Central State School gardener Shane Bowman.
Central State School gardener Shane Bowman.

Shane still loves school

AT the age of 28 – on Valentine’s Day in 1994 to be exact – Shane Bowman returned to primary school.

Fortunately it wasn’t as a student – the classroom was never his “favourite place” – but rather a symbolic day to start a career, which he has come to love.

He has been the gardener-cum-groundsman at Central State School ever since, although these days his specific job title is facilities officer.

“I started here on Valentine’s Day so I’ve always said it was my first love,” he explained good humouredly.

So it will be something of a heart-wrenching moment when this dedicated nature enthusiast walks out of the school’s Guy Street gate for the last time this month.

He is giving up the job he has given hours of his life too for another love: his family.

“I have the chance to work closer to my home outside Allora, so I am going to give up travelling 300km to work each week and leave Central,” Mr Bowman said.

But he leaves with the Central State School community only too aware of the impact he has had on the local landscape.

“I came here and to be honest there wasn’t much,” Mr Bowman said.

“So I look around and I feel like I have made a bit of difference; I’ve planted a lot of the trees and shrubs and made garden beds, so yes it looks decidedly different now.”

Asked what he is most proud of and he finds it difficult to pinpoint specifics.

But the line of gum trees shading the school’s western fence line is his work and something which gives him a strong sense of accomplishment.

Then there are the straight edges and neatly trimmed school’s street frontage.

“I spend about two full days six or seven times each year just trimming in front of the school’s beautiful old sandstone buildings,” Mr Bowman said.

Current school principal Chris Dolley said the modest gardener’s contribution to the school had been significant.

“I don’t think we will realise just how much Shane does around here, until he is not here to do it anymore,” she said.

For his part, Mr Bowman said the most stressful time of year was not juggling water shortages – although that was challenging – but preparing for sports days.

Yet his has been a job without “bad” days.

“I have loved my job; the worst day I ever had was when I ran over my whole set of keys with the mower,” Mr Bowman said.

So have his school days been the best days of his life?

“I believe it is always better looking in the windows,” he said, “than being a kid looking out the windows and wishing I was outside.”

Mr Bowman starts as the facilities officer at Allora State School next term.

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