-Dagun State School 75th Anniversary -
The Fifties was a time of post war prosperity and at Dagun school numbers jumped dramatically from 16 to 39, probably as a result of the baby boomers entering the education system. The first year of this new decade also saw the appointment of
Prep Class (1951)
Mr Eric Watson as head teacher. Mr Watson had previously taught at Bundaberg and Maleny. While at Maleny he joined the Caloundra Lifesavers and also married his wife Kath. His next schools were Tingoora for 8 years and Bambaroo in North Queensland. Mr Watson suffered from ill health and his wife was a tower of strength. He passed away in 1964.
Grade 1 (1951)
Back l-r: Greg McKean, John Brewin, Tony Hoffmann
Middle l-r: Margaret Johnston, Elizabeth Sellner, Gwen Murnane
Front l-r: Dorothy Olsen, Valmae Cullen, Patricia Thatcher
The Commonweath Jubilee Celebrations of 1951 were in full swing and Mr E. Oliver took over as headmaster on the transfer of Mr Watson to Enterprise School. Mr Oliver remembers his time at Dagun mainly because of the 60 shrubs planted in the main street.
The avenue of 60 shrubs was christened the Dagun Jubilee Avenue and planted in December 1952. Those who participated in the project were:
W. Beattie, A. Allen, T. Beaver, V. Bowes, N. Brewin, O. Brown, J. Burow, A. Caldwell, C. R. Collins, W. Cullen, C. Dodd, C. Doyle, F. Herse, P. Hicks, G. Evans, K. Hoffmann, G. Hutchins, W. Hutchins, I. Inglis, G. Jakes, D. Johnson, G. Keller, G. Kidd, The Knight family, N. Leitch, J. Long, The Love family, H. McClintock, S. Milliken, A. Simpson, W. Cross, Mrs. A. Meddleton, Mrs Pratt, E. Oliver, J.T. McClintock, R. McClintock, C.T. McKean, J. McPherson, F. Morris, A. Murnane, F. Nissen, E. Olsen, G. Phillips, C.S. Smith, A. Steel, L. Thatcher, V. Treloar, Mr Tryhorn, W. Ward, J. Lynch, A. Anderson.
Greg Nissen, Enrolled 1946:
I remember the trees planted on the council strip. Each planted tree had a plaque.
I passed my scholarship examination in 1953 and travelled to Gympie High School on the rail motor every week day. I recall Mr Anderson taught the boys how to play cricket which I love and still pursue religiously on television!
Greg Nissen (1953)
The Jubilee Committee made a cash contribution to the school of five pounds ($10). It was to be paid to the children or used for their entertainment. Another bonus was the half price admission fee to the Gympie Show.
The pupils were busy fund raising and forwarded a contribution of two pounds, six shillings and eleven pence ($4.69) to the Australian Association for the United Nations. They also collected rags for the Totally and Permanently Disabled Soldiers Association of Queensland.
Mr Oliver, who lives in retirement at Caloundra, recalls his time as headmaster of Dagun School:
Id take the children to Gympie Central School to play soccer. Our jerseys were made out of sugar bags dyed the school colours and big numbers placed on the back. Peggy Meads (now Peggy Long) was my assistant in 1951. There were 52 pupils at the school.
I recall my five year old daughter Sandra was very eager to start school and she was always looking at books. I told her, When you go to school youll learn to read. On her first day she came home all upset and said, You told me when I went to school Id be able to read. Ive been there all day and I still cant read!
The P & C members were wonderful people. When the classroom was used for dancing the members would arrive the next day and scrub the wooden floor. They always did a great job and left it very clean.
I retired in 1980 as principal of Sandgate Primary School.
Max Hoffmann, Enrolled 1949:
My brother Tony was taught by his mother for the first two years, as his parents considered him too young to ride a horse to school as his older brothers Peter and I were doing. Either that, or his parents were reluctant to admit that he was growing up. Anyway, each morning the students would have to line up to the teacher to have the homework corrected, and it was on such a morning that Tony was one of the first in line. Being a rather casual character he was leaning on the shoulder of the principal, Mr Teddy Oliver. While the homework was being corrected, Tony noticed that Mr Oliver still had shaving soap behind his ear, and of course, Tony being Tony, informed the headmaster accordingly. Mr Oliver leant back on his elbow, eyed Tony for a few seconds, and advised him that he was still wet behind the ears!
Tony Hoffman (1953)
Tony Hoffmann, Enrolled 1950:
I have vivid memories of my school days at Dagun. Here are a few which come to mind immediately:
Catching my horse Pluto on a cold winters morning to ride approximately 5kms to school.
