OUTBACK EDUCATION IN THE ‘NOT TOO DISTANT’ PAST Warburton Ranges (WA) in 1970 (6)

For the greater part of my professional life I kept a diary. This is a habit continued into my retirement years. There are a few years missed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s but I have records otherwise. I kept copies of letters duplicated and sent to friends and relatives and have various other documents. (However, from 1982 onward, a diary has been kept of each and every year. Some contain more detail than others, but the value of keeping a diary for all sorts of professional and personal recall needs cannot be overstated. My Father always kept a diary and it is to him I owe thanks for this becoming, for the most part, an ingrained personal behaviour.)

My first diary was in 1970. It was a foolscap size diary with a page allocated to each day. The first ever day of my full time teaching experience turned out to be pupil free, by accident rather than by design. It is a day now over half a century old I will never forget.

Warburton Range School Headmaster, Bruce Goldthorp, an educator with seven or eight years of teaching experience, was on his first day in the role of headmastership. As he lined the students up, a kerfuffle with beginnings outside the school yard, quickly entered the school precinct. It transpired that one of the older students (1) had told another that her Father had snakes in his legs. Her Father in fact had very visible and prominent varicose veins in his legs. This ‘observation’ was part of an altercation that had occurred some time prior between the two students.

This comment was relayed to her Father who took umbrage at the deep insult. With his weapons to hand, he and his family came into the school yard, seeking retribution on the utterer of that comment. She took off, into the school and up the classroom connecting passage, being chased by the offended father and family. The family of the girl who had made the comment became alerted to the dispute and with appropriate weaponry (no firearms were involved) began chasing after the offended family.

The end result of this situation was a scatter of all students, first as spectators to the event, which rapidly moved from the school yard and into the community, thence into the distance. There was no school that day: Our first school day of 1970 at Warburton was the second day of the school year.

(1) Names and identities withheld.

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