At the turn of the century the area now known as Dagun, existed as a small collection of farms. The Mary Valley had been settled, but the towns had yet to be established. The need for a quicker form of transporting timber, produce and milk to the large towns and centres was the catalyst to construct a railway in the Mary Valley.
The Mary Valley railway
On 8 July 1911, the 'Turning of the first sod' was performed in the road now known as Hutchins Road, Dagun, by the Minister for Railways, Honourable WT Paget. At least 500 people attended this important event including Mr James Nash, the discoverer of gold in Gympie, important dignitaries, and many settlers, their wives and children. The local member for Wide Bay, Mr Harry Walker MLA worked tirelessly to get the line up and running. All this construction was a bonus for local farmers who gained an additional income by cutting sleepers.
Finally, on 26 February 1914, the Mary Valley Line to Kandanga was officially opened by the Governor of Queensland, Sir William McGregor. To cater for community needs a Post Office was located in the railway office. In those early years the line was extremely popular with the public. After the Kandanga to Brooloo section opened in 1915 it was reported the railway ran a picnic excursion train from Brooloo to Pialba and 400 adults and 300 children enjoyed this outing.
A rail motor was introduced in May 1928, and football teams used this transport to and from Gympie. At this time Mr Suthers ran a bus service daily between Imbil and Gympie and Mr Ellis and Mr Whelan owned a daily taxi car service. These services closed down when the rail motor gained popularity. In the thirties the local train service was curtailed to one day a week because of the coal strike.
Jim Mills took over as driver of the 'Rattler' in 1939 and continued in this role until his retirement in 1967. The early rail motor service, which took school children into Gympie and back daily, was discontinued in early 1968 due to competition from other forms of transport. The last train ran to Kandanga in mid 1995. The pineapple farmers, who had vigorously fought the closure, then sent their fruit by road.
In May 1998, a tourist run, The Mary Valley Heritage Rail, commenced service. Manned entirely by volunteers, the steam train traveled from Gympie Station, stopping briefly at Dagun and Kandanga, before reaching Imbil.
The Dagun sawmill was constructed in the late 1920s by M Jack Orms as proprietor and his brother-in-law Mr Billy Kidd as off-sider. In 1942 Mr Ben Thatcher, who owned the post office, purchased the mill. He later sold in 1945 to Mr Jack Hourigan, and then again to Mr John Steele in 1970.
The Dagun Co-operative was started in 1926 as large quantities of bananas were railed to the southern markets. Later the sawmill was used to cut timber for packing cases for the embryo pineapple industry as the fruit was sent in wooden cases. As Golden Circle became the main processor pineapples, the fruit was loaded in bulk in bins with tops off and sent on the train.
When the General Store closed in Dagun in 1975, having been established in 1920’s as a Post office and telephone exchange, the Co-op became the receival point for the mail. From then it also served partly as a convenience shop for drinks, fruit and vegetables, ice creams and other items. It later added the tasks of information centre, book library and tool library. Local volunteers catered for the Mary Valley Rattler every Sunday, selling local fruit and vegetables, ice cream, soft drinks, tea and coffee and pineapple juice when available. This was done to improve facilities at the station and raise funds for the local community.
Dagun was growing and the community decided a school was needed for their children. Mr J B Long detailed the early beginning of the school in the 1974, 50th Golden Jubilee book.
'When Ferguson and Co sold their Amamoor estate in 1917, their land extended from Amamoor to the Calico Creek turnoff at Lagoon Pocket, along the western side of the Mary Valley Line. Provision was made for schools at Amamoor and Dagun by donating two acres of land in each place to the Education Department. The piece allotted to Dagun was in Mr Thatcher’s paddock (opposite the Methodist Church. Mr Parr had a blacksmith’s shop on the site for a few years). Early inspections by the Education Department deemed the land inappropriate. It was decided to buy land from Mr J G English (its current site) for the price of 50 pounds. Parents and other landholders paid 2 pounds and ten shillings ($5) each towards the purchase price. Mr W Hutchins donated one acre of his property adjoining this land to be used as a horse paddock as many of the children would ride horses to school. The committee then organised working bees and the land was cleared and the school was built.'
The school was officially opened on 14 June 1924 by Mr T Dunstan, in the presence of a large crowd of local residents and visitors. It had taken nearly four years of negotiations before the school was built. The school endured floods, drought, 2 World Wars, depression and the students participated in sport, music, cooking, developing gardens and much more.
Students of Dagun State School have for many years been privileged to attend such a fine school, supported by such hard-working staff, parents, community volunteers and P&C committees. Our current school reflects and embraces the rich history of its past.