The first Aboriginal schools was established at Narre Narre Warren Protectorate Station in 1842. The teacher was Noble Keenan who was soon replaced by Edward Peacock.
When the station closed, William Thomas, the Assistant Protector at the Merri Creek Station ran classes from his hut on the Yarra Bend Reserve. The classes were held when time permitted; never on a regular basis.
The Collins Street Baptist Church was concerned about the lack of formal schooling and approached Edward Peacock to resume teaching, this time at Yarra Bend. After discussing the issue with Thomas, Thomas agreed to allow the use of his hut as the school room.
The hut was in a poor state of repair and the Baptist Church approached the Colonial Government for a grant to build a new school at the conjunction of the Merri Creek and the Yarra River, just west of Thomas’ hut. Thomas appears to have had a change of heart about the school as he objected to La Trobe that their was insufficient students to warrant the building of a school. Nevertheless La Trobe agreed to contribute £100 towards the school.
Peacock had had some rudimentary buildings constructed and soon had between 25 and 30 students per day attending classes. Thomas and Peacock were now feuding and attempting to undermine each other. In the end Peacock resigned after being accused of pilfering from one of the buildings. From June 1848 to 1851 the new teacher was Francis Edgar. Edgar found that Peacock had spent more time preaching to his students that teaching them. However Edgar found that student numbers had fallen to only ten as the youngsters had succumbed to tribal pressures or left to join the Native Police Corps.
The school grew crops for the nearby Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum and in 1849 built the ‘Black Boys Bridge over the Yarra. Unfortunately it was washed away the following year.
By 1851 student numbers had fallen again, this time to five and the school was closed down.
Clark, Ian D. & Heydon, Toby (2004). A bend in the Yarra: A history of the Merri Creek Protectorate Station and Merri Creek Aboriginal School 1841-1851. Canberra (A.C.T.): Aboriginal Studies Press.
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.