School Histories

Education at Australind

In the early years of Australind settlement formal education was non-existent. However many of the early settlers were skilled artisans or small businessmen who had come to Western Australia with an expectation of better opportunities for their families and an understanding the value of education.[1] The task of teaching the children usually fell to their wives, already overwhelmed with the household duties of raising large families in difficult circumstances. Some were aided by older daughters, or unmarried female relatives who were literate. Education for the lower classes, however, was almost non-existent. Their children were required to work from an early age, either hard physical labour such as land clearing and minding stock, or helping with housework and child-minding.

Nearby Bunbury had its own difficulties in catering for the education needs of its children. Bunbury’s first school was set up in 1842 in the temporary Church /Assembly Hall under John Forsyth as master, but only lasted two weeks.[2] Elizabeth Capel Ommanney (née Bussell) then conducted private classes from 1843, until the school re-opened under Cornthwaite Ommanney (her brother-in-law), in the Church building at the corner of Victoria and Stephen Streets. Following closure of the school in 1848 due to low numbers, some Government assistance allowed Ommanney to re-open the school in 1850 with 17 pupils, before his dismissal the following year, due to ‘inefficiency and grave misconduct’.[3] He was then replaced by a former convict, John Hislop.[4]

Marshall Waller Clifton, Chief Commissioner of the Australind Settlement, valued education highly, ensuring that his own children were given instruction at home, and at times sending his boys away for tuition.[5] From June 1841 he employed Maurice Brett Smith as a private tutor, using a large commercial storeroom as a classroom.[6] [Smith later became the first to take up land in what is known as the Harvey district. In 1844 he settled on land known as ‘Giginup’, north-west of Harvey on Lake Preston. He then moved to another property closer to Harvey which became known as ‘Uduc’. For convenience he became known as ‘Uduc Smith’, but also earned the nickname of ‘Cast Iron Smith’ being the first settler in the area to import fencing for his farm.[7]]

John Allnutt, snr, residing in what is now known as ‘Henton Cottage’, provided some schooling from 1848, and in 1850 it is recorded that ‘he taught some pupils in the Chapel building opposite’.[8] In 1854 Elinor K Clifton was teaching her brothers and sisters, as well as serving as postmistress. She went on to give instruction to local girls until 1864, before transferring to the Bunbury School.[9]

Meanwhile MW Clifton was casting around for a full-time teacher for Australind. In 1858, when a convict at the Bunbury Convict Depot named Henry William Gillman (Reg. No. 4447) approached him for the position, Clifton seized the opportunity. Gillman was soon granted his ticket-of-leave and commenced teaching at Australind in April of that year, probably just the boys. Accommodation was found for him with the Offer family.[10]

All went smoothly until it became known that Gillman had become romantically involved with Mrs Clifton’s servant Annastasia Kennedy. When she fell pregnant, Clifton met with Gillman and told him in no uncertain terms that an instant marriage was expected.[11] The couple then moved to Bunbury in early 1859, where Gillman set up a store in Stephen Street.[12] They remained on good terms with the Cliftons, with regular visits between the two families recorded in Clifton’s journals.

Clifton’s journals, dated 4 March 1859, briefly record the arrival of an expiree schoolmaster, William Frederick Jones (Reg. No. 3809) at Australind. Jones spent the night with the Cliftons, but the journal entry for the next day reads – ‘I determined to exonerate Jones from his App. & sent him to the Vasse’.[13] This decision indicates that Clifton decided against employing him at Australind.

[Some years previously, Jones had visited WA as a free man, serving as mate on a trading ship. William Jones had been born in Ireland and is said to have been sent to England to further his education, followed by service on a mercantile training ship. In 1856 he returned as a convict, on board the William Hammond, having been transported for fifteen years for uttering a forged bank note. William Forrest at Picton, who had met Jones on his first visit to Bunbury, applied for him to be released to serve as tutor to the Forrest boys. Mr Jones then went on to teach at the Picton School, built on Forrest land, between 1859 and 1870. He is said to have instructed the Forrest boys in navigation methods, a skill they found invaluable during their exploratory trips.[14]]

Undeterred by these previous experiences and hampered by the shortage of suitable candidates, Clifton selected yet another ticket-of-leave man, Stephen Montague Stout (Reg. No. 4901) as his next teacher, having been impressed by his efforts in running a class for the Bunbury Convict Depot’s inmates. Stout’s appointment was confirmed by the Colonial Secretary in May 1859. At the end of the year an examination of the children’s progress was conducted in the tiny Australind Church, followed by tea and plum cake.[15] Results proved very satisfactory and Stout was awarded a bonus of £15 at the end of his first year.

