Today was the day for the visit to the school. I cast off the jeans and heavy jumper and found clothes that looked a little more formal and I became less like a tourist whose wardrobe was left behind.
After a skype conversation with Mum and Jill and John in Dubbo, we set off.
The school is named after the contributions from Victorian school children which helped rebuild it after WW1
The school is having massive reconstruction so the cranes towered above us as we slipped through the narrow entrance. The lady from the museum showed us where to go and we were met by Fabien, the teacher and the children all seated in rows facing the front.
After greetings and welcomes we decided to read Banjo and Ruby Red first. I read in English, he read in French. He commented that some of Google Translate wasn’t quite correct but never the less they all got the point. You know that when there is a sharp intake of breath at the picture of Ruby lying still, her feathers flat, her eyes closed.
Then we had questions – as in Australia, ‘How long does it take to write a book? How long have you been writing? How old are you?’ That last one got a rebuke from the teacher that it was not polite. I replied by asking the boy how old did he think I was. Some promising youthful guesses followed.
A greater treat followed that. They sang me two songs. The first was ‘Never Forget Australia, a piece written by someone at the local music college. The kids sang in French but I had the words in English. Then they said I had a special surprise.
Waltzing Matilda sung in English. It sounded so good so Euan and I sang along with them.
Then they gave me a booklet they’d made of the story of the swagman.
Then I showed them Possum and Wattle and they gasped at the paintings and I finally handed out tiny toy koalas.
They headed out for lunch with me saying ‘Merci, Merci.’ I’d had a great time.
They replied with ‘thank you very much!’
It was a good day all round.