Schooling the Dust Belt


  • Cathryn McConaghy University of New England



teacher experiences, rural teachers, rural schooling


The summer rains didn't come this year and by June the district has had 13mls, all of it in drizzles and none of it enough to do much good. Peggy, the Acting CEO Quality Teaching in what is locally referred to as NIDA district (where everyone is acting) is driving to her fourth school for the week. It is Wednesday morning and since Monday she has hit four figures in kilometres travelled in her logbook. Peggy came to the district telling her friends in Sydney she would be back before the next opera season. Already she has missed three seasons and is wondering why. Peggy is in her fifties, single, a parent of grown up children and a teacher of thirty years experience. She lives alone in a small flat in the regional centre and drinks too much. Her teeth are playing up but she doesn't have time to see a dentist. She travels to schools in the area most days, rising early, arriving home late into the night. She loves this country--god knows she sees enough of it - and despite the browning off she loves its folds and gentle horizons. She loves the old windmills and the massive silos, great architectural structures jutting up above the fields that go on  forever. Some days the colour of the sky is to die for. A few years ago when she first saw it the country was well stocked. She had begun learning the names of different types of cattle. Today the only animals in the paddocks are dead carcasses, poor things, bogged in the mud of what were once dams.




How to Cite

McConaghy, C. (2006). Schooling the Dust Belt. Australian and International Journal of Rural Education, 16(1), 39–45.