No, this didn't happen in the country where schoolboys know almost instinctively how to size up a grazier's social status from the width of the brim.
It happened this week at the James Ruse Agricultural High School at Carlingford where most of the 400 pupils have been raised in clamorous Sydney suburbs.
But their love of nature, agriculture and animals is perhaps greater than many country boys who have not seen Sydney.
Basically, the school exists for the hundreds of Sydney boys who want to go on the land.
It is perhaps the most methodical way of repaying the country for the constant flow of it's brilliant young men to the city.
Intermediate student Fred Keers illustrates almost perfectly how boys raised in the shadow of skyscrapers can take the country life to heart.
Fred lives in Macquarie Street, but when he leaves school he wants to work in the cattle industry.
He has made a good start already. He has been visiting friends, who own a farm at Camden, for eight years and now has his own horse and cow there.
From that beginning he has bred four calves and visits them once every two or three weeks, as well as spending every vacation there.
Fred is no exception. A recent survey of first-year boys showed that more than half of them spend their holidays in the country.
Headmaster Mr Jim Hoskin's study in the 76-year-old colonial house, Barrengarry, overlooks the fields which nurtured the first successful wheat crops in Australia.
Mr Hoskin told me that soon new buildings worth £96.000 would allow the school to expand to 540 pupils.
The boys who "go bush" in the city
Then he held up another model with a slightly narrower brim which he described as the "one-thousand-sheep hat" and asked the boys to pick the one they wanted to wear.
This will make it the biggest agricultural High school in New South Wales, yet it was opened only three years ago.
The new buildings will include a wool classing-room with 16ft ceilings for plenty of light and loading ramps to receive the bales of wool. When the boys leave school they will have completed about half of their wool classing course at the Technical College.
When the school's "man-proof fence", now being built for £5,500, is finished, the school's first animals will arrive.
Like a modern Noah's Ark. the animals will lead city boys to an existence they dream about. There will be two cows, eight: sheep, three pigs and 240 fowls, who will live in a poultry Utopia of automatic feeding, mist cooling and artificial light. The boys will also have a school pony. The Director-General of Education, Mr Harold Wyndham, recommended this when he visited the school. "Every boy should be able to pat a horse," he said.
Mr Hoskin said that the boys at the school came from 108 different railway stations in the metropolitan area, and the vocations they chose were almost as varied.
But one advantage of an agricultural high school was that even if a boy changed his mind about his career halfway through his school life, agriculture could probably help him.
Some of Mr Hoskin's pupils in the past have become doctors and dentists who have been glad of the intensive scientific and biological training they received at this agricultural High school.
Mr Hoskin said an important feature of the school was that boys who came from poultry farms or other rural fringe areas felt -that they were learning a dignified trade.
"There are no feelings of inferiority here.” he said. "If anything, the boys are a bit aloof from other schoolboys. Nobody here would think digging was a menial job. They mightn't like the hard work, but they certainly don't look down on it.”
"I some-times think that some of them like to get dirty." Mr Hoskin feels that an agricultural High school in the metropolitan area offers city boys a chance to pioneer.
"There are still huge tracts of land to be opened up in Australia, but the job will require men with initiative and knowledge," he said.
To get that knowledge, the city boys go to the country on school trips whenever possible.
They attend local field days and visit pig pens and farms to make contact with farmers.
Orchards fascinate them - but not in the way they do most boys, whose only thought is how to get free fruit.
A panel of local farmers cemented good relations with the school by pruning the fruit trees and looking after the bees.
The boys recently collected 1201b of honey and it was sold in the canteen with vegetables they had grown.
The canteen is staffed by mothers of pupils. - "The mothers sometimes have to travel for hour to get to the school - they regard it as a trip to the counrtry," Mr Hoskin said.
The Sun-Herald, May 14, 1961
THE headmaster put on a school hat with the widest brim imaginable and told the assembled pupils: "This is the ten-thousand-sheep hat."
