's residence. At present the teacher lodges three miles from his work. About 48 children reside in the locality, and of this number there is said to be 40 who should attend school. The residents whose children are at Lochiel school are Messrs Hart, Burton, Clarke, Hyde, P. Hyde, Cusack, Clancey, M'Kinniary, Beveridge, Holmes, Power, and Shipway. For the encouragement of teachers, and to draw from the Education Department all due by law to a neighbourhood's educational needs, parents will do wisely by sending their children as regularly as possible to school.
April 30, 1884
'The Bega Standard and Candelo, Merimbula, Pambula, Eden, Wolumla, and General Advertiser'
(From our own Correspondent.)
On Saturday, 19th instant, a fine steady rain set in, which culminated in a flood, keeping the residents to their own side of the river. On Monday following the mailman was unable to get across, and the mail was carried by proxy by a person on the opposite side. The river is still very high, and dangerous, owing to quick sands, for persons unacquainted with the proper crossings. Mr. Hite, our storekeeper, has gone to Sydney, and intends, with the aid of Messrs. Clarke and Garvan, to hunt out, if possible, the particular pigeon-hole in which those plans for a teacher's residence have been quietly laid aside. The school house itself in consequence of its having been closed for so long a time is sadly out of repair. Not long ago some of the slabs fell inwards and some outwards, leaving gaping openings in the walls. The teacher, I am informed, wrote to the Inspector, and was directed to furnish tenders for the work, which would have had to go to Sydney for approval. The teacher after consultation with a few residents got the work done himself in preference to writing to move the specially bureaucratic office. There is much sickness among the children owing to the damps and draughts in the schoolhouse. Mr. Hite will do us a favor if he will see to some needed repairs being effected. Mr. Surveyor Ebsworth has measured and laid out our new cemetery. This will save a long journey to Eden when a death occurs. With regard to the road from Eden to this we seem to be hoping against hope that we may someday have a decent road. It will be part of Mr. Hite's work when in Sydney to hunt up "papers," as they call them, in connection with the road grants, and to endeavor to get shortcomings enquired into, and to place the result of his enquiries before the Towamba Progress Committee.
'The Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser'
28 May 1884
Tenders, endorsed "Tender for Teacher's Residence, at Towamba Public School," must be lodged with the Acting Under Secretary, Department of Public Instruction, at or before 10 o'clock MONDAY, 10th JUNE, 1884.
'The Bega Standard and Candelo, Merimbula, Pambula, Eden, Wolumla, and General Advertiser'
9 August, 1884
Towamba. - That wretched school business again crops up. The building has become so dilapidated, and is so thoroughly unfit for a school, that several children have been withdrawn, the parents intending to defy the Department that utterly neglects them.
October 30, 1884
'The Sydney Morning Herald'
Public School teachers.-The undermentioned teachers have been appointed to the positions and schools specified in connection with their respective names:-David Gilpin, Towamba.
'The Bega Gazette and Eden District or Southern Coast Advertiser'
4 March 1885
Department of Public Instruction,
FRESH TENDERS FOR TEACHER'S RESIDENCE.
FRESH TENDERS are invited for the erection of a Teacher's Residence in connection with the Towamba Public School.
Plans and Specifications may be seen, and Forms of Tender obtained at the Office of the Department of Public Instruction, Sydney, and at the Public School, Towamba, on application to the Teacher.
Tenders, endorsed "Fresh Tender for Teacher's Residence, Towamba Public School," must be lodged with the Under-Secretary, Department of Public Instruction, at or before 10 o'clock a.m., on WEDNESDAY, the 11th March, 1865.
The Minister does not bind himself to accept the lowest or any Tender.
24 October 1888
Tenders Accepted. - Department of Public Instruction : Towamba, new school building, L. N. Bouquet, £269 10s.
December 16, 1898
Wanted, a half time school.
The residents of Wog Wog and Bondi are desirous of having a half-time school established in their neighbourhood. We hear that the two places can supply about 15 scholars each, which should be sufficient inducement for the Public Instruction Dept. to provide the necessary means of education. It is said that at present the children in the localities named have little or no facilities for learning and many of them do not even know the meaning of the word "school".
March 1, 1901
Wog Wog School
We are informed that for some reason or other the Department of Public Instruction has not yet replaced the school teacher who was stationed at Wog Wog (or Muskgrove) a few months ago and had to leave owing to ill health. With school buildings at both Wog Wog and Pericoe, it should be possible to at least arrange for a half-time school at these places, that children may enjoy the privilege of education. There are very few other privileges in these out of the way localities.
