During World War I, Yan Yean School was being renewed. The old school was in bad repair. The residence was attached, and the teacher’s kitchen door was at the south-west corner of the classroom. At the west end of the classroom was the gallery. It went up about eight steps and the beginners sat there with their chalk and small blackboard. As the teacher Mr. Alfred Babbage had eight grades to look after, his strap was well used. The big girls were given a job of helping the smaller children. The attendance was usually above thirty pupils.
The older and retired citizens would meet at the school gate each morning, after they collected their newspapers at McPhee’s Store – immediately north of the Hurrey property. They were Bertie Goodall, who lived where Lily (Mrs. Greg Brennan) now lives, Dan Hutchison, whose ‘posh’ house, ‘Eulomo’, was on top of the hill opposite the school, and Mr. Handcorne who lived in what is now Recreation Road, then called Handcorne’s Lane. Sometimes Alec McPhee joined them. They would discuss the war excitedly and check the casualty lists, which filled most of the two papers – the Age and the Argus.
The new school was built by Thiess Brothers (three). The eastern half of the school ground was fenced off and was the horse paddock. The avenue of sugar gums at Lily’s was planted about 1915. Some were planted in the school ground but removed in recent years. The boys played football in Hurrey’s paddock, north of the school ground, and if there was a game against another school or an under sixteen game, Brian Sweeney or Uncle Tom Hurrey would umpire. Sweeneys lived where Woods afterwards lived, now McPherson’s. It is called Wood’s Lane, but in our day was Sweeney’s Lane. The next road, now Watt’s Lane was McKenzie’s Lane. Four McKenzies went to school with us and Eric, the eldest, went to the war. The McKenzie’s ancestors lived there and were bakers. Their father Jack went to school with my mother (Blanche Hurrey).
The Hurreys came to Yan Yean in the late 1870’s from Wollert, and before that Epping. They had arrived in Australia from Lincolnshire, England to settle on the Swan River. They found the land unsuitable and moved to Tasmania and then to Victoria the year after John Batman came. My grandmother and Auntie Louis, her youngest, lived in the old house, previously owned by the Bett’s family. Jack Hurrey lived on the corner across the road, and Tom Hurrey in the house at the north end – next to McPhee’s Store. Ken McPhee attended school with us. Tom Hurrey’s place was a blacksmith shop, and McClelland was the last blacksmith there.
Our roads were gravel and took a lot of maintenance with washouts on the hills. Jack McKenzie and Bert Hall were the main road repairers for many years. Bert Hall was my mother’s cousin and went to the war. He lived in Jack Hurrey’s house, after Jack died in about 1917. The Plenty Road was pitched all the way to Melbourne with blue stones about one foot in diameter. Each stone was rounded on top due to wear, and the steel tyres of the vehicles made a very loud clatter. A woman from South Yan Yean (now Mernda) used to push a steel tyred wheelbarrow to Preston every Friday, to sell her butter and eggs and buy groceries. Her name was Miss Green. Her brother Tom made soft drinks in his factory.
On New Year’s Day there was always the picnic at Yan Yean Reservoir. There would be special trains from Melbourne, as well as drags, furniture vans and later charabancs. Swarms of people went to the Reservoir, where there was a sport’s program as well as stalls for ice-cream, drinks, food hot water, souvenirs, etc. There was also a continuous program of highland dancing. The bagpiper could be heard at ‘Barton Hill’.
After we left school, Tom and I cleared much of the farm and plowed it up for cropping. We would pull the trees over with a ‘Bunyip Forest Devil ‘. I would then saw them up and split the logs into fence posts. I fenced around the boundary of the “top paddock’, as we called the 200 acres across the road from ‘Barton Hill’. The ‘top paddock’ was selected by my grandfather, under the name of his friend Mr. Donaldson. A person was only allowed to select a certain acreage. Another example of ‘dummying’ was the Hall family who owned the land joining ‘Maranui’ on the north. The two boys and their sister, (who became Mrs. Hurrey, my grandmother), dummyed for the Bear family. When the land became freehold, on the advice of my grandfather Charles Draper, the Halls refused to transfer the land to Bears. There were three 80 acre blocks and my grandmother eventually owned the lot and planted an orchard. It was owned by Hurreys until the 1930’s – when McKenzie bought it.
When land was selected, it was paid for to the Crown at one shilling an acre a year, or if third class land, as at Glenburn, six pence an acre a year. The first fences were usually logs, later post and rail fences were put up, and later still wire fences were built.
At school on Monday morning, all pupils were lined up to salute the flag and to repeat the oath of allegiance – which was something like this – “I love God and my country and will honour the flag and cheerfully obey my parents, teachers and the laws.” There was a big flagpole at the school. According to my mother it was sixty feet high and was presented by John Wilson, first caretaker of Yan Yean Reservoir. The second caretaker was George Wilson. Jack Kerr came in 1925.
 Gregory Andrew Brennan (1909 – 1979) married Lily Evelyn Draper (1906 – 2003) in 1945. Gregory’s brother Pierce Joseph Brennan (1907 – 1983) was a co-owner of ‘Brookwood’.
 The property situated on Lot 5, section 6, Parish of Yan Yean was originally part of Thomas Walker’s large selections in the area and was purchased by a Mr. Schultz in 1876. By 1894, rate records indicate that the land was owned by John Rice. Rice owned the property until his death in 1902, after which it was managed by the executors of his estate until 1908. While Rice owned the property, he did not live there and the entire property was leased out to Patrick William Ryan between 1894 and 1901, and then to John Daniel in 1905. When it was finally sold, the property was bought by Albert Goodall, who owned it until 1940. Goodall lived in the house and used part of the land (initially 11 acres and later 5 acres); he rented out the remainder. In 1932, he sold the rented land (about 351 acres) to Greg and Pierce Brennan, who owned the ‘Woingarry’ property, which joined Brookwood to the south. Goodall sold the house and the remaining 5 acres to the Brennans in 1941. The House ‘Brookwood’ was probably constructed during Shultz’s occupancy of the land. Source: City of Whittlesea Heritage Study, Volume 3 – Citations, Final report, 24 September 2015.
 A charabanc, or char-a-banc, is a type of touring bus, sometimes used as a normal bus. Charabancs began as horse-drawn vehicles and evolved into elongated motor cars. Each row of seats usually had a door at the end.
 The Bunyip Forest Devil by John Cooper and Sons (Ironmongers) was a machine for light or heavy timber-felling.
 ‘Dummying’ and ‘Peacocking’ were used by some squatters to oppose selection and retain control of the land. ‘Dummying’ involved the use of non-existent free settlers to purchase land with money provided by the squatter. The land was handed over to the squatter once the title had been completed. Sometimes the squatter was caught out and the dummy kept the land. ‘Peacocking’ involved picking out the eyes of the land, by selecting or buying choice pieces and water frontages, making the adjoining territory practically useless to anyone else. Source Bruce G. Draper, Early Days