However, trouble arose in November 1860 when Stephen Stout applied to marry a 15-year old local girl, but gave false information when asked about his prior marital status. It was discovered that he had a son by a previous wife in England, as well as another son by his French mistress who also lived in England. When Governor Kennedy learnt of Stout’s deceit, he ordered that he should be dismissed from his teaching post and should quit the district.[16] [Stephen Stout, who had been well-educated in France, then went on to open his own private schools in Perth and Fremantle and Bunbury, later serving also in Government schools in Perth and Geraldton. He became a photographer of note and also a newspaper journalist and editor.]

Another ex-convict, Joseph A Farrell (Reg. No. 4143), replaced Stephen Stout at Australind in 1861.[17] He had been previously employed as a tutor to John Fowler’s children at the Ferguson. He had arrived in WA on the Runnymede in 1856, sentenced to 15 years transportation for embezzlement as a clerk. Ex-convicts with some clerical experience were deemed suitable candidates as schoolmasters.

By this time Marshall Waller Clifton, Chief Commissioner at Australind, had passed away after a brief illness, in April 1861, after 20 years in the colony.[18]

One of the Clifton girls, Miss Sophia Louisa Clifton, took over as a teacher at Australind in 1865 and, apart from the year 1874 when the school was conducted by her sister Miss Louisa Clifton, she was employed there until mid-1878. Pupils at the Australind School during these years included R Cecil Clifton, his three younger brothers and his sister Isabella. Cecil Clifton attended the school between the ages of 8-15, and with his brothers and sister stayed with their grandparents at ‘Upton House’, as it was too difficult to travel to the school each day from ‘Alverstoke’. Sometimes there were as many as 22 Cliftons staying at ‘Upton House’. [Cecil later became very well known for his musical ability and for the number of organs which he built. Another Clifton, Charles, went on to become Secretary to the Education Board in Perth.]

Despite the aims of the Education Act of 1871, there remained many children in the Colony who were not receiving any education. Researcher Shirley Leahy records that at the time of the 1881 census, one out of every five children fell into this category[19].

From the 1850s through to the 1870s it was the ex-convict teachers who propped up the education system in WA. Governor Weld, in spite of his concerns about the dangers of the effects of convict schoolmasters to the colony’s morals, was forced to follow his predecessors by continuing to employ them. In 1870, of the thirty-five schoolmasters appointed by the General Board of Education, three were ticket-of-leave holders, and fifteen were expirees.[20]

Rica Ericson compiled a list of 37 expiree schoolmasters in WA schools.[21] Leahy, however, claimed that:

From 1850 until 1890, over 100 schoolmasters and tutors – some government appointed, a few engaged in Catholic Schools, and others privately employed by wealthy rural settlers – were men from the ‘bond’ class, many of whom had acquired only the limited amount of training provided in the convict establishment.[22]

Ex-convicts were generally appointed to one-teacher schools. Some of these appointments were brief, while others remained in the education system for many years. Leahy found that although former convicts were considered to be of bad character, they were generally no worse than some of the other men employed in the schools. Low salaries and poor work and living conditions, along with the loneliness experienced in remote locations, took their toll on many teachers, who frequently resorted to drink.

Enrolments remained fairly stable at the Australind School up until the mid 1870s. During this time, the number of school-aged children from the many Irish families who settled on the east side of the Leschenault Estuary increased and a Roman Catholic School was opened in 1875 to cater for them,[23] in the St John Vianney Church building on the estuary. By 1878 the Catholic School numbers had risen to 34, while Miss Clifton’s Australind School enrolments had dropped to seven children. As a consequence, the school was closed half-way through the year.

However the Catholic Education system was having trouble staffing its small schools and decided to concentrate its efforts in the larger centres. At the end of 1882, the Australind Roman Catholic School was closed down.[24] This led to the re-opening of the Australind Government School in 1883,[25] with an enrolment of 23 pupils and Miss Elizabeth Murphy appointed as teacher. She remained there for a number of years.

