Centenary countdown is on

AS GYMPIE counts down to the 100th anniversary of Gympie State High School, local historian Dr Elaine Brown has offered The Gympie Times a preview of the great stories contained in the centenary book about the school.

The book will be launched at the centenary celebrations on the weekend of March 9-11.

The authors of the book write that the need for a new high school in Gympie was evident as early as 1913, when crowded conditions at the Central School led to a campaign for a new building with suitable recreation grounds.

The Gympie City Council offered the government Tozer Park, a 7.7 hectare site at Cootharaba Road, which had been given to the council by local politician Sir Horace Tozer in 1895.

The site had a number of problems. Sloping and rocky, with poor soil and a gully nearby that drained refuse from the butter factory, it was considered too far from the town centre. It contained two goldmines, a number of mine shafts and three large mullock heaps. Although fenced, it had become neglected and untidy.

There was no flat ground where a school could be built, so the government bought 3.6ha further up the hill from Sir Horace's son, solicitor Vivian Tozer. Although World War I was raging and money was scarce, an impressive new building was erected in 1916-17.

The picture, below,  taken from Cootharaba Hill around 1924, shows the school in a bare setting of abandoned goldmines, with numerous miners' cottages in the background. In the foreground are the headworks of the Columbia Extended mine, which was located on what became Tozer Park Oval.

A mullock heap, just visible behind the school to the left, was levelled over the years to make two large sports ovals. The track in the foreground, then an extension of Tozer Park Rd, became an internal school road.

A symbol of change in a decaying landscape, this distinctive building stood for 38 years before being destroyed by fire in 1955. Sports fields and gardens were gradually created around it, and the students and teachers who made it part of their lives regarded it with great affection.

You can find out more about the school centenary by visiting www.100.gympieshs.com.au for the full program and school history. Get in early to book for some of the highlights, such as the centenary concert (three sessions March 9 and 10), the formal celebration and reunion (March 10) and the reunion dinner (March 10).

Contact the school office on 5489 8333 with inquiries.

Gympie Times

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