War and peace, 1910 -
Although it started and ended on a note of peace, this decade
would be remembered for the worst war that the world had ever seen, World War
An unexpected change came with the departure of long time teacher,
Robert Ashworth. Mid way through 1912, he received a transfer to Branxton after
almost two decades in the district.
He was replaced by Mr J. E. Roxby, who arrived in September the
Life in a rural school had its moments, as was shown when the
Voice reported in March 1914:
"A black snake three foot long was found
coiled around a desk pedestal at the local public school on Monday morning.
Needless to say he was soon taught a lesson for misbehaviour, much to the
delight of the pupils present."
Mrs T. H. Woollard, a widow from
Green Point, Millingandi, took up the assistant teacher's position at Pambula in
1915 after having served for many years at the nearby Millingandi school.
1914 Australia joined the Mother Country, England, in a war against Germany that
became known as World War I. Although it had little direct impact on the school,
the departure of young local men became a common occurrence. Organisations such
as the Red Cross and War Chest, among others also became part of the local
Pupils at Pambula School became involved in patriotic work,
contributing both funds and equipment towards the war effort. In 1915, they
subscribed £1/1/- towards a travelling kitchen and ambulance and the following
year made 121 handkerchiefs for the local branch of the Red Cross. In 1918, the
children at the school were so enthusiastic to knit socks for the War Chest that
it was necessary to procure more wool from headquarters.
It would seem
that Mr Roxby, as a newcomer, became interested in the history of Pambula,
involving the school pupils in a project to interview long time residents to
document the district's past. "The History of Pambula" was published over two
issues of the Pambula Voice during October 1920, touching on many aspects of the
"The Aboriginal inhabitants of this district called it
Panboola, meaning "Big Waterhole" referring to the Broadwater or Pambula Lake.
When the place was settled by white men, however, they called it Panbula, which
name was retained for many years, all the Public Departments spelling it so.
Gradually, however, a change to Pambula took place, until now the only
Department calling it by the old name is the Lands Department."
history also covered subjects such as early settlers, local industries (farming;
timber; oysters; fish; and mining) businesses; communication and transport;
religion; newspapers; hospital; police; tourism; and, of course,
In 1917 it was announced that the head teacher, Mr Roxby, had
been transferred to Byron Bay, and the local community gathered to farewell the
family. The Pambula Voice reported on the event:
"In spite the short
notice and heavy rain…a large number of people, young and old, visited the
School of Arts to bid farewell to Mr Roxby, head teacher of Pambula Public
School for the past four years...also to Mrs Roxby and daughter Kathleen.
Councillor J. H. Martin was voted to the chair and...said he regretted Mr Roxby
was departing from amongst us, as during his past four years residence here he
had made numerous friends. Mr Roxby was a silent and solid worker...He (the
speaker), as a member of the local Recruiting Association had to thank Mr Roxby
for its success...As for Mrs Roxby, she was always willing to help, but health
reasons of late had prevented her taking an active part in public affairs. Miss
Roxby had proved herself to be an energetic worker in all social matters,
especially the local Red Cross and would be very much missed..."
Snow from Bega took over the head teacher's position until Mr Williams, from
Wauchope arrived to commence duties.
Pambula Public School’s special training class of 1917.
The teacher is believed to be David Williams.
When after more than four years, peace was finally declared, the
school wasted little time joining with the community to celebrate the
"...On the news being posted on the Voice telegram board, the
citizens, young and old, big and little, took possession of the street armed
with every description of articles that would make a noise. The excitement was
intense when the school children under the management of their teachers marched
into the street, led by the Australian flag and a number of prominent ladies of
the town, each with a tin can and stick..."
John Williams, son of the head teacher, recalled the
"When the Armistice was signed, a dozen women from the town
centre approached the school banging kerosene tins, entered the playground and
rang the school bell for two minutes. Lessons ceased abruptly and we rushed
outside cheering to our hearts’ content.”
During 1919, the school
celebrated with the rest of the community at the Pambula Peace Day, held on July
19, to mark the end of hostilities in Europe.
The decade ended on a note of panic, however, following outbreaks
of pneumonic influenza throughout the country. It became a weekly topic of news
in the local media, and although there were no reported cases in the Pambula
district, events such as the district show had to be postponed whilst the school
was also closed down for a period. The school also became the designated
hospital in the event of a local outbreak, contagious cases not being admitted
to the district hospital.
Pambula Public School students
and teacher David Williams, C. 1919.
