The Carey Park Primary School Oral History Project came about when a decision was made to demolish the original school buildings and build a new two-storey school on the same site in Frankel Street, Carey Park.
The Project consists of 42 oral history interviews with participants of varied backgrounds, a list of whom appears at the end of this synopsis. Their ages range from 11 years to 84 years. All have had involvement with the school at different times over its 45-year history in a wide range of capacities. These include pupils who attended that first day in September 1955 to a present day Year 7 pupil. Many others have experienced the Parents and Citizens Association first hand, or assisted as parent helpers in the Canteen, the Library, and the classrooms, sporting endeavours and school excursions. Many past and present staff members, including Principals, Deputy Principals, class teachers, specialist teachers, support staff, professional visitors, and administrative staff contributed their memories for posterity.
The suburb of Carey Park was created at a time of post World War II housing shortages combined with rapid population growth in the town. The first residents moved into their new homes in the latter years of the 1940s. The small State Housing Commission houses were mainly of asbestos and timber, and were built quickly and cheaply to a basic standard plan. The first residents had to contend with a number of inconveniences, such as sand tracks instead of formed roads, and no local shops or public transport existed. However the lack of facilities helped engender community spirit, through the formation of the Carey Park Progress Association. This group lobbied authorities for provision of necessary facilities. The advent of formed roads allowed the operation of a local bus service, and shops were constructed in Frankel Street by about 1952.
As children reached school age, and were forced to walk or travel by bus to the overcrowded South Bunbury Primary School, provision of a school in Carey Park became the most important item on the agenda for the local Progress Association. As a result, it was decided to direct their efforts specifically towards the provision of a school. After a deputation met with the then WA Minister for Education, Mr. Dettman, the school quickly went ahead. It was opened in September 1955 for pupils in their first three years of primary schooling. The original building was a small four-roomed structure of timber, fibreboard and tile, and was intended only as a temporary measure. However it remains part of the much-extended school that is still being used in 2000. The building has retained the same architectural style [Post-War Brisbane Regional Style c.1940-1960].
Development of the School
As a result of the community working together from the very start, the school has continued to maintain its place as the central focus for the growing community of Carey Park over many years. Throughout the 1950s the school grew at a rapid pace, with regular building programs to increase the number of rooms. At the same time, parents and pupils worked with school staff to provide basic facilities and improvements to the school grounds. Fundraising efforts included annual school fetes that involved the whole community, although interestingly the amount of money raised did not vary from year to year, as the working class community had only a certain spending power.
Parents developed the school oval and grounds, while children planted trees each year on Arbor Day and helped with the planting of lawns and gardens. In later years, the P & C Association won the contract for catering services to the Trotting Club meetings at nearby Donaldson Park, which greatly increased the amount of money they were able to contribute to the school. This was later abandoned however, because it was felt that it broke down the strong community spirit at the school, in that only a few were involved in the catering side and others were not given the opportunity to contribute.
Carey Park people have a sense of pride in their community, and many who grew up in the suburb continue to live there as adults, or in nearby Crosslands and Kinkella Park. Their own children have also attended, or continue to attend Carey Park School. Mothers who helped in the canteen for their children have gone back to do the same for grandchildren, maintaining a special pride in their involvement with the school over many years.
Several themes have developed throughout the interviews, which indicate the great sense of pride, and sense of community that surrounds this school, which has been evident since the inception of the school. We are also aware of the great changes that have taken place in the education system since the school was opened in 1955. The school eventuated through sustained lobbying efforts of community members. It was the same parents and community members who worked tirelessly to clear the native bush in order to establish sporting grounds and gardens, which assisted the early growth of the school.
People also attest the strong involvement and support by many of the staff members, who worked to help the children develop as responsible members of their community. Teachers and support staff have always been willing to put in the extra effort with a troubled child. Carey Park people express staunch loyalty for their community, and will always defend it and the school against any criticism. This is particularly true for those who have continued to live in the area and have maintained close contact with the school. The Carey Park spirit is still there in 2000, despite the huge developmental changes that are taking place within the suburb.
Educational changes since 1955 are common to schools throughout the state, but at Carey Park, as at other older schools, they have always been hampered by lack of space to house the facilities that go with a modern education. Hopes are high that the new school building will make Carey Park a more attractive proposition, although there has been some doubt expressed as to the wisdom of a two-storey design.
Overall, these interviews clearly express the sense of community spirit and pride that has grown from the Carey Park Primary School, often described as the ‘heart’ of the suburb. In many instances, these interviews contain voices, which echo a similar story of the Carey Park School, which acclaims the spirit of Carey Park people and Carey Park kids!
Members of the Bunbury Oral History Group Inc. wish to thank the City of Bunbury for allowing us the opportunity to undertake this series of interviews with people who have been associated with the Carey Park Primary School in Bunbury. By this method, their information and reminiscences of the interviewees are captured and preserved for research purposes, both now and in the distant future.
The above information was prepared in october 2010 by Jennie Staines who co-ordinated the BOHG project
List of participants: