A very enjoyable day was spent yesterday spending a few hours with old friends at the Dandaragan Community Resource Centre. My retirement village resident friend Margaret and I left Wembley just after midday on Tuesday and had a leisurely drive to Dandaragan. We had booked accommodation at the Redgum Village in Dandaragan. I was looking forward to the drive from Regan’s Ford to Dandaragan, to seeing the rolling green hills, large redgum trees and picturesque scenery. Not to be. Rain is desperately needed to kick start what was germinated a month or more ago, so instead of green hills, we saw drab brown paddocks.
Driving into the one main street, with more houses than I remember, I wanted to show Margaret this small town and mostly where we played golf many years ago. In fact, our first game on the brand new course would have been somewhere around June or July 1967. There were only nine holes then, but now the well-manicured eighteen fairways looked inviting. It could also do with an inch or so of rain. I noticed that one of the locals had posted on their Facebook page this week, that perhaps a Rain Dance event should be arranged. I could see why.
Back to downtown Dandaragan we drove into the St Anne’s Anglican Church grounds. What a delightful sight, this Gothic style church is set among a grove of stately old gum trees. We read on the plaque placed on a wall in the entryway of the church:
In 1870 a meeting of local identities convened by Walter Padbury resolved that the district needed a formal place of worship. As a result, a fund was established to raise money for the building. In 1885 a group of settlers approached the Central Board of Education and requested that a centrally located block of land be gazetted for the contraction of a school. Next Thomas Conway a stonemason from Yathroo (a 4,000-acre lease first established in 1848 – now 9,870 hectares – 24,389 acres) of Dandaragan was asked to assist with the building of a school in a simple Gothic architectural style to act as both a church and a school.
The stone for the building was hewn from the ground in Roberts’ adjacent paddock. This soap stone, as it was known, is soft when first uncovered and can be cut using an ordinary saw. As it matures after exposure, it hardens and becomes a viable building material.
The school was opened in 1888 (some sources 1887), but closed intermittently due to low attendances. The rooms at the rear of the church were added for teacher accommodation at the turn of the century.
In 1953 the school at St Anne’s was replaced by a transportable. However later it was used as a school again when a second classroom was required.
In 1962 St Anne’s was consecrated by the Anglican Church. (Photo on plaque)
Further information from website: https://www.dandaragan.wa.gov.au/visit-dandaragan.aspx
The building was opened as a church and school in 1888 (or 1887) and used for social gatherings and then, after 1890, for the Dandaragan Road Board meetings. Four extra rooms were added on at the rear circa 1900 to provide suitable accommodation for the teacher. Classes were held there until 1948 when it was condemned for use as a school.
Ron (as President of the Dandaragan Shire) and I attended the centenary celebrations of this delightful historic church in 1987.
The purpose of our visit to Dandaragan yesterday, was to take part in an informal ‘Author’s Talk’ to the local Golden Oldies Book Club. I had been asked to have a conversation about my experience of writing my memoir. I was delighted to meet up with old golfing friends; some I had known for 50 years, others I had not seen for almost 30 years. There were 14 ladies and 2 men present. It was a very pleasant morning, sharing old times over morning tea and speaking about my experience of putting A Piece of Good Land together, and the help I was able to access during the process. As I had recently heard a talk on ‘Everyone has a story to tell’ from one of the directors of a Western Australian monthly publication Have-a-Go News, I was able to encourage my attentive audience to put together their story – either in a plastic pocket style folder; a simple spiral bound home printed pages or the ultimate of a professionally published book.
I was honoured that a number of books were purchased by those long-time friends; some who attended had already obtained a copy and had read the memoir. My sincere Thanks are extended to the staff of the Dandaragan Community Resource Centre staff for arranging and advertising the event and for purchasing books to have on hand for sale. A few more Author Talks have been arranged, with the next event to be at the Gingin Community Resource Centre on Friday 16th June at 10am.