In February 1919 a free inoculation clinic was set up at the
town's School of Arts, where about 70 people, principally children, were
vaccinated against the 'flu by Dr Macarthur in one afternoon alone.
Ben Baddeley remembered the epidemic, commenting:
vaccinated at the School of Arts once, after the First World War, and there was
a bloody crowd there too..."
the wars, 1920 - 1929:
Pambula was abuzz in 1921 when it was announced that State
Governor, Sir Walter Davidson and his wife Dame Margaret, would visit to unveil
the Red Cross Roll of Honour. Mr Williams organised the school children to sing
the National Anthem in front of the Post Office when the couple
Another visit by a notable Australian was that of Helen Keller
with her teacher Miss Anderson, as recalled by Peter Williams:
was made by them for donations to help the Blind, the Deaf and the Dumb
(afflictions suffered by Helen herself). The response to this appeal by the
parents and particularly by the children was most generous. We collected money
from every Tom, Dick and Harry in the place.”
Pambula Public School, grades 5 to 7, 1922 /
Back row: unknown; unknown; Cliff Cole; Bob Woods; Noel Behl; Harry
Wakeham; Ben Baddeley; Bob Williams.
Third row: unknown; Lloyd Williams;
unknown; Paul Shanahan; unknown; Jack Bennett; unknown; Victor Laing.
row: unknown; Nita Lawless; unknown; Jean Pearson; ? Walker; Kath Longhurst;
unknown; unknown; Florrie Laing; Ita English.
Front row: Vince woods; John
Williams; unknown; unknown.
(About six pupils were absent when this photo was
With the war so fresh in people’s memories, patriotism still ran
high, and one celebration the school always marked was Empire Day. In 1921, the
school was provided with two flags, the Union Jack and the Australian Flag for
Betty Whelan (nee Martin) recalled the celebrations,
" We did celebrate Empire Day, they talked about the Empire and
we always had a bonfire...all the kids used to go and build a big bonfire up at
Dokerty's Park, as you go to Bald Hills, on the corner
Elaine Brennan (nee Wellard) also recalled the bonfires
associated with Empire Day:
"One big event of the year was the Bonfire on
the hill, not far from the school. A gang of kids would cut down all the little
trees we could find to dry and after that we would drag them down to the site,
collecting old tyres and anything else we could find that would burn in an
attempt to outdo Wally Woods and the Smith family at South Pambula. We would
work for weeks after school and on weekends on this."
touched the school directly in 1923, with the death of head teacher, Mr
Williams. The father of nine met his untimely death boating on the Pambula River
with Jack Severs.
The pair left the township on March 29 for Jigamy to
gather oysters and fish for the following day, Good Friday. After camping at
"Sailor's Home", near the river mouth, they set out just before daybreak, but
capsized the boat.
After swimming ashore near his home on the south side
of the river, Mr Severs met up with Fisheries Inspector R. Wakeham and Mr Tweedie, who immediately set about searching the river but failed to find any
trace of Mr Williams, apart from the capsized boat.
When word had reached
the township, local policeman, Constable Grinham, and several residents
conducted a thorough search. Mr A. Hardaker placed his motor boat at their
disposal, and for four days and nights, with only intermittent sleep, they
dragged the river without success.
Mr Williams' fate remained a mystery
until April 6, when local resident Ben Baddeley, camping at the Pambula River
Mouth with his parents, discovered a leg floating close in shore whilst fishing.
The presence of several sharks had been noted in the vicinity for some weeks
prior, and it was assumed that the 52 year old teacher had been attacked by one
after the capsize.
An inquest, held at the Pambula Court House before
District Coroner Mr Nicholson, received evidence from Dr Trenerry, Sergeant
Noble, Constable Grinham, Mr J. Severs, C. A. ("Ben") Baddeley Junior, Mr Wakeham and Mrs Williams, who positively identified her husband's remains by the
The verdict of the coroner was that:
Williams, of Pambula...came to his death at the Pambula River on or about the
morning of the 30th day of March, 1923, whilst boating with one Jack Severs. But
how or by what means he died, whether by drowning or by being taken by sharks
whilst alive, the evidence adduced does not enable me to say."
