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

The power supply at Warburton in 1970 was generated by the mission. They had a diesel powered generator. The power plant was operational for only a few hours each day. From Monday to Friday, power was supplied between 5.00 pm and 10.00 pm from Monday to Saturday. On Sunday, the power was shut down at 9.00 pm. (These limited hours of supply may have had to do with diesel costs and the fact that funding for the overall operation of Warburton was largely dependent on donations made to the mission from private sources.)

Washing, cooking and other domestic and work related functions dependent upon power had to take place during those limited hours. Although we had a gas stove, each cylinder of gas purchased, cost a full week’s salary, so use of gas had to be very strictly limited. An electric frypan was useful.

From an educational and schooling point of view, activities in 1970 had to be conducted without recourse to electricity. This meant that heating in winter and cooling in summer were not options available to teaching staff. Our school building was of aluminium construction with masonite lining. The building with its three classrooms linked by an enclosed walkway, was suffocatingly and fetidly hot in summer and often desperately cold in winter.

When we returned in 1974, the school had its own power generator and no longer had to rely solely on the community. That made things so much better. That engine generating our power was also appreciated by some of the locals who had cars. When the sump oil was drained from the engine, it would be claimed and used to top up the oil levels in some of the cars.

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