Don & Barry McKenzie were really happy to attend the Robertstown Primary School 100th, to meet up with everyone, to hear some stories and tell some of their own. This is a short story about their experiences going to school, or should we call it a short story and a long trip?
Don McKenzie was born on Kangaroo Island 8.1.1954 and the family lived in an Ex Serviceman settlement in ‘Parndana’. 1956 was a big year for the family as they moved to the Mainland and Barry was born in Naracoorte.
Only two years later in 1958 the family moved again, this time to Mount Mary #2 Pumping Station on the Morgan Whyalla Pipeline when thier Dad, Roderick McKenzie (Mack) took on the Superintendent position with the E&WS.
That Station was 35 miles (56 km) from Robertstown Primary School. So in 1960 when Don was six years old it was decided that he would be boarded out to another E&WS family who lived across the street from the school next door to the Eberhards. Unfortunately Don can no longer remember the name of the family he boarded with as he was so young (does anyone remember?).
In 1961 Mack got a transfer along the line to the Geranium Plains Pumping Station #3 which was only 8 miles (12.9km) from Robertstown.
Don explained how he and then later brother Barry went to school,
“The Saches Blue Kombi Bus ran right past our pumping station gate and the following year Barry joined me on the School Run.
Due to duplication upgrades of the Morgan Whyalla Pipeline in the following years … the town grew to double its size with Construction Crew / Management & Families filling the school with 114 students.
Robertstown State School 1965 Mr Braodbent (teacher).
L-R Back: D McKenzie, P Lock, M Schuppan, B Heinrich, R Eberhard, D Eberhard, P Heinrich
Middle: Geisler, L Mosey, R Schmidt, K Mosey, D Redemski, I Mattner, M Liebeknecht
Front: M Ross, P Kotz, W Ross, B Schmidt, C Liebeknecht, C Pfitzner, M Howard, M Bartel.
Robertstown State School 1965.
Back: V Mosey (Teacher), B McKenzie, K Redemski, M Heinrich, G Ross, G Kotz, M Quinn, G Redemski
Middle: P Schmeiss, N Schmidt, A Eberhard, A Bischard, B Armstrong, Forrest
Front: C White, R Linert, A Mosey, K Schmidt, K Launer, S Lienert, L Redemski, V Voigt, V Sachse.
“In 1967 I started at Eudunda Area School (EAS), so that meant a daily routine of 3 mile (4.8km) push bike ride at 6 am over to the Stan & Nelly Noske Farm where the East Robertstown Bus was housed. That bus dropped Secondary students off at the Robertstown Butchers veranda.
“There a group of us waited for the big yellow Departmental Bus to carry us to Eudunda. Arriving there by 9 am. This was a three hours transit to School.
“At the end of the school day we then departing just after 3 pm to arrive back at Geranium Plains by 6.pm. making it a six hour total commute every school day for four years for both Barry and I.
“At Home we still had to do our chores, have dinner and then sit down for homework until midnight or 1am… And bang! Up and out at 6 to do it all again.”
Don explained about leaving school and the present,
“I left Robertstown in February 1971 to join the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) where I was posted into HQSC Victoria Barracks Melbourne. I still live in Melbourne with my family.
Dad (Mack) passed away in the Eudunda Hospital in 1973 at just 52 years old.
Mum (Sally) In 1974 Mum Sally & Brother Barry had to vacate #3 Pump Station at Geranium Plains and they moved to Adelaide. Sally has since passed away in 2004.
Barry took up an apprenticeship with the E&WS at Kent Town training facility and became a qualified Fitter and Turner, and still lives in Adelaide.
Thanks so much to Don McKenzie for this great story about their family life in the district. The boys love to return to Robertstown and Eudunda as often as they can to ‘Country’.