after, Mrs Williams and her children moved to Sydney, and Mr William Haines
arrived in April to take over the position as head teacher at the
Terry Dowling recalled Mr Haines:
"I can remember the
first surf board I ever saw in my bloody life, old Billy Haines made that, our
old school master made it out of balsa wood, you know all these modern surf
boards and this that they've got, old Billy Haines sixty years ago made them, my
bloody oath he did, that fellow was a plumber, he was a carpenter, he was a
mechanic, he was a school master, and the Melbourne Cup in '32, when Peter Pan
won the Melbourne Cup, he brought us older kids out of the school at Pambula and
over to his verandah, on his bloody crystal set to hear bloody Peter Pan win the
Melbourne Cup, all amplified, William Gorrie Haines would have been the most
brainiest man I've ever run into in my life, and I'm 76 years of
Soon after his arrival, Mr Haines set about organising a
school concert, set around a cantata, together with other student
Keith Hart recalled:
Ron Ford, Stan Ford, Harold
Tyne and I all could carry a note fairly well and every Christmas time Mr Haines
would organise a concert and every child in the school was in that concert. Mrs
Ford used to come and train us... those Christmas concerts, they were a
wonderful turnout. I remember we did the Cantata and it was called The Magic
Wood and it was all about a mob of boys and they were naughty boys and I think
they were tormenting the girls. The queen of the fairies who I think was my
sister...and anyway, for punishment this queen of the fairies said that we had
our hands stuck in our pockets and we couldn't pull our hands out of our
pockets. Always a good moral to this stuff. And I remember we boys had to sing
Whatever Shall we do. And the teacher's when they asked us to put up our hands
when we wanted something, we couldn't. I remember another concert, later than
that, there was Ron Ford, Harold Tyne and I, and we were in most of the singing
things and Harold went and got appendicitis a couple of days before the concert
was on so Ron and I, we took over all his singing parts as well, we were very
busy. I think I was singing in nearly everything. But another thing I remember
for the little ones, first class, all these little kids, it was an action song
called the little gardeners, digging and raking, and of course they're going
through the actions, and I remember well, that at the start of the whole show
was Norm Ballantyne, and boy did he put some work into that garden. Of course
all the mothers and the grandparents used to turn up and the old hall would be
chock a block full of kids and it was lovely."
The concert was a
huge success, with the Pambula Voice reporting:
"The long-looked for
school concert in aid of the Pambula School of Arts eventuated in the hall on
Wed. of last week, when the Cantata Dame Durden's School was staged under the
management of Mr W. Haines, head teacher, and Mrs Pearson; the latter had charge
of the musical part of the business, teaching the children their various songs
etc. and every credit is due to her for the unqualified
Initially intended to raise funds for the school, Mr
Haines was convinced to use it to benefit the School of Arts hall, which was
suffering extreme financial hardship. However, this actually resulted in quite a
public argument between Mr Haines and his co-coordinator, Mrs
Many letters were printed in the Pambula Voice with regards to
the argument, with Mr Haines stating that he had agreed to allow the first
performance to aid the School of Arts on the condition that a second show would
benefit the school. However, Mrs Pearson apparently then decided that she did
not wish to have any association with Mr Haines as a result of the ensuing
argument and refused to contribute to the second performance if any funds were
going to be handled by him. When the School of Arts committee decided to allow
the second concert to go ahead in their aid, the dispute began in earnest.
Mr Haines removed his two daughters, one of whom played a lead
part, from the Cantata a week before the repeat performance, stating:
disgusted was I with the proceedings that I did what I would reckon any parent
would do in a similar position and that was have nothing to do with it but let
them run the concert on their own..."
In October 1923 the Pambula
Public School's Parents and Citizens Association was formed at a public meeting.
Mr W. Cole was elected first President of the association, with Messrs J.
Haywood and A. E. Walker as Vice Presidents and Miss Mary Kennedy as both
Secretary and treasurer. Altogether, 16 members were enrolled at that initial
meeting, with a subscription fee fixed at one shilling a year.
Association became one of the most important financial supporters of the school,
meeting the shortfall when the Department did not provide all those things the
school either needed or desired.
Pambula Public School C. 1920's.
By the 1920's, Pambula Public School was also participating in
competition sports matches against other local schools, playing tennis, football
and cricket, all played on the town grounds due to the fact that no such
facilities were available on the school grounds.
