Quirindi herald. 1922.
Cattle were purchased on the hoof by butchers from Murrurundi and Willow Tree and were later killed locally. Skin buyers made regular trips out from Quirindi and Murrurundi and when fox and rabbit skins were of good quality,
they would be looked at also, as well as sheep skins.
The teachers taught all ages from 7 years to the Blackfriars
Two big blackboards were set up on easels, one on each side of the Teacher’s desk in the centre of the room.
In winter, the open fire was
a welcome sight.
In one corner a shelf housed nature study items- a blackfellows tomahawk and birds nests. If plants were grown or sprouted for nature study, this was their spot also.
There were no single desks – they were long with lift-up lids and the forms to match were also long (about 2.5 yards).
White crockery ink wells slotted into their own holes at the
top of desks. Some of the less ambitious students swatted flies, which would end up in the inkwell – oh horror !
It was always known in advance when the Inspector was due. There would be a great
cleanup prior to his visit, and he would often stay on for a couple of days.
He lunched and stayed at the Teacher’s house.
Each pupil had their own mug and spot
on one of the two tank stands. There was a tank on either side of the building and on wet days lunch could be eaten on the entrance verandah, other times under a tree in the grounds.
The work benches
for the boys were also on one end of this partly closed in verandah. The girls were given a weekly sewing lesson by the wife of the Teacher. She was paid a certain sum, according to the number doing sewing.
you had to make sample squares of flat seams, French seams, back stitch, hemming, buttonholes, an apron or a petticoat, as slips were then called.
Calico and crash aprons would be worked for entry into the Quirindi
Annual Show in latter years. The machines were available, so sewing on Friday was always a good change from lessons. Rounders was always popular and I think it was on Fridays also.
The inter Sports
Carnival, held yearly in Willow Tree, brought out the best in marching or running and the “Colonial Bogey” March would be loud and clear for practice.
In latter years the folk of Warrah
Creek got together and a tennis court was built in our school grounds. It was between the school and the residence. Schools around the area used it for competitions and the locals could also use it on weekends.
The main entrance to the school was through a hand gate and up the central path. About 3 steps then led to the verandah, where bags were left and hats were hung on hooks. A double iron gate was used by sulky and horseback pupils and a horse yard was
fenced off at the back of the play area.
There were two toilets at the back of the play area as well, quite a step from the classroom. I think the boys were caught a few times smoking behind their
toilets., then referred to as the W.C. It wouldn’t have been tobacco rolled in cigarette paper, more likely newspaper was used as a substitute !
The Teacher’s whistle summoned “action”-
I don’t recall there being a bell.
Each side of the front path were concrete surrounded rectangular beds, and boys looked after one side & girls the other.
again no hoses were evident, so plants had to be of the hardiest variety.
Escholtzias that seeded and scattered their seeds were always there and the satin orange flowers in the form of a cup were quite pretty.
Sometimes the back area was part of a nature study project and cabbage, beans or radish were produced in the process, if seasons were good and rabbits didn’t invade at night.
Archdeacon Thomas Harrington, of Irish ancestry, used to come out from Quirindi by horse and sulky. Mass was usually said at the Meredith residence but once during Grandma
Fitzpatrick’s later life, at our home. He had breakfast and it became known that he was to have 2 lightly boiled fresh eggs, hardly even set !
The Nuns used to come out on a yearly fundraising trip and usually
had morning tea and lunch at the allotted homes, always having to eat alone.
When there was an abundance of eggs or home made butter, it was taken to the “Brown Joeys” in Quirindi.
In the early days the fasting was lengthy and so many people took thermos flasks and a bite to eat at the church, before the trip home. But that was not for us !
The altar was tended with
fresh flowers and Confessions were heard before Mass.
Altar linen had to be washed and ironed.
Most people sat in their regular seats . The organ was played and sometimes
we had a sing along.
Dette and Ron Barwick were married at the home of Dette.
Win Fitzpatrick and John O’Leary were married in Willow Tree and had
their reception at Homeleigh, before settling in Singleton, where Jack took over the family butchery.
Bob & I were the last couple to be married in the old Willow Tree church before it was swept
away by floods. Our day was 5th September, 1949.
Willow Tree had an annual Roman Catholic Ball and the ladies had to canvass in pairs for cash or food donations for the sit down chicken
suppers. Plum pudding and custard usually followed.
They also had to go in on the day and set tables, cut up salads and prepare flowers as well.
A woman was paid to do
the washing up on the night itself.