By Graham Gambie
Boys' Sad Farewell To
Sad-eyed schoolboys paid their final respects to the steam era in the metropolitan district as they listened to a bugle play "The Last Post" at Clyde station yesterday.
The boys - pupils of the Macquarie Boys' High School at Rydalmere and the Carlingford Agricultural High School farewelled the last steam train in which they travel to and from Clyde.
They decorated the three carriages with streamers bunting and "laid" a wreath on the front of the loco motive.
For tonight, the last passenger steam train service in the metropolitan area will be replaced by electric trains.
The line is the branch line from Clyde to Carlingford and has six stations on it.
The main station is Telopea, which serves about 4,000 people living in the Dundas Valley housing settlement.
Last Steam Train
With thousands of people lining the tracks to wave farewell, the old "Mandarin express" yesterday made her last dash.
The "Mandarin" express, Sydney's last surviving suburban steam train, ran from Clyde to Carlingford.
It earned its name because the four and a half mile track was built 63 years ago to carry the produce of orchardists in the now densely populated Dundas Valley to the city.
From today, electric trains will take over the run, which has been equipped with overhead wires at a cost of £250,-000.
Nearly 400 members of the Railway Historical Society yesterday packed aboard a special excursion train - the last steam-driven train to run from Sydney to Carlingford.
They left Sydney in 1890 vintage carriages, pulled by an 1890 vintage "20 class" steam locomotive.
Enthusiasts included wives children, and visitors from other States.
The entire crew of the puffing locomotive, assissant chief mechanical engineer C. Cardew, loco, inspector Jack Sparks, driver Chris O'Sullivan and firemen Fred Stell are also members of the society.
Thousands of people lined the track from Clyde to Carlingford, taking pictures and waving to the special train.
The secretary of the society, Mr Noel Thorpe, said:- “The electric train will save five minutes' running time and cost about £11,000 less to run, but we're sorry to see the "Mandarin" express go.”
“We're going to get an electric train at last,” said the pigtailed schoolgirl, sliding her bag across the coal-dust on the ancient leather seat. “We've been getting an electric train for the last two years!” said her mate - the girl with the bandaged knee. “Yes. Well, we're going to get it now. Dad said so this morning ...”
This week the Railways Department announced that the single track branch that runs up the hill from Clyde to Carlingford is to be converted to electric traction.
Housing development in the Dundas Valley and industrial growth along the Parramatta River have outpaced the train that was built to carry oranges, and the railways have “decided the service isn't good enough with steam”.
They'll spend £250,000 putting up the wires, making platforms and bridges and by December next, fast - but, oh! how impersonal - electric trains will snake their way along the track.
“The Carlo” (as the locals call it), with its tiny engines, biscuit box carriages and toy platforms, has long since belonged to another age.
Little girls in blue
A few days ago I paid 2/ to sample her charms and got full value for my money. I helped mothers lift their prams up into the carriages, opened the doors for elderly women, yarned with the guard and the enginemen in their cramped cab.
Schoolchildren - hundreds of them - make up most of the payload in the mid-afternoon - little girls in blue tunics and straw hats who announce themselves from “Rosehill High” and boys in green blazers from Carlingford Junior Agricultural Collage.
By Coffee Pot to carlo- “Don’t Worry, she won’t blow up” April 20, 1958
Sydney’s last steam suburban train is on the way out... The “Carlo Express” will never seem the same again.
As long as they're aboard, the “Carlo” doesn't lack nicknames. In off-peak periods she is a railmotor they call the Tin Hare. In peaks she is a regular train pulled by a tall-funnelled 20-elass engine - that's the Coffee Pot. I chose the Coffee Pot.
Engine 2024, black, grimy and built in 1891, three equally ancient carriages were waiting when I took the 18-minute ride.
We puffed out of Clyde station, clattered across the Parramatta Highway in the face of a queue of frowning motorists, pish-tished through deserted Rosehill racecourse platform, boom-boomed over the lattice bridge that spans Parramatta River the whistle blowing loud and long for the open level crossings that are a nightmare feature of the line.