Around 1927, Pambula
began participating in the combined schools championship sports, which were
initially organised through the Pambula District Teachers'
In July 1928, the Association decided to organise a sports
event for September 8. With the aim of making the day a family event, each
family was requested to bring a basket. The event was held on the local sports
ground, now known as Jack Martin Park. Messrs Haines (Pambula), Goodacre
(Greig's Flat) and McMillan (Lochiel) were appointed a sub-committee to organise
A report of the 1928 carnival was carried in a September issue
of the Pambula Voice, which stated:
" The annual Combined Schools'
Championship Sports was held on the Pambula Sports Ground on Saturday September
8. The weather was fine and ideal for the occasion. There were over 300 entries
and 28 children's and adult's events were disposed of. Races were also held for
the smaller children that did not compete in the Championship events. The gate
takings amounted to £2/12/6, which was slightly better than last year. At the
same time, there is still room for improvement. The adults should patronise
these sports more, and make it a day for themselves as well as for the
During the next decade, school sports were to evolve into
an event that the students were to look forward to all year.
and the start of another war, 1930 - 1939:
During the 1930's the hardships of the Great Depression were
experienced. For many in the local district, however, life was nowhere near as
harsh as it would have been in the city. Although money was scarce, here in
rural Australia, food at least was plentiful and community spirit
Terry Dowling recalled the days of the Depression,
"When I came back to my Auntie's place [from Sydney], we lived
like Lords, food wise. We always had a good garden, chooks, plenty of butter,
fresh milk, cream, we had a bloody old fishing net, we'd go down and set that
behind the racecourse, we never had any money, but nobody else had any money
Despite this new clothes and shoes were a luxury, and some
students came to school barefooted, while others wore shoes handed down with
home made soles.
Pambula Public School, lower division, 1935.
Ellis Heaton; Barry Bracken; Ron Haigh; Ron Legge; Don Brereton; Walter Woods;
Second row: Betty Villaume; Rene Barker; Betty Martin; Joyce
Martin; Jean King (teacher); Lily Walker; Margaret Hart; Freda Barker; Betty
Third row: Nita Henderson; Enid Villaume; Jean Newlyn; Norma Woods;
Peggy Heaton; Joyce George; Thelma Rixon; Moira Botterell.
Front row: Peter
McGregor; John Byrne; Neil Botterell; Colin Botterell; Pat Walker; Jim Neilsen;
Ray Laing; Ray Kennedy.
Kevin Wilks compared today with those in Pambula during the
"I live in a beach suburb in Sydney...and you never see a
really unpleasant looking person, every young person now is so well fed but when
you look at these people, you can see what I thought I could remember, some of
these faces. A lot of these kids, they wouldn't starve in so far as they'd had
nothing in their bellies, but they would have had bread and dripping, just bread
and dripping and nothing else, they didn't know about vitamins and minerals in
Betty Whelan (nee Martin) recalled the poverty of those
"There wasn't many people that really could have afforded uniforms,
there were a lot of poor people around here at that time. We were still getting
over the Depression. There were quite a few that didn't have shoes. Shoes were
more or less a luxury, a lot of things were luxury in my time at school, and as
I said, there were a lot of poor people in the district."
("Chummie") Robinson recalled:
"Most children wore shoes or sand shoes,
but quite a few were in bare feet. Shoes were often hand me downs and home made
repairs, such as rubber soles glued on."
Keith Hart also
“As far as uniforms were concerned, our mother always kept us
clean and neat and tidy and of course during the Depression days, I remember
having to patch my shorts, especially where I sat down because I'm still a
fellow that fidgets a lot. She used to do it in such a way that it didn't show.
So I can say that we were kept warm in the winter and nice and cool and clean in
the summer time and it was sufficient to cover our nakedness, let us put it that
The Depression added importance to children working on the
family farm, a tradition continued from the early years. Jean King, who taught
at Pambula between 1933 and 1937, said:
"One little fellow, I remember,
came late, as he had a long way to walk after helping to milk the cows.
Sometimes he fell asleep."
The Pambula P and C Association was, by
this time, funding Godfrey's Motors Ltd to transport local children to Bega High
Many pupils had to rely on horses, push bikes or their legs to
get them to and from school. Terry Dowling remembered:
"A lot of poor
bloody kids had to ride horses three or four miles...there was a paddock for the
horses, no chaff or oats though, only the palings to eat..."
Whelan (nee Martin) recalled her mode of transport:
"We walked to school,
shanks pony...we used to meet up, you know, start off, perhaps Joyce and I and
then you'd pick up on the way along the traps, pick up all your friends and walk
to school together."
Frank Robinson remembered:
walked, some country kids rode horses and a few rode push bikes. I walked and
very often, almost every day, walked home for dinner which we always had in the
middle of the day."
