Evans Head


This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.


To those of us who think of such things as fishing, prawning and tourists whenever Evans Head is mentioned, it may come as a surprise to know that it was the lure of gold that first brought settlers to these parts. Such names as Chinaman's Beach, McCauley's Lead, Jerusalem Creek, Mobbs's Lead, New Zealanders' Beach, Friday's Lead, McGarrie's Find remind some of the old hands of the dangers and difficulties that were faced, to win probably a million pounds' worth of the elusive, fascinating metal.

Captain Tom Paddon, born in England in 1841, was the founder of Evans Head settlement. He led an adventurous life, sailing to Australia in a windjammer, joining in the gold rushes in the South Island of New Zealand, then back to Australia to become one of the shipping pioneers who provided the only means of transport and communication between the North Coast outposts of settlement and the metropolis. Incidentally, the Evans River is named after a Lieutenant Evans who was on a ship making a coastal survey, and which was commanded by Captain Paddon.

The captain married a Miss Toovey of Coraki, and settled first at Wardell, later moving to the Evans Head district, attracted by the gold bearing terraces of the region, about 1877. Later he founded the old "Paddon Hotel".

The Paddons then moved up the river to the Iron Gates and became engaged in oyster culture. The Evans River produced first quality oysters, but in recent years floods and other disasters have taken their toll, and oyster growing is not carried on as extensively as in earlier years.

There were five Paddon sons, Bill, Dick, Harry, Jack and Jim. The latter was the first white child born in Evans Head (1885). Two of these sons, Dick and Jim, still live at the Heads, and these kindly, courteous gentlemen have entrancing stories to tell of the Heads as it was. To hear them tell of the transport problems of the early times, to listen to the story of the wreck of the "Cahors", to hear of the aborigines, the fishing, the sport and work, and their own pioneering experiences is to live with history. But time moves on and now an elaborate 150,000 hotel stands on the site of the old "Pioneer Hotel", successor to the original Paddon Hotel.

Undoubtedly it was the war which gave a great and sudden impetus to the development of the district. Here was one of the great Air Force Training schools, and through it passed many, many thousands of fine young men. In later years many of these or their relatives were to return to the district.

About 1946 too, the Fishermen's Co-operative was formed, and toward the end of that year, or the beginning of 1947 came the introduction of deep-sea trawling for prawns. It is generally conceded that the pioneers of this industry were Evans Paddon and Tom Norton, son and son-in-law of Jim Paddon. With the introduction of this activity came the development of Evans Head as one of the great prawning centres of the world. Rapidly the industry grew and at times 50 trawlers have operated out of the Heads. To see the boats crossing the bar, and a dangerous crossing it is too at times, is to see something of the utmost grace and beauty.

The true facts concerning the habits and history of the prawn are almost as elusive as the precious metal that first led to the settlement of the district, but one thing seems certain, that floods bring the prawns out of the rivers. Those who remember the floods of 154 and the record catches that followed will recall the busy period that came. Prawns were sent by road, and flown out by air. The trawlers were given quotas, so huge were the quantities caught.

New grounds have been charted and now the industry is more itinerant. Boats move to Southport, to the Clarence, to the newly discovered Tin Can Bay area of Queensland, and to other grounds. The introduction of two-way wireless, echo-sounding apparatus and other such things have lessened the hazards of the industry, but still the life of a fisherman calls for a stout heart and strong arms.

If you wish to spend another entrancing hour, talk to "Snowy" Burns at his shop in Oak Street, of rowers. At the present time living in the Heads are some of the greatest scullers the world has seen. Jim Paddon, Evans Paddon, Jimmy Saul, these three were all world's champions, and "Snowy" himself was Australian champion, as the ornate trophy given by the great old sporting paper, "The Referee", and which stands proudly in its glass case in "Snowy's" shop, will testify. Only the depression time prevented him, too, from being world's champion. Surely three world's and one Australian champion is a proud record for any one village.

The Heads is a popular tourist area. At holiday times every available camp site and flat is occupied by those who have come for a rest away from the hustle and bustle of the more highly commercialised resorts. Long clean beaches, good fishing, safe swimming and boating for the children, tennis, bowls and golf. What more can anyone who is truly in need of a holiday ask?


The story of the school, too, is one of rapid development. Mr. Cashmore, tutor to the Paddon boys, may be regarded as the pioneer educationalist of the district. But as Mr. Dick Paddon will tell you, the boys were always too tired to learn after the difficult tasks of the day and they could not get the full benefit of their tutor's teaching. Mr. Cashmore wrote several poems and articles dealing with the district.

Some efforts were made as early as March, 1911 to obtain a provisional school. Indeed, in that year two acres of land were granted as a school site. It was not until 1920 that the first school building was erected. This was a portable classroom, removed from elsewhere and erected at a cost of 253. Mr. Edmund Kemp appointed in October, 1920, was the first teacher. In 1935 an additional room was added. These two rooms, the dividing wall has been removed, form the present kindergarten unit. After the war an R.A.A.F. unit was brought in and remodelled as an extra classroom. This building is now the library. A school residence was next erected, and this was completed early in 1950. Mr. A. Tate was the first headmaster to occupy the residence. In 1955 a unit comprising two classrooms, staff room and store room was erected at a cost of 3,234. This building was opened by the Hon. R. J. Heffron. M.L.A., Minister for Education on July 21, 1955. This year another classroom has been completed and occupied. The school buildings form an attractive block in the heart of the village.

Teachers In charge, with the year of appointment have been Mr. Kemp 1920, Miss Goldsmith 1921, Mr. Salter 1922, Mr. Dennerley 1927, Mr. Dedman 1935, Mr. Oakden 1948, Mr. Tate 1950, and Mr. Reynolds 1954. In addition to the headmaster there are now three assistant teachers, Miss B. Caldwell, Mrs. F. Wilcox, and Mr. N. McDonald. For secondary education the pupils proceed to either Woodburn Central School or Ballina High School.


The school has a most energetic and enthusiastic P. and C. which raises and spends over 200 per year on its school. It holds monthly tuckshops and an annual sale of work, and helps in every possible way to equip the school, and care for the needs of pupils and teachers. Lately it has sponsored movements which have led to the formation of Cub and Seascout troops, and Brownie and Guide companies. At its meetings the members seek and are given advice on matters concerning children's problems. The president president is Mrs. T. Norton, and secretary-treasurer is Mrs. L. Cribb. No headmaster could ask for a more capable and co-operative group of helpers. The attractiveness of the school and its fittings is a tribute to their interest.

The whole community is most generous in its support to the school. Perhaps the action of the R.S.L. Club in subsidising the school library to the extent of ten shillings per pupil per year may be mentioned as being indicative of the generosity of the members of the community.

A seaside school is like a seaside golf course. It must offer a challenge to the accomplished, and yet allow for the development of the itinerant. Usually, over a hundred children are admitted to the school each year and almost as many move on. Such a turn-over of pupils brings problems, but to see the children at work and at play in their school, one cannot help but feel that each child is happy because of the contentment that comes with a feeling of achievement.

May one of the younger schools of the district extend the good wishes of its children, parents and staff to Broadwater School, with which it is so closely associated, on the occasion of that school's seventy-fifth anniversary.

North Coast School Histories

North Coast School Histories: as transcribed by Kathy Pearson and posted to NorCo List. STATUS QUO MCMLIX This publication presents the schools of the Ballina Inspectorate at this time - Education Week, 1959 - and their origins.