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If you started school in Queensland in the late 1950s (as I did) then you would have sat at a desk just like this - one equipped with slates and slate pencils.  You would almost certainly have carried a school 'port' like that on your back when you walked to school and it would have had a pencil case just like that nestled beside a sponge in a bottle of water and cleaning rag (for wiping your slate) and vegemite sandwiches wrapped in reusable greaseproof paper.  You would not have waved a plastic Aussie flag like that but you would have stood on parade each morning and put your hand over your heart as you looked at the flag and recited "I love my God, I serve my Queen and Country, I honour the flag and I shall cheerfully obey my country's laws". Then you would have stood to attention as the national anthem God Save the Queen was played before marching in line to your school room -- I think we were still very regimented from the war years.

I had a lovely chat to the lady in the museum about the latest developments at the School of Distance Education which reaches out to children on remote properties. She also reminded me that Charters Towers has a strong continuing tradition of boarding schools catering to children from remote rural properties.


  1. Although I live in Queensland, I went to school in Sydney. We didn't have slates, we had books and pencils and then pens with inkwells that boys used to dip the end of my plaits into. The other memories are much the same.

    1. We used pencils and paper from Grade 2, then "scratch pens" and inkwells but not until about Grade 4. By the time we reached Grade 6 those new fangled "biros" were getting cheap enough so we were allowed to use them instead.

  2. Love the vintage desk and bench.

    1. At the end of the day the kids who were on the end had to lift the "bench" up onto the desk so the floors could be cleaned overnight.

  3. Nowadays slates have have been replaced by iPads... A bit less messy but I guess the mess is half the fun.

    1. I didn't think of iPads being a slate -- what a difference! When I was a kid I had a toy called a "glass slate" which was a piece of frosted glass in a wooden frame. There were pictures behind the glass and the idea was to trace the outline with a pencil. That was fun but the hard part was washing off the image. It was a treasured toy ... I've still got it!

      My sister is a few years younger and she got "magic slate" where you could erase the image just by lifting the plastic ... magic.

  4. Love this glimpse of Australian history.

    I don't remember there being bench seating/desks when I was at school.


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