November 15, 1901
Picnic and dance in connection with Lett's halftime school....
October 16, 1903
'The Manaro Mercury, and Cooma and Bombala Advertiser '
* Miss Gill, daughter of Mr Charles Gill of Cooma, and who for some time held an appointment as teacher at the Towamba Public School, was awarded a farewell by the residents on the occasion of her departure last month, at which the school concert and ball committee presented her with a purse of sovereigns. An address accompanied the gift, expressing admiration of the recipient's many sterling qualities, and regret at her departure. It also conveyed the respect of the parents of children attending the school, and complimented her upon the success following her efforts which had brought the concert to such a satisfactory issue. A second address signed by twenty of the children, was also presented, and expressed the regret of the signatories at Miss Gill's departure, and conveying an invitation to a school picnic on 9th November. Mr Solomon, the master of the school, also wrote wishing Miss Gill every prosperity.
January 27, 1905
The half time school at Rockton, which has been worked in conjunction with Lett's Creek (Upper Pericoe) has been made a full time school. The result is that Lett's Creek school is closed......
LINK TO PHOTOS SENT FOR INCLUSION IN TOWAMBA PRIMARY SCHOOL'S 150TH ANNIVERSARY ON AUGUST 4, 2012 FROM EX PUPILS AND RESIDENTS.
|Towamba school pupils and teacher Mr. H.H.Solomon.
|Towamba Public School. c.1896|
'Magnet' June 20, 1931
* H. P. Wellings's article "Odd Notes of Early Days".
* 1863 Thomas Stockdale Cochrane's Flat and Towamba as half-time schools.
1871 - 1874 T. Beare in charge of Wyndham and Burragate Half-Time .
F. McPhail succeeded Beare in 1875.
* Wyndham and Burragate half-time schools.
Mark Johnson in 1869 followed by G. D. Riley in 1870 - 1871. M. Johnson went to Greig's Flat and Lochiel 1871. Succeeded by T. H. Wellings. The latter being transferred to Pambula. G. D. Riley went to Wyndham - Burragate, Merimbula then Eden
'Magnet' June 1929.
* Mr. C. P. Brown - school teacher at Towamba
* Mr. McMullan - school teacher at Pericoe
* Mr. Cornford - school teacher at Burragate
'Magnet' November 1929
Teachers: Mr. Luff - Rocky Hall
Mr. Cornford - Burragate
Mr. Browne - Towamba Mr. Tyson - Kiah
Mr. Bissell - Wyndham
TEACHERS OF TOWAMBA PUBLIC SCHOOL
NAME - DATE APPOINTED
STOCKDALE. John - Nov. 1863 - 1863
BEARE. Thomas - May 1870 - July 1874
McPHAIL. Francis Lou - August 1864 - July 1875
SMITH. Charles - May 1882 - Oct 1884
GILPIN. David - Oct 1884 - Jan 1887
SOLOMON. Henry - March 1887 - Jan 1914
JEACOCKE. E.H.G. - Jan 1914 - April 1917
KENNY. James - April 1917 - Sept 1918
DALLING. John - Sept 1918 - April 1924
SELDON. Clarence - April 1924 - Jan 1925
BROWNE. C.P. - Jan 1925 - May 1932
MAIR. Stanley - May 1932 - Aug 1935
BOLLER.Bruce - Aug 1934 - Dec 1936
McKENZIE. Joseph - Jan 1937 - ' Dec 1949
MILLS. D.F.R. - Jan 1950 - Dec 1957
VANCE. E.L. - Jan 1958 - Dec 1963
MEAKER. K.J. - Jan 1964 - Dec 1965
LONG. T.P. Max - Jan 1966 - Dec 1968
GARLING. N.B. (Bob) - Jan 1969 - Dec 1971
McGRATH. Kip - Jan 1971 - Dec 1973
COLLINS. David Mark - Jan 1974 - Dec 1975
SIDLOW. Robert - Jan 1976 - Dec 1980
STOCK. David S. - Jan 1981 - Dec 1985
RYAN. Margot - March 1981 - Dec 1981
EDE. Jan (Teacher) Jan 1982 - Dec 1999
CHIN. Greg (Principal) Jan 1986 - Dec 1987
MACEY. Lucy (Teacher) Jan. 1987
GRIFFITHS. Phil (Principal) April 1988 - April 1992
HOUNSELL. Dave (Teacher) Feb 1991 - Dec 1992
WHYMARK. Robert (Principal) July 1992 - Mar 1997
O'HALLORAN. Van (Teacher) April 1993 - Dec 1995
DRANSFIELD. John (Relieving Prin) April 1997 - 2002
FREW. Keith (Teacher) Feb 2000
BUFFIER. Geg. (Principal) Feb 2003-04
McDOUGALL. Barbara. (Principal) Jan. 2004
The formal application for a non-vested Public School at Towamba was made on 14th June 1862 ( see above link 'Application Document' ) by a group of citizens who acted as Local Patrons. They were William Laing, Alexander Binnie, Patrick Whelan, John Slattery, Samuel Parker and Robert Higgins. The slab building consisted of a school house 33ft x 15ft and two rooms 19ft x 14ft and 12 ft x 11ft which were rather grandiosely listed as the "master's apartment". This building, in the possession of John Stockdale, was on land that had been a Government grant and contained, as school furniture, a desk and twelve forms.
