School re­mem­bered 100 years af­ter open­ing

Central and North Burnett Times - - SES WEEK 2012 -

ONE hun­dred years ago the first school in the Mun­dub­bera dis­trict opened.

In­for­ma­tion about the es­tab­lish­ment of Gurgeena State School, 20km north-east of Mun­dub­bera, is known thanks to Chas Meredith’s well-pre­served let­ters and plans kept by Rob Meredith.

Chas Meredith gave the land for the school and was the first sec­re­tary for the build­ing com­mit­tee.

Not only was Mr Meredith anx­ious to es­tab­lish a school for his own chil­dren but also for the Ger­man fam­i­lies in the area who were ea­ger for their chil­dren to learn the English lan­guage.

Rob Meredith was a stu­dent at Gurgeena in the 1940s and re­mem­bers learn­ing Ger­man from other students.

In the early years of last cen­tury the community had to pay one fifth of all costs to es­tab­lish a new school.

The Gurgeena build­ing com­mit­tee hadn’t fin­ished rais­ing the re­quired funds when an ed­u­ca­tion act re­moved the need for lo­cal con­tri­bu­tions and the re­main­der of Gurgeena’s con­tri­bu­tion didn’t have to be paid.

On Oc­to­ber 26, 1912, a pic­nic, concert and dance was held in the re­cently-com­pleted 10x7m school.

Per­mis­sion was granted to hold the en­ter­tain­ment in the school pro­vided it didn’t go past mid­night. There was no strong drink, smok­ing or spit­ting per­mit­ted.

The first teacher was Fred­er­ick Lid­dle who trans­ferred from Gayn­dah. The new school’s en­rol­ment quickly rose to 24.

Two-thirds of the students were Ger­man and could not speak English.

The school was closed dur­ing the First World War be­tween July 1917 and June 1918 as no teacher could be found.

Ian Matheson, later to be­come di­rec­tor gen­eral of Ed­u­ca­tion, was the Gurgeena State School’s teacher in the early 1950s.

Mr Matheson was 20 when he be­gan his teach­ing ca­reer at Gurgeena.

“The school was sheer plea­sure and sup­port from par­ents un­stint­ing,” he said.

“De­spite the drought when many landown­ers were hav­ing dif­fi­culty keep­ing stock alive, par­ents found funds for ev­ery­thing from vi­tal school re­sources and li­brary books to school pic­nics.”

Gurgeena State School closed in 1959 and students were trans­ported to Bin­jour State School by bus.

“While I have found it sad to stand on the site of the old school and see noth­ing of it re­main, it is re­as­sur­ing to know that the spirit of the 1950s re­mains,” MrMathe­son said.

“It is even greater to know that so many of the well­known Gurgeena fam­i­lies re­tain their roots in the dis- trict.”

Mun­dub­bera His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety placed a plaque at the site of the school as part of the Bi­cen­te­nary Cel­e­bra­tions in 1988.

Photo: Con­trib­uted

GLORYDAYS: Ateacher and students have their photo taken at Gurgeena State School in 1950.

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