Heritage & Tradition
The seeds for the foundation of St Augustine’s College were sown in 1928 when an agreement was signed between Bishop Heavey, leader of the Catholic Church in Far North Queensland, and the Marist Brothers for the establishment of a boys primary school in Cairns. Two years of planning and preparation culminated in the official blessing and opening of the College in February 1930. The brief was also extended to include not only primary boys but secondary students and boarders as well. Brothers Reginald, Climachus and Victor comprised the founding staff, and 96 students were enrolled on day one.
The College soon established a reputation for academic achievement, sporting success, cultural activities and its strong spirit. Growing numbers led to the construction of a new classroom block in 1938.
The shortages and the threats of World War Two provided special challenges for the College and the boarders, then most of those enrolled, temporarily moved to Lake Barrine on the Atherton Tablelands in 1942.
After the war, the pressure for places continued to grow. By the time the College celebrated its Silver Jubilee, enrolments had risen above 400, which included more than 100 boarders. Cyclone Agnes added to the accommodation shortage in 1956 by destroying a building that housed a dormitory and classrooms.
The gradual addition of further buildings during the 1950s and ‘60s could barely keep up with demand, and it was clear that a massive building program was needed. An ambitious master plan was launched in the 1970s which led to the construction of new classrooms, dormitories, a swimming pool, administration wing and Brothers' monastery. Further land was purchased and the Design and Technology Centre was built to celebrate the College’s Golden Jubilee.
In the 1980s and ‘90s there was considerable development of the curriculum, an expansion of staff, the further upgrade of facilities, development of the grounds and the consolidation of tradition. Responding to the needs of the students, alternative educational pathways were explored and implemented.
During the new millennium St Augustine’s has enjoyed unparalleled academic success and considerable expansion of its cultural and sporting programs. Major capital developments have included the construction of Lennon Hall, Francois Residence and the Lavalla classroom wing.
The College entered a new phase of its history in 2019 when for the first time a lay principal – Matthew Brennan – was selected to lead the College. Although the presence of the Marist Brothers has declined over time, their legacy of “presence, simplicity, family spirit and a love of work all done in the way of Mary” continues to be the guiding light for all the College’s endeavours. As we near our centenary, Saints continues its quest to remain vibrant and contemporary, responding to the ever-changing needs of its students.