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St Joseph's Home, Neerkol
Bucasia, the thriving seaside suburb eight miles from Mackay which is named after the pioneer priest Fr Peter Marie Bucas, was the site of one of the State's first homes for needy children. Established there in 1874 it was the forerunner of St Joseph's Home, Neerkol, twenty kilometers west of Rockhampton. Because of certain health problems, the children of Bucasia were relocated to Neerkol. St Joseph's Home opened with 75 children from Mackay and 17 from the Townsville orphanage. Soon there were 103 children in the home.
Over the years the Home flourished, numerous buildings were erected and children were educated and attended to in an environment of farming and grazing activities. In time the property of 3,000 acres ran 1,000 head of cattle, a dairy herd, poultry, and raised food crops. the home was self sufficient, with the baking of all bread done there.
By 1920 its chapel served as the Parish Church for the surrounding district with Father James Cassar as the first Parish Priest. Fr. Cassar's grave lies within the bound of the property.
Children were presented for the State scholarship examination. Boys were taught woodwork, sheet metal work and leather craftsmanship, while girls were taught home science. A projector provided pictures and the children were often entertained in the city as well as at the home. In addition every child was given a holiday at the institution's seaside home at Emu Park during the summer holidays.
In October 1950, a total of 200 children (including 35 British boys and girls brought to Australia by Bishop Andrew Tynan under the child migration scheme), were residing at the home.
All sports were encouraged and usually boys and girls were maintained until they were 14 years of age, except children preparing for secondary school. A number of past residents of St Joseph's Home did their share in the defense of the Empire during two world wars.
Burials At Neerkol Private Cemetery
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