The Local Patrons, who expected an attendance of 25 boys and 19 girls, nominated as teacher John Stockdale, a married man of 47 who, though born in England, had been resident in the colony for nine years, during which he had been private tutor to several families. His wife, who was 35, had been born in New South Wales.
John Stockdale had been teaching in Towamba for twelve months in a private capacity but in May, 1862, he had written to the National Board of Education asking for aid. He stated, "...the remuneration is so trifling that I shall be obliged to give up the school if the inhabitants do not succeed in securing the assistance of the Board. "...The inhabitants are in impoverished circumstances, owing principally to the long drought which entirely put stop to all dairy operations upon which the inhabitants chiefly depend. ..."the inhabitants, much to their credit have erected ample school accommodation and a suitable apartment for the teacher."
In February of the following year William Laing, the Secretary of the Local Patrons, reported to the National Board the results of a meeting of the Local Board at which it was agreed that Mr. Stockdale "had transgressed against the rules of the Board" but asked that aid should not be withdrawn and that another teacher be sent from Sydney. Whatever the cause, Towamba was without a teacher and despite a plea from Mr. Laing in June for a replacement, the school did not reopen.
In 1870 Mr. Thomas Beare left for Towamba and Cochrane's Flat in April and took up his duties on May 9th. The school opened with an enrolment of eleven boys and eleven girls. Later in the month Mr. Beare applied for a forage allowance stating: "I have to travel fifteen miles from Towamba to Cochrane's Flat over a rough and hilly road, partly swampy, besides having to cross the Towamba River twice, which, at certain periods in the winter season, cannot be crossed on horseback. From the above impediments and the shortness of the day I am obliged to stop a week at each school, taking Saturday to travel from one to the other". He was granted an allowance of £10 p.a.
In 1887 Mr. Henry Solomon arrived. He seemed to have started well and a year later the enrolment had risen to 35. Because of this and of the dilapidation of the existing building, it was decided to build a new school. In the years that followed enrolments fluctuated a lot. There was trouble in maintaining the attendance. Unfortunately Mr. Solomon was not on good terms with the parents. He made repeated attempts to obtain a transfer but without success. As early as 1894 he was complaining of the "peculiar isolation together with the monotonous and ungenial nature of the general surroundings" and in 1905, when applying for transfer on medical grounds, stated that "This school is most inconveniently situated, my not being a horsy man, and to me the society is most uncongenial and unintellectual". The inspector commented: "Largely due to circumstances beyond his control Mr. Solomon is not an efficient teacher. He is not a success and has lost the confidence of the people. A change would in every way be desirable". However, he was left at Towamba until 1914, a total of 27 years.
A lot of difficulty was caused during these years by the river, with its frequent freshets and periodic floods. In February 1898, 26 inches of rain fell in less than a week. Many of the children lived on the opposite side from the school, and any rise in the water level could be used as a pretext for absence. In 1893 the Department tried to combat this by buying a boat. When the river was too high to cross without wading the teacher rowed the children over. But no provision seems to have been made for maintenance and by 1902 it was in such bad repair that "By the time we reached the opposite shore 20 yards away the water was within 6 inches of the top. She has been repaired so often that further tinkering is no use". The Department declined to buy another boat, saying that if the parents wanted one they should buy it themselves.
Excerpt from 'History of Towamba Public School 1862 - 1939.