In the Southern Advertiser of 17 July 1888 a lengthy article appeared, written by ‘An Occasional Correspondent’, who described himself as ‘a lonely bachelor from Lake Preston whose nearest neighbour lived 14 miles from him’. The article, now available online, provides a delightful description of the school and paints a captivating picture of the young female teacher, Miss Elizabeth Murphy, describing her as being of ‘pre-possessing appearance, combining a calm and dignified bearing, with the sweetest of tones and the utmost benignity of regard.’ [26] The correspondent was equally impressed by Miss Murphy’s pupils, mostly of Irish parentage, describing them as follows –

‘The children present on the whole had the appearance of good health, combined with happiness, comparatively handsome, plump and fair with regular features, good humored smiles and bright, intelligent eyes, sufficient to attract the attention of all observant travellers.’[27]

Elizabeth Murphy remained at the Australind School until February 1891, when she was succeeded by Miss Mary Ferris.

In 1892 the visiting Department Inspector described Miss Ferris’s school as ‘one of the best bush schools visited that year’, and found the building ‘suitable’, though the teaching apparatus was ‘scanty’. The average attendance that year was 12 pupils. Although commended by the Inspector, he also noted that Miss Ferris has no qualifications and recommended that she should sit for her Certificate of Competency. Her school closed briefly at the end of September 1893, but re-opened again in January 1894 with the same teacher, as a ‘Provisional School’.[28]

Miss Ferris was still at the school in 1896, when the ‘Southern Times’ reported that only five children out of an enrolment of six pupils were in attendance when the Inspector came to examine them. Their results were poor and no bonus for successful teaching was recommended.[29]

Miss Marion Buchanan, previously employed at the Parkfield School,[30] was next in charge of the Australind School, but it was closed on the 2 December 1896, due to a lack of numbers. With the Parkfield School in Buffalo Lane at the head of Leschenault Estuary also closed, the whole Australind area was left without a school.

A year later the ‘old school house at Australind’ was mentioned as being in the possession of the Congressional Church Union. The Rev. Buchanan, who lived opposite the Church in ‘Henton Cottage’, was a Minister of the Congregational Church; he later offered the building to the Education Department for £8 a year rent if they would use it as a school, however, they declined to resume school there. This is the tiny Church building now owned by the Anglican Church, known as ‘St Nicholas’ in Paris Road.

There was growing agitation over the next few years for a school to be opened at Australind as there were then about 18 children who needed schooling, however, since the older ones were planning to leave school in the following year, numbers would drop. A list of children’s names was sent on 10 August 1901, which resulted in the opening of a ‘Provisional School’ at Australind on the 3 March 1902, but it had closed on the 27 June 1902; there were six boys and nine girls on the roll but this was not enough to remain open.

Faced with the prospect of more children growing to school age and not receiving any formal education, Mr Frank Travers wrote to the Education Department in December 1902, suggesting that a school should be built at the ‘8 mile post’ on the Coast Road at Australind, as it would be convenient to most of the children. He enclosed a list of the children requiring schooling.

The new list comprised the child’s name, their age and the distance they lived from the ‘8 mile post’. There were 12 children, as listed below, but the older ones of 12 years would not have continued at school for long. At the time, it was compulsory to attend school from 6 years to 14 years of age; the Education Amendment Act had introduced this regulation in 1899, however many children still lived long distances from a school and absences were common.

The children then living around Australind were:

  • Daisy (11), Colin (9), Maud (7) & Edward (6) Piggott, 2 miles from school
  • Leonard (11), Mabel (9), Linda (8) & Lillian (6) Travers, 2 miles from school,
  • Lizzie (11) & Agnes (6) Wright, 1 mile from school
  • Daisy (12) & Kate (7) Crampton, 3 miles from school
  • George (11), Florrie (9) & Alexander (6) Rodgers, 2 miles from school
  • Geoffrey (12) & Gabriella (6) Hough, 3 miles from school.

Another list was submitted, signed by the parents and residents of Australind with the addition of these children’s names:

  • Thomas & Michael Rodgers, 4 miles from school
  • William Jas Piggott, 2 miles from school
  • Frank Travers, 1 mile from school.

