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Last Update
19th of November 2017


Camp Hill School
Private Collection.
The Central State School (Camp Hill) was one of the Schools along with Gravel Hill, Golden Square, Quarry Hill and Long Gully which opened in the early 1870’s following an Act making education free, compulsory and secular. This Act was instigated by local member of parliament, Angus MacKay.

When the gold seekers arrived at he Bendigo Diggings, their shelter consisted of a tent or a rough bark hut. Similar constructions served as public offices including the police office and the post office. Improvements went on at a rapid rate with new buildings, many of brick and sandstone, replacing tents and slab huts. Richard Larritt was allotted the task of surveying the township of Sandhurst; the tracks formed by wagons were straightened and the first land sale of town allotments was held in August 1854.

Subsequently, many architects and builders have contributed to the design and construction of structures in Bendigo and these remain as features of Bendigo’s streetscape – the present refurbished Town Hall, the Wesleyan and Congregational churches in Forest Street, the Masonic Hall in View Street (now known as the Capital Theatre, the Anne Caudle Centre in Barnard Street and the Alexandra Fountain in central-city Charing Cross. Industrial buildings are represented, among others, by the Bendigo Gas Works (1860) and the Grimsby Roller Flour Mill (1873) on the corner of Wills and Edwards Streets. Many of these heritage buildings can still be seen.

Schools in the early days were likely to be primitive canvas structures with rough seating and few teaching aids. Tents gave way to timber slab and canvas structures and by the mid-1850s the Wesleyans had built their first stone school and scattered across the Bendigo goldfield and into the surrounding countryside to serve the spreading population were numerous state run and Catholic schools. Camp Hill Primary School, built in Rosalind Park in 1877, and at one time known as the Central School is a fine example architecturally with its fire lookout belltower. The Corporate High School, which opened as a municipal school on the Camp Reserve in 1870, is now Bendigo Senior Secondary College. The Sisters of Mercy, the Vincentian Fathers and the Marist Brothers initiated Catholic secondary schooling locally - now integrated as Catholic College, Bendigo.

Adult education was not forgotten and in 1856 the Sandhurst Mechanics’ Institute and Literary and Scientific Association was opened to provide a lending library, reading room, museum and a room for lectures. By 1870 the Mechanics’ Institute had assisted in the foundation of the School of Arts and Design and later, in 1873, initiated the development of the Bendigo School of Mines.
These early adult-education facilities developed in complex ways across time through to the technical and further education facilities and university association of the present day.

When gold was found ‘on Bendigo’ in 1851, numerous tradesmen and professional joined the rush of diggers, including a surprising number of ‘medical’ men with or without qualifications. The first hospital was built as soon as 1853 in Short Street (it blew down in a storm but was pushed up again). A new hospital with a substantial stone and brick building was established on the present site in 1858 and another substantial building was erected nearby in 1860 as the Bendigo Benevolent Asylum to care for the needy poor and for women in childbirth. This institution and architectural gem is now known as the Anne Caudle Centre and is amalgamated with the Hospital in the current Bendigo Health Care Group.

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