Our school history


The beginning of education in Dalby

A few years before the establishment of State Education in Dalby a private school was conducted in very primitive premises on the eastern side of Myall Creek.

This school of approximately 30 pupils was conducted by a Mr. Meredith whose stipend was paid by the parents of children attending at the rate of one schilling per pupil per week.

The establishment of education in Dalby

Although now classified as State School No. 28, the Dalby State School was in fact the eighth Government school to be established in Queensland. It is indeed the fourth surviving school in Queensland to reach its 156th year of existence. With this in mind it is only fitting that the citizens of Dalby should feel justly proud on the school’s contribution to the development of the State.

The first land sale held in Dalby was conducted on the 27 May 1857. The land on which the school buildings now stand was originally bought by Charles Coxen and Alexander Johnston and surrendered by them in 1860 for school purposes. In the Department of Education archives Brisbane, is a conveyance from Charles Coxen and Alexander Johnston to the Board of General Education fixing the location of Dalby State School, comprising two blocks, “containing by admeasurements two roods” each, and sold as lots 21 and 22 in pursuance of the proclamation of 27 May, 1857. This transfer was signed and dated 4 July 1862.

Thus the Dalby State School came into being, on an acre of land facing the present Cunningham Street and this land now comprises roughly the area covered by the present school buildings. The building, of slabs with a shingle roof occupied the corner of Cunningham and Bunya Streets.

Opened on the 1 June 1861, the school was under the charge of Samuel Henry Ind, first Head Teacher. Unfortunately, no record is available of the attendance on the date of opening though there were 57 pupils present on the day of inspection later in the year. By the end of 1862, the enrolment had reached 111. Absenteeism among the pupils was apparently extremely high as the average daily attendance for the year was only 56. This was, of course, before the days of “free, compulsory, and secular” education, brought in the State Education Act of 1875. Indeed, it was not until 1870 that education became free to all who desired it. School fees continued to be paid until 1870 when education became free.

From its inception, the school was a mixed one until the 1st January, 1869, when a separate department for girls and infants was established, the first Headmistress of the girls’ department being Mary Jane Roulston.

The innovation lasted for 24 years after which, on the 30 June, 1893 this girls’ and infants’’ section was closed and the school resumed as a mixed one. When the Boys’ and Girls’ schools were combined, it was found necessary to remove the old Boys’ School which was reported, in 1894, as being “out of use and in a state of collapse”.

Its condition is reflected by the fact that two tenders for its purchase for removal were received from James Clarke, hotel keeper, and S.W. Long for £20 and £10 respectively.

The removal of the building was completed by Mr. Clarke in October 1894. Immediately behind the school grounds, in the area now occupied by the playground, were the local sale yards. The presence of these yards was a constant source of irritation to the Head Teachers and School Committees of the day and continued representations by the latter bodies finally resulted in the removal of the yards and the inclusion of the area in the School Grounds in 1923. Records reveal that the Headmaster reported to the School Committee that “owing to the lack of fencing in the newly acquired land, he had been forced to have horses and cattle impounded by the town pound-keeper in order to try to protect school, property.”

The school children in these early days walked to school, distances of up to five miles, particularly from the Branch Creek area. The shingle roof of the old school buildings was not conducive to a constant water supply and on many occasions the scholars were obliged to cart water to the school from a well that was at the corner of Cunningham and Drayton streets, the area now occupied by the Church of England. Old-timers vividly recall the goat-carts in which the eager lads transported this water, and of the many exciting goat races staged on the “Flats” after school were dismissed.

The first school building

Development of educational facilities in Dalby

During the years, 1861 to the turn of the century, school population fluctuated, to a marked degree. This was an indication of the unsettled nature of the population of the town as a whole. Few, apart from the established landholders, could claim permanency of residence in the growing township. The combined school population had reached 218 by 1874 but by 1885 the attendance had fallen to 137. Apparently, a general exodus had taken place between the years 1880 and 1885. By 1888, the population of the town had reached 1500 approximately one seventh of who attended the Dalby State School.

As the new century ushered in any age of increasing technological development and as the population of the town continued to grow it was felt necessary by the School Committees of the day that secondary education should be established in Dalby. This finally came into being on 1 January 1914, when a secondary Department was added to the existing Primary School.

Of the 32 candidates who had previously sat for the qualifying examination, 26 were successful and were admitted to the High School division.

Miss Sarah Daisy Hooper B.A. was transferred from Brisbane to act as secondary teacher in the newly opened High “Top”.