The residents of the Australind area who signed were:

Margaret Travers, Francis Travers, Michael Travers, WJ Piggott, Rose Piggott, Lewis Piggott, Herbert Piggott, Caroline Piggott, P Dunne, Mary Dunne, D Rodgers, T Kearnan, E Kearnan, Mary Ferris, Bill Ferris, Michael Ferris, F Joseph Clifton, LC Clifton, CE Clifton, Charles Wright, Elizabeth Wright, George Bliss, M Dunn, John Dunn, May Travers, James Travers, M Travers, R Oldham, W Oldham, James Milligan, snr, Eliza Milligan, Mary Milligan, L Travers, Thomas Milligan, Frank Rodgers, Francis Milligan, John Milligan, Ellen Rodgers, Michael Rodgers, Tom Rodgers, Amy Rodgers, William Rodgers, Mrs Rodgers, snr, George Rodgers, PT Rodgers, Joseph Rodgers and C Wright, jnr.

For some time, there was a dispute about the siting of the school as land had to be acquired. Various suggestions were put forward as to a suitable site. Mr Patrick Dunn was approached to sell part of his one-acre block on the northern corner of Paris Road and the Old Coast Road, but he refused to sell. A survey was made of a house which the Rev. Mr Darling had on half an acre in Paris Road, roughly where the Australind Hall now stands, but although he was willing, even anxious, to rent it to the Department, they considered it too small and unsuitable.

There did not seem to be anywhere to go which was acceptable. The Roman Catholic Church had purchased land in Australind, north of the town, and offered to build a school there which would be big enough for 25 pupils, but the Department was not prepared to rent premises. Father Martelli wrote several times on the matter, but his offers were refused in a letter from the Department on 5 March 1903. The Rev. Darling again offered his cottage after eleven months had passed with no school for the children, but was again refused.

[The clergy had taken an interest in schools for the children since the beginning of the colony, valuing the civilizing effect of education on children, as well as taking advantage of the provisions of the 1871 Education Act which allowed clergy to visit the schools each week to give religious instruction. The Rev. Darling helped other areas to apply for schools for their children. Earlier, in 1872, the Rev. Joseph Withers of the Rectory in Bunbury was quoted as regretting the fact that there was no school at Ferguson and ‘as a result, 27 children were roaming the bush with no schooling’.[31]]
Father Martelli too was endeavoring to have a school opened and finally offered the Roman Catholic Church [St John Vianney] to the Department, free of charge, to use as a school. The offer was accepted and Rev. Darling and the parents at Australind were notified that a Government school would open at Australind in the Roman Catholic school building. Mrs Rodgers, a local resident began teaching there on 3 March 1902

In June of that year, Father Martelli wrote to the Department to notify them the Church would require £1 a month rent for the premises. He said it had only been offered ‘free’ until June 1902; no other premises were available. Manning’s Cottage north of ‘Upton House’ was considered ‘useless for school purposes’, while one of Clifton’s old buildings near ‘Upton House’ was not suitable either.
Father Martelli also claimed that the land to be resumed from the WA Land Company really belonged to the Catholic Church and should be purchased from them, however, when told to prove their title to it, he was unable to do so. A sum of £250 was provided in the estimates for a new school. This sum would only provide the cheapest type of building.

The Australind School re-opened in mid-June 1903, allocated half-time status, shared with Parkfield. [32]Although the Roman Catholic Church which they occupied was in fair repair, the Department felt it was not really suitable for school purposes. When Mr Frank Travers wrote again asking when the new school would be built, the Department replied that the present Roman Catholic building was not suitable and the process for the resumption of land for a school site had begun. It was now the 9 December 1904 and the settlers had been striving for years to get a satisfactory school. There were 12 girls and 8 boys receiving schooling that year.

