The History of the Winterfold Primary School Site
The Winterfold Primary School community acknowledges the Wadjak Noongar people as the traditional custodians of this land. We also acknowledge the Wadjak Noongar Elders past, present and emerging.
Koora koora – nyitting-ak – waakarl baal warn Bilya Boodja…
Marawar Derbal Nara-k, boyal Djarlgarra-k…
Djiraly Derbal Yaragan-ak, kongal Meeandip-ak wer Moorli Boorlap…
Long, long ago, in the cold time, the rainbow serpent created Riverland…
From the Cockburn Sound – Estuary of the Salmon – in the west, to the Canning River – Place of Abundance – in the east.
From the Swan River – Estuary High Up – in the north, to Garden Island and Point Peron in the south.
The Winterfold Primary School site sits within the city of Fremantle, known by the Wadjak Noongar as Walyalup – Place of the Eagle or Place of the Woylie – which itself sits within the Aboriginal cultural region of Beeliar (Bilya Boodja – Riverland).
The Beeliar people were one of the five major clans of Wadjak Noongar people in the Perth metropolitan area. They cared for the coast of the Cockburn Sound for tens of thousands of years living in extended kinship groups and were fortunate to have access to food and resources from the ocean and the wetlands.
When British settlers arrived to establish the Swan River colony in 1829, the Beeliar Noongar people were led by the legendary and influential Midgegooroo and his son, Yagan. This was a difficult time for the Beeliar Noongar. As the colonists claimed more land, the Noongar people had reduced access to their traditional hunting grounds and sacred sites. Midgegooroo and Yagan played an integral part in the resistance to white settlement in the Perth region until their untimely deaths in 1833. Although Yagan was feared by the settlers, he was also admired by many for his strong patriotism and bravery in attempting to protect his people and his land. Yagan is still an iconic figure in the modern Wadjak Noongar community, and he is celebrated as a freedom fighter and heroic warrior.
In 1858, an Irishman named John Healy arrived in Fremantle. Soon after, he took up a large land grant which covered 300 acres (1.2 million square metres) encompassing the Winterfold Primary School site. This land ran north of what is now Healy Road in Hamilton Hill, east as far as Bibra Lake, west beyond Clontarf Hill and comprised most of what we now know as the suburb of Beaconsfield. Healy named this property Winterfold – a fold being an area of land with hills and valleys, or a stone fenced area to keep animals safe as well as a collective term for a group of cows. Presumably Healy named this place Winterfold because his animals were kept in folds to protect them from the weather. He grazed cattle here, producing the bulk of Fremantle’s milk supply at the time. In 1867 he was made a police constable in Fremantle.
John Healy and his family lived on what is now Strang Street in Beaconsfield and remnants of their grand Federation Queen Anne house which was constructed in the 1890s are still evident within the Portuguese Club building. It is believed that Healy named Clontarf Hill; Clontarf is the anglicised version of the Irish form “Cluain Tarbh” – a suburb of Dublin which also means “meadow of the bullock”. A number of roads in Beaconsfield and Hamilton Hill were named after Healy’s children – Jean Street, Michael Street and, also the road where Winterfold Primary School now stands, Annie Street.
From 1913, many Croatian people who had immigrated to Western Australia in search of a better life began to purchase lots of the land previously owned by Healy for use as market gardens. The area appealed to them as the environment along the coast of Cockburn Sound was very similar to that of the Adriatic coastline of Croatia – a mild sunny climate with dry summers and cool, rainy winters. These early Croatian migrants were well equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to produce food in harsh and often unfavourable conditions.
In 1936, the Winterfold Primary School site was purchased by Ante and File Jackovich for 35 pounds an acre. There were large tuart trees and dense areas of vegetation on the property which needed to be cleared. There were also enormous sections of limestone and cap-rock which had to be removed by hand using crowbars, picks and shovels. Some of the stones were used to build walls to define borders, and the rest were used to build a road over the existing sandtrack used by the trucks of the various surrounding quarries. Ante Jackovich worked in one of these quarries in order to provide for his family, clearing his block in preparation for a market garden in his spare time. He grew vegetables on the cleared patches for his own family. By 1939, when power was installed in the area which allowed water to be pumped for irrigation, he was finally able to begin a market garden producing on a larger scale. The Jackovich’s main crops were onions, peas, runner beans and carrots.
