Even though the Walloon State School was one of the earlier schools established in Queensland, there was a school at Walloon well before the state school was even planned. This school was organised by the Roman Catholic Church and was a “non-vested” school, meaning it was run with financial and curriculum assistance from the state but the property and control were in the hands of the Church.
The non-vested school at Walloon was opened in 1865 under the name “Guilfoyles Creek”. At this stage in Queensland Education History there were only 41 schools in the whole of the state, so it was truly amongst the first schools in Queensland and ran almost continually until the opening of the state school in 1877. The first report of 1865 showed at total enrolment of 41, with an average daily attendance of 32.
In 1868 the school was now the Walloon non-vested school. Seventy-five pupils were enrolled on the admission register in the course of the year. At the day of inspection the enrolment was sixty-five, a large increase on the previous year, but the average daily attendance remained almost static climbing only to thirty-two.
In 1869 eighty-six pupils were entered on the roll but the average daily attendance was still only thirty-five. As can be expected from the falling attendance, the school’s condition was deteriorating and a report of 1873 was rather scathing.
“Good progress is impossible under the circumstances; the progress of the children who attend well, of whom there are a few, is very slow. As matters stand at present the school is a failure.”
After such a violent attack on the school it comes as no surprise to note the report on the school in 1874 school year, “The teacher resigned at the close of the year 1873.”
While no further mention could be found in Departmental Inspectors’ reports concerning the private school, it had reopened because mention is made of it in Mr Platt’s report on the establishment of the state school in 1876. We can assume that his early school finally closed when the new state school was opened.
H. Waldo Looker, Secretary to the School Committee, forwarded to the Department of the Public Instruction forms of application for the establishment of a new school at Walloon. These were dated 8th July, 1876.
At this stage in the history of state education the settlement applying for the school was required to raise one-fifth of the cost of outfitting a new school.
On the 7th August, 1876, application was made to the Lands Department to have the Government Reserve at Walloon Railway Station set aside for a school and the school was completed on 23rd May, 1877. The school was finally opened on the 9th July, 1877.
Unfortunately, age has claimed the first page of the Admission Register so details of students of that historic first day are not available. The number of enrolments at the end of the second quarter of the 1877 school year, which is just after the school opened, was 107, so we can assume that for enrolment.
Conditions in the first decade of school life were very primitive by modern standards. A feature of schools in those times was employment of Pupil Teachers - children kept on (usually at their own school) by the Head Teacher to teach the children during school hours, and receive instruction from the Head Teacher in teaching skills out of school hours. Their lot was a trying one.
In 1901 the District Inspector of Works recommended that the shingles on the school and residence roof be replaced with iron, but this was not done until 1904. In 1902 the tanks failed and water was carted to the school for 12 weeks.
At the time also, a plague of white ants attacked the school building, but the head Teacher, Mr James Cronin, soon had them under control through the generous use of treacle and arsenic.
The school residence was damaged by a cyclone in 1903. Guttering, shingles, and window glass had to be replaced. Repairs and painting were carried out at a cost of 58.0.0.
The school reserve was cleared of prickly pear in 1914, and the school was re-floored in 1918.
In 1935, it was decided that the school building at Walloon was not worth the expense of lining it. The estimated cost of the new school was 785.0.0. This was built in 1935. The old school was removed to another part of the school reserve and the old residence was purchased by the Railway Department.
The story of the Walloon school from there on is of slow but steady progress.
Over recent years expanded government financial assistance and the purchase of a great deal of equipment by the P&C Association has resulted in many improvements both inside and outside the classrooms. The fruits of a dedicated and hard working P&C Association are obviously apparent throughout the school and continue to this very day.