A site was chosen on the Old Coast Road (now Cathedral Avenue). The new building commenced early in 1905, while 9 girls and 8 boys were being taught by Miss Kate Herrick in the rented premises. She had been appointed ‘provisionally and temporarily’.[33] In June of that year, she wrote – ‘the contractor is transferring material from the old school stock from the old to the new school’. Earlier that year, Miss Herrick had been asked to remove the school stock from the settlers’ church (presumably the Church of St John Vianney) as they needed the room; it seems the building of the school and the quarters may have taken longer than expected. Although the building was not finished – its completion date was 20 October 1905 – Miss Kate Herrick wrote ‘the school furniture was removed to the new building on Wednesday evening after school. We opened school there on Thursday 1 June 1905’. [Kate Herrick was born on November 12, 1880, in Aldinga, South Australia. She married Francis (Frank) Milligan on February 25, 1907, in Australind, WA. They had three children during their marriage. She died on February 26, 1913, in Bunbury, WA, at the age of 32.][34]

The resumption of the land was finalised on the 25 September 1905 and was Reserve No. 8616 of 1 acre, 3 roods and 33 perches and included the land west of what was the Coast Road and is now Cathedral Avenue. The children used this strip of estuary foreshore as their playground and it was fenced on three sides being open to the road and school. This was Lot No. 47 and is now Public Open Space along the foreshore.

A verandah was recommended for the east side of the school, with 21 feet of seating to be used by the children at lunch times when it was wet. The verandah was added, measuring 22 feet by 7 feet, with wood enclosing the south end. It cost £50 to install but by July 1906, both the school and verandah needed repairs, so it couldn’t have been a very sturdy structure. Inspector Mr H Gamble paid a visit to the school in February 1907. From 1902, the Inspectors did not give all the examinations to the children as before; their own Headmasters gave the exams and showed the results to the Inspectors. They sometimes gave quick tests of knowledge but were really inspecting the teachers’ work with the students.

Schools were still served by pan toilets (and were for 40 or more years to follow) and a contractor usually removed these at night, hence the name ‘night soil’. In April 1907 the teacher Miss B Nicholas had to report to the Department that the contractor was burying the night soil in the school grounds instead of removing it. Miss Nicholas remained at the school until January 1908. There were 9 girls and 9 boys in the school during her time as teacher. On leaving, she deposited the keys of the school for safe keeping with the Post Mistress, Miss Clifton, at ‘Upton House’. She was replaced at the Australind State School by Miss Burnsyde, formerly of the Bunbury State School.[35]

Water too, was often a problem at schools and nearly all of them depended on rain water tanks. In some country schools, children had to bring their own drinking water by the end of summer. Miss May Kearney, who began teaching at Australind in February 1909, asked for a bigger water supply for the school. Mr Joseph Clifton was engaged to put down a spear for bore water and to install a pump, which was soon in operation and saved the Department the cost of another rainwater tank.

To make a proper playground for children, an area of the yard was gravelled in March 1912, and a path to the school was repaired. The numbers attending were fluctuating as ever and in February of 1914, Mr John Bradshaw was the teacher with 15 children enrolled. By the time JA Wood took over on 15 July 1914 only seven children were in attendance.

In 1915, Mr L Cargeeg wrote to the Department suggesting that the Australind School should be closed, which would keep up the numbers at the Parkfield School where there were nine children. When school opened in January 1916 with JA Wood still in charge, the average attendance was 12 so by June of that year, the decision was made to create two half-time schools as the best way to educate the most children. On 12 June 1916 Australind and Parkfield began operating on this basis with George Petterson as teacher. Mr Petterson stayed for some time, through 1917 to 1919, but was replaced in February 1920 by William J Brisden. Mr Brisden did not stay long and his place was taken by on 12 May 1920 by Mr Les J Sawyer.

Mr Sawyer told the Department he found the schoolhouse in a dirty condition as it had not been lived in for two years. He was planning to marry in July and wanted the quarters done up. However he came in for some criticism himself from the Department for keeping his horse in the children’s shelter shed and was told to remove it and clean all the manure away.

Extensive bush fires raged throughout the South West in March 1921 and it was initially reported in the paper that ‘the Australind School was burned, together with Marriott’s and Collier’s homesteads. Mr G Money’s pastures was all burnt, but his house was saved’.[36] The school could not have been completely burnt out as later that year it was suggested that the quarters be enlarged by adding the old quarters from Roelands to it. A well-known builder from Bunbury, Mr JG Hough, was contracted to do the work. The cost was to be £150 and the work was set to commence on 26 April and be completed by the 7 May 1922.

However school numbers were dropping again. In 1925 the teacher was still Mr Les Sawyer, with just enough pupils to keep the school open, but by 13 April 1928 the school was closed, due to low attendance.

