Mareeba School was opened as a Provisional School (No 653) by the first head teacher, Mr Denis Horan, on the 28th August 1893, with forty-six children. By December the effective enrolment was 96.
The school became a State School on January 1st, 1899, with Mr James Dowie replacing Mr Horan as Head Teacher.
The school was designated a Rural School in 1940.
On 8th June 1942, Mareeba State School was taken over by the military authorities for use as a United States Army Hospital. The students were accommodated in the Convent School (afternoon classes for years 1-5) and Church of England Hall (full day classes years 6 and 7). Domestic Science classes were held in the School residence. The Americans later built a hall on the school site and normal lessons resumed in the school on 5th February 1945.
The school acquired a Secondary Department with an enrolment of seventeen pupils in 1949.
1959 saw the last of the High School students as the High School opened in 1960. High School students continued to use the Manual Training and Domestic Science buildings until these facilities were built on the High School Campus.
During the fifties and sixties small schools in the area closed and many of these students transferred to Mareeba State School. These schools include Emerald Creek, Carbeen, Mapee, Flat Rock and Mount Aunt. Buildings from some of these country centres were moved to the Mareeba campus.
During the seventies the school activity hall (O Block) was built to replace the hall built by the Americans. Another wing was removed and moved to its present site at Borzi Park. The Pre School was built on the corner of Atherton and Sutherland Streets. With an increase of enrolment to about 950, demountable buildings consisting of two classrooms were assembled as a temporary measure. As well, classes were housed in rooms under some buildings (E Block). G and H Blocks were built. These new buildings had a large teaching area at each end with a withdrawal room in the middle.
The eighties saw more buildings being erected including the Library. The new Administration Block was built on the site of the Principal's residence. The residence was moved to its present location in Couper Street near the Garden Settlement. Q and S blocks were also built.
With the construction of the new buildings, the "temporary" demountable buildings were removed.
There was a decline in enrolment and in 1993 the enrolment was about 650.
During the nighties and 2000s there was further construction. An undercover Hall was erected and later closed in. A modern Special Education Unit with improved facilities was built adjacent to the previous classroom. The building which has previously been the cooking room was removed to allow for the construction of the Resource Centre, complete with a Computer Lab. The Staffroom and Senior Lab replaced the library which had been housed in I Block for several years. The addition of X and Y Blocks (two room demountable buildings), four modern classrooms with kitchen and toilet facilities (U Block), the revamping of J Block (Inclusive Practices Unit) and the covering of the netball courts were more recent developments. A classroom for C & K Kindergarten children was also built on the school grounds.
Notable changes in education in recent times have included the introduction of Prep classes to replace Pre School and the phasing out of year seven students from primary school into High School.
In 2018 one room demountable buildings (V Blocks) were added (and have since been removed) and Block Z, consisting of six Prep classrooms, was constructed. In 2019 G & H Blocks were revamped for year one classes to cater for the increasing enrolment at Mareeba State School which is currently about 850.
- Written by Joan Marsterson