Mallacoota in East Gippsland is a long way from any capital city. Imagine its isolation in the early 20th century. Wealthy families could afford to employ a governess, but there was no education for the children of labourers and fishing families. Campaigning for a primary school at Mallacoota began in 1902.

Mallacoota’s first school house, built in 1906, was not substantial. Teacher Laurence Kennedy described it as ‘nothing more than a bark shed’, consisting of ‘two rooms only one of which is floored’. He complained that the building had ‘no locks, defined grounds or outhouses’ and was situated ‘16 yards from the cow yard’.

Early settlers in the Victorian bush were determined to obtain education for their children; so determined, they were prepared to have them learn ‘in almost any kind of enclosure: – a bark hut … a room in an operative public house and the cellar of a bacon factory’.