Career driven and adventure desirous, a group of schools were selected to be Headteacher at. Places like Mitta Mitta, Granya and Strathbogie as well as about twenty others dotted around Victoria. It became a Support Centre joke to speak as she walked past “Where the …... is Granya??” Followed by huge laughter.
Imagine the disappointment when a place called BENDIGO came up as the destination. Just big Melbourne; put on the list of desired appointments because she needed another place on the list. But it was not to be.
In those days you could be knocked out of a position by a person who held a superior number to yourself and after a day in Bendigo she arrived home to be notified, by mail; that Bendigo was gone and her new destination was a placed called Strathbogie. “Where is Strathbogie???” Goodness gracious me; it is just a dot between the Moorandah and the Hume Highways
I will never forget the drive into Strathbogie that first day. I took the dog for company and had arranged to meet the School Committee who organised a barbecue. Remember that the closest I had ever come to Country was to visit an Aunt's dairy farm in Victoria.
I bounced through the forest and observed Kangaroos; lots of holes in the road, huge amounts of dust floating around me and my little car zooming around bends the dimensions of I had never encountered before. I stopped to look at the view. Cheered myself with the observation that the view might make the whole exercise worthwhile. And then I pressed on till I came to a bridge and I could see a row of four houses. And there was a hall. In the middle of the road was a ram. “Why would people put a ram
in the middle of the road?”
Then I saw it. A small, very small, school. With toilet block to the right and a group of people firing up a barbecue. There was nothing behind the school just land. Later I found out it was a Golf Course. The school was minute. Two rooms with a galley kitchen and a store room. Not even a lot of pegs. I was educated at a huge school where there were more pegs in one class than this school displayed for its whole population of children. It was almost a culture shock. But the parents were delightful people.
Most of those people who welcomed me that day are still friends. Being a small community they made me family. But that took years to achieve. I arrived in Strathbogie with thirty years of home and family on board the removal van. I had so much stuff that I had to ask one of the farmers to store some of it for me. Now the laugh is that: it is still in his shearing shed. I don’t even know what is there now.
Within weeks of arriving I knew I would love it. Littlies being popped into the classroom for me to mind while the Mums worked in the kitchen or library. Such a surprise to turn from the board and find a two year old being nursed by someone. The armchair which was put in my classroom for me to relax in of an afternoon. The Preps soon learnt I was hearing reading and so they wandered in from next door and camped on my knee to rest and listen to the big kids read.
The big kids taught me twenty different ways to kill a snake. My thanks to them. I knew just what to do. One little girl said “my Mum just beats them to death with the shovel”. That is my preferred method. I was invited to feed sheep off the back of tractors; view newborn sheep and foals and I renewed my love of Tennis. Golf not so much. Much too cold on the top of the Strathbogie Ranges in the Winter. I think I became their new project. It was called “make her welcome. She seems okay!” And they did!
I came for five years. Then the plan was back to my beloved Melbourne. And that was twenty seven years ago. I built my career up here and now I am building my retirement. There is always a train to Melbourne if I get too homesick. That cures it!
A friend came to visit one day just after I arrived in Strathbogie. He looked around, met the kids and then said as he left :”you're going to be great here”. “I was just making sure you are okay”. And you know I was.