Wantiool, a name not recognised by many Junee people, is now just a locality about 10km east of Junee.
The discovery of gold in 1880 resulted in a gold rush that by December brought around 600 people to the workings which straddled the watershed between Wantiool Creek which flows into the Murrumbidgee River near Wantabadgery and Billabong Creek.
By early 1881, there was one “well kept” hotel, several shanties, four butchers and general store service.
To support these commercial interests, reasonable gold yields would have been required and in fact, considerable gold was won in that early period but shortage of water for washing to recover the precious metal caused problems.
With people moving into the area, schooling was required as was the case throughout the district and a building was erected in the vicinity of the present intersection of the Wantiool Road with the Gundagai Road.
At that time, this section of Wantiool Road did not exist.
About 15 children attended the school.
In 1893, a school was opened on a permanent site however it was sold in 1903.
In 1911, locals applied for and won approval for a new school which was built in 1915 by G H Mutch of Junee who over many years built many of the houses still standing in Junee as well as many other prominent buildings.
This new building was near where the Wantiool Rural Fire Service shed stands.
School attendances varied over time until 1947 when it closed and the building moved to Junee Public School where, known as “Wantiool”, it has been used by generations of pupils, most of whom would have had no idea of the building’s history.
The building is still at the school and backs on to Stewart Street opposite the Uniting Church hall which itself has a history as the 1904 Methodist Church.
Gold mining continued at Wantiool with a crushing plant operating in 1885 however, despite a number of promising finds in following years, the Wantiool diggings failed to live up to the hopes of many.
Being around mining was inherent with danger and 13 years old miner’s son Peter Charlton fell to his death in a mine shaft in March, 1891.
A number of families remained at Wantiool following the end of commercial mining but other than a few mounds in paddocks, there is little to show that Wantiool once was a bustling little mining locality, the area now being used for farming and grazing.