Text Box: A History of Dooralong Public School

by Mary McPherson
History Officer
Education & Training Information Services (December 2000)
© OTEN-Distance Education

The setting up of the provisional school.
An application for a school at Jilliby Jilliby was made by the residents on 19 January 1903. As there was already a school five miles away with this name-which was changed to Jilliby about 1910-the Department referred to the school applied for as Dooralong. 1&2 Parents listing the 18 children to attend the proposed school were Charles Cawthorne (timber getter), Arthur Harris (timber getter), William Beaven, John Smith, Thomas John Bridge (timber getter), George Bridge (timber getter) and Vincent Durance (sp?).1

Text Box: On 24 January 1903 Inspector Alexander Lobban reported on the application:
I visited this locality to day, and made careful inquiry respecting its educational needs. It is situated about (5) five miles north of Jilliby-Jilliby where the nearest town is established.
There is a large sawmill in constant work here, in connection with which about 9 mill-workmen and 15 Timber-cutters and drawers are engaged. There are 14 children of school age within easy access of a central school, and there are several younger children who would also attend if a school were established. At present they are wholly without means of education.
The parents whose names are on the list appear to be permanently settled. Most of them have selections on which they grow fodder for their teams; and all work for the saw mill proprietors.
The population is not sufficient to justify the establishment of a Public School; but a Provisional School is urgently required, and there are sufficient children to warrant the establishment of one at Dooralong.
There is suitable Crown land within a few hundred yards of most of the homes, available for a school site.1
The School Site & The Building
Lobban described the crown land he proposed for the school as commencing at ‘a point on the  western side of the Mandalong Road, opposite a spotted gum tree’. 1 He noted also that the land was thinly timbered but that some large logs were lying on it. The notice of dedication for school purposes of this two acre site, portion 218 parish of Wyong, County of Northumberland. Was dated 22nd August 1903 although the Department had been in possession of the site since March of that year. A paddock of 8 acres was reserved for the school on 24th October 1903. 1
The successful contractor for the erection of the building was Henry A.
 Hedger of Durran Durran whose tender was for £52. The 18 ft x 14 ft x 10 ft 
(approximate measurements) unlined weatherboard building was built on piers.1
The Furniture.
Furniture to be supplied by the Department for the school 
4 cedar desks and forms 8 ft long
1 cedar table 3 ft 6 ins x 2 ft 6 ins
1 cedar press
2 Austrian chairs

The Provisional School Opens.
On 7 July 1903 Inspector Lobban reported that the buildings were ready and that

 'The situation is lonely and outlying, and a male-teacher is most suitable for the place'.

1 By 28 July there was no sign of a teacher and local resident Charles Cawthorne complained that the school had not yet opened. He continued:
Nor are there any Slates or Books here yet supposing a Teacher were here to open School. We the residents here think it is very unfair [sic] to us. As Some of the our Children has been brought home from other Schools with the expectation that the School here would have been opened long before this.1
The First Teacher Appointed.
The first teacher, 19-year-old
Richard Finney was subsequently appointed as teacher on probation at the new Dooralong Provisional School with an annual salary of £88 on 21 August 1903.3&4 (A provisional school was a fulltime government school with an average attendance at this time of 10-20.2)
Finney had begun his teaching career as a pupil teacher at Trangie north west of Dubbo in June 1899. He had moved to the Hunter valley in May 1903, teaching first at Hanbury (later Waratah), then at Islington from October 1902, and then at Laguna from July 1903.3 His appointment to Dooralong was made a month later and he travelled the approximately five miles from Laguna to Wollombi by private conveyance, from Wollombi to West Maitland by coach, from West Maitland to Wyong by train and from Wyong to Dooralong by hired vehicle.1
The First Pupil
The first pupil entered in the admission register at the new school was the 10-year-old son of Charles Cawthorne,
Cyril Cawthorne, who was later killed at Gallipoli in 1915. Numbers two, three and four in the admission register were sons of Thomas Bridge: James, Thomas and William.5

