Sunday, 25 January 2015

Happy Australia Day

Or is that 'Invasion Day'? Whatever you prefer. Whether it's ignoring it, protesting about it, having a BBQ or drinking too much and getting sunburnt I hope you have a good day and enjoy the long weekend. All Australians like a long weekend!
Mount Wallace was the one teacher rural school I had prior to Glen Park. I took over early in the school year of 1994. In a crude attempt to raise class sizes and close down small schools, the then Kennett Government changed the student teacher ratios which meant that a school like Mt Wallace with a staff of 2 for 20 children went down to 1.2 staff. I still can't believe I taught 20 kids from prep-6 three days a week in a fairly run down old building but that was what I faced when I got there. 
About half the students left the following year and went to bigger nearby schools fearing that school was going to close or preferring a private school education rather than a rural school education.
1995-96 were good years there. We attracted a few new students, I purchased our first computers connected to the Internet ( I still remember the kids excitement) and we had a huge tidy up and re-organisation. I also remember some very popular camps and excursions. 
I didn't apply for the vacant permanent job there in 1997 but applied for Glen Park because it meant less travel. Sadly Mount Wallace lost numbers in 1997 and was quickly closed. Below is a little bit of the school's history

Mount Wallace Primary School

No. 1017

An application for a school at Mount Wallace was received in 1868 but it wasn’t until 1870 that 2 acres of Crown land was put aside for a school in the parish of Ballark.

A wooden classroom was built for a total cost of 127 pounds and was opened for the first pupils to attend on 23rd January 1871. Roderick Robertson was the first head teacher. In 1876 a residence of two rooms was built. From the middle of 1895 Mount Wallace worked half-time and then closed briefly. It reopened in 1889 (part-time with Beremboke) It closed again soon after and then reopened in 1904 and closed the following year.

The building was still on the site in 1914 . In 1915 the department handed it over to the local residents who rented it for 10 pounds per year. Mount Wallace reopened again part-time again with Beremboke in 1919 and closed again in 1927 (I wonder how this part-time opening on shared sites worked? Was it the teacher who was shared between schools for part of the week or year?)

It was opened again in 1928 along with Bungeeltap South but closed again in 1932.

It was closed throughout the war years but reopened on August 1st 1950 in the supper-room of the Hall which had been purchased by the locals for 30 pounds.

An LCT was erected on a site of 5 acres on the property of L.E. Spriggs and first occupied on 20th February 1957.( The old Glen Park building is an LCT built in 1963. They are basically weatherboard permanent structures although most people think they are old mod 2 portables)

Mount Wallace continued operating until 1997 when it closed mid-year when its enrolment dropped below 12 students. Students at the school either went to Mount Egerton, Meredith or Ballan Primary Schools. DE&T had a policy at the time of closing schools promptly when their enrolments dropped below 12. Unlike the many instances in the past where the school opened and closed as the community needed it, Mount Wallace is now closed for good.

Jeff Fyffe the retired Principal at Sovereign Hill tells of the time when he taught at Fiskville and he traveled down from there to Mount Wallace on a Friday afternoon for a few beers with the Head teacher at Mount Wallace. One day they left the beer to cool in the dam next door to the Mount Wallace School. (They weren't allowed to keep alcohol on school property) When they went to retrieve them, they were gone.

Jeff is still haunted by the mystery of the disapperaring beer!

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