Glam­orous 150th cel­e­bra­tory din­ner

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page - BY ROBERT MUIR

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.

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