“These carriages ran on the, Newcastle Flyer in the old days,” the guard tells me.
“Then they did up to 70 miles an hour. They never go more than 30 here, and that's downhill.”
The stations, stubby wooden and drab brown, are few and easy to memorise - Rosehill, Camellia, Rydalmere, Dundas, Telopea and Carlingford.
“It's about time they did something about that Telopea platform,” a man says heatedly across the aisle. “It's made of old sleepers, I reckon, and so small you can't fit on to it when there's a crowd. The progress association's been moaning about it for years.”
Beyond Rydalmere industry is forgotten and “the Carlo” begins its long, steep climb, winding among suburban backyards where men mow their lawns and washing flaps ob lines.
The whistle hoots again. Childish voices yell up from beside the track. “Darn kids.” says the guard, leaning out. "I've got to watch 'em. Some of the boys jump off when we're going slaw on the hills to show how smart they are." How slow does she go? “Oh, about 15 miles an hour.”
Suddenly, before you realise it, the journey is over and it's Carlingford passengers are unloading . . . and up ahead, where the builders once planned a route leading on to Dural, the rusting rails die against a barrier of fences.
How many people who laugh at the quaint “Carlo” know that it has a claim to fame as the only private passenger railway ever built in New South Wales?
It actually started as two railways - Mr Bennett's line, which ran from Clyde to Rosehill (and then down-river to a wharf at Sandown), and Mr Simpson's, which began at Rosehill and carried on to Carlingford. Simpson built his railway to carry the oranges - and their growers -from the orchards that once dotted these hills to Sydney.
The Government made him put up a £3,000 deposit before he could lay a sleeper, though the money was to be refunded when £10,000 had been spent on construction.
He ran his first train on April 20, 1896 exactly 62 years ago today. Railway historians say| “The Carlo's” early days are "shrouded in mystery and confusion." Certainly the line was trouble from the moment opened. It passed into the hands of the Bank of New Zealand, and finally was sold to the Government for mere £22,000 in 1900.
Steam spurts from valves
Nothing much has happened to it since then, except that a forest of houses have sprung up along the right-of-way where paddocks used to be, and station names have been changed. “Subiaco” was Camellia’s original name and Carlingford was called called "Pennant Hills" station.
We are rattling back towards Clyde, with engine 2021 and the three carriages, and Driver V. Sharpe and Fireman J. Sundgrew at the control. The footplate rocks alarmingly (surely we're doing 60!) and steam spurts from loose valves. “Don't worry,” says Driver Sharpe, “she won't blow up.”
The fireman leans on the whistle cord as we slow for Rydalmere station level crossing. The platform beyond it is packed with home-going workers from the factories and soon the carriages are creaking at the joints.
“The line's got so crowded that all the goods shunting has to be done after midnight, between the last train and the first in the morning,” Driver Sharpe shouts in my ear.
Did they say how she slips?
What happens to the steam crews when the electrics take over? I ask him. “We go to Enfield, probably to drive diesels or electrics,” he says. (Alas, no room for “Their Carlo's” on the railways of today.)
“What did they tell yer?” chorus the school boys when we get back. "Did they say how she slips in the winter mornings when the rails are wet?" asks one. "Yeah, or how she can't get up enough steam to climb a hill and has to run back again?" asks another. "Well, what ARE you, gonna say about her?" demands a freckled face. "That she's wonderful," I reply. "Gaaarn! She's a real rattler!" *
By David Burke.
Last steam train to carry pupils home from James Ruse.
(Friday afternoon 7-Aug-1959).
The last paragraph in David Burke's story was taken from his conversation with James Ruse pupils (or rather Carlingford Junior Agricultural High School pupils - as they were known in 1958).
The phrase "Yeah, or how she can't get up enough steam to climb a hill and has to run back again?" - I can remember was my contribution. Kevin Swann.