In May 1928 the District Inspector advised the Department that as the school was no longer required it would be made available for removal or letting. Apparently nothing was done, and as it was a popular holiday spot, campers began to use it. A local resident Miss E Milligan reported to the Department that campers were using the old school and it was becoming very dilapidated. In July 1929 it was suggested that the school be removed to Boyanup, as the children there were using the local hall. However in August Miss Milligan wrote again to the Department, saying they should re-open the school, detailing the number of children requiring schooling then and in the near future. These were: Kathleen Pearce (12 ); Peter (11), Joan (5), Hilda (11) and Max Rodgers (7); Dorothy (6), Charley (4) and Brian Plunkett (1); Marie (9), David Charles (7) and Albert Wright (4); and Patsy Rodgers (1 ).
The suggestion that closing the Parkfield School would make more children attend Australind was opposed by the families at the head of the estuary. The situation remained unchanged until March 1930, when Mrs Frank Rodgers wrote to the Department requesting the re-opening of the school, as she was most anxious for her children to attend school. The children requiring schooling were the same as before, with the addition of Ritchie Plunkett (9) and Vida May Karlsen from Hoffman Mill, who was in the care of Agnes Plunkett at that time. The Department replied that the school could be re-opened as an ‘Assisted School’, providing that the parents could make up the teacher’s wage to at least £54 per year. The parents felt they could not afford to meet these conditions; the effects of the Depression was being felt everywhere.

By April 1931, the children listed as having no schooling were Hilda, Max and Patricia Rodgers; David and Bertie Wright; Vida, Matilda and Vernon Karlsen; Dorothy, Charlie and Brian Plunkett; Emma and Georgina Trayer; and Kathleen Pearce. The District Inspector recommended that the school be re-opened on 1 July 1931, and that a single teacher be appointed. On 20 July 1931 Mr FJ O’Dwyer arrived with his family to re-open the school. This family remained at Australind throughout the 1930s, but the numbers at the school dropped off again and by 10 June 1941 the school had to be closed once again. Mr G Pearce offered to caretake the premises free of charge. In July 1941, Mr C Rodgers wrote to the Department asking whether the school buildings and water tanks were for sale. Mrs Milligan also wanted the tanks, but the Department replied to both that they were ‘not for sale’.

By February of 1942 another group of children were old enough to require schooling. With the difficulties of wartime and the rationing of petrol they could not travel far for their schooling. Mrs Coutas wrote to the Department with a list of school-aged children and a request that the school be re-opened. The children were: Helen (14), Peggy (9), Beth (8), Lexie (6), and Oliver (5) Coutas; Norma Rodgers (10), Patricia Rodgers (14), Maureen (7) and John (6) Rodgers; Maureen White (12); Brian (9) and Audrey (11) Smith; and the daughter of Winifred Travers, who had been sent to stay in Bunbury to attend school but would return home if the school was re-opened. As the school was in a neglected state, the parents offered to have a busy-bee to clean it up and also clean out the quarters. The re-opening of the school was approved and this occurred on the 20 February 1942 with Mrs May Wells as the teacher.

It was six years before the numbers again became too low to sustain the school. Mrs Wells wrote to the Department on 6 October 1948 to say the school would have to close. This occurred on 29 October and the remaining children were taken to school in Bunbury each day by bus. A new era had begun.

The District Inspector, Mr Bill Rourke, wrote to the Department in November 1948, requesting that they leave the school building to be used by the Bunbury Road Board as a Community Centre. The Australind Progress Association wrote also in support of this idea, as all the members of the Association were from the disbanded Parents’ and Citizen’s Association of the school.

There was also a request to the Department to rent the premises for the summer holidays of 1948 but this was refused. Mr Mammolite of Brunswick Junction was interested in purchasing the land and buildings, or just the buildings, while Mrs Plunkett wrote inquiring if the tanks were for sale. The Department replied that neither the land, buildings nor tanks were for sale.

In May 1951 the premises were let to the Harvey Road Board and the building was used as a Community Hall. Due to its isolated position, there were instances of vandalism over the years, and as a result, a decision was finally made to demolish the building. This took place in October 1953. It was not until 1957 that the Progress Association was in a position to proceed with a new meeting room/hall annex in Australind. They raised finance, got donations of building materials and then held busy bees to build the small room which stood among the trees on Paris Road where the Harvey Shire Office is today. It was replaced by the brick hall built in 1979.

