School Histories

Mornington Landing School

Compiled by Maidee Smith from Education Department files, c. 1980.

For ten years, a school had been operating at Mornington Mill but the families who belonged to the teams in the bush were without schooling. The Education Department was contacted on 7 July 1908 about establishing a school at Hoffman’s landing, Jarrahdale Landing and Mornington Landing.

It was suggested that a room could be built on a rail truck, but it would have to be large enough to hold 20 children. The Local Member, Mr P O’Loghlan, MLA, supported the idea and asked that the three areas be serviced.

Millars Timber and Trading Company were prepared to provide the schools but felt the size which could be fitted on a rail truck, i.e. 16 feet by 7 feet would not fit 20 children into it so the Department replied to Millars in August and said that a tent school may be better.

At the time, tent schools of this kind were being used in Queensland and proved satisfactory. The Department required a list of children who required schooling. The list is as follows:

Parent, Child, (Age), Religion, Residence

John Hayes – Sheila (5), RC[1], 6 miles from Mornington

Harry Birrell – Louisa (8), C of E[2], Mornington Landing

Henry Pridmore – George (9), Doris (7), Edna (5), C of E, Mornington Landing

George Purdue – Clarice (11), Charlie (9), George (5), C of E, Mornington Landing

Owen Conly – May, (6), C of E, Mornington Landing

Harry Lesack – (?), Kendal (5), RC, Mornington Landing

B Widdeson – Harry (13), C of E, Mornington Landing

R Adams – Grace (5), May (8) C of E, Mornington Landing

George Hamilton- Ethel (13), Monie (11), Presbyterian, Mornington Landing

J Udy – Elsie (3), C of E, Mornington Landing

On 23 September 1909, the establishment of the schools at Mornington Landing, Jarrahdale Landing and Hoffman’s Landing were approved. On 15 October 1909 the Department called tenders for the buildings and tenders were let on 11 November 1909 for the tents. Mr C Bayman was the successful tenderer at £165/3/-.

The tents were made in time but when Mr Rowland Naylor arrived at the bush landing on 25 January 1910 to begin school, he found that the tent had not been erected as the contractor was ill. Furniture and equipment for the school were sent to the Wokalup Siding which serviced Mornington. From there, the private mill train went to the Landing. The equipment arrived on 27 January 1910 and the Landing School opened on 21 February. Although so far out in the bush, the school was under the jurisdiction of the Brunswick Committee of School Management.

As its purpose was to be a ‘moveable school’ it was soon on the move. The camp was packed up – home, offices and the school – and put on rail wagons to move further into the bush. They left on 22 April 1910.

There was a lot of timber to be cut out in the new location and the men expected to be there until about Christmas. The main sleeper cutter camp was around the school and 16 children came from there, while more came from the fallers camp further out. There were 23 children on the roll and they walked along the rail line to get to school as they were the only ‘paths’ through the dense bush.

In June 1910, it was very cold and most uncomfortable in the tent for the children. Some mornings the temperature was down to 36°F, so the teacher wrote to the Department asking for a stove. Two stoves were sent, but his joy didn’t last long as he was informed that one was to be sent to the teacher at Hoffman’s Landing.

By May 1912, they were on the move again. That spur line was to be pulled up so Millars removed the school and charged the Department £18. The teacher at the time was WR Dobbins. He stayed through 1913.

In January of 1914, when the teacher was Nicholas Hartley, there were 12 children on the roll. As the original tent was showing signs of wear, it was agreed that new canvas should replace it. The walls were then coloured and the stove chimney was repaired. The parents wanted the tent lined for the winter but in August they were told that the framework was not suitable for hardwood lining, but could carry a softwood lining.

A year later they were once more on the move. This time the school was moved a further six miles east where the bush workers were being concentrated, so in February of 1915, the 12 children packed up and went on the train to the new location. Another 6 children joined the school with Mr JW Miller as their teacher when they reopened on 11 February 1915.

However the numbers fell away in the next few months as the families moved out. The mills closed down due to the war and by March of 1915, Mornington Landing school was closed. It was suggested in February of 1916 that the portable school from Mornington Landing should be sent to Roelands to overcome crowding at the Roelands school. The numbers had increased there as the Public Works Department camp in the area had grown.

It was January 1917 before the fate of this bush school was determined. The Department removed the school and re-erected it on the road to Boyup Brook.

[1] RC – Roman Catholic

[2] C of E – Church of England