Centenary of Christian Brothers education in Bundaberg


The centenary of Christian Brothers education in Bundaberg will be celebrated on 23-24 February.

The Christian Brothers school was officially opened on 2 February 1919 by the Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, James Duhig.

Situated in Woongarra Street, according to the Bundaberg Mail the school was “not only the finest of buildings in town, but is described by His Grace as absolutely the best design of school in the state, and that it was his intention to have all future schools in Brisbane built on the same lines.”

The Christian Brothers building on Woongarra Street
The Christian Brothers building in Woongarra Street, Bundaberg, opened in 1919.

The building where Gracie Dixon Respite Centre is now located, was designed by Bundaberg architect FH Faircloth, and built by W Guthrie, occupying a prominent position near the Austral Hall.

The building was erected on 10-foot blocks of brick and cement, 127 feet long with 15-foot ceilings.

There were four classrooms, a nine-foot wide front verandah and a larger back verandah.

The inaugural teaching staff were Brothers Hogan (principal), Reidy and Molloy, described as “brilliant teachers” in the Bundaberg Mail report.

There was much pomp and ceremony at the official opening and blessing, including a guard of honour by members of the Hibernian Society in full regalia.

Sir James Duhig in 1959 became the first Catholic archbishop in Australia to accept a knighthood, putting him at odds with his staunchly Irish republican counterpart in Melbourne, Daniel Mannix.

His visit to Bundaberg was a significant civic and religious event.

Bundaberg City Council bought the school that he opened and the land in 1983.

The Christian Brothers merged their school with the all-girls Loyola College to become the co-ed Shalom College in 1984.

After several years use by various tenants on the redeveloped Woongarra Street site, including the Life Education Centre, Council decided to use the main building as a new respite centre.

The last Christian Brother in Bundaberg, Br Gordon Rochford, retired recently, ending 100 years of continuous service by the order.

To mark this year's significant milestone there will be a dinner at Brothers Sports Club on Saturday, 23 February and Mass the following morning at 8am at Holy Rosary.

Tickets for the dinner at $45 are available from the Shalom College office.

Principal Dan McMahon said all are welcome.

“I would ask that you could share this information with any past students of CBHS or Shalom,” he said in the college's latest newsletter.

“We are looking forward to having quite a number of the Brothers back with us for the weekend and particularly Br Rochford.”

Let us know in the comments if you have any memories of the original school.


  1. I remember it was one of the few schools with a swimming pool. You could use it on the weekend for the princely sum of 2 cents in an honesty box. About 15 meters long and 4 lanes wide it now rests under the town library. Often wondered if it was filled in or used as the library’s secret vault. The play area for the number of students was miniscule by today’s standards and was just compacted dirt with clumps of a wiry grass. The brothers asked the students to return to school on the weekend, bring a sharp implement and dig out the grass in preparation for a bitumen coating. Plenty of us volunteered.

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