History echoes throughout the halls of St Augustine’s College, Parramatta Park – a school with humble beginnings as an all-boys’ primary school that has since grown in both reputation and size throughout the 90 years of operation in the Far North. We reflect on the proud history of the now day and boarding secondary college in our first #CathEdCairnsHistoryLessons as we celebrate 175 years of Catholic Education in Queensland.
The early years
St Augustine’s College was established by the Marist Brothers in the growing town of Cairns in 1930 when the Queensland gold rushes were still a living memory. Originally a boys’ primary school for students in Years 4-7, the school’s first members were three Brothers and a modest 96 students.
The college grew quickly, doubling its staff and enrolment within a year. It soon established a reputation for academic achievement – presenting students for both scholarship and junior from its first year, and enrolling students for the Senior Certificate as one of only a handful of schools outside of Brisbane doing so at the time. The reputation also grew for sports success, its cultural activities, and a strong spirit. By 1938, a new classroom wing building was erected to cater to growing demand.
Threats of World War II
During World War II, the boarding section of the college was temporarily relocated to Lake Barrine on the Atherton Tablelands as a safety measure, with everything needed by the boys moved by truck to the Tablelands. After only one year, Cairns was again considered safe, so all was returned to the Draper Street site.
Demand to expand
By the 1960s, despite the gradual addition of further buildings, it was clear that there needed to be a massive building overview. An ambitious master plan was implemented in the 1970s, which saw new classrooms, dormitories, a hall, swimming pool, administration wing and Brothers’ monastery. Further land was purchased and the Design and Technology Centre was built.
The 1980s and 1990s saw considerable development of the college’s curriculum, the expansion of staff, the further upgrade of facilities and development of the grounds, and the consolidation of tradition.
In recent years, St Augustine’s has enjoyed unparalleled academic success, and considerable expansion of both its cultural and sporting programs. Major capital developments have included the construction of Lennon Hall, refurbishment of McLaughlin Theatre and the Gildas Centre, as well as major ICT upgrades. The college is now in its fourth quarter-century as a vibrant, contemporary educational institution.
Celebrating 90 years
This year, the college celebrates 90 years, making it the oldest continuing Marist school in Queensland. The college attracts its students from the local region, as well as across the northern regions of Australia and overseas. The college’s ‘old boys’ continue to play a significant role in the civic, commercial and cultural life of the region.
Find out more about St Augustine’s College, Parramatta Park.