Blackwell Public School

Educating for Tomorrow

Telephone02 9670 5080

Our school

Aboriginal art

Blackwell Public School is located in the suburb of St Clair and is approximately 50km west of Sydney. St Clair lies between the cities of Blacktown and Penrith along the M4 Freeway.

Blackwell School Pledge has been rewritten to reflect current school practices.

'We are the students of Blackwell Public School

 We are proud of ourselves and our school

 We pledge to work hard, play fair, and be kind to each other.

 Always remembering our Good Manners, Good Thinking, and Good Learning.'

St Clair is part of Darug Land with South Creek known as Wianomatta or Mother Creek.

Blackwell Public is named after a local early farming family the "Blackwells". The land on which the school stands was sold by Mrs Neita Blackwell. Our school opened in 1984. Mr Frank Blackwell, the oldest surviving family member, was a very special guest at our school Federation Assembly in 2001. The students enjoyed Mr Blackwell's tales of life on the farm and adventures in the local area.

The historic Mamre House, home to Sir Samuel Marsden, is within walking distance of our school.

At present, there are 654 students enrolled at Blackwell. Students here are keen to learn and participate in a range of activities from sport, debating, art, and dancesport. Technology plays a vital part in our learning. Every classroom has Interactive Smartboards, as well as access to laptops and IPads.

We pride ourselves on our attractive learning environment and relish our reputation within the wider St Clair, Erskine Park community.

We are proud and active members of the STEPS (St Clair Erskine Park Schools) Learning Community.

Our Aboriginal Heritage

When the First Fleet arrived in 1788, an Aboriginal population of about five to eight thousand people lived across the Sydney region. The Darug, Kuringgai, and Dharawal tribes had lived here for at least 30,000 years, co-existing in harmony with their environment. Their lives were determined by strict adherence to love and a special relationship that connected the people with their country and each other.

The Darug tribe spread from Appin in the south to the Hawkesbury River in the north, and from the coast in the east to the Nepean River and the Blue Mountains in the west. Within the Darug area, smaller tribes or clans lived in what is now the City of Penrith: South Creek or Gomerrigal-Tongarra clan; Nepean or Mulgoa (Mulgowey) clan who lived along the Nepean River from Mulgoa to Castlereagh; and the Hawkesbury or Boorooberongal clan who lived from Castlereagh to Richmond.

The Gundungurra believed the Blue Mountains were created in the Dreamtime and the rivers and creeks were formed when the aquatic animal Gurangaty attempted to escape from a tiger cat named Mirrigin.

Each tribe lived within a defined area and came together only for special ceremonies. They lived in open campsites and sheltered under temporary gunyahs. They co-existed harmoniously through a strict adherence to love and observance of their place within their environment. They often used what they needed and ceremonies were conducted to encourage regeneration of their resources.

In the Penrith region, there were fewer than 1000 Darug living in small groups of 50 or less, close to the watercourses like South Creek and the Nepean River. Along the Nepean, they snared birds like the wood duck, chestnut teal, brown quail, and the black swan and hunted wallabies, goannas, emu, and other native fauna.

The local Darug lived in an area rich in resources, especially the river and the gravel beds at Castlereagh. Before long, conflict arose between the Darug and new settlers as the settlers cleared and claimed more Darug land as their own. The banks of the river, which supplied the Darug with yams, a staple food of the Darug, were now replaced with fields of corn. Many battles ensued as the Darug were killed in retaliation for taking the corn, a food source desperately needed by the settlers themselves.

Although initial contact in the Hawkesbury between the settlers and Darug was amicable before long many skirmishes and ‘revenge’ killings took place because of many misunderstandings between the two cultures.

Between April and May 1789 smallpox decimated over half of the Darug population. Its devastating effects quickly spread with many Darug dying before even sighting the newcomers who bore these diseases. Watkin Tench and his party on their journey to the Nepean River in June 1789 did not encounter Aboriginal people, seeing only a ‘melancholy crow’ and a distant kangaroo. They did, however, find indications of Aboriginal life along the river, a couple of canoes, gunyahs, and animal traps.

In 1828 Census recorded the number of Aborigines in the Penrith region. There were 38 from the Nepean tribe, 15 from the Mulgoa tribe, 73 from the Richmond tribe, and 30 from the Booroogorang tribe. These population figures indicate a population a third smaller than in 1788. By 1840 less than 300 Darug were accounted for in the Sydney region.

Thousands of years of Darug tradition were destroyed within a few years of British settlement.

In the Nepean district, Aborigines camped and lived reasonably peacefully on large estates, such as at Mulgoa, Marsden’s Mamre, and at Dunheved.

According to a Sydney Gazette reports in 1826, the Mulgoa tribe was peaceful and they were willing, useful farm workers if fed well.

Another place of refuge was on Mamre, at South Creek, where Marsden encouraged the groups to work for food and clothing.

Today there are many descendants of the Darug living in the City of Penrith and at the Census in 1996, 2,568 people stated they had Aboriginal ancestry. Today, many Darug people are re-establishing family links and working within their local communities. There is an active push to bring awareness of the local Darug culture and recognition of not only the deeper significance of the areas in which we all live but also the history of the Darug and other tribes.

Neita Blackwell

Neita was the youngest of 8 children born to Edward John Morphett and Mary Montifiore.

In 1808 her great grandfather bought 288 acres of land from James Erskine. He divided the land into 8 X 34 acre lots and left one to each of his children. Neita’s grandfather was given Lot 3.

Neita was a favourite of her uncle and he left her his Lot 2 when he died.

In 1931 Neita married Arnold Herbert Henry Blackwell and they had 6 children – John, Frank, Nancy, Elaine, Anthony (known as James), and Diane.

Neita’s husband died in 1972 suffering from Multiple Sclerosis. Neita’s eldest son John died and her son Frank now owns 2 lots (68 acres) of the land originally purchased from

James Erskine. The rest of the land has been sold outside the family.

Frank Blackwell has 4 children- Susan, Jennifer, Deborah, and Kevin, and lives on the original plot of land.

Kevin runs the family business on that same block.

When St Clair was originally developed it was decided by Council to name a street after the family that had lived here for so many years- hence the name Blackwell Avenue.

Blackwell Public School takes its name from this street. Blackwell Public School was the second school to be built in St Clair. It was completed in 1985. Bateau Bay Public School has the same design as Blackwell. The project architect was John Moran, landscape architect was Lorna Harrison and the interior designer was Jenny Strachan.

Captain Reg Saunders 1920-1990

Many Aboriginal Australians have been part of the Australian armed forces since the Boer War.

Although not permitted to become Australian citizens until 1968, service in the armed forces was one area where Aborigines experienced less discrimination than in the wider Australian community.

Captain Reg Saunders, MBE, is perhaps Australia’s best known Aboriginal soldier, being the first indigenous Australian to be commissioned as an officer into the Australian Army, in 1945. In Korea, he served as Officer Commanding C Company, 3 RAR.

Although Captain Reg Saunders was born in Parnum, Victoria he lived most of his life in and around St Marys NSW. On a visit to Blackwell Public School, shortly before his death, he presented a large photograph of himself to the school. A copy also hangs in the Australian War Museum.