Schools of Arts were viewed very much in the nineteenth century as worthy bodies concerned with intellectual improvement, literacy, and nourishing community life. As such they were able to claim annual subsidy from Government for the purchase of library books and for other associated costs. In 1896 there were 82 such institutions scattered throughout the Colony, subsidised by the Government according to their receipts.
The little School of Arts building quickly figured in most of the important events in the life of Woombye and district. In 1900 a meeting held there saw the establishment of the grandly-named Maroochy Pastoral Agricultural Horticultural and Industrial Society, and the first annual show of this association was held in the grounds of the School of Arts on 3 June 1900. A show ring had been fenced, and seats were made from round timber pieces and other waste from Bartholomew’s mill. Some 1500 people attended, packing the temporary pavilion and also the School of Arts, which housed the exhibition of displays of cooking, needlework, school work and floral art. By 1905 the Woombye Show had grown to become a two day event, but in 1909 it had outgrown its home and was transferred to Nambour.
The establishment of a local weekly newspaper, the Nambour Chronicle, in 1903, fortunately allows us an excellent glimpse into the life of the Woombye community almost 100 years ago, and the central role played by the Woombye School of Arts. The small building witnessed the formation of sporting and community bodies, political associations, lobby groups, producer bodies, and hosted such entertainments, children’s concerts, debutante balls, magic lantern shows, and the very first films to be shown in Woombye – in November 1906. There were also visits of evangelists, and temperance crusaders.
One remarkable meeting held in the hall in June 1907 heard a Mr. J. Crawford announce a cure for alcoholism given that “many well known persons of this area are quickly drinking themselves to death”! It is also interesting to note that vandalism was an issue even in those days. In July I90l a special meeting at the hall considered “the problem of increased vandalism of the exterior part of the building….young boys were creating a hazard” and Constable Daley had extinguished a fire which had been deliberately lit outside the building.
Notable Dates in the Hall History
31st July1903 re. Concert held in School of Arts
“The effect under the coloured lights was excellent. The highlight was when the Reverend A. Higgins gave Lantern slide show. This showed the First bringing of the illustrated story of Jane Conquest. The reading connected therewith being vocals by Mr. J. Wilson. The other slides shown were of India and Japan. The entertainment was much appreciated. The hall was then cleared and dancing was indulged in, and much praise is due to Miss G. Wilson.”
23 August 1903
“Two of Mr. Wilson’s children have come down with scarlet fever. Both of these children were removed from their parents and transported to Brisbane where they are being looked after by Mrs. Wilson. How the epidemic was introduced to the district cannot be summarised, but every effort is being made to stop its spread. The school buildings are being fumigated, for the present the School of Arts is being utilized for school purposes.
A meeting for the formation of a fruit growers’ association is to be held in the School of Arts next Saturday.”
18 September 1903
“A meeting was held in the School of Arts on the 3lst ultimo for the purpose of forming a progress association.”
24th July 1924 at a meeting in the School of Arts the Alexandra Headlands Life Saving Club was formed.
1945 much worse for wear the hall was converted into a cinema
1947 in a bad state of repair the committee folded and the hall was only used as an agency for two banks and a firm of solicitors. The Tennis Club was built on the School of Arts reserve at this time.
1948 The Woombye Bowling Club was formed with the green built on the School of Arts Reserve what was once the show ring behind the School of Arts. Much of the local fund raising effort was put into this and not the repair of the School of Arts.
1950 A new wave of enthusiasm for the School of Arts saw plans suggested for new stumps for the hall, also plans for a brick facade and shops and offices to be added. The CWA and the Alexandra Headlands Life Saving Club were offered the use of the hall for free.
1951 The Library was revived and the damaged stumps were repaired. And regular hire as a cinema improved the income of the Hall.
1956 Funds were raised by returned serviceman as well as many other people and loans from local citizens and a supper room ( now known as the lower hall) was planned to be built.
1958 School of Arts Club room ( Supper Room) was opened by David Low. For the next ten years catering at the Nambour Show became the major source of income.
1960 Catering at the Nambour show allowed for loans to be paid off, new restumping of the hall with concrete stumps and the purchase of stacking chairs.
1964 The Council built a new toilet block on a resumed portion of the School of Arts Reserve.
1966 A major extension of the Supper Room was undertaken.
1969 A new controversial front porch and ramp for the main hall was built.
1970’s Decline in the use of the hall and revenue impacted on the finances of the hall. The future of the hall was only saved by the sudden new growth of population numbers in the town. Most of the jobs around the hall were done by volunteers to help the hall finances.
1982/3 After 15 years of financial stringency the exteriors and roof of both halls were repainted, broken windows fixed and new equipment purchased.
1984 A new constitution was adopted and the library refurbished by the School of Arts committee and they agreed to provide the accommodation free of cost to the Library.
1986 A Childrens Library was opened in the former bank room.
1988 At a cost of $23000 the halls were clad in vinyl.
1996 The top hall roof was replaced.
Woombye total population 2,881 – land area 1,380 Hectares
Woombye is bounded by the locality of Nambour and Paynter Creek in the north, the Bruce Highway and the localities of Kiels Mountain and Forest Glen in the east, the localities of Chevallum and Palmwoods in the south, and Paynter Creek, the locality of West Woombye and Petrie Creek in the west.
Woombye is a rural township area, which is named from an Aboriginal word thought to mean “place of black snake” or “black myrtle” or “axe handle made from black myrtle”. The area lies to the south of Nambour, west of the Bruce Highway and north of Palmwoods.
European settlement of the area dates from the 1860s, when land was used mainly for farming. Gradual growth took place during the late 1800s, aided by the establishment of the Woombye township in 1890, and the opening of the railway line in 1891. Pineapple growing commenced in 1895. The most significant residential development occurred from the post-war years.
Major attractions of the area include The Big Pineapple, Thrill Hill Family Fun & Waterslide Park, Woombye Railway Station, Woombye Pub and several private and public schools.