Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this site may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.
Composed and shared by Ceduna Old Photos, Sue Trewartha and Erica Bodger.
“After some time the small office of the parsonage answered the purpose of a school. By day it was used for children and at night some adults with come together of religious instruction. In winter we used the small blacksmiths shop. The Mission Board erected a school at the end of 1902, and later this was used as a dining room for the natives and a new school was built, which also served as a church building. Thomas Richards, who was receiving baptismal instructions undertook the building of this school and when completed 18 Oct 1913, he was the first aborigine to be baptised at Koonibba. As some people did not want to enter buildings, religious instructions were given regularly in the camp outdoors. By 1913, 50 children attended school, 23 of whom had attended without missing a single day for the year. By 1909, the school had become too small to be used as a church and in 1910 a fine up to date building was erected and dedicated on 5 June 1910. At the same time acetylene gas was installed not only in the church but in the new parsonage which had been built in 1907.”
Outdoor church services.
Saddlery Department at Koonibba, 1930s.
Pastor, teacher and children at the original school.
Transcript of wording from Weibusch postcard written in German.
7 Dec 1913. Dear brother and sister in law. As I am travelling and do not feel like working, I decided to write some cards and letters. The sea is so beautifully calm. I am travelling to Adelaide for urgent business. I expect to be home next week. On 9 November we had a Christening and the Inauguration of the Children’s home. You should subscribe to “Kirchenboten”(Church Courier), it only costs you £2 and brings you all the news you want from Koonibba. A blessed Christmas and New Year. Hearty greetings to you and your family and friends. Your brother and family.
There was a Church, store, school, hospital, children’s home, staff housing and Aboriginal housing.
There were three teachers, a double certificated sister, storekeeper, handyman, children’s home manager and assistant.
There were fortnightly visits when the Ceduna doctor flew in to consult with Aboriginal patients. The handyman operated a diesel engine which generated electricity for lights and power, from sunset to 10pm each day, and for four hours on Monday mornings. Other than that, they used kerosene lamps, candles or torches. Communication was through a party line telephone, where each house had its own call sign; two shorts and a long, two longs and a short etc. To make the connection, you lifted the earpiece off the hook and turned a handle on the wall mounted phone, two turns produced the long while one turn made a short. To make a call outside the Mission they rang one long which was the Superintendent’s call sign, he would connect them to the Ceduna Post Office where calls were then connected to the number you asked for.