Red Hill National School
3rd June 1854
I wish to apply for a position at Red Hill National School. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is John Collins. I am twelve years of age and when I grow up I would like to be a blacksmith just like my Papa.
In my family, I have four sisters named Henrietta, Grace, Rose and my youngest sibling Claire. I also have another four brothers named James, Henry, Gordon and Michael Collins. I am the second oldest out of my brothers and sisters. Gordon is one year older than me. My Mama has to look after my younger siblings, her name is Mary Jane Smith and she is thirty-five years of age. My Mama is also a tailor and a confectioner but she stays at home to look after the young ones. I have to say the lollies Mama makes are to die for! While my Papa is a blacksmith as I already mentioned before. At the moment he is at the Goldfields. His name is Andrew Collins and he is forty years of age. My parents originally came from Manchester, England, which is where we lived before we came to the Diggings.
My family left England from Port Liverpool and traveled on a clipper boat called the ‘The Sea Bird’’. My family decided to come to Australia because we heard people struck gold. It took a long and painful three months. Not only painful but also dirty and very boring! On the way to Australia, we had to survive in harsh, unhygienic, unhealthy, dark and unventilated air; the place was just like a barnyard. I suffered from seasickness, which wasn’t that nice. Unfortunately, my good old friend Jack had passed away due to extreme and almost unlivable conditions ( we believe that he dies from typhoid fever, we don’t really know for sure as we had no doctor on board to confirm this).
After the journey to Australia my family and I arrived in Melbourne. We had to walk to Ballaarat because Mama and Papa couldn’t afford transport as they needed money to buy tools and to survive on the Goldfields. The three-day walk was very tiring and I was dying in pain. We had to stop at towns like Keilor and Melton to sleep over night. Our family decided to go to Ballaarat to seek our fortunes.
We now live in a small cottage as my family is too big to live in a tent, luckily we could afford it because Papa had found a large gold nugget. The cottage neither keeps us warm nor cold but it is good enough to survive.
My Mama and Papa wanted me to attend Red Hill National School because they both wanted me to have a better understanding and knowledge of this world. If you give me admission at your lovely school that dream will come true. I would truly be thankful, honoured and would make the most of it. It would be a privilege to get into this wonderful school. I thank you very much for taking your precious time reading this letter.
P.S. If you grant me admission at your school Mama will make you her world famous lollies in gratitude.
In April we are going to school camp at Sovereign Hill. While we are at Sovereign Hill we will go to school as it was in the 1850’s and wear the clothes people worn then. Below are some examples of the clothes we will be wearing
Here are some short video presentations that we created on the lives of some famous Victorians.