1940s School Watercolour Paints
A Country Education

Children, mostly of farmers and railway workers, accompanied their parents onto farms in the bush and railway camps alongside the Midland Railway. Many began their education by undertaking correspondence lessons from home.

When there were ten children of school age living within a radius of three miles, the Education Department would consider establishing a local school. The Department and community would then work together to arrange a suitable building and accommodation for a teacher.

A state school was established at Arrino in 1906, followed by Three Springs in 1908 and both Coorow and Carnamah in 1912.

As farms spread out, more schools were established at Billeroo, Dudawa, Eneabba, Gunyidi, Inering, Marchagee, Turipa, Waddy Forest, Waddy Well, Winchester and Wongyarra. For many years there was also a Dominican Convent School at Three Springs.
Arrino State School in 1911
Above:  Arrino State School in 1911

The reason for so many schools was that travelling long distances wasn't possible as the only form of transport for most families was to walk, ride a horse or travel in a horse-drawn sulky or buggy.

"The first year of school in Carnamah... Mother drove us in a buggy the six or seven miles in the morning and came to fetch us in the afternoon. She went home in between and did housework, cooked dinner... made bread cakes and served morning and afternoon tea. When we learnt to ride [a horse] and drive ourselves to school it let Mother off the hook." Madge Rooke

Right:  Bell from the Inering State School

Below:  Inering State School, which opened in 1928 on the Inering Estate in Carnamah
Inering State School Bell
Inering State School in Carnamah
School Punishment Book
If you misbehaved at school it was once commonplace to be physically disciplined by being struck with a cane.

Don Reynolds recalled: "In those days there was a Black Book. My name is in it! I believe one was for talking and one for throwing stones at the girls toilet."

Below: Page from the Punishment Book of the Carnamah State School
Carnamah State School Punishment Book
School Cane & Raffia Work
Right: Cane & Raffia Work

Cane & Raffia Work was a craft that was taught at primary schools across Western Australia. The fibres come from Raffia palms, which are native to parts of Africa and South America.

Rachel Power made this fan as a student at the Carnamah State School. She won a 1st prize for Cane & Raffia Work in the Educational section of the Carnamah Agricultural Show in 1935 very possibly for this very fan!

When Rachel began school as a six year old in 1933 she walked two a half miles (four kilometres) to school each day and the same again to get home. The next year her 12 year old brother was given a bicycle and he then rode to school with the two of them on his bike.

Below: Students at the Carnamah State School in 1935. Rachel is fifth from the left in the back row.
Carnamah State School in 1935
One Hundred Poems for Children by Humphrey Milford, London
Left:  School teacher Winnie Raffan's book

Miss Winnie Raffan ran the one-teacher Winchester State School in 1923 for an annual salary of £222. The school operated from a house on her father's Inchgower Farm but closed due to low attendance. When the number of children increased, the school was reopened with an official school building in 1928.

Page 40:  LOST TIME

Timothy took his time to school,
Plenty of time he took :
But some he lost in the tadpole pool,
And some in the stickle-back brook.
Ever so much in the linnet's nest,
And more in the five-barred gate
Timothy took his time to school
But he lost it all and was late.
Lakeland Colour Pencils by the Cumberland Pencil Co Ltd of Keswick, Cumberland
Right:  Opening of the Billeroo School Hall at East Winchester in 1929

"We thought it was wonderful to go to school barefoot as the Australians did. Even in winter when it was freezing cold we wouldn’t give in to put shoes and socks on." − English born Madge Rooke, who settled with her parents on a Ready-Made Farm in Carnamah in 1916

Below:  Barefoot siblings Myrtle and Alfred Chapman about to leave for school on their horse Laddie
Billeroo State School in East Winchester, Carnamah
Children on Horse for School
Right:  Fretwork

During the 1930s boys were taught fretwork at school, which is a type of ornamental woodwork created with a fretsaw. The cross on the right was made by Alex Power at the Carnamah State School in 1933.

Below:  Alex's 1930s Fretsaw and Drill

Fretsaw and Fretwork Drill
School Fretwork
Winchester State School
Above:  1930s Winchester State School

Pictured on the left is an Education Department Pastel and Chalk-Drawing Book that was used at the Inering State School by Bobby Balmer in 1928. Below is his Humpty Dumpty!

Humpty Dumpty
WA Education Department Pastel and Chalk-Drawing Book
Coorow Primary School
Living Arithmetic by F. Clayton of Perth 1955
Above:  Coorow State School girls in 1946

This Living Arithmetic book was used by Eileen Reading in 1955 for what we would now call maths. Exercise 329 (below) asks what is meant by these?

Arithmetic Exercise

Below: Carnamah State School boys in 1944
Carnamah Primary School
Right:  Carnamah-Bunjil Road Bus

As motor vehicles became cheaper and faster, most schools closed and students instead caught buses to Coorow, Carnamah or Three Springs.

Jeanette Allen attended the Winchester State School as a child and later drove the Carnamah-Bunjil Road school bus for 22 years, from 1977 to 1999.

Below:  Jeanette's School Case
Carnamah School Bus
Old School Case
Carnamah School Construction

Carnamah Junior High School
Left:  Present-day school in Carnamah, during construction and following completion

In 1950 local builder Charlie Dallimore finished the construction of a new school in Carnamah. This was later extended to become the Carnamah Junior High School.

Now known as the Carnamah District High School (CDHS), it had a 2016 enrolment of 55 primary and 34 secondary students. At local primary schools there were enrolments of 35 students at Coorow, 30 at Eneabba and 79 at Three Springs.
School Books
Your comment or story
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Keeva Verschoor
I remember seeing Maisie McSwain riding her bike on her way to the Inering school. She lived near Forresters but for some reason she went to school at Inering. I'm not sure if I have her name correctly remembered. It must have been a hard ride on the dirt road.

Carnamah Historical Society in reply to Keeva Verschoor
It might very possibly have been a generous act on the part of the McSwain family to keep the numbers up at Inering and the school open. When Eileen Berrigan was the teacher at Inering 1931-1933 she lived with her parents in Carnamah and drove her Baby Austin car out each day. Although her younger brother could have walked to school in Carnamah, for a period of time he went with her out to Inering and was a student there.

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