When five-year-old Oliver Davey dons his uniform and heads through the school gates for his first day in Prep, he will reach a remarkable family milestone.
He will be the fifth generation of the Davey family to attend Miners Rest Primary School, an unbroken chain stretching all the way back to the 19th century.
When Oliver’s great-great grandfather Michael walked into the red-brick school building back in 1883, Queen Victoria was on the throne and Australia’s first prime minister was still almost two decades in the future.
A generation on and Michael’s son James Davey subsequently attended the school – which used to go up to Grade 8 in those days – shortly after the end of the First World War.
Oliver’s grandfather – also called Michael – was next in line to go to the school, which has been on the same site since its founding in 1858. He attended from 1956 to 1962, going on to found the Balray Manufacturing company in Wendouree, where he still works.
His son Leon – now working as a plasterer around Ballarat – also followed in the school from 1987 to 1994. And from January 30, Oliver will be there to carry on the baton for the fifth successive generation.
It means a lot. It’s quite a tradition – with any luck it will go on to another generation too.Michael Davey
“I think it’s quite a feat,” said Michael’s wife Marie, who has been looking into the Davey family history. “I would say it would have to be fairly unusual.”
According to her research, there has been a Davey child at Miners Rest Primary School for 68 of its 159 years – or more than a third of its existence.
In another striking show of continuity, each of the five generations stretching back to 1883 has the name Michael either as a first or second name.
Miners Rest principal Dale Power told The Courier it was a “pretty unique and exciting” landmark for the school. “It’s lovely. There are moments like this in your career as a principal which make you take stock of what it [the school] means to families.”
Oliver’s first day at school on January 30 will also be a proud moment for Michael Davey, 68, who still lives on the same land settled by his great-great grandfather Patrick after he arrived from Ireland in 1865.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s quite a tradition – with any luck it will go on to another generation too.”
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Do you know any family who can match the Daveys’ record? Get in touch.