The first attempt to establish a school at Burleigh Heads was recorded on 11 December 1912, when Mr Walter Brake, in a letter to the Department of Public Instruction, stressed the necessity of a school at either Booningba or Burleigh Heads. Mr Walter Clark had promised a piece of land for the school.
Burleigh School, No 1568, opened in Tabilban Street, on the 19 March 1917 with an enrolment of eleven pupils. It wasn’t until the 16 July 1927 that the name was changed to Burleigh Heads State School.
The original school was built to house twenty children but by 1921 there were complaints of overcrowding, 36 children with only twenty desks. A solution to the overcrowding still hadn’t been reached in 1926. The headmaster, Mr Frederick Perrett, advised Brisbane that “the Church of England Hall is available with plenty of playground, very centrally positioned, with suitable sanitary purposes and for a reasonable rent of 20/- weekly. The present enrolment of 93 is accommodated in a room for 36.” Approval was given for the move. School furniture and lavatories were moved at the end of the vacation on 25 January 1927. This temporary move to the Church of England Hall in Park Avenue was to last until July 1935.
The new school, on our present site, which was built to accommodate 120 pupils, was officially opened on 30 August 1935. The school was built during the depression, a time when many people were without work. The rockeries on either side of the driveway were built by men who were given relief work at this time.
The school continued to expand with extensions to A wing in the late 1940s. In 1951 a one teacher school was moved to where B wing is today. (In 1955 it was relocated to its present site. Today, it is used as a parent room by our P&C.) B wing was built 1956 – 57; C wing in 1959; further extensions to A wing in 1968 and 1971; D wing in 1969 – 70 and E wing in 1973 – 74. During this time there were also numerous demountables or modular classrooms scattered around the grounds. The preschool was completed in 1974. The library was completed in 1977.
As the enrolments increased, the Department reviewed the possibility of a separate school for the lower grades. The Burleigh Heads Infant State School opened on 23 January 1978 with 395 students in years 1 and 2.
C wing was wantonly destroyed by fire on November 13, 1982. This was replaced in 1984.
With new schools in the area enrolments dropped. The primary school and the infant school amalgamated on July 3, 1989.
The Forestry Plot: Fifty Pinus Elliottii were planted on Arbor Day, 27 June 1958. These were added to every Arbor Day until 1966.
The School Motto: Our school motto, “Labore et Honore”, means “Work with Honour”.
The School Colours: Although the school uniforms are maroon and white, the sports’ colours of red and white are regarded as school colours. Sporting colours were assigned by the South Coast Sports Association, to avoid all competitors having similar colours.
The Burleigh Bunyip: From “Reminiscences” in the South Coast Bulletin, 9 April 1947:
“Mr Edward Stephens, a longtime resident of Burleigh Heads, told how many years ago, when he was yoking a team of horses near the Reedy Creek lagoon, some animals in the reeds gave three uncanny roars. Another early resident described the bunyip he had seen as ‘a cross between a dingo and a goanna, only as large as a draught horse with webbed feet, its hide and antics like a local shire councilor.”
Reports of the Bunyip were received from the Burleigh School children of the twenties and thirties. They were terrified of the Bunyip especially when they heard the weird noises coming from the swamp on their way to and from school. The Bunyip was adopted as the school motif in 1982.
The School Song: The school song was written by Patricia Mackenzie in 1992 for our 75th Anniversary.
Information from “Burleigh Heads State School, 75th Anniversary 1917 – 1992”,
compiled by Helen Thorne.