150 years of tradition

Amberley District State School, formerly known as Amberley State School and Warrill Creek State School, was begun in 1861 in a building on a Willowbank sheep and cattle station owned by Mr Darby McGrath. Mr McGrath who had previously operated private schools in and around Ipswich since 1847 asked the Board of General Education to take over his school at Warrill Creek. He donated some land in Green Lane near his homestead on which to build a new school building.

The Board accepted the offer, and a new weatherboard school was built on a subsidised basis with the Board of General Education contributing 300 pounds towards the total cost of 450 pounds. The school was located somewhere in what is now the south west corner of the aerodrome. The school was officially opened on 22 May 1862. In 1863 the aggregate attendance was 43 and the average attendance 33.8.

By 1865 the aggregate attendance had risen to 75 but the average attendance was only 38.8. As a school in a rural area, many children were involved outside school hours in jobs on the farm. Cotton picking was one which occupied them after school for three months of the year. Consequently, the head teacher in 1870, Mr Frank McDonnell applied for a shortening of the school day by one hour and the opening of a night school. His application was successful.

On January 28, 1888 the head teacher Mr John McKeon was instructed to occupy the new premises erected on the Sandridge site. Disaster struck in 1893 with the arrival of floods at Warrill Creek. Consequently the average attendance was especially low during February. The school changed its name to Amberley State School in 1903. As the 1900 Education Act made the attendance of children between the ages of six and twelve years compulsory, a more regular attendance resulted. Increases occurred in the school population between 1904 and 1920. In 1904, the average attendance was 60 students and sixteen years later it had risen to 79.

With the outbreak of World War II, the air force base adjacent to the school was used for military purposes. After District Inspector Dunlop's survey of the school, it was decided that during an emergency the school at Amberley would be closed for an indefinite period and Amberley children could be moved out to Walloon where the former old school building is now used as a hall. The school was closed at the end of 1941 and remained closed until the Director-General, L.D. Edwards authorised the re-opening of the school for the 1947 school year.

Disaster struck again at 3.25pm on Tuesday November 26, 1968 when fire broke out in a wing of the school. Two classrooms and a staffroom were partially destroyed. Fortunately, the fire was contained in one wing and extinguished due to the prompt action by fire fighting units from the Amberley base.

In the 1960's concern was expressed about the teaching/learning conditions at the school due to its proximity to the R.A.A.F. base and the increase in aircraft using the base. An inspector's report noted the movement of aircraft but concluded that the "interruption to teaching or testing was only momentary."

Over the following years, requests were made to introduce sound-proofing equipment to deaden aircraft noise or relocate the school. This became a reality in the late 1970's when a new school was built a few hundred metres from the base on Rosewood Road.The last parade was held at 11.15am in front of the old school before the old school officially closed and the class groups walked up the Rosewood Road to move into the new school.

On 24 July, 1982, a new school (pictured below) was officially opened by the Honourable W.A.M. Gunn, M.L.A. Minister for Education and Member for Somerset.

In 2010 due to the expansion of the Defence Force Base the school was relocated once again to its current site and renamed Amberley District State School.

Amberley District State School celebrated 150 years in 2012, and looks forward to another 150 years as it continues its proud history.

Last reviewed 20 November 2019
Last updated 20 November 2019