By April 1918, the attendance at this high School “Top” has reached 42 and steadily increased as the years went on. In 1920, the average attendance in the Secondary Department was 70 while in the Primary section the attendance had reached 260. At first this high School was housed on an enclosed veranda but as attendance grew a new wing was added in 1919 to accommodate the increasing numbers who desired secondary education. Records reveal the School Committee’s awareness of the need for such secondary education. First moves for a High School and later a Technical College were put in motion long before the outbreak of World War I. During the 20’s and 30’s the school population remained static, with the enrolment in the Primary section around three hundred with sixty to seventy students in the High School section.

About this time, the scope of the Secondary department was widened by the establishment of a Domestic Science Course in 1922, and Woodwork and Commercial Courses in 1927. These classes filled a pressing need and were greatly appreciated by students and business and commercial interests alike since they provided the business community with an ever-increasing number of trained employees.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939 and the evacuation of people to the country, Dalby’s population began to rise. The establishment of war-time industrial undertakings and the foundation of secondary industries in Dalby did much to bring about this increase. School enrolments rose to 491 by 1945.

However, it was not until the vast expansion in agricultural development in the Dalby district that followed World War II that this increase became spectacular. Although prior to 1939 agricultural production had been steadily progressing, the district was still predominantly a pastoral one. With land-hungry veterans just returned from active service clamouring for agricultural country, the rich black-soil plains of the district appealed most strongly to them. Under the government’s Soldier Settlement Scheme many of the larger properties were cut up and converted into agricultural units. Thus began an influx of agriculturalists into the district, most of them with young families.

This gave a new lease of life to our town. The needs of the increased farming community had to be met. New businesses sprang up in the town, secondary industries were extended with the development particularly of Napier’s Foundry, and machinery works were established while the business section of the town was greatly enlarged. All this was accompanied by an extensive home building programme which literally changed the face of this “City of the Plains”. The population rose spectacularly and with it a came a corresponding increase in the number of children attending the school. Between the years 1945 and 1950, the enrolments at the Dalby State School rose to 772.

This progress continued during the 50’s. With the establishment of School transports to convey country children to this growing central school, the progress accelerated until by the year 1954 the enrolment stood at 1024, as increase of some 106% over that of 1945.

By this time, in spite of the provision of temporary accommodation in the form of ten extra classrooms, the housing problem became acute. Mean-time, continued representations were being made for the establishment of a State High School in Dalby. This State High School became reality in 1954, while by 1957 the Seventh and Eighth Grades had also been transferred to the present Intermediate School. This tended to relieve the overcrowding at Dalby State School to some extend and the school population dropped to 930 in 1956.

In the year of the centenary, 1961 – Grades 1-6 were housed at the State School with Grades 7 and 8 comprising the Intermediate section of the High School. However, with the abolition of the Scholarship examination in 1962, Grade 8 became part of the High School proper and, in 1965, Grade 7 returned to the State School.

A significant reduction in class size, in line with departmental policy in recent years, has been one of many changes which have taken place. At present, the population at the school is divided into 23 class groupings. This includes the Special Education Program where students spend morning session in a Learning Enhancement Centre and are integrated into year level classes for the afternoon sessions.

The services of specialist’s teachers in the fields of Music, Physical Education, LOTE, Speech Language, Support Teacher Learning Difficulties, Literacy Coach, Chaplain, Indigenous Education Worker, Curriculum Coordinator, Teacher-Librarian and a Guidance Officer are also attached to the school. Under the direction of the Music Specialist, there are two choral groups, Junior and Senior. We also have an Instrumental Music program in place.

Teacher Aides have become an integral part of the school and serve an invaluable function. At present, there are 18 aides in the school, working casual, contract and permanent hours. During lunch time aides supervise students in extra activities including, sewing and music. Ancillary staff also includes Administration Officers, Business Service Manager (Registrar), Schools’ Officer (Janitor/Groundsman), Cleaners and Crossing Supervisors.

Parent help, apart from P & C involvement, has become another invaluable part of the school over the years. Parents help in the classrooms in many ways under the supervision and direction and in cooperation and harmony with class teachers.

Advances in technology have not bypassed the Dalby State School. All classroom blocks are linked to a centralised local area network housed in Administration. This network allows classrooms access to the latest of technology equipment – internet, laptops and desktop computers, Electronic Whiteboards and Smartboards. The pride of the network is a computer lab that houses the latest in technology for full classroom access. Presently the ICT Committee are working on the Wireless Network Project – this will allow staff and students wireless access to the network and internet allowing all users to enjoy outdoor learning areas and a less restrictive classroom learning environment.

History of the school building

Over past 156 years Dalby State School has seen its fair share of changes within the development of the school and its grounds. From its original one room slab and shingle-roofed building to today housing seven blocks of classrooms, sheltered sheds and a multi-purpose hall, we have come a long way. In the early years the school saw changes in Teacher’s rooms being added, temporary classrooms put in place, provision made for temporary classrooms underneath school buildings, verandas enclosed in, to accommodate specialised classes and the play shed being enclosed for Domestic Science. In recent times verandas have been enclosed, classrooms extended and the Administration area upgraded.

