Moon landing memories

By Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Bruce and Dorothy Robinson were teachers at the Deniliquin George St School when history was made through the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the moon walk tomorrow, Mr Robinson reached out to his former local newspaper to share his own memories of the momentous event.

‘‘All the primary students from Years 3 to 6 were crammed into the classroom now occupied as The Crossing Cafe to view the landing on the school’s sole black and white TV set,’’ he said.

‘‘The infant classes crammed into the lounge room of the principal John Knoble’s residence next door.

‘‘I have often wondered just how these children understood what they were seeing and whether the TV images really connected in their minds with the moon shining in the sky at night.

‘‘I was just absolutely amazed. To sit there and think that incredible event was happening right there and then was almost unreal. It was almost like a cartoon.

‘‘I looked up at the full moon this week and I thought, ‘50 years ago we were sitting in a Deniliquin classroom having trouble knowing people were actually on the moon’.’’

Mr Robinson taught at Mayrung from 1965 until 1968, and then in Deniliquin in 1969.

‘‘I married Dorothy Wisley who is a Deni girl. We married in Deniliquin in May of 1966,’’ he said.

‘‘I met her in Sydney where I was teaching because she had been transferred to the area after finishing her teacher training.

‘‘We met in Sydney towards the end of 1964 and it was love at first sight.’’

In 1965 Mr Robinson was transferred back to the country and appointed to Mayrung Public School.

‘‘Distance made the hearts grow fonder and romance blossomed stronger than ever. We made plans to marry in 1966 and Dorothy was transferred to George St Public School for the final term of 1965.

‘‘We bought our first home in Russell St, Deniliquin at the end of 1965 from high school teacher Bob Brown, who had been transferred to the Hunter Valley.

‘‘Bob later became a Federal MP and we paid the pricely sum of £3500 for the Russell Street house, right opposite the saleyards.’’

After four years at Mayrung, Mr Robinson made his own history at the Deniliquin school. He was reportedly the first teacher in the modern era to grow a beard.

‘‘The school principal John Knoble called me to his office to express his disapproval,’’ Mr Robinson recalled.

‘‘I quote ... ‘Mr Robinson, I never thought the day would come when I would see a member of my staff grow a beard’. I am sure he was serious, but we were approaching the 1970s.’’

The couple moved to Baryulgil Public School in 1970 so Mr Robinson could take up his first principal position, and stayed there for three years.

‘‘In 1971, Dorothy’s younger brother Garry Wisely died tragically in a single vehicle accident between Lockhart and Urana. Garry had been captain of Deniliquin High School in 1970.

‘‘As a result of his death we decided to return to Deniliquin to sort out the future of the family farm, as Garry was the only son.

‘‘In 1973 I transferred to the newly-expanded Deniliquin North Public School as assistant principal and Dorothy was appointed infants mistress to Finley Public School. In 1974 the farm was sold and at the end of 1975 we left Deniliquin.’’

Mr Robinson retired in 2000 after 40 years teaching and his wife retired at the end of 2002.

‘‘We presently live in Lismore but return to Deniliquin regularly to keep in touch with Dorothy’s sister Rita Jefferies and her husband Lindsay,’’ he said.