29 Mar 2018
Almost 500 local residents, present and past students, visitors and politicians converged today onto the tiny village of Michelago to celebrate its school's 150th birthday – a testament to the strength and importance of community.
The full day's celebrations, which included a range of live performances, music, speeches, exhibitions, arts/crafts stalls, the Rural Fire Brigade, NSW Ambulance and NSW Police presence, and the proverbial sausage sizzle, attracted participants from across the Monaro, and further afield in NSW, ACT, Victoria and Queensland.
Some past students sharing their memories dated their attendance at the two-room school back to the 1930s and 1940s when air-raid drills were commonplace.
Former senior public servant and journalist Marie Coleman, who attended the school from 1941-42 during World War II, said in her days, road signs were removed as well as the railway station sign in case enemy troops landed.
"The Japanese wouldn't be able to work out where they were," Ms Coleman said. "There was a lot of concern as Michelago was part of the area that had to be blacked out after dark.
"We had to do marching drills at school and there were slip trenches dug out in the schoolyard so we could practice air raid drills," she said.
Principal Claire Plummer said the sesquicentenary celebrations were an overwhelming success.
"The celebration was a testament to seeing members of the public join in and become members of their community," she said. "The Parents' and Citizens' Association, along with a volunteer committee devoted 12 months to the planning and presentation of the event, and it paid off wonderfully.
"Event manager Trish Williams spent the last night on-site to ensure an early start to the morning's bump-in of stalls, vintage cars, erection of tents, firing up of BBQs and parking arrangements for the hundreds of cars and their occupants," Mrs Plummer said.
Federal Member of Parliament for Eden-Monaro, Dr Mike Kelly paid tribute to Michelago and its 500 residents, and shared his family's history with the village. He also recognised the importance of community, reminding those present of the difficult times Tathra residents currently face after 70 homes were recently lost to fire.
Also attending were Bronnie Taylor MLC, Snowy Monaro Regional Council mayor John Rooney, former Eden-Monaro MP and chairman of the Mulloon Institute Gary Nairn, and Senator Jim Molan.
"Social media has been very helpful, as have local newspapers, radio stations and television news reports promoting the day; we would not have attracted such a good turn-out without their support," Mrs Plummer said. "Clearly the weather, the weekend and the welcome we rolled out all helped to make the 150th birthday one to remember.
"I won't be here for the next sesquicentenary, but the time capsule we've buried will provide plenty of insights and history for our successors," she added.