The river immediately beneath the school is deep and is great for swimming (the depth around the metal pole is normally about 1.8m), but it could contain changeable underwater hazards such as submerged tree branches, rocks and fence wire.
Please, no diving or jumping in the river without an adult checking first.
Preferrably, wear closed shoes when out and about (there is bindii, barbed wire, spiky plants, bees, branches and splinters and the odd snake) and also when doing jobs, cutting wood or around the campfire. Use gloves for outside work and weeding thistles (gloves are kept in the storeroom) and other protective gear when doing odd jobs.
Please supervise axe-wielding and arson-inclined teenagers. Please familiarise yourself with the First aid and emergencies page for contacts and local sources of medical care (a copy of these care kept on the kitchen noticeboard next to the First Aid Kit).
Strictly no smoking or candles inside the sleeping quarters.
You may notice the left hand sleeping cabin is newer than the other – the original classroom burnt down about 10 years ago because of some clown smoking. Don’t let the next one be you. Don’t muck about with the fire extinguishers or smoke detectors.
While considerable efforts are made to keep the school and surrounds in good order, it is not a sanitised environment without some risk. Lostock is an old place needing a bit of fixing in places and is set amongst working farms and a natural river system. It is a place where everyone who stays needs to take care and exercise commonsense. Parents and carers are asked to supervise all children’s activities.
The following are instructions on the where to find things and what to remember to do. Please keep in that all things we have cost money to buy and took considerable volunteer effort to source, transport and maintain, so please look after what’s there (and no pilfering please).
There is a permanent weather recording station at Lostock Dam and the Bureau of Meteorology website consequently has very up to date information on temperatures, rainfall, wind and river levels near the school.
River Levels – Refer NSW Latest River Heights – Mid North Coastè Hunter Riverè Paterson R D/S (downstream of) Lostock Dam. The readings for the Patterson River normally come in at 0.1 – 0.2m . This translates to 0.6m or so downstream of the school’s swimming hole. During the June 2007 Hunter floods, river levels here rose to 3.5-4.0m – look for the debris in the trees.
What’s provided and what to bring
Bunks and mattresses are provided and are now reinforced for adult comfort. Bring pillows and sleeping bags (or blankets and sheets). The temperature does drop at night and it is cold so please bring appropriate bedding. Please leave mattresses on the beds and not on the floor.
Bring all your own food. There is one large and one small fridge. The nearest General Store is 19km away in Gresford and the nearest (IGA) supermarket is 21km away in East Gresford or 45km away at Dungog. There are a few basic items for sale (and ice blocks and party ice) over the hill at the Lostock Dam caravan park. Survivalists can scrounge their own watercress, mushrooms, fish, oranges, native figs and guavas when in season and/or conditions are right.
The kitchen has two electric stoves with top plates, grill and oven (the oven on the RHS is not great). There is a BBQ outside but you must BYO GAS BOTTLE if you wish to use it, and a bonfire pit when the urges for seared meat and crackling, and talking rubbish around a campfire overpowers you. In the laundry you will find a blackened wok that can be used as a smoker.
Cooking implements – the kitchen is equipped to deal with groups of up to 30 – 40. It houses a variety of pots and frypans of various sizes, cooking implements, salad and cooking bowls, plates and pudding bowls, glasses, cups and cutlery.
Appliances – there is an orange juicer, toaster, blender (remember to bring ingredients and make ice for the summer evening dacquiris and G&Ts), teapot and coffee plunger.
Try to leave things in the same place as you found them. The sometimes empty end cupboards and bench at the far side of the kitchen can be use to store stuff.
Rainwater from a tank for drinking and cooking is provided. Don’t drink the river water – it won’t kill you but it may be contaminated at times from cow droppings.
It is suggested that you bring an old pair of sandshoes and socks that you don’t mind getting wet – they come in handy when crossing and exploring the river.
There is a First Aid Kit kept in the kitchen. It is recommended you also take insect repellant, stuff for stings and suntan cream.
First thing on arrival – keys and electricity
Flick the mains switch in the power box at the left side of the old main classroom. and you’re away.
