EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST. Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1970 (2)

The mail bag, for us all, was a point of excitement. The bag or bags went into the large and sparsely furnished home of the superintendent. He opened the bags and distributed letters and parcels to designated points of the room for staff. Mail for the indigenous community went into a section for later sorting and distribution to recipients through the store-cum-office.

At that time, the emphasis was on letters because the era was pre-facsimile and pre other forms of electronic transmission. Salaries were dispensed by cheque. Teachers and the few other government workers would receive three and sometimes four pay cheques at a time. Understandably, we had accounts at the store for the purchase of foodstuffs and other goods.

Outbound mail went via the mailbag on the return trip to Kalgoorlie via the Atkinson. However trips were not alwnays predictable. The truck was sturdy but the track to Laverton one massive stretch of uncertainly, including hundreds of kilometres of punishing corrugations. The truck was often off the road for quite lengthy periods because of the need for repairs.

This meant piggybacking on the goodwill of travellers and those passing through Warburton to accept and post mail for those looking to communicate with the outside world.

Apart from teaching, I was a student undertaking a correspondence course to upgrade my teaching qualifications. At one point in time, I sent an exam paper to Perth via a pilot who sometimes came to Warburton by plane. He posted the exam paper at the Perth Airport, but it was never received. I was offered two options. I could either forego a second examination and be given as pass mark because my coursework average for assignments completed was at distinction level. Or I could resist another examination. I elected a ‘pass’ level for the course.

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