Isabella State School is located 12 km south of Cairns at the foot of Isley Hills in the township of Edmonton. The name was approved after a process of community consultation. Isabella was the wife of Thomas Swallow who established the Hambledon Sugar Mill in the local area and crushed its first cane in 1883. Thomas and Isabella resided at Hambledon House and became renowned for their hospitality. It is the warmth and welcoming spirit of Isabella (and her husband) that will feature and be nurtured at our new school. A waterfall in the local area is named Isabella Falls. Isabella is also the name given to a road in the local area and a housing estate. One of the other local state primary schools close by is Hambledon State School.

A brief history - Isabella team house names

Early teachers at Blackfellow Creek Provisional School.

Thomatis (Green) 1887-1887

Dr David Thomatis was the very first Blackfellow Creek Provisional School head teacher. He was an agricultural scientist who had grown sugar cane, cotton and bananas on the northern side of Cairns before 1886. At the time Dr Thomatis was thought of as a plant expert. Dr Thomatis named Caravonica after his adored wife, (cara = dear and Veronica). In 1886 he began a grammar school on the Cairns Esplanade but there were not enough paying students so he accepted the head teacher position at the new Blackfellow Creek school. Dr Thomatis and his family died of Spanish flu in 1919. Do you know of anything else around Cairns that could be named after Dr Thomatis?

Morris (Yellow) 1888-1890

Amelia G Morris was the second head teacher of Blackfellow Creek School. She was born in England but was a rather sick child who missed a lot of school so Amelia educated herself by reading. In 1883 Amelia came by ship to Australia as a nanny. She travelled with the family to north QLD. Before Amelia could accept the job as headmistress of Blackfellow Creek school, she had to pass a test. No pay until she had passed. She began teaching in March 1888 and worked until she was married in 1890. There were up to 46 students at a time in her school. Amelia married William Slatcher and stayed in the Hambledon area. She won prizes at the first Cairns show for needlework.

Nolan (Red) 1890-1894

Michael Nolan began as head teacher in September 1890. Before this he had been a teacher and head teacher for thirteen years in various Queensland schools.

In his first annual report he congratulated Amelia Morris for a job well done. All students had good results. Michael improved the school by persuading the Department of Public Instruction to close the rough shelter school room and borrow a cottage until the proper school with a residence could be built. He encouraged the students to take pride in their school grounds by building gardens and caring for plants. They even won a silver medal at the first Cairns Show in September 1891.

Clifford (Blue) 1897-1901

Ada Clifford was the fifth head teacher of Blackfellow Creek school but the second female in the job. I do not have any information about her time at this school. If you know any details, please could you contact Isabella State School.

Last reviewed 26 March 2020
Last updated 26 March 2020