(Probably) Compiled by Leon Vance, Teacher in Charge in 1962, for the School's 100th Birthday Celebrations.
'Pambula Voice' July 7, 1893
* Our school master Mr. Solomon was united in holy wedlock to Miss Maxwell on the 28th of June by the Reverend W. L. Forbes and started the same day for Rocky Hall where they propose spending their honeymoon amid the good wishes of their friends.
|Henry Solomon with wife
(standing) and family.
Towamba school teacher 1887-1914
Photo courtesy C.& G. Clements
'Pambula Voice' August 4, 1893
* The river has been in a state of flood for some considerable time causing much inconvenience to those wishing to cross. A boat has been purchased for the use of the children attending the school which will be a great boon, it being impossible for the children to cross formerly thus causing the young people to remain away for some time during the year.
'Pambula Voice' October 20, 1893
* Mr. H. Solomon, public school teacher at Towamba, was seriously ill last week, suffering from inflammation of the bowels. The services of Dr. Meeke were summoned from Candelo and under his treatment the patient was soon pronounced to be out of danger.
June 27, 1900
* Miss Florrie Poidevin was yesterday made the recipient of a presentation by her Bemboka friends and admirers. After the midwinter vacation Miss Poidovin commences duties at the Towamba Public School.
'Pambula Voice' September 28, 1900
Towamba Public School is temporarily closed owing to the absence of its popular teacher Mr. H. Solomon on sick leave. He is recouping at that most healthful seaside resort, Eden.
'Pambula Voice' August 21, 1903
Tenders for improvements and additions to the Towamba School Teacher's residence.
November 21, 1904
'The Sydney Morning Herald'
* Mr. Robert Jones, aged about 60, who for some years past was engaged as a private teacher at Towamba, was admitted to the Pambula Hospital to-day suffering from heart weakness. He died two hours after admission.
Newspaper Unknown. March 19, 1913
* An epidemic of whooping cough is with us and extends from Wangrabelle to here. The Towamba school has 24 children absent from this cause, and the confounded thing lasts so long.
Newspaper Unknown. April 7, 1913
* The whooping cough that has been prevalent here for some time is now showing signs of leaving and many of the ailing children have returned to school, plainly well on the mend. It is to be hoped that those who are suffering from a lingering attack will recover before the winter sets in, as the contrary would mean a hard struggle through the cold weather, and perhaps result in serious lung trouble.
* A football match is to be played at an early date between the school boys of Wyndham and Towamba, Burragate and Lower Towamba combined.
* Parents and citizens are to assemble at the school ground on the 12th instant to assist in the planting of ornamental trees supplied by the Department of Education.
|Towamba Public School pupils and teacher
- Mr. Dalling. 1923
Tindall family members in photo:
Mary (Spackman) Courtney; Edna (Roberts)
Dorothy (Morrow); James (Jim), Ivan and Vera Eileen (Kelly-Power)
January 22, 1914
* Mr. H. Solomon, the school teacher at Towamba, has been stationed there no less than 27 years. He has just received notice of removal.
May 25, 1918
'The Cobargo Chronicle'
* Mr. P. E. Sicard, who was recently transferred from Towamba side to the charge of the school at Kangloon, near Bowral, writes to say he is well pleased with the change.
September 25, 1918
* Mr J. Dalling, teacher of Fox High school for some years, has been transferred to Towamba.
|David Gilpin who was a teacher in Towamba
(Photo at the top of this page.) He became the Lord Mayor
of Sydney in 1922-24.
Photo courtesy Terry Tweedie
'Magnet' April 12, 1930
* Our annual school picnic and dance eventuated on Friday, 4th instant, under favourable conditions and was a great success. Much credit is due to the secretary, Mrs. W. Parker.
'Magnet' April 19, 1930
Our annual school picnic held on Friday, the 4th instant, was a great success and the orderliness of the arrangements was a credit to the teacher and organising secretary. The day was lovely and the children's merriment was matched by the pleasure of the adults whose smiling faces reflected their appreciation as they watched the youngsters eagerly compete, pick their prizes and get ready for the next races which later kept the working committee busy, especially the handicapper and judges. The ladies had a busy time looking after the lunch and in seeing all that received a sufficiency of the abundance of nice eatables provided. The dance that night was very successful, the takings amounting to nearly £9. The thanks to Towamba people are recorded to Messers Ramsey Brothers, Izzard, Nicholson and Turnbull with their donations of special prizes which were a great help. Also to Mrs. A. Parker, Mrs. A. Clements, Mrs. King, Mrs. W. Parker for their special donations. At the end of a perfect day the children retired, tired but completely satisfied with their days' outing.
