V grew up and attended High School in Country South Australia. Her parents had secondary education. Her father grew up on the family farm and her mother had been a housekeeper in a school boarding house before marrying. Her father developed polio in the 1950s. V’s older sister ran the farm and her other sister trained as a nurse. Their mother had dreams that V would marry into the local gentry. V went to school at four and a half as part of a community bid to keep the local primary school open. To stay open, the school needed to average 14 enrolments over the year. By starting school early, V pushed up the average attendance enough to keep the school open a bit longer. It did close, nevertheless, and the children, including V, were bussed to the next town for school. Before it closed an inspector came to the school and was impressed by V’s reading ability.
At High School she was a good student and did well at the Intermediate Certificate., V’s Physics and Chemistry teacher recognized her ability, got to know her parents and argued for her to become a teacher. She explained about teaching scholarships and encouraged them to allow V to apply. This they did and V set off the following year to an Independent Girls’ boarding school in Adelaide.
In some ways this was a disaster. V was physically ill and homesick. The school did not support her ability in Science subjects and did not help her manage either the transition nor her time there. She was good at sport, which provided both an outlet and acceptance. She was, however, poorly prepared for university.