The outback school
I remember a story about an outback school, which belonged to another time, set amongst early settler’s times. Now days it is an old battered building a landmark to other years. With an old bark fence surrounding the building and a plaque to remind us of another time. A shed nearby, covered by an overgrown gum tree, along with a bucket on the stool, a reminder of times when milk come from cows not the supermarket. There is a host of memories that return about the old bush school, children playing swinging from branches hide and seek, a time of innocence. With old desks and benches, “I wonder whose name is left on the seat or desk,” etched in time. A students bid for fame or a smack from the teacher.
I remember a story about a spider, which haunted the ceilings amongst the rafters. The boy’s would try and shoot it down with a sling shot when the teacher was not around, or darts of nibs and paper. A time when students used greasy slates and blackboards, where often a cheeky student was made to stand in the corner. As I walk around this old bush school I remember the stories and images created by a great story teller, of students with no shoes walking to school in the frosty morning air. Some lucky students that had shoes were sitting on the porch covered in dust and cobwebs. here and there.
Children marched to music and sang “God save the Queen”, uttering nicknames and niggling mates, was a time of fun in this “Old bush school”. A time of teasing, tousling hair, vacant faces of those teased. Children of the bush wore handed down garments, heirlooms of the family from mother to daughter, and father to son. Children of the old bush school wore fashionable trousers patched in places a statement of fashion.
Children tramped down the sheep trail to school, like rebels not worried about time or if they arrived at school. Shivery grasses surrounding the children as they walked to school, boys playing along the way and the girl’s bonnets nodding in the breeze. Birds calling from the trees distracting the children from the direction they were supposed to be heading. No-one wanted to be at school on time, the thought of hard bare seats and the boring days of the old bush school.
Stories of girls in the days gone by held the hearts of boys from the old bush school. These stories were passed down from generation to generation. A queen of the school once was first in for any mischief and when she was overwhelmed with mischief she would make drawing of her teacher on her slate. There was a giggle that echoed as she passed the slate around. Laughing Birdie, I was told she was a beauty, which teased the boys. With cheeks like roses she used to sing as we marched, her eyes were like magic a freshness that held the hearts of many boys from the old bush school. Around laughing Birdie danced a happy sunshine, and when she smiled boys were all in line to swap their dinners with her.
As a legend of the old bush school grows over the decades creating a fictional road of knowledge. A long quest dedicated to the survivors of the old bush school. Treasures linger; which are old shoes; cobwebs; names etched in seats and desks.
As I leave the old bush school after a day of memories, the horizon is on fire with an Australian sunset, reddened with a golden glow touches my heart. The old bush school now empty, deserted and overgrown, with bracken fern and cobwebs. So after years of memories and stories in my heart I returned to the old bush school that my father and his brothers attended, this was very much the old bush school I had heard about.