On August 4, 2012 Towamba Primary School
will celebrate its 150th Anniversary of educating
children of Towamba village and at times,
children of surrounding villages.
Invitations went out to ex teachers, students
and residents to attend on the day and to
bring any memorabilia. Below are some photos
that were sent in reply and included on this
site by permission of the owners.
I have attached some photos that my Grandfather "C P Browne" took when he was at the school between 1925 and 1932 of his two Children Norman and Gwen that attended the School. I hope they are of some use in the celebration this year. I thought you might be interested to know that Mrs Browne, the Head master's wife at Towamba, was originally Aileen Ruth Brooks from the original Brooks family near Berridale
|Towamba Primary School pupils 1925-32|
|Teacher's residence at Towamba School 1925-32||Norman and Gwen Browne 1925-32.
Towamba school building in background
|Outside school residence at Towamba. Possibly
Norman, Gwen and unknown.
|Norman and Gwen in school grounds with Towamba
General Store and hall in background.
|Gwen and Norman playing in Towamba River.|
'Magnet' November 15, 1930
* Towamba P & C association request for repair to streets in Village of Sturt.
'Magnet' February 7, 1931
* Mr. Browne - school teacher at Towamba spent his holidays at Berridale and Newcastle
'Magnet' December 26, 1931
* Presentations to Sunday School children by their teachers were made in the local hall on Thursday night last week.
'Magnet' June 11, 1932
* Mr. Browne - transferred.
* Mr. Mair - Towamba school teacher.
June 17, 1932
'The Southern Record and Advertiser'
* Mr. Mair has been succeeded at the South Wolumla school by Mr. E. M. Hawkins, the former having been transferred to Towamba.
'Magnet' August 19, 1932
* Tenders called to repair and additions to Towamba School and residence.
|Towamba Primary School Pupils. c.1924. John Dalling - teacher.|
'Magnet' December 16, 1933
* Mr. Geraghty is the school teacher at Nethercote.
'Magnet' June 15, 1935
* At the P & C meeting last Tuesday night it was unanimously decided to write to police headquarters urging that an officer of the force be stationed here. It was also decided to ask the Education Department to have a new boundary fence erected around the school. The present fence is in such bad condition that it is considered dangerous to the pupils. Various other matters of minor importance were also dealt with.
'Magnet' August 17, 1935
RIDING TO SCHOOL
Government Subsidy Rates
As mentioned in the 'Magnet' last week children who travel to school on horseback or by vehicle are to be granted subsidy in future by the Department of Education.
The rates of subsidy as specified in the Education Gazette, the official journal of the Department, are as follows: - for one child conveyed to school either by vehicle or on horseback, 4 pence; for two children of one family conveyed by vehicle or on two horses, 8 pence; for three children by vehicle or using three horses, 9 pence; this is the maximum daily rate for any one family group. In cases where more than one child rides to school on the one horse only the rate for one child will be paid. The new conditions will come into operation on September 10th.
|Towamba Public School 125th celebrations.
L to R: Sally Farrell, Tal McGowan, Sheena and Peter
Mitchell, Robert Mitchell, Jayda Gardaya. 1987
|Towamba Public School 125th
Oldest ex-pupil Florrie Parker, youngest pupil,
Peter Mitchell. 1987
|Bullock Team outside Towamba Public School.
Probably School Centenary Celebrations
Courtesy Jenny Love (Aileen tasker Photo collection)
Photo courtesy Don Mills
|Don Mills and family. 1950-57
Photo courtesy Don Mills
|Sports day at Burragate oval. 1950-57
Photo courtesy Don Mills
|Building the weather shed. 1950-57
Photo courtesy Don Mills
|Towamba Public School pupils. c 1950-57
Photo courtesy Don Mills
There is an Australian story called the Pommy
Jackeroo giving the experiences of an Englishman
who worked on a cattle station and his problems
not only with his work and conditions but
also the ribbing that pommies get in Australia,
so in the position I found myself thought
perhaps there were some similarities as the
isolation and living conditions could be
somewhat the same.
Towamba is situated on the Towamba River some 20 miles inland from Eden and 50 miles from Bega, which was the closest shopping centre, and the roads to both centres were at the best, corrugated rough dirt surface.The closest railhead was Bombala.
