It’s now 68 years since the Bete Bolong South School held its last class of school children, and for many years the site was marked only by a group of old pine trees in a paddock.
Now, a new sign marking the site with photos and information has been installed by the Orbost and District Historical Society, with assistance from East Gippsland Shire Council.
“Helping us design the sign were some of the local residents of Bete Bolong who had attended the school all those years ago,” historical society president, Heather Terrell, said.
Heather said the group also checked historical information through the Department of Education records, which are held by the Public Records Office of Victoria.
“We were also fortunate in having quite a nice collection of photos from different times throughout the school’s history, from when it was first opened in 1912 to when it held its last students in 1952,” she said.
“An interesting point is that the school was originally planned to be called ‘Pumpkin Point’, but then had a name change to Bete Bolong South. This one-teacher school was set on a rise above the river. It had a horse yard for children who rode to school, and also a vegetable garden. Inside were the usual wooden desks, blackboard and chalk, and a wood heater for chilly days.
“This school was much needed because prior to 1912 children from Bete Bolong had to go to school at Jarrahmond, which was across the river, and they needed a rowboat to get there. I can’t imagine this happening today.”
The Bete Belong South School sign is the second school sign installed in rural areas of Orbost by the historical society, the other one being at Jarrahmond.
“Small country schools played a huge part in the education of our children in previous times, and the historical society is proud to be able to mark this important part of our local history,” Heather said.
The sign is located by the roadside on the Orbost-Buchan Road, about one kilometre past the tennis courts.
IMAGE: Orbost and District Historical Society is grateful for the assistance of the East Gippsland Shire in the Bete Belong South School historical sign, including its installation. (PS)