Cygnet River School

CYGNET RIVER.—Letter from Marian Johnson, pointing out the requirements of this locality for the establishment of a school, and stating that she had failed in her attempt to establish half time schools at Kingscote and Cygnet River, but had opened a school at the latter place, expecting that the average attendance would be from 10 to 15 in a short time. This application was accompanied by the report of a meeting held recently at Mr. Grainger's, when it was resolved that the support of the residents should be given to Miss Johnson, she being the most suitable for the requirements of the children. As the Inspectors knew nothing about the localities referred to, the Board thought the better way would be to ask the Rev. Mr. Morse, of Yankalilla, to give his opinion of the matter. They expressed their intention of granting a licence at Cygnet River, provided the teacher obtained a general attendance of children residing there.BOARD OF EDUCATION. (1870, July 12). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), p. 3.

CYGNET RIVER, KANGAROO ISLAND. Marian Johnston asked for a renewal of licence for Cygnet River only. She had been obliged to relinquish teaching at Kingscote and Cygnet River, as the system did not work well. Licence would not be granted except for the two schools.

BOARD OF EDUCATION. (1873, January 7). South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), p. 7. Retrieved February 21, 2016, from

There were actually three successive schools in Cygnet River in different locations. The first was in Joe Bates private land.

The second was just outside of Joe Bates' property.

The third, built in 1922, closed in 1946 when the Kingscote Area School took affect and the children were collected by bus.

- Colin Boettcher (2016)

From an interview with Colin Boettcher, October 2015, with David Wilson:

"By 5 years and 9 months I started school at Cygnet River.... snakes and goannas in the summer and water and more water in the winter down the road to school. Very few people wore boots and shoes those days because most of the off roads were only wheel track usually full of water.

Jan 30 1929 started school. Their was a total of 25 students, Roy Chirgwin joined at last term.

  • Grade 1. Daph Boettcher, Colin Boettcher and Blanche Tiggemann

  • Grade 2. Madge and Keith Tiggemann, Roy May, Reg Osterstock, Clem Ayliffe, Stanley Govett.

  • Grade 3. Gladys Osterstock and Maurice Burgess.

  • Grade 4. Mavis Wetherspoon, Norman Carlton.

  • Grade 5. Harold Tiggermann, Jim Ayliffe, Dudley and Roy Tilka, and Hartley Buick.

  • Grade 6. Edna Geisler, Syd Ayliffe.

  • Grade 7. Ruth Burgess, Addy Tiggemann, Edna Tilka, Jean Edwards, Winnie Buick, Vic Boettcher and Roy Chirgwin last term.

Grade 1 those days only had a reading book and the rest of the work was blackboards and chalk. I don’t remember much about the first year, except their was a big flood but those early days their seemed to have been floods often. I remember just before school breakup Vic, Roy and I were sitting in the grass in front of the school and Vic was striking matches in the grass and Roy was using my souwester knock the fire out.

1930 My first teacher was a Mr Moore. Grade 2. The teacher that year was Clarence Walters. ... Dad finished building the shelter shed. – it was started as working bees but most of the “bees” stayed home and they eventually paid Dad for his time. The shelter shed became the dance hall, meeting room and various other parties used it.

The children always looked for the end of the year for prizes presentations in the morning, then down to the Bight of the Bay for school picnic. They used to play tennis on a court in the school and the new courts were built during the summer season and the court at the school was for tournament for the children. During the school holidays Dad and kids were picking mulberry half a mile up the creek ..."

"In those days there was a three mile rule - any kids who had to travel more than three miles were excused from attending school."

- Colin Boettcher (2015)

A farewell was tendered Mr. and Mrs. Walters in the Cygnet River Hall. Mr. Walters has been transferred to the Kingscote school as head teacher. Mr. A. C. Overstock, on behalf of the parents and residents, presented Mr. Walters with a travelling rug. a brass bowl to Mrs. Walters, and made a presentation to their little daughter on behalf of the children.

REPORTS FROM RURAL CENTRES. (1932, May 18). The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954), p. 5.

PEARCE, Francis Harold
b. 27 Apr 1909 Redruth, SA
d. 15 Dec 1990
e. Electoral roll BET 1939 & 1943 Cygnet River, Kangaroo Island teacher
m. WEST, Gertrude Ida 28 Dec 1935 Cowell, SA d. 22 Nov 1999