Some South Pambula students were lucky enough to
be able to catch a ride, as Keith Hart recalled:
"When we didn't walk to
school, we used to be able to hitch a ride with the mail bus. Balmain Brothers
were the first ones that I can remember and then they gave it away, and then
there was Robinson's and then, of course, we still see the buses of Edwards'
coming along, old Dick Edwards, he was a great old chap. In the Roan Horse Inn,
that was the Post Office for South Pambula and the mail bus used to have to pull
up there, so we kids used to get down there and sit on the bank and wait till
the bus pulled up...and we used to pile in and we'd get a ride over town, so
we'd only walk from the Post Office up to the school."
1935 it was announced that William Haines was being transferred to Minto East
Public School, after almost 13 years residence in Pambula. He was replaced by Mr
Wilks, a teacher who quickly gained the respect of both pupils and local
Mr and Mrs Alan
Betty Whelan (nee Martin) remembers Mr Wilks:
" Mr Wilks
was my favourite teacher, maybe because he took an interest... helped me more
than any of the other ones that I'd had. To me he was a kind person...I got on
well with him...Of course I was no shining light but I didn't have any problems
Kevin Wilks also remembered his father extending his
teaching skills beyond the classroom and out into the wider community:
Eric Coorey at that stage was running a remarkably successful business in
Pambula, and it turned out that Eric was absolutely illiterate, and my father
being a school teacher, coached him privately at night so that he could read and
write. He was already a successful businessman, but he couldn't read and
The P and C continued to work hard for their school, holding
socials, card nights and Cinderella dances, among other things, to raise funds.
They also carried out practical work such as levelling the school tennis court;
and purchased a wide range of equipment which included a piano in 1936. Of this,
the Pambula Voice reported:
" On Friday night Mr and Mrs Wilks made their
home available for a house party in aid of the funds and the function netted
£8/2/-. There was an excellent attendance, about 100 persons being present, and
a thoroughly happy evening resulted. A card tournament attracted 24 players and
the winners were Mrs Bottrell, Messrs Eric Tisdale and Jock Christiansen (who
divided the men's prize). Mr Ron Ford won a jumble-town competition and the
prize for estimating the evening's takings was won by Mrs Martin on a draw with
Mr Jack Spears, both having guessed the exact amount. Dancing and singing were
indulged in heartily and several business men, lustily endeavouring to out do
each other in their rendition of "Three Blind Mice" did much to enliven the
Gwen Marshall (nee Wilks) recalled these functions,
"I seem to remember fundraising 'House Parties' at the
residence, when the parents went in and gambled and the kids played in the
It was also through the P and C Association that the
school undertook an immunisation program in 1936, when they applied to the Imlay
Shire Council for a diphtheria immunisation program. In August that year about
70 children were inoculated by Dr Jones under the scheme.
As far as
lobbying for the needs of the school, the P and C proved themselves invaluable.
In 1936, representatives met with the local member, Mr W. W. Hedges, to urge the
substitution of dual desks for the older type still in use at the school.
Finally, this was approved in 1937.
In 1938, the organisation also
attempted to lobby for a subsidy to assist to cover the cost of transporting 17
students from the South Pambula area, stating that some of the smaller children
had to walk two miles and more by way of a dusty and dangerous highway. The
Department, however, replied that, based on regulations that children under 11
had to reside over two miles away, and those over 11 more than three miles from
the school, only six were eligible for such subsidy.
The P and C
Association suffered a minor set back in 1936 with the resignation of secretary
Mr Sid Ford, who had proven himself to be a valuable worker over years of
involvement with the organisation.
School concerts remained a big
attraction to both the students and the general public of the district. Betty
Whelan fondly remembers these events:
"We used to have a concert every
year at the school...and I was chosen to sing the different things in the
different plays, 'In Your Green Hat'. It was held in the School of Arts, and,
oh, it was great to go down to the hall and practice, that was a real big thing
to go down there and practice for the concert, get out on stage and giggle when
you shouldn't be giggling, it was quite exciting...Mr Wilks always seemed to put
on a good concert and he was a very good pianist."
Pambula Public School, 1935,
Back row: Colin Hart; Lance Godfrey; Gordon Schafer; Bob
Villaume; Bill Walker; Ken Brerton.
Second row: Winnie Newlyn; Joan Villaume;
Lesley Cole; Bill Haines (teacher); Joyce Martin; Margaret Hart; Lily Walker;
Third row: Noreen Byrne; Gwen Cole; Nancy Hellings; Rita
Martin; Ethel Spears; Beatie Morris; Betty Martin; Betty Burgess.