Having the horse roll in the Amamoor Creek on numerous occasions, and having to jump off into the water.
My other horse Chestnut bolting while I shut the gate to our property, and finding his own way to school, while I had to walk.
Mr Anderson driving out along the road looking for me, thinking the horse had thrown me.
Mr Anderson teaching us how to play Rugby League down in the paddock called "Long Flat" in front of the school.
Our first sports uniforms were hessian fertilizer bags, dyed in various colours, with cut out sleeves very hot!
Visits by Mr Pat Callaghan, tennis coach, to our school once a week.
Playing the drum with the school band as we marched into school.
Having film afternoons and the thrill of riding in Mr Andersons Studebaker car to other schools to pick up the projector.
Ailsa Nott (nee Brown), Enrolled 1951:
The school was set amongst gum trees which acted as a sanctuary for numerous birds, kookaburras and crows. On hot summer afternoons, in particular, crows gave out their unmelodious and monotonous calls which together with the after lunch programme of history or politics, had an opiate effect on the pupils.
Tucked away at the back of the school were two separate toilet blocks clearly marked Boys and Girls. These little twin outhouses played the perfect hosts to large brown and black snakes which meandered up from Dagun Valley or the adjacent grassy slopes. Many a pupil has been known to have made a quick exodus from the toilet blocks.
In essence, the School was the focal meeting point for the Dagun district. Monthly dances, meetings, birthday parties, Junior Farmer activities, the end of year break-up dances were held in the school rooms. Desks, complete with slate, slate pen and ink well holders, were moved onto the verandah to make space for the light footed members of the community. The forms not only provided seating against the walls but also provided a canopy for sleeping babies and toddlers who were bedded down for the duration of the dance or celebration. The school radiogram Little Nipper provided music for the locals to barn dance and gypsy tap the night away. When square dancing became a "craze" the school transformed into the venue for square dancing and the radiogram scratched out songs of a different genre.
Ailsa Nott (nee Brown) 1953
The radiogram also served another useful purpose. It provided the march tunes by which to march into school every morning. Quite often the march tune, Repaz Band, was inadvertently replaced by a waltz but the ritual of lining up at attention, saluting the flag and then standing at ease, to hear the teachers words of wisdom before entering school outweighed the tempo regulating how we got into the classroom. On a daily basis, we were either waltzed or march straight into first lesson mental arithmetic I can still add up without a calculator.
Everyone looked forward to the end of year as it heralded some exciting events. End of year break ups included a sports day, watermelon for afternoon tea and a Saturday dance sometimes stylized as a fancy dress or mad hat event. Some award winning entries in the mad hat section included a hat consisting of a live bantam in a nest. The bantam was quite happy to remain perched in its nest all night as it had been subdued by a noggin of brandy in readiness for the event.
The school population in 1952 was now 65 and there was a new Head Master. Mr Oliver left to work at Bundaberg State School and Mr Allan Anderson, B.A., was his replacement. Mr Anderson had previously taught at Esk and Sandy Gully (Toogoolawah) then he served 3 years in the R.A.A.F. before coming to Dagun.
Now retired, Mr Allan Anderson and his wife live in Brisbane, though they are moving to a retirement village in Rockhampton in 1999.
Mr and Mrs Anderson and daughter Gail
Mr Anderson reflects on his time at Dagun:
There were over 60 children in my class. They were well behaved and polite. Because of the numbers, the older children helped the younger ones with their school work. I felt it developed responsibility and respect. The children raised money from selling their strawberries and gave donations to the Junior Farmers (now Rural Youth). The McClintock and Hoffman families were great supporters of the school. I recall Greg McKean helping me and what a great time the pupils had when it was Club Day and the Project Club Organizer visited the school. The parents came along and inspected the various projects.
Our daughter, Gail, became an interior designer. She lives in Rockhampton so my wife and I have decided to be closer to her. We have always enjoyed living in smaller communities because of the friendliness and camaraderie of the people and have the fondest memories of Dagun.
Gail Grant (nee
Mrs Gail Grant (nee Anderson), Enrolled 1952:
Dagun, particularly the school environment, is evocative to me of all the magic of childhood, the excitement of youth and the celebration of all the first experiences we carry as imprints with us and which shape our reactions for the rest of life.
It was where I learned to play tennis, use the parallel bars, developed as a swimmer and broke my nose while dangling on the swing or parting company with the swing while doubling.
I also caused another mild sensation when Dad had to stop classes one day so I could have a ring hacksawed off my finger. We had been doing a bit of ring swapping during lunchtime and I managed to get on but not off - a borrowed ring.
