Dilapidation to Education

Host: Myroodah Station
Written by Pam Daniells – Manager, Myroodah Station.

I first fell in love with Myroodah in April of last year. Upon completion of three months’ rural work I was to head on, to continue my travels throughout Australia. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans . . . Fast-forward to the end of September and it was with a heavy heart that I waved goodbye to the station and crew I had grown so fond of. The wet season was approaching and I had prior commitments overseas. At any rate, I knew I’d be back.

My first few months at Myroodah were spent working as all-rounder to the station as well as governess to the manager’s two young sons, Will and Sam. I enjoyed both facets of my job immensely so when the subject of me returning for the following season was raised, I jumped at the chance.

While away, I kept in contact with Pam, the boys’ mum and office manager to Myroodah, through e-mail, and one such correspondence hinted at a school-related surprise upon my return. I was enthusiastic and curious but didn’t have a notion as to what it might have been!

The previous year saw us attending daily Kimberly School of the Air lessons with Mrs. P, a no-nonsense, albeit lovable, Kindy and Pre-primary teacher with an aptitude for animal noises and silly dance moves. Will, four at the time and often too clever for his own good, was not as keen on school as either Mrs. P or I would have liked. He was (and remains) a very spirited child, who’d rather be outside checking his bores and working with his tools than sitting in front of a computer. This, coupled with the fact that the school room was also the office in the main house, did not lend itself to the best learning environment. Will could hear other things going on in the house and knew his toys were just around the corner. The distractions were copious and his attention was fleeting.

5.1 copySammy greets us at the entrance to the schoolhouse!

Behind the main house lay a somewhat dilapidated old building, formerly used as a schoolhouse and now mainly home to chook feed and various tools, painting equipment, and horse gadgets. It had been painted, inside and out, with various colours, past students’ names, and misspelled catchphrases such as, ‘Jane wuz here.’ Not even the old louvres escaped unscathed. The floor was cracked in multiple places and a large chunk of ceiling was missing. Oh, and did I mention it had no electricity? Needless to say, I didn’t think Will or I would be seeing the inside of that catastrophe during my time on the station, unless we wanted to help ourselves to some grain and pellets for smoko!

Clearly I underestimated Pam’s determination for a more studious child! Standing just outside the house yard, once again back at Myroodah, I couldn’t believe my eyes as I gazed upon what is now our (almost) fully-functioning schoolhouse! In my absence Pam and the boys’ dad, station manager, Chris, cleared the two-room building of all its innards and got to work cleaning and painting. It is now outfitted with a fully-stocked arts and crafts cupboard, computer area, and work desk. There are play mats, educational games, musical instruments, and even a teacher’s zone.

5.2 copyBefore and After 1.

5.3 copyBefore and After 2.

It is definitely a work in progress, but a lot of love continues to go into the schoolhouse with the hope that both Will and Sam will thrive and enjoy themselves as they learn new things each day. We still have no electricity (owing to the difficulty of getting someone out in the Wet) and, consequently, I head over prior to school each morning with the aim of starting the generator, thus allowing us a reprieve from the stifling heat as it powers the air conditioner inside the school room. New, wonderfully clear louvres were installed just last week and the week before that I gleefully coated an entire wall in the schoolhouse with blackboard paint. It is my hope that when the handyman arrives a bit later in the year he will have time to complete some final repairs, although part of me hopes that when the exterior is painted, he leaves the misspelled ‘welcim’ beside the entrance from years gone by; A bit of history, albeit somewhat ironic for a schoolhouse.

5.4 copyStarting the generator.

5.5 copyWill shows off the fruits of his labour!

The difference in Will’s readiness to learn is astounding compared to that of the previous year and I believe whole-heartedly that the change of scenery was the catalyst. It can still be difficult to persuade him to come to school on a morning but once inside he is keen and attentive and actually enjoys being there. There are still distractions to contend with but in the scheme of things, I believe a horse poking her head in the window to say ‘G’day’ and the infectious laughter of a small brother only better the experience of going to school in the bush!

5.6 copy‘Oprah’ stops by for a bit of impromptu learning!