Freshwater Creek School was originally opened by the Wesleyan Church before it became Freshwater Creek State School No 256
Situated on land granted by the Wesleyan Conference in the parish of Duneed, county of Grant, a Denominational School opened in 1856.
The denominational system was abolished in 1862 and the Common schools were instituted. The Freshwater Creek School was leased from the Wesleyans and a newspaper report of the time stated that 60 pupils attended the opening period, however, by 1862 the enrolment had dropped to 27. Four early teachers mentioned were Hillard, Bowen, Miller and Wake.
The original school building was in Dickens Road, near the present-day Hall. The saga of the transfer to a new site is told in full in the School’s Centenary Booklet, suffice to say that after years of prolonged negotiation and argument, a new building was erected on the present site.
The new building, with teachers’ residence attached, was warmly welcomed by all and the school quickly settled down to serving the needs of the community.
The following items of interest were included in the official history referred to above:-
- During the First World war period Mrs J W Seiffert wrote to the School Committee requesting that the Head Teacher be asked to dismiss the children promptly “to enable her children to reach home before dark”. It is believed this family lived near Paraparap, and indicated the strain imposed on children of the day as they trudged across sodden paddocks and muddy roads. On another occasion the committee erected posters on the gate warning swagmen not to camp in the shelter shed (a common practice in early days).
- The school fence was badly damaged in a district fire in 1918. Reports imply that the school itself was saved from destruction only with difficulty, a fate that has befallen many buildings in the fire prone state of Victoria.
- The end of the war saw the entire local population attend a thanksgiving in the school grounds, and a week later Mr W F McIntyre provided a decorated car for the school to participate in a combined service at the Mount Moriac football ground (then the racecourse). Children were photographed in groups around the decorated cars and all sported a flag on their shirts.
- During the 1920’s the enrolment fell to a low of 13 and there was a distinct threat of closure of the school in the air; if fact the Department asked the Committee if there would be any objection to them closing the school. This was the classic case of red rags and bulls, with the result that the school was not closed but worked part-time with Mount Duneed.
- Despite the gloomy conditions prevailing on the farms as well as in the cities, the committee began to plan a celebration of the fifty years occupancy of the school building from 1883 to 1933. The school combined with the other local organisations to hold a general “Back to Freshwater Creek” function in May and over 300 persons attended and a Jubilee Tea was held in the hall. A Pleasant Sunday Afternoon concluded the celebrations at which over 500 persons were present.
- Following the conclusion of hostilities in 1945, the electric supply was extended to the Creek and the school was connected in 1946 enabling such luxuries as radiators, a filmstrip projector, and a better radio to be added to the inventory.
During the late 1960s there was a big increase in enrolments, due to the popularity of the “hobby farms” in the area, coupled with the relatively close proximity of Geelong. A large number of professional people now lived locally and commuted each day. In 1972 the first of several portable classrooms was provided to help cope with the increased attendance and seven years later another one arrived.
The old building was feeling its age and was finally condemned. However, it was saved from demolition by its acquisition by Deakin University in 1984, where students of the Architecture School gave it a new lease of life. Unfortunately, years later the Architecture School no longer maintained the old buildings and the Freshwater Creek School building was given another lease of life at the newly formed Mt. Duneed Regional School from the amalgamation of Mt. Duneed, Freshwater and Connewarre primary schools.
Freshwater Creek Primary School closed during the 1980s. The school’s honor roll from World War I is now located in the town’s public hall, and is listed on the Victorian War Heritage Inventory. A new independent school within the town, Freshwater Creek Steiner School, opened on a different site in 2000.