Some past students returning for the school's Golden Jubilee, 1993. They are standing where the original school was built.
Some past students returning for the school's Golden Jubilee, 1993. They are standing where the original school was built. Contributed

School on top of the mountain

It was a bleak winter's day and snow was beginning to fall. As no students had arrived at the school, the teacher decided to close it for the day. It was a situation not many Queensland schools have experienced and it was the first time for Tom Kerr and probably the last.

He was fairly new at this one teacher school. high on the mountains. It was the Mowbullan Provisional School and it was the only one to open on the top of the Bunya Mountains. A total of 51 students enrolled during the seven years of it's existence.

It opened it's doors on February 15, 1943 with children from five families attending. A sawmill had been built by the track that led down to Maidenwell. Many of the workers who operated the mill had families. The land was donated by local grazier Allan Stirling and the Timber Corporation provided the timber. From that the school was built about a kilometer from the Sawmill. It was placed in a clearing in the dense rainforest.

The first teacher was Charles Law who was met at Kaimkillenbun and taken to his lodgings at Maisy Green's guest house on the mountains. He later wrote:

"I was a veteran of one year's experience and faced the prospect of a brand new school with no past records, everything to be unpacked from boxes and a population of 10 children from beginners to Grade 7 - a difficult task for one still green between the ears.”

He settled into the routine but found little to do on holidays except go on long, lonely walks through the forests. He made friends with Fred, son of the guest house owner and one night they took their car to see the fights in Dalby. On the way they found the roads wet and boggy and they were stopped a number of times. Finally the only way they could make progress was to drive on the railway line. Arriving in Dalby they found the fights had finished so then it was the long hard trip back to the Bunyas.

The next teacher was Robert Walker who was also beginning his teaching career. He never forgot the rough, narrow road up the mountain. At lunch time the children used to play in the forest Robert Walker also remembered the cold of the mountains when the water in the wheel ruts stayed frozen all day. On holidays he went falling timber with Fred Green and found that more profitable than teaching.

Then, the sawmill closed and some of the huts were shifted to Dandabah where there were Forestry employees working. Tom Kerr was the teacher then. As there were some children in residence, the school building was moved there also.

However the school closed it's doors in April 1950, as attendance was too low. The school house sat idle for many years until the National Park Ranger made it into his office. With a new office built in 1986 the old school building was moved to a less conspicuous position. It now serves as the home for the chocolate wattled bats.


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