Travelling throughout Queensland we see many small towns and communities, marked by their school and often a war memorial. These places are not only significant for their communities, but reflect the pattern of Queensland’s history and regional development. The Queensland Heritage Register details those places considered to hold cultural significance. Recently the Maroon State School and Maroon War Memorial were included on the Register as a State Heritage Place. What do the records in the archives tell us about these places?
The Maroon State School in the rural locality of Maroon, southwest of Beaudesert and south of Boonah was built on land donated by local grazier, Thomas de Montmorenci Murray-Prior (details of Murray-Prior’s estate are available in will file 36 of 1903).
The Maroon Provisional School opened on the 15 July 1891 with the first registration of pupils taking place on that date.
The school was just one of twenty-six that opened during the year as mentioned in this Brisbane Courier article on the 22 June 1892.
The school’s first head teacher, Mr William Sandeman McWilliam signed this 1891 annual statistical return which he sent into the Department of Public Instruction.
A teacher’s residence was built in the 1930s. The 1973 inspector’s report records that the “energy and enthusiasm” of the “young Principal in charge of his first school was infectious” which suggests a high calibre of teacher took advantage of the free accommodation provided by the Queensland government.
The school grounds also house the Maroon War Memorial that was unveiled by General Sir William Birdwood on 21 May 1920. The minutes of the Goolman Shire Council meeting on Saturday 1 May 1920 heralded the forthcoming visit of General Birdwood, and encouraged councillors to attend to meet Birdwood. Maroon’s isolated community had been greatly affected by the Great War. Sadly, seventeen of those who volunteered to serve didn’t return, and Maroon experienced a mortality rate that was twice the national average of twenty percent.
The monument is an impressive design. As detailed in the Queensland War Memorial Register, the memorial comprises of a digger statue atop a tall column, which in turn rested on a substantial pedestal and plinth. The whole was executed in sandstone, with Queensland marble inscription panels, and stood 17 feet 6 inches (5.35 metres) in height. The cost of the monument plus foundations and extras, totalled 300 pounds.
More detail about the school and the memorial here.
Queensland State Archives holds records for two other regional schools listed on the Queensland Heritage Register in 2015: Marburg State School and Murgon State School.
Here is a sample of the records available at Queensland State Archives about these schools:
Marburg State School (originally name Frederick State School)
Item ID 15318, School administration file, Marburg No.320 (formerly Frederick Sally Owens Plains) State School, 27/4/1878–13/9/1923
Item ID 579561, Architectural plans, Marburg State School (Rural School), 9/2/1926
Item ID 10269, School returns, Marburg State School, School No 320, Circa 1/1/1888–31/12/1967
Item ID 2062180, Audit reports, State rural school – Marburg, Circa 1/11/1927–30/11/1928
Item ID 794683, School inspectors report, Marburg State School, 4/8/1970– 5/8/1970
Murgon State School
Series ID 2143, Murgon State School student admission registers, 24/2/1908–Circa 31/12/2002. Access category: 15 years
Item ID 15616, School administration file, Murgon No.871 State School, 10/9/1906–25/1/1923
Item ID 11426, Returns – schools, Murgon State School, School No 871, Circa 1/1/1908–31/12/1967
Item ID 585640, Architectural plans, Murgon State School, Details 43F-16-5, 26/4/1916
Item ID 2061861, Audit reports, State rural school – Murgon, 27, Circa 1/11/1926–31/12/1927
Item ID 16773, Administration file, school, Murgon State Rural School, 14/2/1930–Circa 31/12/1935