Photo - Kevin Swann
7th August 1959
The James Ruse Agricultural High School at Carlingford had a "unique responsibility" in that, with Hurlstone Agricultural High School, it catered for courses in secondary education and, agriculture for the whole of the metropolitan area, the headmaster, Mr J. C. Hoskin, said yesterday.
Mr Hoskin said that students from the school came from more than 90 different suburbs.
More than 120 boys had enrolled for first year at the school this year.
The school is on the heights at Carlingford, some 15 miles from Sydney, and is set in a district rich in colonial history.
The main school building and lands were originally part of the Felton estate, which was owned by this pioneering family in the Baulkham Hills district.
Senior staff, prefects, of James Ruse Agricultural School. Responsibility Of Agricultural High School
PICTURED. Senior members of the staff and school prefects for 1960 at the James Ruse Agricultural High School, Carlingford. From left (back row): The master-in-charge of prefects, Mr .T. E. Littler; D. Cadwallader, J. Kazis, K. Swann, I. Fowler, P. Jones, I. Herford, D. Allwood, J. Brothers; and the librarian, Mr A. G. Shearman., Front row: C. Hill; the deputy headmaster, Mr A.: G. Cameron; the school captain, A. Bell; the headmaster, Mr J. C. Hoskin; the school vice-captain, R. Henry; the English master, Mr R. A. Anderson, and J. Hoskin.
The school is named after James Ruse, who was born in England in 1760.
As a young man he was sentenced in 1782 to seven years' transportation."
In the critical early years of the first settlement in Australia the colony suffered a food shortage and Ruse was set to work by Governor Phillip farming land at Rose Hill.
By his industry and perseverance he improved on existing methods and received the first land grant in Australia, not far from where the school now stands.
Sydney Morning Herald 1960
This page was last updated: December 10, 2017
Mr James C. Hoskin, who retires next month as principal of James Ruse Agricultural High School, hopes he has brought his students something he missed as a child. That something is the opportunity to study art and music, the two subjects which Mr Hoskin tries to encourage at the school. He believes they are the only subjects which give students “something solely for themselves.” Many others, he says, are undertaken to satisfy future employers or tertiary institutions. But music and art could be purely for personal satisfaction of the individual.
Mr. Hoskin has been principal of James Ruse Agricultural High School since its establishment almost 20 years ago. As a student at Fort Street Boy’s High School many years ago, Mr Hoskin learnt French and Latin. But while he considers them a source of personal satisfaction, he does not rate the subjects as highly as music and art.
Since the establishment of James Ruse High in 1959, Mr Hoskin has seen it grow to one of the most academically selective public schools in the state. Of the 720 pupils, most have IQs around or above the 130 mark. Mt Hoskin is very proud of the fact of the Higher School Certificate candidates at the school this year, 19 are sitting for the art examination and eight for music.
The man who gave agriculture students a new perspective
By Carolyn Parfitt, Education Reporter.
The school has a heavily prescriptive curriculum with all senior students compelled to take English, mathematics, agriculture, chemistry, and either Physics or Biology. They can then choose one elective subject from a range including music and art. At the junior level, all students must take agriculture and farm mechanics as well as the core courses prescribed for all other secondary schools.
When Mr Hoskin was transferred from Muswellbrook High School 20 years ago to Carlingford District rural School, he did not like the school’s name. So he applied for it to be named after one of Australia’s first farmers, James Ruse, who settled in the Rosehill district with his wife and was the first convict to receive a land grant.
Mr Hoskin’s love of art can be seen in the many paintings and prints in his office. There are more in the withdrawing room (labelled “withdrawing room” in gold paint on its door) where he has up to 10 guests each day for morning tea.
Soon, another painting will be added to the collection – a portrait of Mr Hoskin by a local artist, Judith O’Conal. The portrait will be unveiled tonight by Lady Black, the wife of the Chancellor of the University of Sydney, Sir Hermann Black, at the opening of the school’s art exhibition.