Frank Robinson; Lloyd Furnell; Ray Martin.
In 1938 preparations were made to celebrate the 150th anniversary
of the landing of the First Fleet in Sydney Cove. This event, which required
co-operation between many of the local schools and P and C Associations
throughout the entire Imlay Shire area, involved a sports and tableau at Eden on
March 18. The Director of Education authorised the headmasters of the schools
involved, including Pambula, to close their schools for the
Secondary classes were placed on the agenda for Pambula School in
1938. Prior to this, students had either travelled to Bega High School or
remained at Pambula until they reached the minimum leaving age. The move to
provide secondary classes at Pambula was initiated by the nearby Eden
Advancement Association, which wrote:
"As we are desirous of obtaining
facilities for the secondary education of the pupils of the whole of this
district, we have approached the Department of Education, with a view of having
definite secondary courses established at Pambula Public School which is not
only the geographic centre of the district but is the most economical centre for
transport as the pupils from the southern section of this district could be
served by mail car as a comparatively low conveyance rate."
Pambula Voice reported on the matter by stating:
"Pambula School –
Excellent prospects for Super-Primary Classes – There is every indication that
before long Pambula Public school will be made the district centre for
Super-Primary Classes. Every school in the district appears to have pupils who,
while eligible for higher classes, are unable because of expense and other
reasons to go to Bega and unless some provision is made for them here they must
remain at an educational stand-still. Eden P and C Association, which is keenly
interested in the matter, recently circularised district school teachers and P
and C Associations asking for co-operation in the establishment of the classes
at Pambula School and the reports so far to hand are most encouraging. Pambula P
and C decided at Tuesday night’s meeting to give its hearty co-operation and it
was stated that with the support in view from Eden and the schools at this end
there should be at least 25 pupils for a start in the Super-Primary classes.
Departmental subsidy will of course be a considerable assistance in the matter
However, despite the fact that it was announced
in July that the additional expense involved for staff and accommodation would
not be justified for the relatively small number of pupils and that the proposal
would therefore not go ahead, the local community was not willing to give up on
this issue. Prospective students from Towamba, Wyndham, Bald Hills and Millingandi were added to those upon which the initial case was based, but again
the decision was negative. Not to be defeated, a deputation then met with local
member, Mr Hedges, MLA, in 1939. Consisting of Messrs Wilks (headmaster), T.
Carter (for Bald Hills residents) and W. J. Gordon and E. Phillipps (P and C
Association), the deputation pointed out that although more than the required
numbers of pupils were available and the Department had been provided with all
the facts, the Minister had several times turned down the request.
1939 the Pambula District School's Annual Athletic Association, commonly known
as PDSAAA, was formed. Representatives from Pambula, Merimbula, Wolumla, Rocky
Hall, Greig's Flat, Eden, Lochiel and Millingandi schools met in May that year
at the Pambula School of Arts hall, where they unanimously decided to join
forces for a combined school sporting event on Eight Hour Day, Monday, October 2
Although delegates from Nethercote, Wyndham, Burragate,
Towamba and Kiah school did not attend that initial meeting, all promised their
support. Invitations were also extended to both South Wolumla and St. Joseph's
schools to join in the event.
The inaugural officers of the association's
management committee comprised of Sid Ford (President), Messrs A. W. Tonge and
A. F. Wilks (Vice Presidents), Lance Perry (Treasurer), Eustace Phillipps
(Secretary), I. McInnes (Assistant Sectretary), E. Coorey, C. Brassington, J.
Robertson, D. Boland, W. T. Henderson and R. M. Hart.
An article headed
"Plans for Great Gathering of District Schools at Pambula" appeared in the
Pambula Voice following the meeting, and outlining plans in very spirited terms.
The District Teachers Federation drew up a draft program in June and this was
adopted and distributed to the various schools involved the same month. The
Pambula Voice commented:
"The enthusiasm in evidence practically assured
success for the sports, even at this early date."
supported the event wholeheartedly, with donations including a trophy of ten
shillings six pence from James Robertson, Commercial Hotel publican, for the
best schools marching in procession, whilst Association President, Sid Ford,
gave a cup for competition amongst the schools.
The development of a
special point score system meant that smaller schools, which actually made up
the greater part of the competition, stood an equal chance with the larger
institutions to take home the cup.
