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Primary School


An historical perspective by Mrs. Rita Busbridge



The original Fyansford Carmon School was opened in a building provided by the Church of England, rent free. It was 33 feet by 28 feet, with walls of currugated iron and stone. The roof was also corrugated iron and the ceiling and internal walls were lined with calico and paper. Robert Kilpatrick, formerly of the Orphanage School (No. 478) was the first headmaster and was supported by a local committee of nine men. There was no teachers residence. Attendance at the school fluctuated but there was an average of 77 pupils in 1867. The furniture comprised of 6 desks, 7 new maps, some forms, books, reading tablets and some slates.



The building was in an extremely poor condition so the committee set to work to build a new school. A new site of 5 acres was purchased in November, 1873. Tenders were called for the erection of a bluestone building with a shingle roof. The successful bid was offered by J. Pile & Sons for £599.4.0.


The new school building was first used in June, even though it was not completely finished. Frederick Hobbs was its first headmaster, with Mathilda Hobbs and Martha Hopton to assist with 82 pupils enrolled and an average attendance of 38.  A robbery at the school prompted the building of a school residence. From five tenders, H. Low was successful. For the sum of £202, he built a 4-roomed wooden building with a shingle roof. Rent was £15 per annum.


On 1.1.1876, the school became S.S. 1691 and No. 913 was struck off the roll. Later in that same year attendance was greatly reduced due to fear resulting from 2 deaths from scarlet fever. The school was fenced for £40 because of "the nocturnal perambulations of cattle" which such a nuisance.


A shelter shed was erected for the children’s comfort.


The school was selected as the rural training school for Geelong & District Schools. Within 6 years over 100 young teachers had completed a fortnight's training in rural school management.


Various teachers over the years had encouraged pupils interest in growing plants. As early as 1905, the children won all the prizes for School Gardens and the aggregate at the Geelong Flower Show. This was consistent over the earlier years for records from 1935 showed the gaining of two more cups for the Best Garden.


The shelter shed that is standing in the grounds today was constructed.


With the commencement of the Geelong Teachers College, Fyansford was retained as a rural training school under the leadership of Mr. W. S. Coomber until 1975. The headteacher, Miss Janet Hayes, had received notice that Deakin University proposes to recognise using the school for teacher training.


Playground equipment has been added to and improved until today the pupils have a wide selection to choose from. The tubular steel junior slide, climbing tower and gymnastic combination were installed to replace older outdoor equipment. The 1949 shelter shed is still in use. A fitness track was designed and constructed by the community and parents in 1978 and 1983 welcomed the installation of a wooden fort tower and gymnastic combination were installed to replace older outdoor equipment. 

The open fires that had been so common in country Primary Schools prior to the 50's were abandoned in favour of gas and kerosene. However, this year the Education Department banned kerosene as a form of heating and used gas exclusively.



The residence was finally condemned and demolished. Very few headteachers had lived in the residence because of its small size, lack of conveniences and years of neglect, but they were required to pay the rent.


The Centenary, held in June 1975, was a huge success for all in attendance, thanks to an enthusiastic committee. The weather was conducive to the festive activities that took place both in the garden and the school house. Precious memories were revived as ex-pupils re-met and the younger generations of children gained valuable insight about their schools past.


The Ladies Club became the Mothers Club before amalgamating with the Mens Committee to form the present-day School Council. Parent involvement has contributed significantly to the pupils’ welfare over the ensuing years with subtle changes to the titles of the various committees. The aim of these various bodies has been consistent over time, that is, to assist the teacher/s in the education of pupils and the running of the school. Volunteers tend to help according to their personal experience and expertise,    e. g. bookkeeping, fundraising and practical involvement.


Those original gas heaters were upgraded.



Today, the garden is attractive with a wide variety of trees for shade and spacious lawns for the children to pursue outside activities. With the valuable assistance of a local, Mr. Bill Kayler-Thomson, the vegetable garden was re-established and a wide variety of vegetables are being produced.

Today, the Fyansford School’s current enrollment has climbed to 14 after an all-time low of 11. Pupils are well provided for with excellent teaching and a wide variety of teaching aids. Parent involvement within the school hours aids their education in reading, cooking, gardening and other crafts. Since 1977, ALL grades have been to camp - at least once a year and last year (1983) co-joined with two other rural schools of similar size. Due to the camps success, the venture will be repeated this year at a different venue. Excursions, music and swimming programmes are also a regular part of the school's curriculum.


The extensive variety in the curriculum is due to 3 main reasons:

1).     The enthusiasm of the present teacher and parent involvement;

2).     Fyansford Primary School is part of the Bannockburn Cluster Group which shares specialist teachers, library facilities and                  equipment,

3).     The school receives extra funds from the Government because of the Disadvantage Grant


In September the school was selected to represent the Barwon South Western region in the curriculum innovation awards. It won the award in November.



The school closed.      Source:       Department of Infrastructure, Victoria, 13 March 1997

Primary Source:

Mrs Rita Busbridge, Sire of Bannockburn, Organisational histories 1988 (The Gugger Collection)

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Primary contributor: Mrs. Rita Busbridge

Common School No. 913 at Fyansford was opened in temporary premises on 1 July, 1867.