Turn the water pump on adjacent to the sleeping quarters when arriving and please turn it off when you leave. Please be aware that the tank water is the only water supply to the property, so please be frugal with your water use.
Clean the fridge first before filling it and the freezer does its thing – leave the settings alone otherwise your food will freeze over.
In summer put away drinks and make ice blocks as soon as you arrive.
When leaving, power off. Please clean out the fridges before you go, leaving the fridge doors ajar so mold doesn’t grow. Leave the veranda light on before switching off the power. Turn water pump off.
Remember to leave the schoolhouse and classroom doors unlatched and the keys outside the rooms when you’re around so you don’t lock yourself out. Mary and Brian Horn at the dairy farm up the road (see the detailed Lostock map) have a spare key just in case. You will be given the key before you leave home.
The grass might need a mow if there hasnt been a visitor for a while – please give it a mow as your stay will be more pleasant without any possible slithering visitors in the grass! There is a petrol tin in the shed adjacent to the toilet block, please refill if you use it up.
There is no landline phone at Lostock. For emergencies there is a pay phone at the Lostock Caravan Park since mobiles don’t have coverage.
Lounge or common room
Re-arrange the room by all means to suit your group, but put everything back as you found it before leaving and after cleaning up of course. No shoes on the seats or couches!
Lostock has gone 21st Century and now has a stereo with CD player. iPods can plug into it too – ask a teenager.
The soccer/games table has boards for another 9 games – they reside underneath the table soccer (it lifts off). Bits are on the lowest shelf of the left hand side cupboard.
There are two cupboards in the common room. The left-hand side cupboard contains books, cards, games, jigsaws, paper and pencils, boules set, billiard balls and miscellaneous stuff for the games table. The right-hand cupboard side contains tools and a variety of hardware – please leave these alone unless you’re doing something that’s sanctioned. Newspaper, fire starters, and a small box of fishing things (the rods are behind the front door) are kept here also.
The large table-top board serves as the inside dining table but lifts off otherwise to reveal an all-terrain billiard table. Cues are kept behind the front door.
The fireplace works and you’ll love it in winter. Unless there’s a noticeable pile of scrap timber outside (NOT from behind the amenities block or inside the storeroom or classroom), collect firewood from under neighbouring gum trees. A tomahawk and saws are kept in the storeroom. Please use with care and put them away afterwards please. Please use the firescreen, especially at bed time.
Garbage disposal and more
The school has no garbage or recycling service, so please take back what you bring. Kitchen scraps can be fed into a compost bin or fed the pigs or chickens at the Brian and Mary’s farm nearby. Mary and Brian also welcome school visitors to visit the dairy farm and feed the calves. Visits around 3:30-4:00pm are best.
Left over non-perishable food donations can be placed in the first cupboard above the sinks for communal use. Please seal anything in a jar/container to keep out ants and mice.
The school operates with a septic tank. Minimise the amount of solids, cooking oil, chemicals and water that goes down the sink so that it doesn’t overload the system or kill off the bacteria that do all the work. Please ensure that your group does not flush non-biodegradable materials such as plastics, disposable nappies, sanitary napkins and wrappers down the toilets – they rapidly fill up the tank and will clog it up – you’ll be digging it out.
The store room next to the showers contains axes and saws, shovels, brooms, a mower and wipper snipper, ladder, power tools and gloves.
The old dunny down the bottom of the yard largely houses paint.
Standing orders for all visitor is to kindly take a shovel to as many thistles as you are willing to hulk out from the school grounds (extends down to the church) and down at the river. The thistles seed often and need to be culled before they seed again – particularly go for the new green rosettes or the older purple flowering ones. Shovels and gloves (in the blue box) are in the laundry.
If feeling the need to relive your youth, please give the lawnmower a twirl and trim the areas surrounding the buildings. Wear shoes and don’t delegate to children.
Be aware that stinging nettles are around in patches along the river. If stung, I have heard of an understandably unverified bush myth that applying urine to affected parts takes away the pain (or at least it will distract the victim for a while).