by MILLI KAFCALOUDIS
Genealogy Sunshine Coast
The Fairhill Provisional School was opened by its first teacher, William H. Boyd, on July 27, 1885. By the end of the same year the enrolment was 18 pupils.
The original admissions register records the names of 13 pupils who were present on the first day: August Wegner, Eusta Wegner, Wilhelmine Wegner, Hermann Goeths, Mary Goeths, Elizabeth Goeths, Amelia Goeths, Jane Chambers, Alice Chambers, Charles Chambers, Edward Brown, Emily Brown and Hannah Brown. Some of the occupations listed for their parents were timber-getter, farmer, inspector of brands, carpenter, engineer, tailor and lengthsman.
Children of the old bush schools mostly spent their lives within a few miles of where they were born. Clothes were almost invariably hand-me-downs as cloth was expensive and hard to come by. Shoes were even more difficult to come by and children travelled the rough roads barefoot, often walking five or six miles a day. Black and brown snakes are recorded as being plentiful in the district, and children travelling to school might have been armed with a sharp knife and a small bottle of Condy’s crystals for some instant first aid.
Children were often needed to do chores at home both before and after school, and there are accounts of children falling asleep in class. A 10-year-old child would have been expected to bring the cows in on the way home from school and to help with the milking for four to six hours a day.
The school provided a social centre for the people of North Arm, with activities there being a focus for the members of a hard-working farming community to come together. A clipping from May 13, 1904, records Arbor Day celebrations at the school:
Races were contested and games entered into with great zest by the younger portion of the gathering, a lull in this part of the proceedings taking place only to allow of the discussion of such important items as dinner and tea, the eatables having been kindly provided by the parents and friends of the children attending the school.
At 7pm a start was made with the concert, which lasted until 8 o’clock, Mr J. McNab presiding. The children acquitted themselves admirably, especially in their school songs, and great credit is due to their teacher, Miss Kit Brown, for the thoroughness of their preparation.
During the evening a collection was taken up, £1 6s 8d being realised. This was not regarded as very satisfactory, considering the number present, some talk being occasioned by the fact that a number of those who partook of the refreshments and participated in the day’s and night’s pleasure contributed as little as 1d and 2d when the hat was taken around.
The school became Fairhill State School from 1909-15 and then North Arm State School from 1915, which it remains today.
Sources: Genealogy Sunshine Coast collections, North Arm State School archive, Trove Digital Newspaper Collections online.
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