A Crown Land site was obtained and gazetted by the Department on 28 November, 1873.

The new State School No. 1691 was officially opened on 1 February, 1876.

No. 913 was struck off the roll.

The school was selected as the Rural Training School for Geelong and district during 1927.

Source: Public Record Office Victoria 


The first state school was opened July 1st, 1876.

It was known amongst the early residents as the ‘Tin School’, being constructed of galvanised iron.

Miss Emmeline Hopton was appointed head teacher at Fyansford School in 1887"


Fyansford History Notes By Roy Holden  (Geelong Heritage Centre Ref. 3221F  994.52 FYA)

a chronological perspective…


1837   Fyansford named after Foster Fyans (first Police Magistrate for the                  area) who took up land when he arrived in the area.

1843   John Atkins built an inn on the western bank of the Moorabool.

1854   Traffic through the township during the gold rushes led to the building            of another inn and a wooden bridge.

1865   Fyansford becoming an established agricultural and pastoral district                with numerous vineyards and orchards.

1876   Paper mill established.

1889   Cement works began operations.

1867   Fyansford Primary School, located by the Hamilton Highway,                        was opened as Common School No. 913. In its opening year it had              an enrolment of 95 children and an average attendance of 28 girls                and 28 boys. There were 32 destitute scholars at the school, for whom            the government contributed £9.11.0 for fees. Other students paid                  £21.7.6 in fees.

1872   As a result of the Education Act the school was taken over as a State               school. A site for a State owned building was obtained by the                       Department of Education and gazetted as Crown land reserved for                 school purposes on 28 November.

1875   The one-room school was constructed by contractor J. Pile and Sons in             stone with a shingle roof at a cost of £599.4.0

1876   On 1 January the school became State School no. 1691, with 

            No. 913 being struck off the roll. The school had accommodation for             100 children.

1899   The shingle roof was replaced or covered with iron.

1928    Some drainage work, repairs and renovations were carried out by                 contractor, B. J. Perrott. The gable windows were probably enlarged               at this time and a new accordion-type screen was installed to partition             the school into two classrooms. The school is regarded as an                         important example of the work of Public Works Department architect               H. R. Bastow.

1927    Fyansford was selected as the Rural Training School for Geelong and             district.

1989    In September the school was selected to represent the Barwon South               Western region in the curriculum innovation awards. It won the                       award in November.

1996    The school closed.      Source:       Department of Infrastructure, Victoria, 13 March 1997

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A Photoshoot

Focus:~  En-route to Fyansford Primary School

Recently while working on "Images Under Scrutiny" (Image #8), the Phantom pedestrian bridge over the Moorabool River, I was alerted to the existance in 1966-1970 of a timber pedestrian footbridge across the Moorabool River; slightly upstream from the Monier bridge. This had been built in 1966 for pupils attending the Fyansford Primary School located approximately two hundred metres further along the Hamilton Highway; the concrete bridge being too narrow to cater safely for both pedestrians and vehicles. At the same time a sturdy timber stairway had been constructed enabling students to crest the bluestone buttress blocking direct access to the school.

Today was perfect for photography so I decided to investigate the students' route. 

Walking in the footsteps of Fyansford primary school students from years gone by...

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2017 Fyansford PS.JPG
State Lib of Vic By C. Fox 1940.jpg

Fyansford state school No.1691 By C. Fox 1940 State Lib. of Vic.

Sample of early clippings on TROVE

Click image to enlarge

Take me to:~

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a retrospective

Fyansford Primary by Rita Busbridge.jpg

An historical review


  • based on a review of pages 1 & 2


Walter Henry Thompson ~ Entry 412 in the original 'old' register, i.e. for the original Fyansford Common School. Roll unavailable.

Emily Elizabeth Wilks ~ Register No.1 DoB 21.2.1877 Began school May, 1880, i.e. 3 years of age What was school entry-age?

Frances Jane Bourquin ~ Register No.2 Also age 3 years on entry to school Was there a pre-school or childminding class?

Register Nos 1 - 12 ~ Only 12 students enrolled over period 1880 - 1886. In 1875 there were 82 enrolled Average attendance 38

The Wilks ~ Comprised 8 enrolments - Henry (wheelwright) & John (blacksmiths) Wilks' families Fits in with earlier posts

First 12 enrolments left school in years 1891 - 1897 Average total time at school was around 9-11 years School went to year-8

Wilks family residences ~ Henry lived 1/4 mile from school, John lived 1/2 mile from school. Fits in with earlier posts


Family names ~ Wilks, Bourquin, Read, Thompson, Robinson, Douglas, Hoggart, Coates, Risden, Tippett, Foggo, Carey, McCarthy, Carroll


Occupational entries ~ wheelwright, gardener, farmer, paper maker, blacksmith, postmistress, watchman, gentleman, drover, clerk

Calling for contributions...

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I am currently working on a new publication
called Fyansford State School No. 1691.

If you have any photos, collectibles or anecdotes
relating to the school that you'd like to share,
please contact me.

I will give a copy of my first print
to eligible contacts,
i.e. anyone who makes a significant contribution. 
Please feel free to email me

Progress to date:

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