One of Finney's first moves was to purchase two Austrian chairs as these had not been supplied with the rest of the furniture specified for the school.1
In the school's second year Finney successfully applied for a locking tap and a padlock for the school tank as teamsters were taking the school's water.1

In January 1905 Finney was exchanged with the teacher at Morrisons Hill School near Wallendbeen between Young and Cootamundra. Finney was called upon by the Department to resign from Morrisons Hill in April 1906.3 The teacher with whom Finney was exchanged was 21-year-old William Tyler who was appointed to Dooralong from Morrisons Hill on 13 January 1905. Tyler was to marry during his time at Dooralong-he married Lily Humphrey in January 1906.3 Having married, he rented a cottage just outside Wyong and travelled the round trip of approximately 20 miles daily to school from there, firstly by bicycle and then by horse.1 In January 1907 Tyler was moved to Davistown (later Empire Bay) School. He was to retire from Hinton School in 1936.3

The next teacher at Dooralong was 23-year-old
William Leyden who had begun his teaching career as a pupil teacher at Captains Flat School near Braidwood. Leydon was to remain at the school until September 1908 when he was succeeded by Samuel McKimm who was to remain until his retirement in February 1950.3&4
McKimm taught at only three schools during his career which spanned forty eight years, 1902-50. In 1902 he had entered the teaching service as a pupil teacher at the age of 16 at Bolwarra School near Maitland. He moved to Plentyana 14 miles from Corowa in March 1905 and then to Dooralong in September 1908.3McKimm was described by his inspector in 1930 as being of excellent character and '
widely respected both in the village and the district, for his public spirit and personal integrity'.1
Dooralong Becomes A Public School.
Because it had maintained an average attendance of more than 20, the school became a public school from the beginning of 1909. McKimm had reported in November of the previous year:
The sudden, but continued increase of attendance at this school last Quarter was owing to the number of young pupils, the children of farmers along the creek, with growing families starting school.1
In 1910 the building was lined and the tongue-in-groove floorboards reset so that there were no gaps between them. This work was done by J. Mumford.1
A New School Building & Residence.
Following a letter to the Department about the crowded state of the school from Erina Shire Council, Inspector Thomas Walker asked McKimm in April 1911, when the school's enrolment was 24, whether there were likely to be more children enrolling. McKimm replied: 'Yes. New settlers coming on Olney & Murray's & some families of two & three not yet enrolled. About 10 pupils or more.'1
H. W. Hitchcock, secretary of the progress association, requested enlargement of the school building in
July 1911 as, he wrote, 'The building is too small to accomadate [sic] the children, and the summer coming on also new settlers to the district there will not be enough room'.1 No action was taken on this matter at this time because the Department wanted to establish that the increase was not a temporary phenomenon. By 1912 the Department was considering extending the building and, in answer to further questions about the need to provide extra accommodation, McKimm wrote in July 1913 that 'Most of the parents of present children are landholders & permanent residents. There is still land to be taken up in the locality & new families may come.'1
In 1914 a new wooden school building, with a 21ft 6 ins x 19 ft 6 ins classroom plus a hatroom and porch, was erected and the old one was converted to a weather shed, this work being done by W. J. Brown of Five Dock for the contract price of £247. The work was completed in August 1914.1
In 1913, in successfully recommending that a residence be built at the school because the higher enrolment numbers were continuing, Inspector William Reay had noted:
Orchard settlement is going on and is replacing the timber industry at Dooralong.
The teacher occupies a very poor type of rented residence about 1½ miles from the school

The residence was erected in the following year by Gilbert Dixon of Wyong for the sum of £500.12.6. Dixon was in the process of doing the job in September 1914 when he sought payment from the Department for his work so far. He wrote:
An advance Voucher has been forwarded to Sydney on August 28th for £250 but I have not yet received any money.
The Bank is pressing me on account of the War & I will be finished in about 3 weeks time…

McKimm had married Miss W. Trevitt in
January 1912 and on 13 October 1914, after three days in the new residence, he urgently requested wire netting so that he could fix it around the verandahs of the residence.1&3 This was necessary as his child had that day fallen the six feet off the verandah. A railing around the front and side verandahs had been completed by Gilbert Dixon by the end of the year.1