I thought Dad might be a bit mad so I kept quiet when we returned to classes. However the finger, which developed an interesting size and shape, caught his attention. I was right! He was very cross!
Dagun was where I learned to ride a horse or rather a horse would occasionally allow me to ride him. If any of the kept-in kids had horses in the horse paddock next to our house I would beg a loan and try to ride to the corner and back. The horse would take me flat as a tack to the corner (his way home) then had to be dragged all the way back to school before the next exciting dash to the corner.
Most parents of my peers grew crops. My parents grew lawns. I remember Judy Evans wriggling her toes into the blue couch grass and thinking of carpets. Her place was much more exciting to me. I was allowed to pick beans and tomatoes. I vividly recall the shock I felt looking back down a row of beans I had picked to see the masses of beans Id missed.
No doubt because our senses are keen and experiences are so intense in youth the seasons were magic to me in Dagun. school house in Winter was a wonderland when the fog was up to my knees. The creek crossing where we had swimming lessons is remembered as Olympic size and the floods we had in the 50s were great fun and the largest in history.
Each year about September I smell Dagun. Probably it is the heating earth and hint of bush fire but I think it is magic.
Greg McKean, ("Keeney") Enrolled 1950:
Hey, I did not want to go there.
I was only four years old.
Unable to resist peer pressure I arrived.
The next few years at Dagun School were the most important time of my life.
Although one needs to grower older to appreciate this.
Day one I will never forget. There was one other shy person hiding behind another post under the school building. This little guy and I have remained friends to this day, and whilst situations and family commitments have separated us we still keep in contact. I speak of Tony Hoffmann.I remember many things at Dagun, some unprintable! My treasured memories of Dagun School are of a great big bloke arriving as the head teacher - "Sir". He was built like a brick house and us kids said, "Gee its over now." No person has come close to this man for the way I have conducted my life since leaving Dagun School. Everyone understood his meaning of fair play. I speak of Allan Anderson.
Greg McKean (1953)
"Sir" loved golf. There was the very odd occasion when he had to practise his strokes in the normal line of school activities and I must admit at some of these occasions I was present!
School was great. The P & C gave us a pump and all the gear to grow strawberries and we did well out of this venture. Because of my farming and mechanical ability I secured the job of looking after the pump. The number of times this unit broke down was incredible, always on a hot summers day and very often requiring the assistance of my mates. We did however get sprung, mainly due to the clouds of smoke spotted on the horizon. On these occasions we were asked to assist with golf training by "Sir". I actually won a trip to Gatton Agricultural College for my efforts with our farming venture and this was a real ball.
Things one remembers:
An old black Dodge truck with a dog called Kim falling off the top.
An old black Studie car.
A school teacher silly enough to tackle us wearing a suit.
A place where we all had the grounding to give us the opportunity to continue our lives and were fortunate to have people of the calibre we had to instruct us.
Getting into trouble for running a competition to see how many small stones we could lob down the smoke stack of the now famous Mary Valley Rattler.
Winning the School Champion Cup in 1956.
One thing I am very happy to say - I am, and have been, for 35 years married to the daughter of one of the first day students of Dagun State School, Ruth Frankcom. Her daughter Rosemary and I were married in 1964. There are many memories of Dagun, however my fondest ones are of the golfing principal, Allan (Andy) Anderson and my involvement with the Hoffmann family.
Max Hoffmann, Enrolled 1949:
In the mid 50s Dagun had the treat advantage of having Mr Allan Herbert Anderson appointed as principal, and he was probably one of the most popular head masters to have beeassociated with the development of Dagun School. It was during his reign, and while the everloving strawberry was in its hey day, or strawberry day, that I remember two students by the name of Tony Hoffman and Greg McKean were given responsibility of starting the irrigation pump to water the strawberries. This was too good an opportunity to let go while down the creek to light up a smoke and have a puff in the quiet surrounds of the creek. Unfortunately the smoke signals must have been visible from the school as when they returned to the classroom, they were summonsed to appear before the beak, who severely reprimanded the two, and informed them it was his duty to issue the necessary punishment. Out came "Herby", and the necessary punishment administered. When the dust had settled Mr Anderson apologized to them both, and admitted he too had received the same misdemeanor when he was their age. The dreaded cane wherever it was produced was nicknamed "Herbert!
Max Hoffman (1953)
Margaret Finger (nee Johnstone), Enrolled 1949:
My brother Graeme enrolled at Dagun in 1948. My older brother, Ian, who was at high school when we moved to Dagun, received his PhD in Physics and was a regular on the Science Show.
For the past 15 years Ive served as a Shire Councillor and Im also kept busy running the family grazing property.
