Imprint: Australian Scholarly Publishing
Pioneer Teachers of the Kelly CountryBy L.J. Pryor and G.W. Pryor
The schools of North-East Victoria in the 1870s and 80s were often primitive structures with bark slab walls and shingle or tin roofs. They proved to be freezers in winter and furnaces in summer. During the International Exhibition in Melbourne in 1880 the Australasian Sketcher reported on a displayed portable school: 'The room, 30 by 18 feet ... designed to accommodate 50 to 60 pupils, was fully equipped with a gallery, a table, desks, forms, easels, blackboard and reading tablets.' Rarely, however, was such a fully-equipped 'modern' building set up in the back-blocks of the Kelly Country, and if it were the white ants promptly moved in ...
One of the Kelly Country teachers, Thomas Curnow, was the hero of the siege at Glenrowan when the Kelly gang arrived on Saturday 26 June 1880. Kelly had pulled up some of the railway line on the northern side of the town. Curnow was able to wave down the police train and avert a catastrophe, receiving a reward of £1000 for his efforts. Another teacher, James Wallace, the head at Hurdle Creek, was accused however by the subsequent Royal Commission into the Kelly affair of playing a dangerous double game of being a police informer and a Kelly sympathiser. He was officially suspended from the Department on 20 October 1881.
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