The Pozieres District is part of Queensland's Granite Belt and is well known for its production of deciduous fruits and summer vegetables. This was not so 60 years ago, as there were few farms and in its virgin state, the thick bush country was poor grazing. Most of the land belonged to large cattle runs and the country was considered of little use to man or beast. Stringy-bark trees were in good supply and many fine logs were hauled out by bullock wagon.
It then became established that these granite soils and an altitude of over 1000m were suitable for temperate horticulture.
Following the Great War of 1914-18, it was decided by the government, to establish a soldier settlement in the area between Cottonvale and a point now known as Amiens. A railway was laid in 1920 and the sidings were named to commemorate battles in France, in which many Australian soldiers were killed or wounded. On such siding was the name 'POZIERES'.
Some years ago, the citizens of Pozieres in France presented to us, a casket of earth, gathered from the battlegrounds. It is now held at the RSL in Stanthorpe, in sacred memory of those who lost their lives long ago.
The area was surveyed into blocks of 30 x 60 acres, depending on how much land was suitable for farming. A few men had taken up land before the soldiers settlement. There were no roads and the gullies were used for their horse drawn drays. Here the soil was shallow and few trees grew. The only hazards were shallow shafts put down by tin prospectors during the boom before 1900. Little tin of commercial value was found in this area.
In the early twenties, some 40 families took up soldier settlement blocks. On each was a 4 roomed house, 5 acres cleared and netted, 2 draft horses and a few horse drawn implements. The bush was thick with wallabies and rabbits and nothing could be grown outside the netting fenced, or without heavy fertilising. Roads were cleared so each settler had access to a siding. Transport was by horse and cart and a train ran to Brisbane twice a week. For the first 10 years only vegetables were produced and then the orchards gradually came into production. Most train mornings were livened up, with somebody's horse bolting when the train approached.
An area known as the hall ground was set aside for sporting bodies and a hall was built which was used as both a church and dance hall. Some silent movies were shown there by traveling shows. Pozieres had its own tennis, soccer and cricket teams and held sports days with athletics and horse events.
A school was built (1922) and at times in the thirties, the enrolment was as high as 60 pupils.
By the mid-thirties, many settlers were leaving their blocks. Harsh conditions, poor crops, lack of experience, poor markets, poor pest control, failing health of some returned men, were all factors contributing to this. Only a handful of the hardier or more fortunate remained. More of these left the area in 1939-40; some to join the services; some to meet the keen demand for labour in the cities, following the outbreak of war.
A different type of settlement emerged. Vacant blocks were taken over by families from Italy. This played a very important part in the development of Pozieres. Skilled and industrious farmers, they were joined by many more of their countrymen during the forties.
Larger areas of land were cleared. This was slow work as each tree had to be pulled down by a hand operated winch. Farming methods were steadily improving. More efficient pest control, better markets and the use of machinery saw the thick timber replaced by acres of orchard. Large dams for irrigation were built in the gullies.
By the end of the 1940's the area was a prosperous one.
Motor transport and improved roads saw the end of local sporting teams. People made Stanthorpe their centre for recreation and today the hall ground is used only as a rubbish dump.
A Store, Post Office and Butcher shop opened many years ago. Today there is only a large Cold store and Garage.
We, who live in this district now, can be sure that we live in an area of stable and permanent development. Now and then we should think of those who started years ago, with little promise of success.
The Pozieres State School was opened on 16 June, 1921, with an enrolment of 17 pupils. This number increased to 20 by the end of that year.
Mr C Turner who arrived in 1921 to teach on the veranda of a house. The original school consisted of one classroom. This was enlarged by the inclusion of a western veranda. In 1959, a new room was added and part of the eastern veranda was enclosed to form a library.
The original grounds had an area of 5 acres, 6 perches. In 1961 an area of 1.5 acres was added to the Southern Boundary. This forms the Cricket and Athletics Oval. A Tennis Court was built in 1951.
From the original enrolment of 17, the school grew to almost 60 at times in the 1930's. During the last decade the enrolment has been between 30 and 40. The Pozieres School Community celebrated its 75th Anniversary with a 'Back to Pozieres' on Saturday 18 May, 1996.
Community and location
The Pozieres District is a fruit, vegetable and grazing area, situated 20km north west of Stanthorpe off the New England Highway. The small, stable community is multi-cultural, the predominant culture being Italian.