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The History of Koninderie

In 1966 the Peacock and DeBoick families settled in Albion Park Rail. Beth DeBoick and myself (Betty Peacock) decided to join the Ladies Social Tennis Club so that we could become involved in the community. One day a little girl ran onto the court and was hit in the eye with a tennis ball and nearly blinded. This incident put the thought into my head that we needed a place where the children could play safely while their mothers enjoyed their tennis. The seeds for Koninderie were sown!

About this time the Peacock’s neighbour wasn’t settling very well and decided to go back to England but didn’t want to sell their house in case they wanted to come back to Australia. So I suggested that we rent the house from them and use it as a preschool. Our husbands, Norman Peacock and Harry DeBoick, and another neighbour made suitable furniture and adapted the house to take in eight children. We eventually found that we were mostly caring for teachers’ children as our hours suited them.

The name Koninderie came about because one day I was out in our garden and saw the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen, and never seen one like it since. To me, it was God’s confirmation that He was blessing our project. When we tried to register our preschool as ‘Rainbow” we discovered that someone else had claimed it so I searched for the Aboriginal name which is ‘Koninderie’.

Beth and I and the children had some happy times in that little house but eventually our neighbour decided to come back to Australia so we had to move.

The Uniting Church at Albion Park offered us their hall and this turned out to be advantageous as we were able to accommodate sixteen children. Once again Norman and Harry came to the rescue and adapted the building for us and made furniture. I am not sure how long we operated there but I think that it was not suitable from the local councils’ plans.

Our next move was to the present location. The Anglican Church asked if we would move to their building at Albion Park Rail and help them by giving a weekly donation. As it was also our place of worship, we agreed. Now we were really on the way, as we were allowed to take 24 children!

This also meant a big commitment from Harry and Norman, as they had to convert the preschool into a church each Friday evening and back into a preschool on Sunday evening. Some of the parishioners helped us with the alterations needed to this building.

All through these moves and changes, we had regular visits from the Child Welfare Department, and although each time, they had suggestions of how to improve things, we always had our licence renewed.

Several ladies from the church and some of the mothers volunteered as helpers with the children. A great help to us over the years was Val Steele who kept the kitchen in good order! We had many happy times but things had to change when one lady decided to ring the Union and find out the usual salary for the staff. From then on it had to be turned into a proper business venture, fees had to be raised and we employed a trained Director. Two of the Directors that I particularly remember are Helen Sawley and Janene Franjic who worked tirelessly for the good of the children.

Eventually in 1977, Norman and I went to work in Darwin and handed the business side of things over to Ron Fletcher, a member of our church, so we are rather vague as to the progress of the preschool from then on.

Beth stayed on working there until she was sixty years old.

We still encounter people around this area who came through our preschool and we consider it has been a privilege to be part of their formative years. Our preschool was the first in this area. The closest one was at the Anglican Church in Dapto and the next in Wollongong. We still have links with Koninderie as our daughter, Anne, has worked there for several years.

Beth and I feel happy that we have been able to bring such a great contribution to our community.


Betty Peacock & Beth DeBoick