Toolijooa public school


An application for the establishment of the school was made to the Council of Education on 29th October, 1870. It was signed by Mr. Henry A. Morton and the names of a local committee appearing in the application were Messrs. W. Bailey, Thomas Nelson, William Connor, Martin Kenny and William Elliott. The names of a number of families in the locality included those of Young, Moon, Bartholomew, Larkin, Martin, Dooley and others. It was stated that there were 77 children who would attend the school, if established. The application was accompanied by a letter from Mr. Alexander Berry:

"I request that you will lay before the Council of Education the enclosed application for a National School at Toolijooa on my property and to which I hope they will give favourable consideration."

Mr. Berry agreed to provide, on lease at a nominal rental, the schoolroom and a teacher's residence. The school room, which measured 50ft by 22ft, was of weatherboard on a stone foundation, and had a shingle roof.

The building had been erected by Mr. Berry for the purposes of the Fourth Annual Show of the Shoalhaven Estate A. & H. Society on 6th February, 1867.

The application was recommended by Mr. Inspector J. Huffer who had control of the school district at that time. Mr. Huffer also stated that:

"In the event of a public school being established at Toolijooa, near Gerringong, I would like to recommend that Mr. Macnab be appointed to it as teacher."

Mr. Macnab had apparently kept a private school at Pyree - from about 1867. He held a 11B certificate, granted in December, 1866 by the Council of Education. Mr. Macnab had applied to be re-employed by the Council of Education on 29th August, 1870, on account of his approaching marriage to Miss Harriet Gerrett, of Nowra.

The school was opened on 23rd January, 1871. Mr Macnab was appointed teacher and was paid a salary of 10 pounds per month. This was to be supplemented by the weekly fee of 6d paid by each pupil.

The school was situated on the main road from Kiama to Broughton Creek, about 23 miles from Gerringong.

There were several other schools in the area in 1871, namely: Gerringong Church of England School, 2+ miles to the east of Toolijooa; Broughton Provisional School, 2+ miles south-west; Foxground Church of England, 4 miles west; Omega Retreat Public School, 5 miles north-east; and Rose Valley Public School about 3 miles north from Toolijooa.

ki-14-july-1943Thirty families lived within one and one half miles radius of the Toolijooa school and it was reported that the:

"Children are at work until they have barely time to reach the school in the mornings at 9.30 a.m. They are compelled to leave at 3 o'clock."

For this reason the other schools in the vicinity were inconvenient for the residents on the Berry Estate. Until the establishment
of the Toolijooa School most of the children had never attended a school.

After Mr. Macnab was married on 8th April, 1871, his wife assisted him in the school. He also employed pupil teachers until his sudden death on 27th August, 1880. The average attendance at Toolijooa school while Mr. Macnab was its teacher varied between 70 and 80.

Mr. Macnab was succeeded by his nephew, Mr. A. M. Booth, who had been a pupil teacher at the school.from 1872 to 1874 and later completed a teacher training course.

About 1911 the enrolment at Toolijooa was greatly reduced owing to the improved road to Gerringong. It was suggested that Toolijooa school might be worked as a half-time school with Foxground school. This plan was never carried out.

In 1918 insufficient attendance forced the school to close and the teacher and remaining pupils were transferred to the Foxground school.

This was not a success and the school was re-opened that year.

Toolijooa closed again on 30th September, 1921 and did not re-open until 12th February, 1924. It finally closed on 29th January, 1952 and the site of 4 acres which had been purchased from the Trustees of the Berry Estate in 1893 for the sum of 709 pounds was disposed of in 1957.

In 1953 the main building was transferred to Gerringong Public School.


The following article was published in the Illawarra Mercury, Saturday October 11, 2008

Old Schoolhouse For Sale, with ALEX ARNOLD

Historic past

An old schoolhouse, once home to the Toolijooa Public School and now located on the corner of Victoria and Belinda Streets, Gerringong, will be auctioned on site at 1.30pm today.

When the Toolijooa school closed in 1952 the building was relocated to the Gerringong Public School site. When the Gerringong school moved to its new premises on Archibald Road in 1994, the weatherboard building was purchased by Robert and Christine Sloan and moved to 2 Victoria Street.

According to the Kiama Heritage Inventory, the building was erected at Toolijooa in February 1867 for the fourth annual show of the Shoalhaven Estate A & H Society.

An application to establish a school at Toolijooa was made to the Council of Education on October 29, 1970, signed by Henry G Morton, land steward on the Berry Estate and accompanied by a letter from Alexander Berry. Berry agreed to lease the schoolroom and a teacher's residence at a nominal rental. The school opened on January 23, 1871 with James McNab as teacher.

The building, most recently used as a craft shop, is located on a 512sqm block and is zoned 4c light industrial.

Leanne Pugh of listing agents Berry Harcourts said there was potential to live and work on the site subject to council approval. The schoolhouse last sold for $250,000 in 2003.