4 – The Gungahleen School

Gungahleen School, pre-1915 timber building (p.93 Gillespie, 1991) (Courtesy of the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)
Gungahleen School, pre-1915 timber building (p.93 Gillespie, 1991) (Courtesy of the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)

Early European settlers valued education and were instrumental in establishing schools throughout the region.

From 1873 a provisional school called The Stone Hut School operated in an old stone hut on the eastern side of the main road from Yass to Queanbeyan, on what is now Ellenborough Street. The school was relocated into a new, purpose-built single-roomed timber building at this site, on the western side of the road, in 1885.

The school was on Edward Crace’s property, ‘Gungahlin’, and was renamed as the Gungahleen School in 1888.

The school gave children access to education until The Public Instruction Act of 1888 provided more funds to public schools and made schooling in New South Wales compulsory.

The school had a chequered history. During the 1890s, drought and economic depression drove many farmers from the district. The school was downgraded to a half-time school from 1895 until 1906 and then closed for a year. It reopened again as a full-time school following petitioning by prominent locals.

A new building for 30 students was constructed in 1915 but operated for only a year as falling numbers caused its closure in 1916. Once more, prominent locals pressured the government into reopening it in 1917 with the promise of increased attendance due to the establishment of the new capital in Canberra.  However, falling attendance led to its final closure in 1923.

The building was extended and converted into a home for local teachers and rangers and their families until 1988. The remnants of an orchard and some ornamental pines and cypress trees remain on the site dating from when the building was occupied as a residence.

In 2001, the ACT Government restored the unoccupied and vandalised building for community use. It was one of six remaining 19th century public school buildings in the ACT and the oldest timber school from that period. The restored building burnt down in 2007. In 2010 a new building was erected, designed to resemble its last state in 2007 but constructed from modern materials. It is used by a number of community organisations.

Further information:

Gallery

Gungahleen School c 1915 (Courtesy of the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)
Gungahleen School c 1915 (Courtesy of the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)
Elizabeth Colvin, a teacher at the Stone Hut School from 1884-1885 (Courtesy of the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)
Elizabeth Colvin, a teacher at the Stone Hut School from 1884-1885 (Courtesy of the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)