Betty Whelan (nee Martin) was in her
last two years at school at Pambula when the PDSAAA was formed, and she
"I carried the flag, the two years I was in it, because I was
taller than the other girls, and we borrowed, you know the thing you put the
flag in, the surf club's, because Dad was in the Surf Club, and we borrowed that
for me to put the flag in."
"...we had a great
tunnel ball team, we blitzed in the sports, we had a really good team, tunnel
ball, under and over, and over head. There was Pat Clarke, Lilly Walker, Betty
Burgess, Margaret Hart, my sister Joyce, and myself. Other events were foot
races, high jumps, hop, step and jump, relay races and long distance
For the first two years of the competition, 1939 and 1940,
the carnival took place at what is now known as Jack Martin Park, Pambula, after
which the various schools took turns to host the event.
The 1930's ended on another sour note, with the outbreak, in 1939,
of what became known as the Second World War. Apart from the departure of local
men to serve in the armed forces, it initially had little impact on the local
district although the situation was not to remain like that.
hits home, 1940 - 1949:
The entry of Japan into the war changed many things for
residents of the local district. Whereas World War 1 had little direct impact on
people at home, World War II was a different matter altogether.
became a part of life, with windows covered with heavy blinds and lights shaded
to subdue glare. Rationing was introduced on butter, meat, sugar and tea, as
well as clothing and petrol, and with enemy activity off the coastline, locals
became aware of the war as it inched closer to their doorstep.
Wilks recalls the problems with the town's air raid siren during the
"...there was an electricity power station which ran from sunset to
ten o'clock at night… and when I was studying, which I was studying quite hard
at the time, when the movies started up at the theatre of a Saturday night the
lights went so dim I couldn't study any further, I had to work by candle. It was
really an ancient system. But the worst feature of it was that our air raid
siren was an exhaust whistle in the diesel generator and so before you could
warn anyone we were going to be bombed flat… it was a ten minute operation in
those days...What you had to do was first of all start a petrol engine and that
took some starting then when that got up to speed that could start driving the
diesel, thump, thump, thump...boom, boom and you know this was a ten minute
exercise, so if the Japs were coming in, it was far too late, so we were allowed
to be bombed between sunset and 10 p.m. any night..."
Pambula Public School,
Preparations for the possibility of enemy invasion began, and one such plan
was the evacuation of local children to beyond the mountains. Local woman, Sibyl
Torpey, was apparently selected to transport the children to their destination,
and many still recall having to have their little bag with necessities ready to
go in a flash.
Alma Baddeley remembered this, stating:
Torpey was one of the drivers they had picked out, and all the kids, all the
names of the kids and everything and they definitely would have taken them up
An air raid trench became a permanent fixture in the
playground at the Pambula school, as Elaine Brennan remembered:
the war we had constant air-raid practice, scrambling into slit trenches that
had been dug just inside the side gate."
When the American liberty
ship William Dawes was sunk off the coast by a submarine, the injured seamen
were treated at the Pambula District Hospital. One of these men, Bill Minton,
was accommodated by the head teacher, Mr Wilks, and his family at the residence
at the school. Kevin Wilks, one of his sons, recalls:
"...I was at my
last year at Bega and my sister Gwen and my mother looked after these sailors
while they were here, you know, went to the hospital and cared for them, took
them out and organised things for them…As we went to school that morning, the
school bus used to leave about quarter past seven from Pambula for nine o'clock
school in Bega and pick up people along the way and we stopped at Merimbula and
it was July, 24th July 1942, a clear blue sky, you know one of those winter days
you can have down here with not a cloud in the sky and as we came into Merimbula
you could see this huge pall of smoke out off the point, not quite out to the
horizon and as we went up the hill we could see it even more, it was a ship on
fire out there and we recognised something was wrong. We had to go to school, it
was final year and so on which was important to me that the school went on. When
we got home we found all these sailors were ensconced in Pambula Hospital, and
my mother and my sister up there looking after them. There was no dinner on the
Life went on, however, despite the hardships brought about
by the war, and annual events such as the PDSAAA sports and Empire Day continued
to be held yearly.
Pambula Public School March
Past team in Quondola Street, 1944.
In 1944 there was a classification change when Pambula became a Central
School, something that remained until the end of 1949.
The P and C
Association also continued to be active, and held events such as the Cinderella
dance held in the School of Arts in 1945, with music provided by Hart's
When war finally ended, the entire district celebrated, much as they had in
1918, holding a street parade and dance, whilst events such as the Jockey Club's
annual race meeting was renamed the Victory Cup in recognition.
