Journey of learning for Elson family

When I was doing my teacher training in the late 70’s the lecturers used to tease us by telling us that we could be placed as teachers at Mudamuckla or Nunjikompita. Unbeknownst to them, my mother was born and raised at Nunjikompita and my father was born and raised at Mudamuckla. My childhood home was on the Zippel family farm at Mudamuckla near Ceduna and I have many happy memories of this time where we experienced the freedom of space, along with the responsibilities of being part of a family business. Shearing was a favourite time for my brothers and I.

I went to the one teacher school at Mudamuckla until the end of grade 7. Sports days against neighbouring schools were fiercely competitive, our crowning achievement was winning the Sports Day for three years in a row which entitled us the keep the winners’ shield forever. After leaving school and beginning my tertiary studies, I met this young man called Dave Elson who made quite an impression on me. Dave and I started going out together and married four years later. Meanwhile we were students together whilst training to be teachers and had very little money which taught us how to budget.

My first teaching appointment was at Renmark Primary School and Dave was at Keilira Rural School in the South East. By then we were engaged and wanting to marry at the end of the year. This meant we put in a transfer to find a school in the same locality. Unfortunately, I was told that I would have to take leave as there was no place in South Australia with a place for a married couple.

Not happy with this decision I contacted the Port Lincoln Education Office and we were successful in being placed at Cowell where we stayed for five years. After this we shifted to Elliston where Dave was appointed principal. We stayed at Elliston for six years and two of our children, Tony and Jarrad were born there. We loved our years at Cowell and Elliston and were made to feel welcome and an integral part of both communities.

Our next shift was to Wudinna with Dave as Deputy Principal. Our third son Grant was born at Wudinna. I was on parenting leave at this time. We thought we would be at Wudinna for about three years and then move on – little did we know that we would live in that wonderful community for 27 years! When our son Grant was three, he kept telling us that he wanted to see snow. Dave promised him that when he was five-years-old we would go to see snow.

Coincidentally in 1996, Dave gained a teaching exchange to Canada. Grant’s wish came true in a way he could not have imagined. We spent the year in a fantastic town called Wawa in Northern Ontario. It was a mining, fishing and trapping town which received five metres of snow that winter! I returned to teaching in 1997 and had a variety of roles at Wudinna Area School including assistant principal, Dave became principal at Karcultaby. 

We are very proud of our three children who have gained university degrees, have wonderful life partners and are doing well in their professions. In 2016 I was fortunate enough to win a position at Tumby Bay Area School as assistant principal. It was hard leaving Wudinna which had been home for so long, but we have been welcomed at Tumby Bay in a lovely way and feel very much at home here.