School days, happy days?

For some this might be true, others will disagree, however most people spend a good amount of their childhood and adolescent years at school. Memories of these days stay with us.

Hurstville Museum & Gallery’s new in-house curated exhibition School days invites you to connect with your school memories, exploring stories and objects from early school days to more recent times. This display features objects from the Hurstville Museum & Gallery collection, along with loaned objects from local schools and community members.

The official opening guest speaker, Georges River Council’s Young Citizen of the Year 2019, Stephanie Sekulovska, reminisced about her school years at Danebank Anglican School for Girls. Read her speech here.

school room pic

School days exhibition, Hurstville Museum & Gallery, July 2019.

School history in the Georges River Council area

Today we have almost 50 government and non-government schools in the Georges River Council local government area.[1] In the 1800s this was a different story. The area was sparsely populated and it was difficult to bring together the 30 to 40 children necessary to support a teacher and school.

One of the earliest schools in the district was the Church of England denominational school, located near present day Hurstville railway station, which opened in 1850. After the teacher retired, Hurstville residents successfully petitioned to establish a public school, with Hurstville Public opening its doors in 1876, where it remains to the present day. The first official public school in the district however was Peakhurst Public School in 1873.


Peakhurst Public School, Peakhurst NSW, c. 1877. Georges River Libraries Local Studies collection.

Explore the history of local schools

Find out more about local schools and their history from our History Pin collection.

Click on an image to enlarge it, and then scroll down to get more information about the school you have selected. Use the arrows on each side of the image to flick through the image collection.

The pink pin on the map to the left side of the image shows the location of the school you are looking at.

To return to the home screen, click on the white squares in the pink box, in the top left corner of the image.

Contribute to the project! If you have a photograph and information for a school currently missing in our History Pin collection, we would love to hear from you.

School milk and lunches

The classroom experience for students has evolved over generations, due to developments made in technology, changes in curriculum, teaching methods and other life style changes. Event school student’s lunches today are different compared to their grandparent’s.

In the 1940s, the ‘Oslo lunch’ found its way to Australian schools.[2] This simply prepared lunch originated in Norway and was meant to provide a healthy, nutritious meal. It consisted of wholemeal bread with butter and cheese, a salad ingredient such as lettuce, tomato or celery, one piece of fruit and a glass of milk. [3]

oslo lunch

Display of Kraft Oslo lunch advert, The Australian Women’s Weekly, 26 February 1944, p. 26. National Library of Australia.

Read this article published 1951 in the local newspaper, The Propeller, praising the benefits of the Oslo lunch.

Milk became a daily staple in schools in 1951, when the Australian government introduced its free school milk program for children under 13 to improve their nutrition and general health. Every day during recess, children had to drink a small glass bottle (200ml) of milk, which often would taste warm and a little bit off, as the milk bottles were not refrigerated after their delivery in the morning.

The scheme eventually ceased in the 1970s, as it proved to be too expensive and the nutrition deficiencies no longer existed. However, triggered by a decline in milk consumption, the dairy industry campaigned for a revival of school milk in 1994 and subsidised milk distribution to schools. On offer were 250ml cartons of plain milk for 40 cents and flavoured milk for 65 cents. [4]

Listen to Pamela Samuels and her older sister Patricia Black who went to Arncliffe Domestic Science School in the 1940s. They remember milk in primary school quite differently:


‘We used to have little quarter pint bottles. And the cream was thick on them […] a lot of students wouldn’t have it cause it was hot, we didn’t have fridges or anything. And I used to look forward to that milk. I loved my milk and I still love my milk.’  – Patricia

‘And I hated that milk – I loved milk but I wouldn’t, no way, I wouldn’t drink that milk, left in the sun!’ – Pamela

Former Sydney Technical High School student Stephen Gard remembers: ‘Milk was always warm because they would deliver it in steel cages with chunks of ice, which the ‘Milk Monitors’ would take out and throw at each other, so by 11 o’clock when you had to have it, it was revolting. So what they invented instead was straws with a little sliver of flavour inside them, so you put the straw in the milk and that would give it some flavour.’


What was your lunch time treat at school?
Come along and taste a sherbie – an old time favourite – when you visit the exhibition.

The exhibition School days is on display at Hurstville Museum & Gallery from 20 July – 6 October 2019



[1] and (accessed 4 December 2018).

[2] The ‘professional child impersonator’ and her Oslo lunch,, accessed 28 November 2018.

[3] Children’s lunches, The Propeller, 1 October 1953, p7,, accessed 28 November 2018.

[4] Television advertisements for milk, ‘Milk: Legendary Stuff’/ ‘Retired Milkman’ etc, videocassette/ cardboard/ plastic, Sudler and Hennessy/ Clemenger Melbourne for Milk Marketing (New South Wales) Pty Limited, Australia, 1998 2014, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, (accessed 28 November 2018).|||l-title=1225

Featured image: Mortdale Public School, Class 2b, 1924. Georges River Libraries Local Studies collection.

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