In November 1914 William Barrett, secretary of the progress association, requested that a bell be supplied to the school. He wrote that
most of the residents have varying time with the consequence that the children are very often late and get punished for what is really no fault of their own, I may mention that if the Government supply the Bell and fittings the residents will undertake to erect same free of charge, practically all the school children are within sound of a bell thus it would benefit all and also help the school master to keep the children up to time…1
The Department however replied that it was no longer the practice to supply bells to schools.1
McKimm reported on 17 November 1915:
on Sunday last the school ground was swept by a destructive bush-fire which threatened the outbuildings and fences which were saved by the untiring efforts of Messrs Holmes, Johns, Mitchell[,] Hitchock & self.1

Because she needed surgical treatment, McKimm's wife was away from her duties as sewing teacher at the school for three weeks in
July/August 1916 and sewing was taught for this period by McKimm's sister.1

The school's enrolment was 52 early in
April 1918 and as this was considered a large enough number to justify the expense, the Department paid to have the school ground fenced for the convenience of those children who rode horses to school. The work was done by C. Busby of Dooralong for £

By June 1918 McKimm had two children, who suffered measles at this time in a local outbreak of the disease.1
The 1920s and 30s.
McKimm applied for an assistant in August 1921 when the school's enrolment was 67. He also suggested:
The old school could be utilised at a moderate outlay on windows and temporary screening to North. The necessary furniture desks & forms is stored. Good board available with Mrs F. Holmes ¼ ml from school.1
While Inspector William Black supported the application, an assistant was apparently not appointed to the school at this time. By 1920 however Inspector Ernest Riley gave his opinion that '
The attendance if anything is likely to grow. The school is very efficiently conducted & additional settlement is taking place…I believe the attendance will this year justify the appointment of an assistant.'1
Plans had been drawn up in 1920 for an extension to the school building but this work had not gone ahead. By
May 1922 25 children were accommodated in the weather shed (presumably being taught by an assistant) and a report by the School Medical Service noted that the school was overcrowded. The situation had changed by October 1922 at which time additions were no longer considered necessary because the local mill had partially closed and the district's population was stationary apart from the mill.'1
The 1922 School Medical Service report also noted that the seating in the school (as was the case in many other country schools even for decades after this time) was still long desks and forms which had been recommended for replacement by dual desks under the New Education of 1904/5.1&6

In 1934 the guttering of the residence was repaired by local resident G. Ditton for £1.10.0. Ditton also purchased the old stove from the residence for 10/-.1

A bushfire again threatened the school on
13 December 1938 when McKimm reported:
To-day I sent all children home at 1.30. During the morning the boys and myself were busy raking around fences to make our grounds safe to burn back to a serious fire racing down the ridge towards the school.
The following residents worked very hard for several hours, burning and controlling the fire, and their action undoubtedly saved the buildings from destruction.
Messrs Whiteman 3 Gordon 2 Richards, Barrett, Beaver, Murray and my son
As on the previous occasion when McKimm and the residents had acted to protect the school from a threatening bush fire, the inspector successfully recommended that the Department write a letter of official thanks for this assistance.1


1. Dooralong School File State Records ref: 5/15701.1.
2. Government Schools of New South Wales 1848-1998, Open Training and Education Network (OTEN), NSW Dept of Education and Training 1998.
3. Teacher career records, NSW Dept of Education and Training.
4. Heads of school cards, NSW Dept of Education and Training.
5. Edwin Stinson, 'Wyong Flashbacks', Wyong Advocate, 11 October 1978. (Copy held in historical resources, NSW Dept of Education and Training).
6. Sydney and the Bush: A Pictorial History of Education in New South Wales, NSW Dept of Education, 1980, p.151.

Established 1903Text Box: Click on image to view Centenary Book
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To  purchase a copy of the Centenary Book for $15 please contact the school  02 43 551246 . A DVD incorporating the Centenary Book and also more recent photos is also available for $10 from the school.