During 2007-2009, approximately $3 million has been expended in updating the school facilities. This school now boasts a gross motor activity room, a modern kitchen facility and modern Prep facilities to support an indoor/outdoor learning program.

Additionally, the areas around classrooms have become an outdoor learning area with many student activities. Classrooms have been refurbished to allow more co-operative teaching and air-conditioned rooms allow a more pleasant learning environment for the students and staff.A craft centre and an art shelter have also been added with a maths activity trail, “Access for All” playground and equipment and extensions to Groom Hall (where Arts Councils and small group performances are held), a fitness trail. The front of the school houses a gazebo. Relocation of shades, cubby and storage sheds from the preschool have been added to the school grounds. A bicycle compound has been installed.

In 2011, under the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program we will see the completion of two classrooms added to the Library and a world-class, 21st century Multi-Purpose Hall costing approximately $2,300,000.

All of these improvements support student learning and make this school a great place for children to be.

The state school theatrette

The need for an assembly hall had long occupied the minds of School Committees, P and C Associations and Head teachers. Immediately after World War II the Parents’ and Citizen’s Association began work with the intention of making this a reality.

Energetic subcommittees worked diligently to raise funds for the project. At this time, many surplus R.A.A.F. buildings at Oakey were coming on the market, and it was felt that such a building could be converted to the needs of the school.

Negotiations were commenced and a building was purchased and removed to Dalby. Renovations and additions were made to convert the former hut into an adequate theatrette, equipped at a cost of more than £2000.

Opened in 1947, the theatrette was a tremendous benefit to the school, allowing for assemblies, music practice, film shows and drama.

Through the efforts of the school committees and the Parents’ and Citizen’s Associations, the theatrette was equipped with dressing rooms, pianos, a film projector and a public address system, all of which made school p

Further improvements were made with the provision of a stack-a-by steel seating accommodation.

The school theatrette was of benefit, not only to the school but to the community at large. Adult Education activities, including film evenings, lectures by University Staff members, the work of the Little Theatre groups, the Photographic Society and other bodies, all contributed to the general welfare of the people of Dalby.

In 1962-63 the theatrette was removed and “E” Block was built. Upstairs housed classrooms and below became the new theatrette. This room was also used during election time.As the school continued to grow “F” Block was built and the theatrette was converted back to classrooms. Today lower “E” Block houses the Prep Rooms with an excellent outside deck facing the library.

School library

In 1975, the $53,000 library block at the Dalby State School was officially opened.

The building was designed to provide for individual and group activities. The main reading area occupies more the 80 per cent of the space. In addition, there was a landscaped courtyard used as an outdoor reading area. In 2008, the courtyard was demolished and a large sensory garden was built which allows access for all.

Over the years the library has had minor works completed with the addition of an Office / Workroom.

In June 2010 the library and resource collection was moved to Groom Hall in anticipation for the extension of two rooms to the oval side of the Library. Under the Building the Education Revolution (BER) Program, an approximate cost of $680,000 will be spent on the upgrade.

The Dalby State School library aims to present a vital, stimulating environment which encourages the students to be involved in a variety of activities, rather than be simply a storehouse of books. With the new extension students will be able to use laptops, with wireless connection, to surf the internet, allowing them access to the latest up-to-date information.

Dental clinic

The role of this clinic can be expressed in one word – Prevention. The clinic is staffed by a team of four, consisting of the Dental Officer, two Dental Therapists and a dental Assistant. Treatment is available to all school children in Dalby through years 1-7. A permanent dental facility is housed within the school grounds but is not associated with our school. The dentist generally visits our school on a 12-18 month basis.

Alterations to administration section and staff room

In 1960, approximately $34,000 was expended on upgrading administration and staff room accommodation facilities. The classroom area at the northern end of Block B was remodelled to form offices for Principal, Deputy Principal and Infant Mistress, together with an administration office, store, work room and waiting area.

The existing administration rooms, with which most people would have been familiar, were re-modelled to form a new staff room. In 2006 the newly renovated Administration building was completed. Administration now features a Parent and Visitor entrance at the front of the school and a Student entrance from the rear of the building.

“D” Block - Fire

On the 1st October, 1966, at 7.50a.m., a fire destroyed five school rooms, furniture, teaching equipment and school books at the Dalby State School. The fire lasted 3½ hours and caused estimated $35,000 damage. It is understood that two children under the care of the Children’s Welfare Department were later apprehended and dealt with in relation to the fire.

This fire occurred in the block under which the tuckshop is now located. This block having only been erected earlier that same year.

