Bungaree Primary School celebrates its 150th birthday

FAMILY TIES: David Grigg, 90, shows Zac, 5, a picture of his mother Fanny Trigg in a Bungaree Primary School class photo from 1900. Picture: Lachlan Bence

FAMILY TIES: David Grigg, 90, shows Zac, 5, a picture of his mother Fanny Trigg in a Bungaree Primary School class photo from 1900. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Bungaree Primary School’s youngest pupil Zac, 5, can’t quite count to 150 – the number of years his school has been educating children in the potato-farming community east of Ballarat.

But he can count to 86 – the number of years since David Grigg started at the school.

The school celebrates its 150th birthday on Saturday with the theme ‘generations of conversations’, which is apt at a school where many local families have had several generations walk through the door to start their formal education.

At least three generations of the Grigg family went to Bungaree Primary School, with Mr Grigg finding a picture of his mother as a child in a class photo from 1900.

Mr Grigg, 90, returned to the school and was struck by the similarity of the surroundings and the differences in the classroom in the decades since he was a child and later a parent with four children at the school.

​The shelter shed he remembers as a child is still behind the main school building, but is now a coop for the four chickens who free range throughout the school grounds.

When Mr Grigg attended the school from 1931 to 1939 there was one teacher for about 60 students ranging from prep to year eight.

Enrolments have varied across the 150 years from a low of seven or eight students to a peak of about 100 before the current school was built in 1923. There are 28 students this year.

“I have very happy memories of this place. It was a great school to me,” Mr Grigg said.

“We used to grow spuds here and sell them to market,” Mr Grigg said, almost confirming a rumour that principal Catherine Barnes is chasing down about potatoes being grown on the school oval.

The Bungaree Historical Society has been working with the school on the 150th anniversary celebrations and photo display, and explaining its history to the students and their families.

“We want to celebrate the school, celebrate the community and celebrate our kids and we want people to come back in and reconnect with the past and build our future together,” Ms Barnes said.

Saturday’s celebrations, which run from 10.30am to 3pm, include a jumping castle, petting zoo, face painting, rock painting, food, drinks, school tours and a roll call of former and current students.