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Image Riding a horse to school, 1928

TLF ID R9657

This posed 1928 black-and-white photograph shows five girls on a horse on their way to the Glass Mountains State School, as it was known at the time, in Queensland. The girls are pressed together from the base of the horse's neck to its rump. They wear hats and hold their school cases. The horse has a bridle and one girl holds the reins. There appears to be a blanket in place of a saddle. Trees, a fence, a gate and a building can be seen in the background. The horse appears to be standing in the middle of a dirt road.

Educational details

Educational value
  • At the time that this photograph was taken horses were still an important mode of transport in rural areas; they enabled isolated children to attend schools that were not within walking distance. The fact that the children in the image are crowded onto the horse suggests that horses were used sparingly, but also that the trip to school would often have been an enjoyable social activity. Horses, however, provided little protection in hot weather or in the cold and rain.
  • Attendance at school was compulsory only for children who lived within 3 miles (4.83 km) of a school, but rural children learnt to manage horses at an early age and often rode 5 miles (8.05 km) or more, sometimes through the trackless bush. In many rural areas there were no reliable alternatives such as rail, bus or car, and so the horse was the most efficient means of transport.
  • By 1928 the average attendance at the Glass Mountains State School had increased to 50 as settlement in the district increased. The original school, Glass Mountains Provisional, opened in 1906 with ten students and one teacher. The teacher was supplied by the Department of Public Instruction, but locals had to provide the building at their own expense. The school closed in 1907 because of low attendance; it reopened in 1910 as a state school.
  • The image illustrates the lack of a regulated school uniform. The children appear to be dressed in their 'best' and may have dressed up especially for the photographer.
  • The children's parents were likely to have been involved in the district's major industries of pineapple and tobacco growing or poultry farming. At the time land was increasingly being cleared to accommodate these industries, which were replacing the earlier timber-milling industry.
  • The name of the school and the small town came from the district's dramatic series of peaks and hills. Captain James Cook (1728-79) sighted three of the area's most prominent peaks on 17 May 1770 as he sailed up the east coast in his ship, the Endeavour. He named them the Glass Houses because their shapes reminded him of the glass-making furnaces in his native Yorkshire in England.
Year level

F; 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 12

Learning area
  • history;
  • studies of society and environment
  • Studies of society and environment/Time, continuity and change
  • History/Historical knowledge and understandings

Other details

  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 09 Sep 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: State Library of Queensland
  • Address: Brisbane QLD 4000 Australia
  • Remarks: Reproduced courtesy of State Library of Queensland
  • Content provider
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning resource type
  • Image
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer - minimum version: 8.0 (MS-Windows) - maximum version: 9.0 (MS-Windows)
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  • Safari - minimum version: 5.1 (MacOS)
Operating systems
  • MacOS - minimum version: 10.6
  • MS-Windows - minimum version: XP - maximum version: 7
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and State Library of Queensland, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements