School remembered 100 years after opening
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.
GLORYDAYS: Ateacher and students have their photo taken at Gurgeena State School in 1950.