School residence

At first the school-master was accommodated in a house in Cunningham Street but in 1923, land in Drayton Street was acquired for the purpose of constructing a school residence. The residence was erected and occupied in 1931 while additions to it were completed in 1933.

The area that was occupied by the school residence was originally the site of the old Royal Hotel. Interesting reminders of the old “Royal Hotel” days were unearthed when excavations were being made in 1959 for the purpose of installing the septic system in the school and residence. Excavators brought to the surface what must have once been the dump for the “Dead Marines”. Bottles of every shape, size, colour and composition were unearthed among which were some hand-blown specimens which must have dated back to the earliest days of the town-ship.

In the early 1990’s the school residence was removed from the school grounds and relocated to the Anglican Church grounds where it houses an administration office and meeting rooms. The vacated area on Drayton Street allowed for the extension of the Infant play area.


Most people who have attended Dalby State School since 1966 have a memory of tuckshop from their school days; this memory may be of sitting in the class room on a cold damp winter’s day and having the aroma of meat pies or mince rolls being prepared wafting into the class room making hungry tummies rumble and knowing full well that in your school bag, the lunch that waited for you consisted of a cold vegemite sandwich. Or maybe it was one of the more fortunate days when the bread bin at home was empty and you had 20 cents burning a hole in your pocket. As soon as that lunch bell rang, off you’d race to the tuckshop to purchase a meat pie for 12 cents and a small bottle of soft drink for 8, and in 1969, the bonus was a 3 cent refund on the glass soft drink bottle; this then enabled you to purchase 3 apricot delights or some other special treat. The years have quietly slipped by but through that time children’s tummies have stayed much the same, morning tea and lunch times being of utmost importance in their day.

Much credit and thanks must be given to the 74 ladies who attended a meeting at the school on the 7th of October 1966, which resulted in a Ladies’ Auxiliary being formed with the view of raising money to recoup losses incurred in the fire earlier that year. Their first big venture was to conduct a tuckshop on Mondays with Mrs Nola Thams as Convenor and a team of willing and valuable volunteers. Shortly after, the tuckshop was conducted twice weekly, Monday and Friday, and then at a later date, daily, with all labour being voluntary with the exception of the Convenor. In 1973 the Ladies Auxiliary ceased to exist as a separate entity and the tuckshop became, and is still today, an initiative of the P&C Association.

Recognition is given to all past Convenors who have worked diligently with the P&C through the years, co-ordinating and seeing to the smooth operation of all aspects of the tuckshop, their hard work is much appreciated.

Since 1994, with the foresight of P&C Committee Members, and dedicated Uniform Convenors, the DSS Uniform Shop has grown and developed, and today, offers a full range of good quality school uniforms and accessories and is provided as a service to the school community. The uniform shop is run in conjunction with the tuckshop with a volunteer uniform convenor seeing to the needs of all school uniform requirements.

The tuckshop as we know it today, operates on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a paid Convenor and a backup Assistant when needed, and with a team of wonderful volunteers, is proud to be able to offer the services to the parents, children and staff of the school.

In 2011, you can still buy a meat pie at the tuckshop but the price has changed considerably, and it will be a low fat pie produced for sale through tuckshops to meet the new healthy eating guidelines set in place by the government. Through the years the children’s health and wellbeing has always been the main focus in menu planning, with the menu offering a wide range of healthy and affordable foods. In 2006 we saw the Government implement a new programme into schools and tuckshops to help parents and children become more aware of the benefits of making healthy food choices at tuckshop and at home. Our award winning, colour coded ‘Smart Choice Menu’ was well received at Dalby State School and encourages the choice of ‘Green’ foods, such as salads, vegetables, fruit, wholemeal bread and low fat dairy items over ‘Amber’ foods, which include low fat pies, sausage rolls, chicken burgers, chicken dinosnacks, chips and ice blocks. All foods now sold at the tuckshop meet the criteria set out by the government in the ‘Smart Choice Programme’. Cream buns and cream coffee rolls and other such foods are now listed as ‘Red’ foods and cannot be sold at the tuckshop.

Through the changes that have come about over the years at Dalby State School Tuckshop one thing remains the same as from that very first committee meeting in 1966, is that the most vital and valued part of the success of the tuckshop to this day, is the very hard working, wonderful volunteers who have given up their valuable time to regularly work in the tuckshop, be involved in committees, keeping the books, paying of accounts and many other endless jobs that have contributed to making the tuckshop the small business it is today. Those volunteer efforts have then gone on to helping the P&C Association provide improvements and equipment for the school through the funds generated.

Special education program facilities

We are proud to boast a range of fantastic facilities for all of our students. Read about our facilities.

Last reviewed 21 December 2018
Last updated 21 December 2018