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Memories of Biala Special School

By Wendy Saville 26/3/2006

I have great and happy memories of working at Biala. Most of these special memories occurred when Richard James was Principal. I have been asked to share some of these memorable moments and so I shall endeavour to do so.
I hadn’t been working at Biala long when Jan McCarthy was the new teacher in the junior room. It was suggested that we take the pupils on a camp, and I mean a proper camp – tents and all. Well we travelled many miles and ended up at Rummery Park, somewhere in the hinterland. The kids thought it was a great adventure, as we had to pitch tents, get a campfire going and generally commune with nature.

On the second day it was decided that we go on a bush walk to Minyon Falls, down a pretty steep track, but it was Richard’s philosophy that the students need challenges, so off we went. We had plenty of staff namely Jane, Janiece, Lance, Mark, Colleen, Richard and myself with the seniors who were a great help assisting everyone.

So, off we went on a lovely sunny morning. Richard and I were taking up the rear and as is my want, I was singing at the top of my voice and discussing the new Bryce Courtney book, when I discovered that Richard was no longer behind. (I didn’t think that my singing was that bad). At that moment I heard a crash and a great yell, and turned to see Richard tumbling down the side of the track into what looked like an abyss. But with great foresight he managed to grab onto some bushes to prevent his tumbling down into oblivion. The leading party was quite a distance ahead and I eventually made myself heard yelling, “Richard is down the mountain”. With than, Mark came running up and went to Richard’s assistance. Who by this time, was in a great amount of pain, which we tried to ignore, as we had to work out how to instigate a rescue, as were very isolated.

The intrepid Janiece and Craig Doyle, a pupil of the school, took off in great haste to get help. Luckily there were some timber workers at the top of the track who rang for help. So, then we had to get the rest of the crew back, which was made easier by Tracy Parker lustily singing hymns and generally keeping spirits up.

Lance was back at camp preparing lunch so we somehow managed to contact him and we felt at last someone could direct us and be in charge. So off he took, down the mountain. As the spot where Richard fell would have been difficult for a rescue party to find him, so he and Mark lit a small fire and got severely told off by the local rangers, but it did help.

Then they heard the droning of a helicopter and after great effort they finally located Richard. Off he went on a stretcher and was being winched to the relative safety of the helicopter and as it was swinging, Richard hit his nose on the undercarriage, so with a badly broken foot and a bash on the nose, he wasn’t doing too well and he was taken to hospital.

The next day we decided to continue with the camp and took the students to Dream World to help them recover from the drama. After a good clean up of the site I was walking towards the bus when I felt something bite me on the ankle and I looked down to see I had puncture marks, that’s right I was bitten by a snake. I was rushed to the nearest Doctor at Dunoon then transferred by the same ambulance that had earlier taken Richard. He was quite surprised to say the least. Anyhow, I survived and was discharged.

This traumatic incident created a great closeness and friendship between all present and those special friendships still exist.