4 – The Gungahleen School

4 – The Gungahleen School

From around 1873, a school called the ‘Stone Hut school’ was located near this location on the east side of the Yass to Queanbeyan Road (the current Ellenborough Street) – in a stone hut on the Stone Hut Farm.  It provided education to the children of smallholders in the region. 

A decision was made to build a purpose-built timber building for the school and it was constructed on this site on the western side of the road in 1885. A new building replaced it in 1915 and that building was at this site until it burnt down in 2007. 

The current building on the site is a replica of that last building. It was constructed in 2010 and is now used by community organisations. 

The school itself had a chequered history during the 50 years of its existence. It operated as a part-time school, closed for a year, reopened as a full-time school after petitioning by locals, was rebuilt in 1915, only to close permanently in 1923. 

The building was extended and converted into a home for local teachers and rangers and their families until 1988. From around 1930 the old schoolhouse became a Ranger Station and was the residence of Stanley and Katie Melville. Stanley worked for 23 years for government departments. He helped build Commonwealth Avenue and to plant trees in the older areas of the city. In 1943 he turned to commercial beekeeping. The old schoolhouse was later occupied by Stanley and Katie’s son Stan, who was the Principal of Lyneham Primary school for 18 years, and his wife Denise, a teacher at Lyneham High.

The remnants of an orchard and some ornamental trees remain on the site dating from when the building was occupied as a residence.  Plantings include apple, plum, crabapple and mulberry, along with ornamental pines and cypress.

The old schoolhouse was entered on the ACT Heritage Register in 1998, but this registration was cancelled in 2014 after the building was destroyed by fire in 2007.  However the decision on cancellation and the supporting background information provides a wealth of information about the school building and the history of the school. 

1. Gungahleen School, pre-1915 (Photo Credit Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)

2. Gungahleen School, circa 1915 (Photo Credit – Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)

3. Sampler completed by Margaret Shumack at Stone Hut School in 1887 (Photo Credit – Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)
4. Elizabeth Colvin, a teacher at the Stone Hut School from 1884-1885 (Photo Credit – Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)
5. Elizabeth Colvin and John Evans who were married in Yass in 1886 (Photo Credit – Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre)
6. Painting of the Gungahleen School when it was a home for the Melville family (Image courtesy of Denise Melville)
7. Gungahleen School-Canberra Tracks Sign