skip to content

< Early Canberra Government Schools

Naas School [1886 - 1924]

Previous Name/s: 'Corner Hole'

Naas / Upper Naas (1886-1924)

The first schooling west of the Murrumbidgee was the House to House school at Naas and Gibraltar (some 15 miles apart), 1886-1891, initially served by Charles W. Thompson who finished his teaching career at Hall

Naas reopened in 1895, Half Time with Barnes Creek, after vigorous agitation from the locals - 'free settlers on a sheep farm formerly owned by the Hon L F de Salis... scattered over very rough country'. They avowed that 'materials for building could be obtained in the bush', but had to ask for £6 for roofing iron and windows, and struggled to finish in time 'as everybody is busy harvesting'. When a proper school was built it was situated on the northern bank of the Gudgenby River, less than a mile upstream of its junction with the Naas River, and some seven miles south of Tharwa.

Naas was closed again in 1898, re-opening 1905. After five years of 'independence', the school operated for it's final fourteen years (1911-1924) as a Half Time school in partnership with Upper Naas, some four and a half miles up the Naas valley. Although a new school was provided in 1906, growing demands for a school from the farming families of Upper Naas, six miles up the valley, became a tug of war – resolved at first by providing a subsidy for 'conveyance' to the Naas School. By 1911 this became uneconomic, and the Department acceded to demands for an Upper Naas school, which the parents had to build themselves, to operate Half Time with Naas.

Naas and Upper Naas operated together for 13 years until both closed in 1924, when children were bussed to Tharwa. John H McDonald was the longest serving teacher (1911-1921).

Charles Thompson eventually retired in 1933 as the Teacher in Charge at Hall.

A brand new school!

When a new school was built by Cornelius O'Rourke in 1906 at a cost of £93.12.6, it was sorely needed. Teacher Melvin wrote to the Department in June 1905 saying he had an enrolment of 24, only three forms for seating, in a building 15' x 12', with 'no water closets'!

The Chief Inspector ordained that 'two water closets be erected at once', but observed that "no extra furniture could be placed in the present schoolroom, it is too small. The new building should be erected as soon as possible".

Naas, with it's brand new schoolroom, was designated a Public School in February 1906. By 1909 however, enrolment numbers were precarious, and in 1911 it became a Half Time school again, sharing a teacher with the newly opened school at Upper Naas, six miles up the Naas Valley – built using materials from the old Naas school!

Stanley Melvin's tribulations

Teacher Stanley Melvin, arriving at Naas in June 1905, tried hard to better his position. Within a few weeks of appointment he requested that the school be reclassified from 10th to 9th Class. He then sought an extra 'living allowance' of £12 p.a. on account of the 'outlying locality' and 'present state and size of the building'. He observes that he has "been in this service for 6yrs and 10mths and my salary is only $88 per annum".

In March 1907, although boarding right beside the school, he requested that 'as compensation for the inconvenience of my position', his annual £10 forage allowance be continued. "It is necessary for me to keep a horse of my own to reach such places (during Saturday and Sunday) that tend to refine".

The following month he wrote from 'Naas House': "I am at present lodging with one of the boundary-riders on Cuppacumbalong Station......[this] is the fourth place where I have sought lodging while in charge of this school (23 months) and none of them are places where a teacher can be at all comfortable". All these discontents were solved a few months later in October 1907 when Melvin left Naas – hopefully for greener pastures.......

Location Map


Related Documents

Survey plans:

NSW Government schools from 1848

< Early Canberra Government Schools

If you are able to assist our work of identifying, documenting, and celebrating the early bush schools of the Canberra region, please contact us or .