Nundah State School: A Shining Example of How Education in Queensland Progressed

Photo Credit: Nundah State School/Facebook

Nundah State School, found on 41 Bage Street, was built in 1892 and expanded until 1955. However, it first opened in 1865 as the German State National School, which was managed by Lutheran missionaries from Germany.

Major Cotton, then the Commandant of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement, granted the Lutheran missionaries 260 hectares of land when they arrived in Queensland in 1838. Calling their settlement as Zion Hill, they did missionary work until 1849, when most of them turned to farming.

The missionaries then bought land in Nundah in 1848 and developed a small community. By the 1860s, the residents helped raised funds to build a German school at the corner of Buckland Road and Bage Street in Nundah.


State School with 62 Enrollees

A state-administered school was important to the colonial governments because it helped communities develop and progress. When the German school opened, it only had 62 enrollees. By the time the State Education Act, which afforded Queensland youngsters free and compulsory primary education, was passed in 1875, the number of students gradually increased.

By 1886, the German school had 118 students, which necessitated the expansion of the school building. As the facilities expanded, the student body also grew.

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By the early 1890s, the German school had 200 students attending classes in three classrooms in a school property that had a verandah, a play shed, a garden and an oval for outdoor activities. The school’s name was also changed to Nundah State School.

The design for the expansion of the school’s timbre structure in the 1880s.
Photo Credit: Queensland State Archives

Nundah State School, the Main Centre

Nundah’s population grew to 1,675 by 1910 and at least 342 children were attending Nundah State School at this time. Thus, the institution became the main centre of the suburb and its surrounding district. Enrollment at the Nundah State School became a priority for families even if their children were still infants.

So, infant classrooms were added and completed in the building in 1915. The school’s student body rose to 700 by the time the school year opened in 1916.

The Department of Public Works did more building expansions for the state school. Issues like classroom size, ventilation and light were addressed to ensure that the children have the best school environment.

Nundah State School During the War

Some of Nundah State School’s former students served during World War I. The school saw it fit to honour these men by planting five hibiscus trees and one Indian laburnum, to be known later as the Anzac tree, in the garden.

Following the war, more improvements to the school were done to include more sectional classrooms, a tennis court and a new playground with additional equipment. Some facilities were also relocated to align with the new layout of the school.

Renovations, however, stalled during the Great Depression in 1929. Funds to finish the school fences, leveling and retaining walls were later secured after the Queensland Government devised a program to help its constituents find work and earn a living. Part of this program prioritised the employment of skilled workers to continue building schools, hospitals, and government offices.

Nundah State School’s 70th Anniversary

By 1935, Nundah State School was technically open and in operation for 70 years. The government then began the construction of the brick school building to replace the timber structure.  

But then World War II happened and all state schools were ordered closed from January to March in 1942. After that, school attendance became optional as Japanese air raids took place. Like other state schools in Queensland, Nundah State School had trenches to protect the students who still opted to go to class.

Despite the war, however, improvements to the building still continued with the addition of a front driveway, a centre garden, and new lavatories. When World War II ended, Nundah State School’s enrollment escalated to 1,600. Thus, further expansion was undertaken to address the number of students choosing to go to this state school.

Nundah  State School’s expansion in the 1950s.
Photo Credit: Queensland State Archives

The building was completed around 1955.
Photo Credit: Queensland State Archives

Past 1955, other facilities were added to the school grounds, such as:

  • the swimming pool in 1956
  • the dental clinic in 1975
  • the prep school building in 2006
  • the resource centre in 2009
  • the school hall in 2011
  • double tennis courts in 2011

More commemorative trees were also planted in and around the school grounds.

Nundah students spent time at the school library.
Photo Credit:
Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA)
A 1970 school ball at the Nundah State School.
Photo Credit:
Roland Ott/Facebook

Nundah State School Today

Nundah State School occupies 3.24 hectares of land in a residential community. It still stands on its original site although the school building is now a lot bigger than its original structure.

The school is regarded as one of Brisbane’s finest schools because of its facilities. It also has plenty of areas where the kids can play and participate in sports. The trees which were planted decades ago have now matured and continues to provide shade for the students.

The school was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in the 15th of July 2016 for its valuable significance to the history of education and the development of a suburb in Queensland.