A Bush School Picnic

A Bush School Picnic



Based on No 4048 Natya SS


Because of great foresight, the Pioneer Settlement is blessed by having a One-Teacher-Rural-School on display in its collection, in its original condition, and still functioning as an educational facility.

The One-Teacher-Rural-School did a wonderful job of supplying the venue for the education of the children of graziers, pioneer farmers, road builders, railway construction workers, fencers, shearers, rabbit trappers, boundary riders, pioneer shop keepers and other early settlers.

The teachers should be acclaimed for the care, dedication, application and sheer hard work in how they guided their students, while educating them up to Grade VIII, standard in those remote little rural schools.

Backing up the teachers in a very important role, was the School Committee - a great bunch of people, usually parents, but not necessarily. Always there in time of need, excellent workers at removing possums and sparrows from the school ceiling or chimney. fixing smoking chimneys, getting rid of unwanted reptiles in the school or school ground, repairing horse yards and school fences, and checking the rain water tank, and cleaning the spouting etc.

The School Committee had the authority to grant 2 holidays per year and they usually selected the local Agriculture Show for its educational purposes, and the other day was allocated for The School Picnic, for its social advantages.

The highlights of the school year were:

  • The School Concert, with Santa visit,
  • The School Holiday, and
  • The School Picnic.

 

The School Picnic Day was an all-day plus evening program, a family day, beginning at about 10am at a local sports ground or in the school ground, and was usually held in September in spring time as it was deemed most suitable for several reasons.

The children would assemble early in anticipation of age flat races, relay races and novelty races before lunch which was provided by the parents, who had travelled some distance, usually by horse and gig, and who managed to keep the food edible despite the heat, flies and lack of refrigeration.

The afternoon events included games and races eg Siamese Races, Egg & Spoon Race, Sack Race, Skipping Race, Jumbled Shoe Race, Potato Race, plus some relay races; in addition there would be some adult competitions: sprint races, relay races, and for the men, sheaf tossing, bowling at wicket (1 stump), and high jump, while for the ladies, sprints (married / unmarried ladies), nail driving, and stepping the distance.

The afternoon usually including "Catching the Greasy Pig" or "Catching the Rooster". 

The School Committee provided coins as prizes for the children's races, usually one shilling for first, sixpence for second, and threepence for third.

All this activity was followed by tea, again provided by the mothers, with the water boiled in the copper for cups of tea for the adults, and cordial for the younger ones.

The School Committee often provided bags of boiled lollies as a treat for the children and there was usually a tub of ice cream (in dry ice) which was really special, and much enjoyed by all.

Dancing followed with kerosene lanterns lighting the room, the floor prepared with scraped candle grease, kerosene and saw dust, with music provided by someone on the piano, the accordian or the violin - or all three - played by locals - talent was not in short supply in those early days of no pre-packaged entertainment. Small children were wrapped in blankets and slept under the seats, while everyone else danced - danced the barn dances, pride of erin, progressive dances, valetta, lucky spot, spin the bottle and other novelty dances plus the Lancers or other sets.

And so a Grand Social Occasion was had by all!!