Arbor Days


The idea for Arbor Day was first proposed by the American Julius Sterling Morton, who felt that Nebraska’s (USA) economy and treeless landscape could benefit from the wide-scale planting of trees.

The first Arbor Day took place on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska. Instead of working or going to school, Nebraskans spent the day planting more than a million trees, in celebration of the first Arbor Day.

The first Australian Arbor Day was held in Adelaide, in 1889.

‘The South Australian Register’ reported on the events of the day, you can read the original archived TROVE article here:

Queensland’s first Arbor Day was held on August 1st 1890. It was organised by the then Curator of the Botanic Gardens, Mr Phillip McMahon, who distributed 2496 trees from the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Nursery to Queensland schools.

‘The Queenslander’ reported on the events of the day, you can read the original archived TROVE article here:

Arbor Day would be celebrated at different times of the year in various places to ensure that trees were planted in the most suitable season for growing.

Arbor Day in some form is celebrated in more than 50 countries around the world.



One of the reasons that the Petrie State School’s current grounds being so full of greenery is that planting vegetation, through Arbour Day, and later by dedicated grounds persons, has always been encouraged.

Since the inception of Arbor Day, there is evidence that North Pine State School participated in their own tree planting days. An early photo of an event at the school depicts the tree planting gathering in 1892.

1892 Thought to be the first Arbor Day held on the grounds of North Pine Provisional School #183 ½
Courtesy Moreton Bay Regional Council Local History Library, Strathpine (Information provided by Merv Ewart)

Mrs Agnes Myles (formerly Houghton), who was born in 1887, was five years old when she started at North Pine Provisional School in 1892. For the Centenary of the School, she recalled the earliest memories of her time there. In 1974 Mrs Myles was 87 years old, she passed away in 1982.

She particularly remembered the ‘first’ Arbor Day, and the camphor laurels which feature in a couple of the early photographs. She recalls the first Arbor Day as being in 1902, which conflicts with the above photograph’s date, however, perhaps this is evidence of there being regular planting days throughout the early years of the School’s operation.

“Being very proud that she attended 10 years schooling at Petrie (then called North Pine) she took part in the first Arbour Day in 1902 [sic], although the camphor laurels were already there in 1892 making them approximately 80 odd years old [in 1974].” – Mrs Agnes Myles (nee Houghton), attended North Pine Provisional School June 1892 to Easter 1903.

Source: Centenary Petrie State School 1874-1974: History of Petrie State School Formerly North Pine State School

It could be assumed that this possibly became an annual event, or at least a regular one.

In 1912, ‘The Brisbane Courier’ reported that this tradition was still a strong community event, children in the afternoon being “regaled with refreshments” to reward their manual labour.

8 May 1912 (Wednesday)


… Arbor Day was celebrated at the local school on Friday and in the afternoon the children were regaled with refreshments provided by Mrs W J Baldwin.

Source: 1912 ‘COUNTRY TELEGRAMS.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 8 May, p. 9, viewed 14 December, 2013,

During World War I (1914-1918), Mrs Mabel Hart (nee Skinner) remembers Arbor Day treats in memories recalled for the Centenary in 1974:

“… On Arbour Day Mr Baldwin sent to the school a large tin of boiled sweets. I believe Arbour Day is still practiced at Petrie School today.” – Mabel Hart (nee Skinner), enrolled at North Pine Provisional School in 1910, memories of ca. 1914-1918.

Source: Centenary Petrie State School 1874-1974: History of Petrie State School Formerly North Pine State School

1928 saw planting on the last day of winter, with Miss Wardle supervising the tree planting and an address from the Head Teacher, Mr Chappell, providing context for its benefits and inclusion.

7 September 1928 (Friday)


Arbor Day – Arbor Day was celebrated at the North Pine State School on August 30. Miss Wardle supervised the tree planting. The head master (Mr Chappell), in a short address, explained the reasons for the celebration, and the benefits accruing.

Source: 1928 ‘PETRIE.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 7 September, p. 10, viewed 14 December, 2013,

Five years later, in 1933, 14 trees were donated for the children to plant on Arbor Day, this time taking place in autumn. A sports program had been added to the day’s program under the supervision of staff and the School Committee. Special Guest, Mr Allsopp from the Queensland Acclimatisation Gardens, delivered an address.

23 May 1933 (Tuesday)


Arbor Day – Arbor Day celebrations at the North Pine State School comprised the planting of 14 trees donated by Messrs R Allsopp and T Houghton, and a sports programme held under the supervision of the staff and school committee. Messrs F A McMurtrie (head teacher) and Allsopp (Queensland Acclimatisation Gardens) delivered addresses on behalf of the committee, thanking the staff and all who had assisted.

Source: 1933 ‘PETRIE.’, The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), 23 May, p. 14, viewed 14 December, 2013,

The next year, in 1934, Arbor Day was celebrated in conjunction with the opening of the first tennis court:

27 June 1934 (Wednesday)

PETRIE … The tennis court at the North Pine State School is practically completed, and arrangements have been made to hold the official opening on July 6, when Arbor Day will be celebrated.

Source: 1934 ‘COUNTRY NEWS.’, The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Qld. : 1933 – 1954), 27 June, p. 5, viewed 14 December, 2013,

Arbour day possibly fell in and out of fashion over the decades that followed.

In the modern era, Arbor Day was something of a “return to the past” activity which would be incorporated into other events. There is evidence that suggests it was revived briefly at fleeting moments throughout Petrie State School’s History.

One such tree planting was held during the Australian Bicentennial celebrations in 1988 when an Arbor Day was celebrated as part of a remembrance of the past and also as a school beautification project. Led by then Principal Peter Boge, this is evidenced in his memories of his time at Petrie for the 125 year anniversary in 1999:

“1988 – Bicentennial Arbor Day”

– Peter J Boge, 1999 – Principal, 1 Jan 1983 – 31 Dec 1990.

Source: Commemorating 125 Years of Service: Petrie State School 1874-1999, pp46-49.

In a publication created in memento of Petrie State School’s participation in the national and international Bicentennial events that occurred in 1988, a photocopied photograph exists of the occasion.

Bicentennial Arbor Day, 29 April 1988 – all classes planted a tree.
Source: Petrie State Primary School – A Page of History (A Record of This School’s Involvement in the Australian Bicentennary, 1988); Moreton Bay Regional Council Local History Library, Strathpine

This occasion was recorded as part of a great school celebration in the Prospectus of 1989:

“During 1988 the school celebrated Australia’s Bicentenary, Celebrations around the year-long theme ‘A Page of History’ involved the unveiling of the Tom Petrie plaque at the Bicentennial Gardens at the Dayboro Road entrance to the school. All classes planted trees on Arbor Day, and a start was made on an Environmental Studies area. Visits were made to the North Pine Country Park and to Expo 88.” – Peter J Boge, 1999 – Principal, 1 Jan 1983 – 31 Dec 1990.

Source: 1989 Petrie State School Prospectus, From the Collection of Jean Charters.




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