Glamorous 150th celebratory dinner
Former students, teachers, principals and administrative staff of Mulwala Public School throughout Australia celebrated the school’s 150th anniversary last Friday and Saturday, October 26 and 27, culminating in a big dinner at Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort.
Only Tasmania and the Northern Territory were not represented at the dinner attended by 200 people, with Master of Ceremonies Robert (Possum) Purtle in control of proceedings.
“It was a wonderful night so well organized – the whole two days went so well. The committee did a sensational job,” he told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
“I’m tickled pink at the number of people who came. It’s a credit to everyone.”
In welcoming the big audience in the golf club’s extended Willow Room with plenty of school-coloured gold and maroon balloons, the MC said: “It is good to see representatives and descendants from the traditional Mulwala families such as the Paynes, Coopers, Stewarts, Corboys, Hicks, Bryants and Hores.
“By you coming you have made this night so much more special.” Everyone loved hearing from the oldest former student Mack Stewart, 99, who recalled his 1925 to 1933 school days with 140 students and life in Mulwala which involved kerosene lamps prior to electricity.
“I left school the day I was 14 and weeded a tobacco plantation before it was transferred to Myrtleford,” the East Bentleigh resident, who worked until his early 90s, said.
Like so many others, he appreciated his time at Mulwala Public School which led to so many success stories in all occupations for so many former students.
Trudie Augustat was one of thousands of students who went on to achieve her dream by pursuing her six-year tertiary course studies “and having faith”. A student from 1971 to 1977, she obtained a medical degree from Melbourne University and although she is Dr Augustat, simply prefers the title of Trudie.
“It was a wonderful grounding from this beautiful school,” the 28-year career doctor said of the 1968-established Mulwala Public School. She was full of praise for the buddy program of “big kids looking after little kids”. The teachers and principal (Mr Washington) were beautiful and so helpful.”
Principal from 1962 to 1968, Gordon Fish- er, spoke of his move from his one-teacher school with 14 students to his second appointment, Mulwala, with its 150 students.
“I’d never had staff, never been to a staff meeting!” the now 86-year-old Canberra resident explained. “When I left in 1968 there was a brand new science building, two new classrooms on the southern side and a new administration building and kindergarten.
“Today it’s an absolutely amazing building and beautiful grounds. We didn’t have lovely looking school grounds.”
Teacher in 1961 to 1962 and, back as principal from 1973 to 1979, Bert Washington, had to initially find out where Mulwala was for his first appointment as in those days, would-be teachers had little or no choice as to their first posting.
“It was a great model for public education and I have very fond memories,” the now 20year retired living in Albury said of Mulwala Public School.
Class numbers were larger in those days, with Mr Washington, as an example, teaching a composite three/four class with 42 students. The principal, who did away with the cane at Mulwala, said: “The school needs the community and the community needs the school.”
Principal and Grade 5/6 teacher from 1989 to 2005, Rowland Martin, loved being back in town after managing the school with its 87 students in 1989, soaring to 140 before reducing to 81 students by 2005. He and so many others, were glad that now Brisbane resident Carmel Stonehouse, made the 1550 km trip.
“It was terrific to just come back and see the people who we knew. I loved coming back and especially seeing the younger people there who have gone on to become wonderful persons,” the Mulwala principal for 16 years said.
“I really believe the small schools develop personality and strength to go onto bigger things. It’s one thing to have a qualification, it’s another thing to use it. What a lot of students have done is go onto to something much bigger than we could envisage than when at primary school.”
As a former student, Mr Purtle probably summed up it perfectly when he said: “I really loved school and I am very proud to be an ex student of Mulwala Public School.
“We had a great childhood with teachers and head masters who taught us not only education but good values.
“We can be very proud that many of our ex students have gone on to make some incredible achievements.”
Former or current school teachers at the big dinner were Jan Hamson, Robyn Moore, Linda Watson, Lisa Linehan, Rosemary Murphy, Mark Moore, April Alexander, Geoff Emerson, Jenny Orr, Gordon Fisher, Jan Corboy, Bert Washington, Emma Quinn and Christine Cussen.
The oldest former student, 99-year-old Mack Stewart (centre) with Roslyn Soullier, daughter of Audrey Piggott (sister of Mack), Mack’s brother 87-year-old Don Stewart, Mack’s daughter Pam Stewart, Mack’s niece Valerie Loomes and Mack’s nephew Ken Stewart, 69. “We are all descendants of John Lonsdale who had the first butcher shop in Mulwala,” Val said.
Pictured with current, and since 2015, school principal Gayle Pinn, were former school principals, from left, Gordon Fisher (1962-68), Bert Washington (1973 to 1979) and Rowland Martin (1989 to 2005).
Long time administration staff member of yesteryear, Carmel Stonehouse.