150 years: Wahgunyah Primary School

Learn about the history of Wahgunyah Primary School, one of Victoria's oldest public schools.

Key information

Elizabeth Street, Wahgunyah, 3687
1 July 1858
School type:
School number:
Other names:
Wahgunyah School, Wahgunyah Common School, Wahgunyah State School

The history of Wahgunyah Primary School

  • 1839

    In 1839, John Foord came to Wahgunyah and assisted men to settle in the district. They farmed the land and brought up their families here.

    John Foord hired a tutor to teach his and the settlers' children at his house.

  • 1850s

    John Foord later gave a parcel of land to the people of Wahgunyah to be used as the site for the first school. The site was on the corner of McDonnel and Victoria streets. It was built in 1857 and was known as Wahgunyah National School.

    Wahgunyah opened in 1858 and the first head teacher was Samuel McDouall Stuart.

    Samuel McDouall Stuart had been the tutor of Foord's children and other local children before the school opened.

  • 1860s

    The school became a common school in 1862.

    The school first received the number 644 in 1863 under the newly established Board of Education.

  • 1873

    The school became a state school in January 1873. Alfred H. Woodman was head teacher at the time.

  • 1878

    A new school building opened in 1878. It could accommodate 100 students. A teacher's residence was also built at this time.


  • 1910s to 1920s

    At some stage between 1919 and 1924 a teacher's residence was bought.

    It was shifted from Rutherglen to the school site. The previous residence was then used as a classroom.

  • 1967

    The teacher's residence was pulled down in 1967. The school was renovated at the same time.

  • 1970

    The school was renamed Wahgunyah Primary School in 1970. The average attendance at this time was approximately 40.

  • 1984

    Black and white photograph of the Wahgunyah school building Wahgunyah Primary School building in 1984. Source: John T. Collins and the State Library of Victoria
  • 2011

    In 2011 works were completed on a new school building with four permanent classrooms. The historic building still plays a significant role for all students. The classrooms are used as a library, music room and kitchen.

  • 2018

    In 2018 the decision was made to change from 4 sporting houses to 3. This was so that each house had a greater number of students. The 4 previous names were all general to the area, Hume, Victoria, Barkley and Murray. As it was difficult to retire only one, all were retired. Three names of important historical figures to Wahgunyah were used for the new houses. This included Foord, McRae and Chen. The Wahgunyah History Group were consulted in the renaming process.

  • 2020

    With a steadily increasing student population, in 2020 Wahgunyah Primary School reached an enrolment of 100 with a staff of 15. This is in stark contrast to the school’s humble beginnings well over 100 years ago.

  • 2022

    Wahgunyah Primary School is still in operation. 

Find more interesting facts about this school

The Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) is the archive of Victoria's State and local government. They look after some of our oldest school records, and we can use these records to help us understand what school life used to be like.

Now it's your turn to do some detective work. Take a look to see what information they have on this school.