Day celebration parade at the bottom of Quondola Street, Pambula,
Mr Wilks and his family departed from the district in 1946 with the Magnet -
Voice newspaper stating in December that year:
" Mr and Mrs Wilks will be
sorely missed, as they have been excellent workers for the town and
It was decided to hold an official social evening to
farewell the head teacher and his family, taking place in the School of Arts in
January 1946. The Magnet - Voice again reported on the function,
"On Tuesday night in last week Pambula Hall was the centre of a
very successful social evening, the occasion being a farewell to Mr and Mrs A.
F. Wilks and family on the eve of their departure from Pambula to their new home
at Exeter. A very large crowd gathered, including visitors from all the
surrounding centres including Bega…Mr Woods, in opening proceedings, spoke of
the sterling work done by Mr Wilks as headmaster at the Pambula Public School
during his sojourn of ten years at Pambula, culminating in his success of having
5/6 percentage pass in intermediate classes the first year they were held in
Pambula. As public citizens, Mr and Mrs Wilks had taken a very keen interest in
all civic matters, being a tower of strength towards the success of the various
organisations in which they were actively engaged...Mr S. W. Ford, as President
of the Pambula and District Patriotic Movement, gave a glowing address of the
work Mr Wilks had done for this organisation. Mr Wilks had held the position of
honorary secretary of the committee ever since the inception some six years
ago…Mr Woods, on behalf of the citizens of Pambula and friends of family, then
presented Mr Wilks with a handsome set of stainless cutlery as an appreciation
for all they had done for the district and a token of esteem and respect that
they were held in…”
Mr Wilks was replaced by Mr Cox, who remained in
the district only about eighteen months before he was transferred to
Pambula School, infants class, 1949.
Douglas Porteous; Michael Parkin; Brian Kelly; Cecil Gill; John Carter; Albert
Severs; Kevin Love.
Centre row: Alan Gill; Heather Radford; Barbara Kelly;
Jeanette Brereton; Velda Perry; Keith Smith.
Front row: Mavis Radford;
Loretta Whitby; Kay Henderson; Elva Henderson; Pam Thistleton; June Rixon;
During his stay, he and many local residents from both Pambula and nearby
districts worked towards the idea of consolidating all local schools into one
district facility, but this was something that was not to be achieved for quite
some time yet.
At his farewell, Mr R. M. Hart, chairman, said:
Mr Cox had worked hard with the idea of creating an area school in the district,
which would further the education of the country children a lot and hoped the
foundation laid so far would bear fruit in the future."
departure of Mr Cox brought Mr Vic Parkin to the district, where he remained for
almost ten years.
Improved transportation enabled students to travel away
for sports and by the late 1940’s Pambula students had also started competing
against other local schools in what were termed inter-school sports. During
1949, they competed against other institutions such as Eden and Wyndham, playing
games such as cricket, tennis, basketball and football.
Pambula Public School, middle
Back row: Teddy Metcalf; Terrence Kelly; Peter Lennox; Brian
McDonald; Alan Radford; Bruce Carter.
Centre row: Gregory Whitby; Gordon
Radford; Tommy Bradford; Billy Ainsworth; Kevin Cole; Max Love; Cecil
Front row: Barbara Smith; Janice Haigh; Lynette Best; Beverly
Robinson; Maureen Kelly.
Pambula school, senior class, 1949.
Back row: Alan
McLaughlin; Neville Robinson; Frank Kirk; Dennis Hart; Jimmy Laing; Ron Radford;
Vic Parkin (teacher).
Centre row: Alan Gordon; Bill Gordon; Billy Whitby;
Bruce Love; Tony Ainsworth; Barry McDonald.
Front row: Jacqueline Whitby;
Beryl Clark; Noleen Smith; Alma Metcalf; Dawn
P and C fund-raising remained an important activity within the community
throughout the 1940’s, with a variety of functions held to raise money for the
school. In 1949 the organisation held a Back to Childhood ball, during which
Messrs Ron Ford and Vic Parkin arranged a humorous stage act, teeing up a mock
radio station, called Radio B2C. The same year, a social evening was held in the
home of Mr and Mrs J. Medcalf, during which billiard competitions were won by
Roy Beasley and “Chicka” Walker, whilst Mrs W. Henderson Jnr and Mrs H. White
were successful in the euchre tournament.