The store and accommodation house at Towamba were both on the North side of the river and the school and church on the South. To get from one side to the other was by means of a low level wooden bridge. During normal times the river was just a gentle flowing coastal river but during heavy rains it would become a roaring torrent and the only means across was by a rowing boat, this being a most hazardous journey. There were none of the usual public utilities, water, sewerage, gas, electricity or garbage service and the only public transport was by the mail bus which left for Bega at about seven o'clock returning in the evening anywhere from six to eight o'clock. This would allow two or three hours shopping time in Bega, the journey was necessarily slow as many mail stops had to be made and the road was over Mount Darragh which meant slow climbing both ways.
Our isolation was complete as during the first nine months we did not have a car and I cannot recall my wife, Joan or I being given many rides to other centres. The store was run by Ira and Eva Parker and it also served as the Post Office, agent for the Commonwealth Bank and telephone exchange from which we had a party line system, so you can imagine there was very little privacy in those areas. As far as I can recall we did not have the phone connected at first but soon the Parents and Citizens' Association agreed to help with the payments as it could be used to contact parents and other school matters.
The store mainly sold groceries and hardware items but no meat or bread, these items had to come from Wyndham on the mail bus so we had to have a great reliance on our butcher and baker and whenever we went to Eden we made sure we got some fish. Ira Parker, the storekeeper, was surprised when we first shopped wanting to pay cash and he really forced us into running an account, as with cash you paid the full amount, but when you paid your monthly bill he gave a discount. He also sold petrol which also went onto the account. Next to the store was the hall and both the store and hall had electricity as Ira had his own generating system.
In the early days the South side had been planned as a village with wide streets and places for all the necessary utilities, even a railway station, which was to have come down from Bombala to Eden. There were houses dotted here and there all basic residences but well kept and of wood and corrugated iron, as these being the only materials available. All employment was related to the land, dairy farming, sleeper cutting, a few cash crops such as beans, peas and maize and stripping bark from the wattle trees, which was used for tanning leather. There had been a mine to the West of Towamba past Pericoe (Yambulla) but it had long been shut down.
So all in all the children and their parents had very little knowledge of life outside the village excepting of course the ex-servicemen of which there were enough to form a strong local Returned Servicemen's Association. I had joined the association in Parramatta but did not attend the meetings regularly but, as with all activities in isolated areas the incumbent teacher not only helps with such groups to function but by being a member gains the support and encouragement needed. I became a delegate to attend district meetings and made sure the children joined in the march and service on Anzac Day so that they gained an appreciation of what it meant to be an Anzac. After the service we joined with our wives for a dinner they had prepared having a most enjoyable social get-together.
Through this we became friendly with Verna Clements and his wife. Sport was keenly played. Tennis, cricket and with the surrounding area a rugby league team, so there was a good community spirit in the area. The only meeting place was the wine saloon attached to the accommodation house and I believe that quite often beer was supplied illegally. One election day, when all licenced premises were closed, the local policeman from Wyndham paid a visit and caught many of the locals enjoying their wine but only gave them a warning. Whether I was right or wrong I always declined invitations to drink there with the local men.
The best position in the village was on a hill above the river where the school residence was built, but of course everyone could see all the comings and goings. The school was just below the residence the grounds being quite ample for the children attending. In the lane below the school there were two tennis courts. The school and residence grounds were all one so the children often encroached on our yard. It did not take long for us to have a fence built to keep us separate. Neither of the buildings had received any maintenance for the past ten years or so, actually the school was in better shape than the residence. The main entrance to the residence was through the back door, you couldn't use the front door as there wasn't a step to get up. This back door led into the kitchen which was large enough to have a table and chairs for meals, thence you came to the dining room, off which was the children's bedroom and from there through a hall to the main bedroom and lounge. Off the lounge was a small verandah which overlooked the school ground and the river. These rooms had open fireplaces but had no grates so the wood was lifted up on firedogs.
Coming from Northmead we had carpet squares for the inside rooms. When the locals knew about the carpets they said that we must be pretty dirty as you couldn't sweep under beds. Their eyes goggled when they saw Joan using a carpet sweeper. Remember we did not have electricity. The open fireplaces were the hallmark of a good housewife, so they had to have a regular coating of pipeclay which had some lime added to bring out the whiteness. In the hallway there where some pellet marks, the story being that a previous teacher had threatened his wife with a shotgun, so, onto that most important room, the kitchen. Off the kitchen there was a pantry and bathroom, the bathroom had the usual sheet of flat iron on the floor, which made sure people knew when you were in there. There was a hand basin and bath, but I'm afraid no shower. At one end of the bath was the chip heater which supplied the hot water and the cold tap was at the other end. Great care had to be taken when heating water as we only had tanks to supply us with water.
