History Matters ||

Red Range School circa 1930s.
Red Range School circa 1930s.

Among the many histories written to commemorate the school centenaries was one for the Red Range School in 1979 which included many reminiscences.

John Cameron arrived in Red Range as headmaster in 1904 from a previous posting at Goodooga.

His wife Una taught sewing and piano.

Their son Bruce, later to become a pharmacist in Boggabri commenced school about 1909 and he contributed some of his memories from 1904 to 1918.

The early building, he first attended as a schoolboy: "had an open fireplace midway on the southern wall of the classroom... desks were of the long old type with inkwells in holes.

"These seated five or six pupils in three or four bays and the floor had three or four levels (about 6") to give better visibility.

"On those days the eastern end was occupied by juniors and their teacher, the older pupils had the western end.

"Large maps also hung here and there and a couple of very large pictures of steamers - The Norduscher Lloyd Bremen was one."

He believes there were 104 pupils attending school at one stage.

About 1913 or 1914 numbers made it necessary to have an additional room erected and he well remembers it being built on the western end of the old school.

"The new desks were individual (each seating two pupils).

"There was a wooden heater on the north east corner of the room.

"Early tanks were of the then common old 400-gallon ship's tanks in which water was stored for the long trip from England, and many were sold on arrival in Australia...

"The school had a very good library, even if small by today's standards. Many of the early pupils got their first knowledge of the outside world from these books."

Radio did not come till the late '20s. In Bruce Cameron's time he remembers three assistant teachers to his father - Miss Fuller from Cooktown Qld, Miss Christensen from Bundaberg Qld and Miss Heydon from Glen Innes.

"About 1913 the horse paddock on the east side of the school residence was fenced with an entry on the east boundary.

"Many of the pupils rode horses to school. There was an occasional bike, but most walked some long distances."

One of his earliest recollections about school was being sent one morning in 1910 to set the Union Jack at half-mast on the occasion of the death of King Edward VII, and then later in war times being sent round the farms riding old "Doctor" the headmaster's creamy horse - so named because he took so many to Glen Innes doctors after receiving first aid from the headmaster - to tell people of the tragic death of Lord Kitchener.

No telephones in those days. At that time most small communities had their own school and teacher - Yarrow Creek, Pinkett, Kookabookra, Shannon Vale, Skeleton Creek were some.

Graham Wilson OAM has written up excellent histories of all these country schools in our former Severn Shire area.

The Butter Factory was built in Mr Cameron's time - he remembers its erection, almost directly behind the store.

Other industries were mining for molybdenite and bismuth at Kingsgate (the Morley family used horse teams to cart the minerals to Glen Innes). The Morley men also used a sawpit to saw timber.

Other occupations were farming, especially potatoes on the rich red soil and a large orchard north east of the village run by the Rumming family.

There were different butcher shops in the village in his time.

Occasionally Indian Hawkers visited the area. Once in a while a baker from Glen Innes called."

From Red Range School Centenary 1879-1979: The school, the people, the district, 1979.

Hopefully people are now jotting down or recording their memories of a later Red Range, and carefully identifying photos with a soft 4 Bpencil?

Red Range School students Sept 1929. Taken from "A Look Back at the 20th Century" supplement GI Examiner 30 Dec 1999

Back L-R: Ernie Mansfield (headmaster)

4th Row: Spence Davis, Laurie Walmsley, Harold Mortlock, Jack Lawler, Don Austin, Wally Stewart, Devon Brookfield,

Ivar Escott, Lloyd Scott, Jack Scott, Len Ford, Claude Carney, Jim Johnson, Les Carney, Wilfred Grey

3rd row: Jean Scott, Sylvia Fakes, Vera Walmsley, Beryl Webber, Kathy Rogers, Mavis Davies,

Francis Roberts, Gwen Williamson,

Jane Hollis, Joyce Perret, Lorna Johnson, Joyce Davies, Gladys Drew, Wally Drew.

2nd row: Ollie Johnson, Avis Hall, Kath Ryall, Ellen Austin, Doreen Pettet, Ruby Judge, Ruth Williamson,

Merle Johnson, Doris Carney, Nola Cornish, Vivian Cornish, Ruth Miller, Ollie Drew, Molly Brookfield, Reg Kempton.

Front: Ron Austin, Eric Miller, John Roberts, Malcolm Austin, Allan Williamson, Allan Scott, Max Webber, Reg Austin, Sid Walmsley, Billy Mortlock, Jock Kempton, Roy Roberts