1953 Scholarship class
Back l-r: G.Nissen, D.Phillips, W.Burrow, B.Herse, P.Hoffmann.
2nd l-r: B.Treloar, R.Leitch.
Front l-r: S.Steele, G.Phillips, Y.Inglis, A.Brown.
With such large numbers, 62 pupils, a student teacher arrived to help with the teaching. Unfortunately the student teacher left in early 1953 to return to Training College, and the eight classes were reduced to six to help ease the teaching load for the Headmaster.
The school routine continued as usual. The morning session was always morning parade, the flag honoured daily and a verse of Loyalty recited, marching into school with music from the radiogram, reciting the Lords Prayer, then a suitable morning discussion and speech training exercises. Art, craft and dance classes werent neglected with the boys working at clay modelling, while all the school enjoyed vocal and musical theory and folk dancing. Physical Education was swimming lessons in the nearby creek. In sport, Dagun played against Amamoor and Lagoon Pocket and also participated in the Gympie Primary Schools Sports.
The school purchased a share in a projector and duplicator used in conjunction with other schools in the Mary Valley. Folding doors were installed in the classroom to provide privacy for both teachers and library room was built to house the books.
The next year Mr Anderson acquired another assistant, Miss Buckley replacing Miss Meads. After Miss Buckley departed at the end of 1955, Miss Bosnan arrived.
Ellen Walker (nee Thatcher), Enrolled 1951:
There were 5 children in my grade. Grades 7/8s travelled on the rail motor to Gympie to do sewing, woodwork and cooking. Mr Thorne would teach music and Mrs Thorne cooking.
The discipline policy was simple - the boys got the cane, the girls received a chop into the back of the legs with 2 rulers glued together. The relieving teachers were very strict.
The students were allowed a bottle of milk each day and it was left sitting in the hot sun. Wed bring Milo or Quick to school to help us drink it.
To celebrate Queen Elizabeth IIs coronation in 1953, pupils were given a memorial ribbon. On the lstSeptember 1959 Princess Alexandra drove past the Dagun Turn-off. She was visiting as guest of honour during Queenslands centennial celebrations. The entire school walked up to the Dagun turn off to watch the car going past.
Coronation celebration cars at Amamoor, 2nd June 1953
Mr Ron Riches, Enrolled 1954:
I was in Grade one and the school dentist visited the school. I hated the school dentist so I took off and hid under my house in a small corner, which was the Dagun Shop. They finally found me but it took lots of persuasion, in the form of prod or two, before I fronted up for a dental examination.
Our principal, Mr Thorne used the wood on the top of the school maps as a form of discipline. Strangely enough, when the grade eight pupils left that year the maps mysteriously left too.
Pat Young (nee King), Enrolled 1955:
I went to school by rail motor as I lived in Hutchins Road. Sometimes Id get a lift with my father in the cream truck. The school uniform was a green tunic with box pleats for girls.
The classroom had a folding door which was opened when there was one teacher and closed when there was two. The lower grades were at the back of the room, gradually progressing to the front as you got higher up. Big heavy curtains hung in the classroom that would be pulled over the windows when we watched school films. There was no photocopier, only a hand operated duplicator. There was a beautifully fenced rose garden located at the front steps of the school.
If we had a dance at the school the children slid around on corn bags on sawdust/kerosene to make the floor slippery for the dancing. The toilets consisted of two thunder boxes out the back and every Thursday at lunch time the man would empty them. The smell quite put the children off their lunch.
Mr Anderson transferred in August 1956 to take up a position in Nanango. Later he was Principal of Charters Towers High, Mt Isa High, Caboolture High and before retiring, principal at Kedron High School, Brisbane, which then had a population of fifteen hundred students. Mrs Roslyn Exton, the present Year 1,2 and 3 teacher, was a student at Kedron High School during Mr Andersons long term as Principal:
He was a tall grey headed gentleman, popular with the students but highly respected. You could approach him with any problems you might have and he was very helpful. He ran a very tight ship.
Mr Keith Thorne took over the top job. His teaching career began as an assistant teacher at Koumala, then head teacher at Peacock Siding. After 3 years air crew training during the war he was appointed head teacher at Aramar, and then Cammoweal School.Helen Guppy, daughter of the late Keith Thorne, Enrolled 1956:
Looking back, it was sometimes a bit awkward being in Dads class. Hed always choose me to answer the questions. Maybe he was harder on his three daughters because he wanted to appear to be fair. When I was a pupil I remember playing in the fife band as we marched into school after parade. The students produced two plays called Bluebeard and Toad of Toad Hall. Mum was kept very busy giving sewing lessons and doing the school cleaning. The school had an excellent school library and while I was there Miss Brosman was the second teacher.