The school site was marked by pine trees and two white gum trees (one of which was chopped down by vandals in the 1970s) and was re-gazetted as Reserve No. 8616, being changed from ‘school site’ to ‘caravan parking’, on 18 March 1952. It became a favourite camping spot, but later the Road Board erected a ‘No Camping’ sign on it. A commemorative plaque stands at the site and reads:

‘This is the site of the Australind State School, Built by Joseph and George Rodgers and George Pearce, opened 1905 – closed 1948, Erected by past students, 22 March 1992.’

                                     xxx       yyy

                                                             Australind School site and plaques on Cathedral Avenue.

There is now a caravan park nearby.

Few of today’s travellers passing along Cathedral Avenue would realise that a school was on that site for over 40 years. Many of its pupils or their descendants live in the district, but their children or grandchildren no longer have to go to Bunbury – or, as in later years to Eaton – for their schooling. The rapidly growing population of Australind has seen several new Primary and High Schools, both Government and Catholic, built in the area – quite a change from the many times when the previous schools in Australind were closed ‘from lack of numbers’.


Much of this information comes from an article written by Mrs Maidee Smith in the late 1970s, sourced from records in the Battye Library: Education Department files, microfilm of old Bunbury Newspapers, Alverstoke by Miss Emily Clifton, State Education in Western Australia by Dr D Mossenson, Bunbury Parish by Father Martin Newbold and the Diaries of RH Rose of Parkfield. In 2016 additional information was added by Irma Walter, using resources as indicated in footnotes.

[1]AC Staples, They Made Their Destiny – History of the Settlement of the Shire of Harvey, Harvey, 1979

[2] John Rikkers, Western Australian Schools, 1830-1980, Part 1, Schools & Teachers 1830-1871, Planning Branch, Education Dept. of Western Australia, Perth, WA, 1984

[3] Canon A Burton, & PV Henn, (eds), Wollaston’s Albany Journal, Vol 2, 1841-56, University of WA Press, Nedlands, WA, p. l19

[4] John Rikkers, Western Australian Schools, 1830-1980, Part 1, Schools & Teachers 1830-1871

[5] Phyllis Barnes et al, (eds), The Australian Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, Hesperian Press, Victoria Park, WA, 2010

[6] John Rikkers, Western Australian Schools, 1830-1980, Part 1, Schools & Teachers 1830-1871

[7] EG Davis, History of Harvey and District, Part One, 1955-56

[8] John Rikkers, Western Australian Schools, 1830-1980, Part 1, Schools & Teachers 1830-1871

[9] ibid.

[10] Phyllis Barnes et al, (eds), The Australian Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861

[11] ibid.

[12] Perth Gazette 4 March 1859

[13] Phyllis Barnes et al, (eds), The Australian Journals of Marshall Waller Clifton 1840-1861, p. 582

[14] Paul Hasluck, The Early Years of John Forrest, RWAHS Early Days, Vol. 8, Part 1, 1977, p. 13

[15] Perth Gazette 30 December 1859

[16] State Records Office WA, Cons 222, Item Vol. 3, 15/181

[17] John Rikkers, Western Australian Schools, 1830-1980, Part 1, Schools & Teachers 1830-1871

[18] Perth Gazette 19 April 1861

[19] Shirley M Leahy, Convict Teachers And The Children Of Western Australia, 1850-1890, unpublished thesis, Edith Cowan University, 1993, p. 21

[20] ibid., p. 50

[21] Rica Erickson, (ed.), The Brand on His Coat, Nedlands, Western Australia, University of Western Australia Press, 1983

[22] Shirley M Leahy, Convict Teachers And The Children Of Western Australia, 1850-1890, p. 29

[23] Western Australia, Public Service Lists, 1871-1905

[24] ibid.

[25] ibid.

[26] Southern Advertiser 17 July 1888

[27] ibid.

[28] Government Gazette, cited by the West Australian 10 March 1894

[29] Southern Times 22 December 1896

[30] Southern Times 10 August 1893

[31] Southern Times 7 May 1872

[32] John Rikkers, Western Australian Schools, 1830-1980, Part 1, Schools & Teachers 1830-1871

[33] West Australian 7 September 1903

[34] family trees

[35] Southern Times 9 Jan 1908

[36] West Australian 11 March 1921