There were many market gardens in the area around Jean and Annie Streets and this place became known by the locals as “Snake Gully”. Although there were often sightings of dugites and tiger snakes in the surroundings, the area was named this as a joke after the place mentioned in the radio serial of the time, “Dad and Dave”. Officially the area was still referred to as Winterfold Estate.
In 1966 negotiations began between the Crown and Ante Jackovich in order to determine a suitable price for the land on which it was intended to construct a school. On the 26th of June 1967 the land transfer occurred, and the property then came under the control of the Education Department. The final purchase price was 21, 945 pounds. The Jackovich family remained living on the property until the beginning of 1968.
On Monday the 6th of February 1967 Annie Street Junior Primary School opened its doors for the first time. The school comprised only one building, what we now know as Yellow Block, which consisted of three classrooms. There were approximately 40 students in each class. Whilst two of the classrooms were ready for use immediately, the Year 3 students had to wait a couple of weeks for their room to be completed. By the end of the third week of Term 3 there were approximately 120 students in the school. The early journal entries of the acting headmistress of the time, Fay Fairbanks, indicate that the amount of sand and water blown in from coastal winds and wild storms was extreme and resulted in frequent flooding as well as the build-up of mud which restricted entry into the classrooms.
The construction of what is now known as Pink Block began in the middle of 1967 and was completed for the beginning of the school year in February, of 1968. In 1968, construction began on what is now known as the Administration Block, and in 1970, Red Block was erected. In the early 1970s, what is now known as Blue Block had also been added.
In the early 1970s, the P&C put forward a motion to change the name of the school. Apparently, a group of parents believed that the name Annie Street Primary connoted an image of an orphanage, referencing the comic strip “Little Orphan Annie”. There were differences of opinion on this within the school community, but by the middle of the 1970s the name had been officially changed to Winterfold Primary School.
In 1975, construction of the Pre-Primary building began. This building is now used as the Kindergarten Centre. Then, in 1982 construction of the block which now houses the Performing Arts Centre and Visual Arts Centre began. These buildings were originally used as the library and canteen respectively.
As part of the state government’s Building the Education Revolution economic stimulus package, Winterfold Primary was eligible to receive new infrastructure and the undercover assembly area and canteen as well as the library building were constructed and officially opened in 2011.
The Winterfold Primary community of today is a cohesive and supportive one in which staff members, students, parents and caregivers join together for the greater good of the school.
In recent years, this community has been involved in a number of sustainable initiatives to care for the environment and ensure a bright future for the school and its surroundings. In 2007, two large rainwater tanks were installed to collect all the water required for flushing the toilets in our school. In 2010 a school garden was opened and since then food scraps have been collected for worm farming and composting to in turn nourish the plants that are grown. In 2016, Winterfold Primary became an inaugural member of the Low Carbon Schools program (now Climate Clever) in order to improve the operating efficiency of the school, reduce its carbon footprint and educate tomorrow’s leaders about how to live sustainably. At the beginning of 2017, a nature play space was built around the old red slide – an icon of Winterfold days past – using recycled materials. This space encourages the students to engage with nature, enables them to become risk-takers and inspires in them a sense of wonder. In 2020, Pink Block students planted a bush tucker garden to the west of the nature play space as part of Kaadadjiny Kedala (Cultural Learning Day). With a focus on building our language across the school, trilingual signage in Noongar, Italian and English was created to reflect our cultural responsiveness to our community in 2023. Since then, Winterfold PS has commissioned a mural of Noongar boodja birds and flowering plants to celebrate our connection to country.
The Winterfold Primary School community continues to nurture and cultivate its surroundings with a strong sense of pride, just like their predecessors before them – the Beeliar Noongar, John Healy, and Ante and File Jackovich and their families.