Mum and Dad enjoyed a good social life within the Dagun community. And I recall theyd play canasta with the Gesch family. They were very friendly with Doug and Lorna Heiniger, Doug being the headmaster of Calico Creek School, and Keith Smith who was headmaster at Kandanga. The Brown family who lived at the Dagun Railway house were also part of their circle of friends.
Dad was very musical. He was awarded a musical scholarship to study the euphonium, but the war intervened. When he was at Gympie High School he started a band. He began teaching as an assistant in Northern Queensland at the age of 16. His board was more than this wage, so he supplemented it by cutting cane. While he was at Dagun he studied externally for his degree. He moved from Gympie High School to Bribie Island and taught at Caboolture High School for a few years. He died in 1993.
The school clock is one of the most important fixtures in a classroom For the reluctant pupil every second drags, but for the enthusiastic one theres never enough hours. When the clock stops, its a major catastrophe! And so it was that when Daguns time piece performed below par Mr Thorne sought authority from above The Department! Their reply:
I have to inform you that, should the school clocks fall into disrepair, you should explore the possibility of having them repaired locally. If the estimated cost does not exceed two pounds ($4) per clock, you may proceed to have the work done. Departmental authority will be required for any greater expenditure.
Eric McClintock remembers the school clock of the forties. It was probably the same one!
The classrooms had reading charts on the walls and a case of stuffed birds. Mr Howe would take the school clock out into the sunshine to smarten it up a bit as it was rather slow. I reckon the hours went quicker!
The assistant teacher, Miss Brosnan, left in December 1958 on a transfer to Blackall, and Miss Reedman filled her shoes. With her resignation in August 1959 the school dropped back to one teacher.
The McCallum children playing in flood waters at Dagun Pocket Road in the 1950s
During the school vacation improvements were made to the school with a new front fence erected and painting completed on the interior and exterior walls. The building presented a very attractive picture with its red roof and cream walls, trimmed with green. As a finishing touch the name of the school was fixed to the front wall.
The aim of every grade 8 pupil was to pass the State Scholarship examination at the end of their final primary school year. The C.W.A. Mary Valley Bursary was presented to the pupil attending a Mary Valley School who achieved the highest overall score in the State Scholarship. Dagun pupils won this award five times during this period. 1953 Ailsa Brown (75.5%;) 1955 Graeme Johnstone; 1956 Gertrude Gesche (91.2%;) 1957 Anthony Hoffmann (76.2%;) 1958 Lynette Collins (89%) with Bevin Morris 2nd with 87.2%; and in 1960 Janice Hutchins (87.7%).
Graeme Johnstones family left the district in 1955 and he eventually entered Queensland University where he received a degree in Architecture. He joined a Brisbane Theatre Group, and a year or so later found his chosen career as a theatre costume designer for television, movies and advertisements. He has been Sydney-based for the last thirty years.
Ailsa Nott (nee Brown) attended Gympie State High, completed her Junior Examination and joined the National Bank. She married a banker and three children later pursued further study, gaining an Arts degree, a Post Gradudate Diploma in Applied Economics and a Masters degree in Social Science. At present Ailsa is the Graduate Administrative Officer at the University School of Music, Queensland.
Gertrude Levanes (nee Gesche), now known as Trudy, entered the public service after her Senior year and studied at University part time. She and her husband are now in the restaurant business in Brisbane.
Tony Hoffmann began a Vet Science Degree in Brisbane but after two years discontinued his studies. A few years later he decided on a career in surveying, and was the last cadet employed under the articles course before the compulsory university degree came into force. For the last twenty years Tony has owned his own surveying business with branches in Rockhampton and Longreach, and in his spare time enjoying working at his hobby - wood-chopping. His brother Peter is also a surveyor. Tonys other sibling, Max, retired recently from his supervising position in the Queensland Works Department.
Lynette King (nee Collins) attended Gympie State High School and then went into accountancy. For nine years she worked for Birch and Brown (Gympie Accountants), then married and moved to Brisbane. Lynette has combined work and motherhood, raising two daughters. One daughter is a librarian while the other daughter is Head of the Music Department at Mueller College, Rothwell. Lynette has been working for a Nundah accountancy firm for the last thirteen years.
Jan Gould (nee Hutchins), a prefect and house captain at Gympie State High School, went on to be the 1963 Queensland winner of Youth Speaks for Australia and runner-up the next year. She graduated as a teacher, and now owns and manages the Strawberry Patch on the Gold Coast.