The chip heater was not the normal down draft model, which would supply enough hot water just with newspaper, even Joan's parents had one of these in Parramatta, but the cylinder was only about a foot or less in diameter made of copper and in the front a slide which lifted out so that the fuel, wood chips only, could be fed in. This slide had a hole in the middle to cause a down draught. Actually it was super efficient as once when Joan's sister in law decided to have a bath she got in the bath and had hot water pouring in one end and cold the other, the hot winning the contest. I had to rush in to help with her standing in the middle a washer hiding her private parts. On another occasion the visitors thought we were having chips for our meal when I said I was going to light up the chip heater. Thinking back we did have a shower but if we wanted one I had to pump water by hand up into a high tank as of course all our water tanks were below the gutter line to catch the rain water, I'm sure we didn't use it a great deal.
The fuel stove was nearly a wreck, badly cracked, and more smoke came into the room than up the chimney. It was not raised much above the floor level so you had to kneel when using it. I rang Joan about the stove and she hot footed it into The Department of Education and by gentle or other means got in to see the property manager and a new Bega stove with an enamel front was on its way.
I may as well tell about its installation here by Terry Goward. The Gowards were a family that befriended us. Joan wanted it lifted so that she did not have to kneel whilst cooking. The hob part was no worry but the brick wall above the stove had to be knocked out. Terry was a sleeper cutter and attacked the bricks in like manner, luckily he had a steel bar to insert to hold up the remaining wall and managed to insert it before the whole lot came tumbling down.
The sink and draining board, which was wooden, had also seen their use-by date but it took some long time before that was improved. The water from both the sink and bath flowed down an open drain into the vegetable garden. I guess hardly hygienic. The laundry was away from the house and had the usual fuel copper and a tub, of course we were very modern as we had a small Acme clothes wringer.
The toilet was the pit or long drop type and as it was getting close to full. I soon made sure it was so that it could be shifted further away from the house. Actually I had it put near the wood heap so that a visit to toilet had a double purpose.
There were no fly screens on the windows so the blow flies had easy access.
As the stove was such a mess Joan had purchased a stove that was fuelled by kerosene which besides having open burners, had an oven. We also had a pump up Primus stove and various kerosene lights, mostly the type with wicks but also a pump up type which could be carried outside. By some good fortune we had a refrigerator fuelled by kerosene. It was a Charles Hope manufactured in Brisbane originally for the American Armed Forces in the tropics and compared with the Australian designed, Silent Night, was in a class of its own. All the refrigerators after the war were of the absorption type and had to have some kind of heat to operate and the Charles Hope only worked on kerosene. Joan's parents had a Silent Night powered by electricity and on very hot days it was useless.
With all these appliances run by kerosene we bought it at first in 4 gallon containers which when empty could be converted into useful buckets, and Joan used one to boil up the napkins on the fuel stove.
Before I continue and tell about Joan's and my routine jobs will try and give a picture of the school conditions.
The school building was only a stone's throw from the house not attached as it was at other schools. It was deep enough for about 5 rows of desks but much wider than deep, the desks were long enough to seat 5 children and made of cedar. The children sat on benches, which weren't the most comfortable, and in the middle of the front there was an open fireplace on each side of which there was ample room for blackboards, the floor of course was wooden. There was a closed in front verandah but no office for the teacher to use to talk to parents etc. The grounds were quite ample although they sloped quite steeply down to the river, at the bottom there was a horse paddock and an area for a fruit trees. There was not a shelter shed for the children to use so in wet weather break periods had to be spent in the school building, of course the pit toilets were some distance from the building.
I'll go back to when Joan, her mother and John, our small son, arrived, for this was our first introduction to Towamba living. When they arrived I was just going down with the measles and Joan was informed that the next Sunday was the monthly visit of the Church of England priest, Freddy Hart, for service and it was tradition for her to give him his dinner (mid-day). I had made contact with the Gowards who were our backstops and supporters so Molly Parker at the shop gave her the run down on ordering meat and bread from Wyndham. Not wishing to trust the fuel oven to bake a roast she bought some corned silverside so as the only green vegetable available being cabbage she cooked these for Sunday dinner.
