Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)


The School Gains Unofficial Recognition

As the school became favorably known in the surrounding communities, several non-Adventist students were enrolled in the school. A minister residing in Newcastle sent his son, as did several businessmen (Letter 74, 1899), including the well-known biscuit manufacturer Mr. Arnott (Manuscript 191, 1899). 4BIO 421.1

In February, 1899, there appeared in The Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales an article written by W. S. Campbell, a government fruit expert, titled “The Seventh-day Adventist Settlement and Industrial College and Cooranbong.” He reported very commendably on developments at Cooranbong. Mr. Campbell mentioned that in the year 1894 his counsel was sought by three men who belonged to a denomination he had never heard of, who were looking for a suitable tract of land on which to locate a school and establish a colony. While W. C. White had several times invited him to visit the school at Cooranbong, it was not until requested by the Minister of Agriculture that he did so, most likely in late 1898. Describing his visit, the article stated: 4BIO 421.2

I must say ... that I was more than pleased with my visit, for I found the settlement to be an extremely interesting one, and the progress made ... remarkable, considering the short time it has been established. 4BIO 421.3

Mr. Campbell had with him Mr. Fegan, a member of Parliament. He wrote of going to the home of Mrs. E. G. White, and was surprised to find there “an orchard of well-grown fruit trees of different kinds. Peaches of many varieties, bearing heavily magnificent, luscious, well-flavored fruits, such as would do credit to any orchard.” The report continued: 4BIO 421.4

Here we met Mr. C. B. Hughes, the business manager.... Mr. Hughes took us through the buildings, which are very extensive, well built, and comfortable. A large two-storied building for girls, another extensive one for meals, et cetera, with separate laundry, kitchen, et cetera, at the rear. Some distance away, a three-storied building for boys, and between the boys’ and girls’ residences is a place of two stories, a building for lectures and so on. 4BIO 421.5

On the eastern side of the knoll, and extending to a level area, originally a ti-tree swamp, lies an orchard of ten acres. The task of clearing the heavily timbered land and draining the swamp was heavy work, a deal of which was performed by the students and staff. 4BIO 422.1

About one thousand fruit trees of various kinds were planted, and within three years they began to bear most satisfactorily. Their growth has been excellent.... Vegetables of all sorts thrive here admirably, and maize has given remarkable results. The work altogether has proved most satisfactory.—DF 170d. 4BIO 422.2

As noted earlier, College Hall was dedicated on Thursday, April 13. W. C. White, chairman of the school board, had, on April 7, invited several government officials to visit the school and participate in the dedication service. It was short notice, and the day was rainy, and none of the officials came. However, on Thursday, April 20, a week later, a group of about twenty dignitaries came up Dora Creek from Lake Macquarie by steam launch to visit the school. White's invitation to the opening of College Hall to the Honorable Mr. Cook, Minister for Mines and Agriculture, had been effective after all. This invitation read: 4BIO 422.3

Dear Sir,

In behalf of the managers of the Avondale School for Christian Workers, I have the honor to invite you to visit our place next Thursday, April 13, to open our “College Hall,” which is just completed and ready for use, and which we shall dedicate that day to the cause of Christian education. 4BIO 422.4

Believing that you have heard, through Mr. W. S. Campbell something of our efforts to establish, here in the bush, an institution where we may give young people an “all-around” education, as well as a training for Christian work, and trusting that you approve of our idea that agriculture is properly the ABC of physical and manual training, we have dared to hope that you would take time to visit us on this occasion.—13 WCW, p. 80. 4BIO 422.5

The article in the Agricultural Gazette was doubtless also a factor. The group of visitors who came April 20 were curious to learn why a band of dedicated people would leave the city to establish a college in such a retired and insignificant place as Cooranbong. In the group was the brother of the premier of New South Wales. They had come unannounced, but W. C. White was at the school at the time. He hastened off a messenger to borrow his mother's carriages and horses to supplement the school's conveyances so they could take the visitors around the grounds. In the meantime they were invited to have lunch at the school (Letter 74, 1899). Writing of the experience, Ellen White stated: 4BIO 422.6

I am so glad that the main school building is up and furnished.... It looks nice. We treat all who come with deference and respect. We desire to make a good impression. 4BIO 423.1

We have had bankers and men of high repute call upon us to see what is going on here in Cooranbong. This place has been regarded as so insignificant, and the inhabitants so poor and degraded, as to be unworthy of notice. But all are surprised at that which is being done here.—Letter 75, 1899. 4BIO 423.2

In June, W. C. White, writing to his old friend J. N. Loughborough, informed him that “there are over one hundred students now in the school, and we are crowded and cramped in every department. We shall soon consider turning the work of our boys to getting out material for another building.”—12 WCW, p. 47. 4BIO 423.3