The School Part 4

Whilst the school was being moved to it’s present site we attended classes in the ‘Old’ Hall which was situated on the land where the D. S. & E. now have their offices. Ti trees grew thickly around Coull’s Inlet commencing a little further along from the Hall.

The local poultry wandered freely and there were always nests of eggs and many a ‘rotten egg’ fight ensued. With the Foreshore road establish, we could walk from “Raheen” around Coull’s Inlet and in the tallest of ti’ trees were the nests of the ring-tail possums. It was not unusual to see one of the boys arrive at school with one of these little animals sitting on his shoulder for a ‘pet.’ The Inlet abounded with bird life and much time was spent watching the Welcome Swallow flying low over the water to their mud-built nests under the jetties. Dab chicks held a fascination too, as we anxiously waited for them to resurface after being submerged for what seemed far too long a time. Swans were much more prevalent in the Mallacoota Lakes -like pelicans are today. Time would be spent happily skipping small, flat stones across the Inlet’s calm surface. If I managed one, two, three skips my day was made! Ibis, spoonbills and herons made their habitat the Inlet and each year the latter would build it’s nest, like a large stick platform, high in the tree at the bottom of Bill Bruce’s property, up from the jetties. Where the Shady Gully Creek ran into the Inlet the beautiful, azure kingfisher was always seen and if we kept very quiet we would be rewarded with a glimpse of it with a rapid and straight dive low over the water to an unsuspected prey. Shady Gully was always a place to linger on our way to school with it’s wealth of bush birds. We lived close to nature and were aware of so many nests of the smaller birds.

An alternative walk for us was to go up the back of “Raheen” over the paddock to what was ‘Mallacoota House’, through the bush and down to the Gully. We knew where to look for the spider orchids and green hoods each year, and I still can smell the perfume of the Wild May which grew profusely in that area where now there are homes. Gippsland olive berry trees with their pink or white fringed bell shaped blossoms were in the Gully near the bridge. In the winter months when the Currawongs returned and kept up an endless song from the tops of the eucalyptus we knew that South westerly winds were imminent and our Mother, always in fear of falling limbs, stipulated we walk around the lake edge. Those early school days implanted a love of nature in all we children.

At the temporary school in the ‘Old’ Hall, we drank from the water tanks leaving our mugs on the stand. Sadly, my little treasured silver mug with my name engraved on the side and given to me by my loved Grandmother Brady, disappeared one day. Of the time spent there its loss is the only thing paramount in my mind of school days there. Soon we were about to move back into SS 3515 at its new site.

Leone Pheeney

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