As an explanation it was our habit then to have dinner in the middle of the day. By this time I was a cot case confined to my bed in a darkened room so when the blowflies got a smell of the cooking and my measles we were invaded, closing the doors and windows had some effect but they even came down the chimneys. Of course I couldn't take school and some of the parents said that I didn't have measles at all but had rubbed flea powder into my skin to keep the fleas off me whilst I was at the accommodation house. They had learnt that I had purchased some powder at the store and didn't believe that I had used it to sprinkle around the residence before putting the carpets down.
During my first year at Towamba I had to be inspected for my Teacher's Certificate as for the first three years we were on probation , he arrived just before morning tea time so after a short chat I took him over to the residence for a cuppa and Joan had scones etc ready for us, after fifteen minutes I started to get fidgety as it was time to go back to work, so he said to Joan, "What's he worried about?" which relieved the tension for he was also interested in our whole situation. I survived the day and he took a lesson or two as a demonstration. He recommended me for my certificate as he thought that one day I would become a very successful teacher as I had an easy way of handling children and had a pleasant personality with good professional attitudes ( I'm copying these remarks from his report on me which I still have). He also sent us bulletins containing ideas from other teachers in the area mainly in the teaching of basic skills.
Lots of the aids for children the teachers made and were stored in anything from match boxes to tins and cartons. I know from experience that many innovations by one teacher staff have been rediscovered later and hailed as new ideas and sold in published form. There was also a great friendship amongst the teachers in the area who were mostly the same as me, the only exception being the Headmasters from Eden, Pambula and Merimbula and once a month on a Saturday morning we would have a Teachers' Federation meeting at a different centre. In the morning we would meet in the school whilst our wives met in the residence, mainly I think to complain about the condition of the residences, then in the afternoon some kind of sporting activity would take place. After the meeting we would look at the aids for teaching at that school for there was not any professional jealousy amongst us. I think in our early days that Eric Carle from Burragate, who had a Chev four tourer would pick us up.
There not being a ready supply of text books or the money to purchase them much preparation were necessary and the work for the day had all to be written on blackboards so that whilst personally teaching one group the others had work to get on with, such as questions to be answered from reading they had done or examples in maths to be tackled. Much work was done and learnt by rote and repetition. I must confess I could print out maps, by now an ancient method, using wax stencils and black ink. This meant of course getting to school by eight o'clock and going back after tea to have things ready for there was nothing worse than children having nothing to do.
The children living in the village of course walked to school but the ones from outlying farms came in various ways some driven by their parents, some on push bikes and a couple on horseback, they were all very regular attenders and being a farming area, know that some had an easier time at school than at home. I tried to have a good balance of subjects both mental and physical and on Thursday afternoon I would have the boys for handwork whilst Joan took the girls for needlework in the residence. Once whilst she had them working in the kitchen she had some soup on the fuel stove in a pressure cooker and the release valve became blocked so that the rubber safety valve blew sending streams of liquid up the chimney. The girls really thought they were in mortal danger. Actually this sewing was a sore point with Joan as the allowance for this work was added to my salary, whilst she thought she should have been paid direct. I taught the boys a mixture of woodwork, bookbinding, cane work and crafts to suit the season.
The parents at Towamba were on the whole interested in their children's well being and besides their basic learning skills liked to see the children in the other activities. In fact when I suggested at a Parents' meeting that I would happily have a weekly lesson in cane work the response was overwhelming. Some of them soon got passed the wastepaper basket and tray weaving and started on picnic baskets and even bassinettes for their babies, far beyond my capabilities, but I did have some excellent text books which they used. I had to buy the cane and an honesty system made sure I was not out of pocket. At meetings I would always try to explain and illustrate any part of teaching method they did not understand as parents could not help their children if they did not know what was going on. One policy I maintained was regards Homework and would only ask the children to do tasks that would not confuse their parents, such as spelling, learning tables and reading books they could manage. As the children did not have any shelter in the playground permission was given to build a weather shed, the department supplying the material if the parents would do the construction, This took place and we ended up with a fine building where sporting equipment could be stored and great for the children in wet weather as you remember I went home for my dinner at mid-day and did not want the children in the classroom during the break.
We somehow survived those early days and by the time Joan's mother left we were pretty well settled in and ready to take on the challenges that were to face us.