Our Story

The award-winning team at Tugulawa Early Education extends a very warm welcome to you and your family. We congratulate you on making such a great choice for your child’s early childhood education journey.

Established in 1942, Tugulawa Early Education (formerly the Bulimba Child Care Centre) has a very rich history and forms part of the colourful story that is Bulimba.

Early History and Origins

Bulimba Child Care Centre was originally established in 1942 to support the local community during their contributions to the war effort of WW2.

Mrs. Thelma O’Connell, a nurse originally from England, was asked to help a mother who, with three busy boys at home, had recently given birth to triplets.  Thelma approached Dr Bostock who was the Crèche and Kindergarten Association Director, to enquire if the children could attend sessions at a childcare centre located in Queen Street in the city.

Dr Bostock thought the journey would be too far for the children to travel and suggested that Mrs. O’Connell establish a childcare centre in Bulimba.  Thelma approached Reverend Miles Phillip of the Church of England, who agreed to rent the church hall for a weekly charge of £5.  As more children attended, Reverend Phillip raised the rent to £10 per week.


With no fees being charged for the care, this was more than this little childcare centre could afford and a move to Mrs. Porters backyard while the search for a larger and more permanent dwelling was necessary.  Land was acquired on a lot next door to the Bulimba library and an old army hut was purchased from Hornibrook.

In 1945, a Chinese migrant camp was established on Apollo Road where workers were part of the USA Barge Assembly Depot.  One day when passing the childcare centre, some men from the migrant camp noticed a sign which read Wee Wing. They inquired about the sign and asked what the centre was all about, the reply came “we mind babies”.  Mrs O’Connell went on to explain that the care was free and that funds were non-existent.  A few months later these men arrived back at the centre with £437 to donate, money that they raised from their gambling nights. The original Wee Wing sign is proudly displayed at Tugulawa today.

Thanks to the efforts of the families during working bees, the original building was put up on stumps, becoming two storeys.  Children were often collected by staff in prams on their way to work in the morning whist other children arrived by bus from surrounding suburbs.  In 1965 the neighbouring Bulimba Community Kindergarten building was built. 

After many years of service to the community, and tireless efforts by the Committee and staff team, funds were granted by the Commonwealth Government in 1988. The land (where Tugulawa is currently situated) was obtained from the Department of Education and in 1990 the Bulimba Child Care Centre, now Tugulawa Early Education, moved from the old army hut to their new, architect designed building.

Rebranding - Tugulawa Place of the Heart

More than 2 years in the making and after extensive collaboration with families, our Management Committee, local community, elders, the staff team and friends of the centre, in 2015 we proudly announced that Bulimba Child Care Centre officially become Tugulawa Early Education.

Tugulawa is an indigenous word, meaning ‘place of the heart’. The logo for Tugulawa Early Education is a two-faceted representation of a heart with a contemporary Australian flavour. The sides of the heart could be interpreted as fingerprint lines representing unique and personal care, or bark of a tree showing maturity and wisdom.

The individual stones reflect diversity, different strategies of care and an individualised approach to learning. Both these concepts mirror the recent transition in the physical environment of the playground at Tugulawa. Neutral colours reflect the calm natural environment while the coral depicts a warm energy. The icon combines a sense of order with freedom.

Playing and Learning On Yuggara Land

We acknowledge the Turrbal and Jagara (Yagara/Yuggera) peoples as the traditional and ongoing custodians of the Land on which Tugulawa stands today – a place where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children play, learn and grow together.

We pay our respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders past and present and we believe that, guided by these Elders, the future of Australia rests in the hands of the children we care for.

Guided by our Reconciliation Action Plan,

“Our vision is for all Australians to walk beside each other, and to speak with each other and not for each other.”

Reconciliation is an ongoing process and we commit to playing our part in building better relationships with all Australians, with a focus on strengthening the relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Tugulawa (tuh-goo-la-wa) is an indigenous word, meaning ‘place of the heart’. It is believed to refer to the heart shaped bend in the Brisbane River surrounding our suburb or maybe the heart shaped parcel of land that makes up Bulimba and Balmoral.

We remember and acknowledge the past and its place on the journey of reconciliation as we cast our eyes and our hearts towards a united future.