About 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, the area that became Richlands saw the first sub-divisions of bush into small blocks of 2-4 acres, and perhaps thirty (30) families moved in, at first living in tents and rough shacks. There was no water or electricity, no shops and no made roads. There was no public transport – and only one or two families had a car: the horsepower was horses, or “shanks pony.” There was no school – and ten to twelve children had to walk several kilometres to Darra School each day.
In 1932, a Building Committee was formed to campaign for a school on the estate. Land for a school (4 acres/ 1.5 hectares) was secured from the developers, and on 11 May 1933 a deputation of “Mr T Nimmo MLA, members of the School Building Committee and the Progress Association” appealed to the Minister.
Tenders were called for in November 1933, but cancelled on 5/1/34 when the Works Department Construction Branch decided to build the school themselves. In late January, the Building Committee received a letter confirming that building would soon start. Building began at once (probably using some local Relief workers).
Richlands State School opened on 12 June 1934 – and twenty-six (26) children enrolled that day. Experienced teacher Miss Elizabeth Williamson was the teacher/ principal.
Ernest Hoffmann, youngest of three Hoffmanns who had walked to and from Darra School each day, remembers the first day at Richlands:
“Off we walked to meet the teacher, and assemble for the raising of the then Australian flag, the Union Jack (in honour of British colonial affiliation). In the one classroom we were all exposed to the older pupils’ tuition, something to our great advantage, absorbing the learning at several stages.”
By the end of 1934, enrolment was 42 – 21 boys and 21 girls, from 25 families. One family was Italian, the rest were Anglo/Australians. The Religions recorded were – 14 Church of England, 10 Roman Catholic, 10 Methodist, 3 Presbyterian, 2 Seventh Day Adventists, and 2 no religion.
The school remained the centre of the Richlands community for 75 years.
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