Collarenebri Central School

Courage and Consideration

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School History

 Collarenebri Central School – The History


1867 - Collarenebri (originally named Collarindabri) was marked out as a town and was duly proclaimed on 12 July 1867. 


The town emerged along a site where tracks converged to cross the Barwon River. Stockyards and a few huts were positioned both in the new village and just to the east of it.


1882 - Collarenebri grew very slowly, but its growth began to accelerate in the 1880s.  A police station was established on 30th August and the Post Office became a permanent office.

1881 - The establishment of a school was first petitioned by residents with 21 children in need of schooling.  This petition was declined. 

1884 – In May the decision to establish a Public School was given after further petitioning by residents.  Approval to erect and furnish a suitable building was given in June.



1885 - Collarenebri Public School was opened in February.  Miss Annie Dignam was the first teacher in the school.

1893 - More teaching space built and opened after residents had pressed their claim for suitable teaching space.

1896 - A residence was erected, giving the school three buildings along Herbert Street.




1899 to 1900 - After a steady increase in student numbers an assistant teacher was appointed and extensions to the existing building were carried out including the addition of a weathershed for girls.

1930 - Enrolments at the school reach 110.  A third teacher was temporarily appointed.

1931 - Electric lights installed with the P&C meeting the costs involved.  The school and residence connected to the town water supply.

1920 to 1935 - Aboriginal students were able to access lessons taught twice each week with class times 9:00am to 1:00pm.  These lessons were delivered by the wife of the local Presbyterian Minister.  This continued until 1935 when poor health intervened.  This prompted Aboriginal parents to attempt to enrol their children at the school.  They did not succeed in gaining access. This left Aboriginal children with no recognised schooling by the government.  However Rose Weatherall gave lessons in a building on the Reserve.

1941 - The Headmaster, was instructed to enrol Aboriginal children after the Department's new policy stated that no more segregation was to take place. 

§  The school year started with 14 Aboriginal students coming to school along with only 36 white children.  Many residents kept their children at home in protest (over 60 children). 


§  The Headmaster was required to exclude any Aboriginal children on health or cleanliness grounds.  The children were found to be extremely clean by the Headmaster and the Government Medical Officer.


§  After testing was carried out during the first week of school the Headmaster found "a definite education problem"   with the Aboriginal students linked to their lack of schooling.


§  Monday 10th of February the School of Arts building was rented as the Collarenebri Annexe and an existing teacher was temporarily appointed to the group of Aboriginal students.  The white students were then sent back to school by their parents.  




A 1942 photo showing students making camouflage nets for the war effort. 

1946 - Teacher of the Annexe resigned and was not immediately replaced.  This led to Aboriginal parents petitioning the Department to allow their children to attend the main school.

1947 - The first Aboriginal students were admitted to the School with much less public protest.

1951 - Annexe closed.  After another teacher was appointed to the Annexe during the convening period the Annexe was closed due to a fall in numbers of Aboriginal students brought about by a gradual movement of those students to the main school (This achieved the Department's policy of assimilation in ten years).

1963 - saw the start of maintenance and building at the school that continued through the 1960's.  This included:

§  Painting and renovating old buildings

§  New heaters installed

§  Replacement of wooden posts with steel piers

§  All electrical systems replaced

§  Concrete paths and an assembly area

     §  Painting and renovation of the residence including an electric stove, bath heater, laundry and new fence.


                                     An aerial shot of the school taken in 1964.


1967 - A brick veneer building was built to house an Infants classroom and Kindergarten classroom.  Opened and occupied in 1968.

1967 & 1968 - School bus chartered to cater for students from the local area.  This increased enrolments again forcing more changes.

1968 - The School was reclassified from a Public school to a Central school because of an increase in numbers of students.  Two Secondary classes already existed and housed in a primary room and the hallway of the main building.

1969 - A third Secondary class was needed and was housed under the Infants building, closed in and called the "Basement".  The Secondary classes needed permanent accommodation including general classrooms as well as specialist rooms for Science, Manual Arts and Home Science.

1970 - Building commenced for the Secondary block in April.

1971 - Secondary buildings opened and occupied at the beginning of the school year.  The complex included a Library, Manual Arts room, Cookery-Needlework room, Science-Art-General classroom, Staff-study, Offices, toilets and storerooms.  Officially opened in September.  Fluorescent lighting fitted to all classrooms by 1971.

Mid to late 70's saw Collarenebri Central School becoming part of two programs to aid in funding for isolated and low socio-economic communities.  These were the Disadvantaged Schools Program (D.S.P.) and the Country Area Program (C.A.P.). 

1976 - Teacher Housing Authority (THA) purchased a house on the corner of Queen and Church Streets as the start of housing teachers within the town.

1977 - The elevated Primary building was renovated including dismantling of the partitions between the rooms and walls erected to form 3 distinct classrooms.  A house from Cobar was moved to the corner of Walgett and Narran Streets.

1977/1978 - Cement courts and posts for basketball, netball and tennis were erected next to the Catholic Church grounds in High Street.

1978 - Canteen and sports store demountable building erected in its current position.

1979 - Another house purchased by THA and two mobile homes were made available for temporary housing of teachers.

1981 - New demountable Library erected.  Enrolments rose due to the development of broad acre cotton farming and the result of influx of workers.  This allowed for composite classes to be eliminated.  


1983 - The enrolments decreased and a teacher was lost and composite classes returned.  


                                                 Staff photograph 1984


Library and Infants building 2011                                        Infants, primary, computer room and classroom 2011.








The history from 1983 to present is still being researched. More photographs will be included for the more recent history.


Any information given to the school to assist in the completion of this will be appreciated.







This history has been compiled from a number of sources including:


·         Collarenebri School History, Newman. Janette, Collarenebri, November 1983, Printed  Moree Champion.




·         Staff and community members who were either attending, working at or associated with the school through it's history. 







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