Audrey grew up in the small western Victorian country town of Winiam East, just southeast of Nhill and 75 kilometres from the South Australian border. She attended the local primary school until grade eight and studied a range of subjects. She particularly remembers her needlework and music classes, suggests she would just ‘scrape through English’ but ‘was always good at maths’. She also remembers being very dissatisfied with her history classes, which mainly focused on Europe, and that they were ‘mostly dates and what happened on those dates and parrot like’ and ‘it was all so far removed from anything we had contact with’. Audrey then completed two years of correspondence schooling, in which she studied a range of subjects, including shorthand and bookkeeping. She remembers there were a few options for students once they finished primary school: some boarded at Nhill High School, a few kilometres away, while others attended boarding schools in Adelaide. She was the only student in her area who chose to do correspondence to complete her secondary schooling as she felt that she was ‘too shy, too young to venture out to a big place like Nhill to board’. She notes that few young people from her community went on to tertiary study as most returned after school to the farms to work with their families. After she had completed her correspondence studies she helped on the farm and then worked on the telephone exchange in Nhill before moving to Warrnambool. Audrey remembers the strong influence of the Depression on the families in her region with many struggling greatly, and suggests poverty inhibited the academic success of some of the children. She recounts how her mother would bake and deliver food to the neighbours, creating a strong ethic of care within her family: ‘I think it made you very considerate of people that were poor, you know, helpful and considerate. Dad and mum were wonderful citizens like that. And I think it rubs off on the kids’.
Primary: Winiam East Primary (c1927–1934)
Secondary: By correspondence (c1935–1936)
Looking down Victoria Street, Nhill, Victoria, 1920–1950. Photographer unknown. State Library Victoria, H88.45/10
“Audrey McLeod,” Schooling Memories, accessed October 3, 2023, https://omeka.cloud.unimelb.edu.au/schooling_memories/items/show/2.