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The Village Grows Up

School Days

As the village of Kurnell evolved and the numbers of children increased, parents showed great concern for their education. The isolation of Kurnell from the rest of Sutherland Shire for lack of a road had prompted the Cox family to take the problem in hand. They started the first school in Kurnell in 1918in the bedroom of their family home on Bonna Point, between Balboa Street and Guy's Hall. The Department of Public Instruction had set land aside for a school in Dampier Street and began a provisional school in 1921; but a permanent school was not built until August 1923. 

Alf Jacobs recalls:  "In the 1930s there was about 20-26 kids in the one room school. John Roach was a nice bloke for a teacher. When we found out that he'd died we all went to the funeral there. He was pretty flamin' strict, but 'e was doin' the right thing, makin' sure we was all right. We 'ad a spellin' competition once a week. I never ever got anythin' spelt correctly! One week he read the tests and read them again and said, "Well that does it, everybody pack up and go home, you all got every word spelt right!" It was the only time that ever 'appened! The kids from here used to go by ferry to Botany for their immunisations, and we had to go over on the ferry to Maroubra for high school. The children crossed the bay to attend high school at Maroubra, Kensington or Long Bay. At one stage, before the drainage was put down, there was a huge puddle in the middle of Torres Street. Old Alf Bundy would get his little rowboat and row the children from one side to the other side to get to the school."
The 1921 single room provisional school was on the same site as the present school. (Photo: Fred Bell)

Wandering stock left to graze on the Kurnell Peninsula on agistment  became a problem for the residents. (Agistment fees were paid to the Trustees of the Reserve.) On one occasion a straying bull became aggressive and was tearing around the schoolyard, threatening the children. Bob Grant, the park ranger, was called in to shoot the unfortunate animal.

Fun in the schoolyard. Clearly, no one wore shoes to school! (Photo: Fred Bell)
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