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Step back in time

Entertain the whole family with a trip back in time at the Bonegilla Migrant Experience.

The heritage-listed site has unveiled a new display - a replica of a Bonegilla State School classroom.

Step back in time and learn what the old-fashioned style of schooling was like for the many children of Bonegilla Migrant Reception and Training Centre. 

Listen to the oral history of former teacher Paul Crowe OAM (recorded by Simon Reich) as you browse the selected school documents laid out on the principal’s desk.

Then take your seat for a lesson in the English alphabet using (mess-free) ink wells and dip pens.

The Bonegilla State School opened in 1952 and continued throughout the remainder of the camp operation until 1971.

A dedicated team of teachers and various principals through the years were responsible for teaching their pupils an accelerated curriculum that focused on basic English skills and getting acquainted with the "Australian" way of life.

The school was located in Block 17, which now sits just in front of the carpark of Bonegilla Migrant Experience.

Classrooms were the standard army-style huts that populated the rest of the camp, so teachers did their best to brighten the surroundings, decorating them with clippings from the Australian Women's Weekly. 

Although the school buildings no longer stand, a replica display of a classroom has been installed in the Hume Club at Bonegilla Migrant Experience.

The display includes an audio-visual oral history recording, free-standing interpretation panels, a replica of the principal's desk complete with selected copies of documents from the archives relating to the operation of the school, and an interactive activity for the little and big children alike.  

After you’ve finished exploring the newest display, check out the other family-friendly activities in and around the historic buildings including finding hidden objects, or take the interactive Suitcase Trail, see what's behind the doors in the Discovery Cupboard.

For those who want to explore the migrant history even further, take a guided tour of the buildings. 

Fees apply to join the guided tour. 


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