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Celebrating 132 Years of Excellence at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School


It is with great pleasure and pride that we commemorate the 132nd birthday of Rockhampton Girls Grammar School on 19 April 2024. As we reflect on our rich history, we are reminded of the remarkable journey that has brought us to where we are today.


Our story began as a noble cause championed by independent and forward-thinking townspeople who recognised the need for higher education for their daughters. In the early 1870s, the idea of providing girls with access to secondary education was still in its infancy. However, the seeds of change were sown when Thomas Harlin, Headmaster of Brisbane Grammar School, boldly proclaimed the necessity of secondary schools for girls, foreseeing a future where they would stand proudly alongside boys' schools in every city and town of Queensland.


By 1878, Rockhampton residents became acutely aware of the absence of grammar school facilities in our town, despite its considerable political influence. The opening of Rockhampton Grammar School in 1881 with separate departments for boys and girls marked a significant step forward. However, the attempt to house both departments under one roof proved impractical, leading to a decline in the number of girls attending the school by the end of 1885.


Undeterred by setbacks, the community rallied together, and in March 1889, there was a renewed sense of urgency to establish a dedicated Girls Grammar School following both Brisbane Girls’ Grammar School and Maryborough Girls’ Grammar School becoming separate departments to their respective grammar schools, each with its own site, building and government endowment. Thanks to the tireless efforts of committees and fundraising initiatives, the necessary funds were secured by the middle of 1890 when a meeting was held to discuss plans and specifications for the proposed building to be prepared for Rockhampton Girls Grammar School. Public interest in the construction of the building atop the 'hill' had been aroused in January 1890 with such a structure designed to minimise the effect of extreme summer temperatures, whilst ensuring that the architecture should be evidence of Rockhampton’s standing in the Colony.



Construction of Rockhampton Girls Grammar School commenced in April 1891, with the trustees making an informed decision to position the building on the hillside. Despite challenges and alterations to building specifications, our school finally opened its doors on 19 April 1892, welcoming 37 day girls and five boarders.


Under the visionary leadership of Miss Helen E. Downs, our inaugural headmistress, the school embraced a philosophy of providing a 'complete' education for girls. Miss Downs set a precedent in Queensland education, emphasising the importance of character formation alongside academic excellence.


Throughout our history, Rockhampton Girls Grammar School has remained committed to preparing young women for the broader challenges of life. Our motto, 'Non scholae sed vitae, discimus' (We are learning, not for school only, but for life), encapsulates this enduring ethos.


As we celebrate this milestone on this year’s Foundation Day, let us honour the legacy of those who came before us and acknowledge the dedication of our teachers and staff in shaping the lives of generations of students. Together, let us continue to uphold the values of excellence, resilience, and lifelong learning that define our school community.



Here's to another year of growth, achievement, and success at Rockhampton Girls Grammar School!


Kara Krehlik

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