Aquinas College, Perth

For other schools named Aquinas College, see Aquinas College.
Aquinas College
Latin: Veritas Vincit
Truth Conquers[1]
Salter Point, Perth, Western Australia
Coordinates 32°1′27″S 115°51′53″E / 32.02417°S 115.86472°E / -32.02417; 115.86472Coordinates: 32°1′27″S 115°51′53″E / 32.02417°S 115.86472°E / -32.02417; 115.86472
Type Independent, Day and Boarding
Denomination Roman Catholic, Congregation of Christian Brothers
Established 1938[2]
Sister school Santa Maria College, Perth
Chairman Michael Hughes
Headmaster Duncan Walters
Staff ~100[3]
Grades K12
Gender Boys
Enrolment ~1,100
Colour(s) Red and Black         

Aquinas College is a Catholic independent, day and boarding school for boys at Salter Point, Perth, Western Australia. Its sister school is Santa Maria Ladies College in Attadale, Perth, which they meet and interact with often. Aquinas opened in 1938, when boarders and day students from Christian Brothers College (CBC Perth) moved to the new campus at Salter Point. The history of Aquinas begins with CBC Perth which was founded in 1894 in the centre of Perth. Aquinas was the beneficiary of CBC Perth history, honours and achievements for the period 1894-1937.[4][5]

The campus at Aquinas was built on elevated land which is part of the 62-hectare site at Salter Point. The site includes a large area of bushland on the Mount Henry Peninsula with over two kilometres of water frontage on the Canning River[6]

Currently, Aquinas College accepts day students from Years 4 to 12 and boarding as well as day students from Years 7 to 12. Beginning in 2014, Aquinas will progressively add classes from Kindergarten to Year 3, and by 2017 the college will be K-12.[6] School fees range from $5,937 for a Kindergarten day student to $46,404 for a Year 12 international boarding student. The campus includes expansive sporting grounds, and boarding facilities for 210 students.[7]




Christian Brothers College west and central wings, built in 1895 and 1900 by the Christian Brothers.
Christian Brothers College student Geoff Robins' 1937 impression painting of Aquinas.

The Christian Brothers opened Christian Brothers College (CBC Perth), on 31 January 1894. CBC Perth was built on the corner of St Georges Terrace and Victoria Avenue in Perth. The college was also commonly called CBC Terrace.[c][10] CBC Perth was the first Christian Brothers school as well as the second oldest high school and the second oldest boarding school in Western Australia.

The Brothers were invited to the colony by Bishop Matthew Gibney who knew of the work of the Brothers in Ireland, England, and in the eastern colonies of Australia.[11]

At first, CBC Perth [c] was a day school. However, due to the rapid population growth in Western Australia during the gold rush, the Christian Brothers were pressured to allow boarders to live in makeshift conditions at the college.[12] The first boarding students were enrolled in June 1896. Accommodation at the site was very limited and overcrowded. In 1917, Brother Paul Nunan, headmaster of the college, set-about acquiring a larger property away from the city center in order to reside the whole school on a much larger campus.[10]

College schism

At first, the brothers entered into negotiations for the purchase of 8 hectares (20 acres) at Point Heathcote on the Swan River. The negotiations fell through and in 1928 the brothers purchased 95 hectares (234 acres) on the Canning River, just east of the Riverton Bridge, and they named the property Clune Park.[13] The following year the Great Depression started and plans to develop this site were shelved.[14]

In 1936, at the instigation of Br. Paul Keaney, the superior of nearby Clontarf Orphanage, 62.4 hectares (154 acres) were purchased from the Manning family at Mount Henry Peninsula on the Canning River at a cost of £9,925.[15][16]

In April 1937, builders Snooks and Sons successfully tendered to build the college at a cost of ₤21,350. Earlier that year, the work of clearing the grounds and preparing the site was taken up vigorously with squads of boys from the old college playing a major role.[15][17]

In 1937, CBC Perth began to splinter. Boarders and some day boys started moving to the fast developing Aquinas College campus at Salter Point.[18] In 1937, the PSA committee agreed to transfer PSA membership and records of CBC Perth to Aquinas. Although CBC Perth continued as a day school until 1961, Aquinas inherited the college colours red and black, as well as the college honour boards, achievements and history for the period 1894-1937. The inheritance was largely due to the driving efforts of Brother C.P. Foley who was headmaster of CBC Perth and the founding headmaster of Aquinas. Brother Foley was steadfast Aquinas was not a new Christian Brothers school. The brothers obeyed and in the ensuring schism the heritage of CBC Perth was removed. CBC Perth was no longer a member of the PSA. The colours of CBC Perth became blue, light blue, and green, and the college raised new honour boards from 1938 onwards. In 1962 CBC Perth moved to the new campus at Trinity College by the Swan River on the East Perth foreshore.[19]


The Aquinas College foundation stone was laid on 11 July 1937, and the school opened in February 1938 with 160 boarders and 55 day pupils.[10] Brother C.P. Foley was the first headmaster.[20] The Catholic Archbishop of Perth, Most Reverend Redmond Prendiville, addressed the headmaster and students on 19 November 1938: "With the proud traditions of St Georges Terrace to sustain it, and with the additional advantages of new quarters and ideal surroundings, I have no doubt that Aquinas College will achieve still greater results in the moral and intellectual training of good Catholics and good citizens".

The Edmund Rice Administration wing was built in 1937. The main wing was brick in the late tradition of Federation Romanesque architecture, similar in style to CBC Perth. In its early years, the college extensively used wood framed and galvanized iron clad buildings for both dormitories and classrooms in order to cope with the steadily growing number of pupils.[11]


In 1951, the college's premier oval, which is overlooked by the Edmund Rice Administration wing was named Memorial Oval to commemorate Aquinians who lost their lives at war. A scoreboard was constructed on the oval and is named after Brother C. P. Foley the first headmaster of Aquinas.[10]

The first major classroom block was built in 1955, and named the 'Murphy Wing' in honour of Brother V. I. Murphy who was headmaster of the college from 1951 to 1956.[10]

The construction of the McKenna wing, which was named after Brother V. C. McKenna who was the deputy headmaster of the college from 1963 to 1966 was completed in 1962, which was soon followed by the junior school in 1963, the Chapel in 1966 and the completion of the main boarding wing in 1967.[21]

In 1975, the swimming pool was constructed, it was one of the first 50 metre swimming pools to be constructed in schools. This was followed by the Redmond Learning centre (library) in 1975, which was named after Brother Redmond who was on staff at Aquinas for over 45 years.[12]


The main building and the school's facade

In 1980 the College embarked on a further expansion which saw the addition, between 1981 and 1983, of the senior classroom block, the manual arts building, the art center and finally, the gymnasium.[10]

Because of ever increasing pressure on enrolments in the school and the need to involve married and single lay staff in the care of boarders, the college built new boarding accommodation in 1986 and renovated buildings to provide needed classrooms.[10]

In 1987, the Aquinas College board was established with the responsibility for the day-to-day educational needs of the students - this area includes all teaching staff, the headmaster and the head of residential facilities.[22] The major responsibilities of the board include forming policy, planning future developments, and financial management.[23]

Lay staff - at first all teachers at Aquinas were Christian Brothers. The brothers were gradually replaced by lay-teachers. By 2011, there were only two Christian Brothers actively teaching at the college. The first lay-headmaster of Aquinas, Mr Robert White, was appointed in 2000.[22]

Recent years

The main entrance of the college was remodelled in 2003, with the capola from the original Christian Brothers College building on St Georges Terrace as the focal point. The drive has five pillars with dates engraved in them that are significant in the college's history, and a large wall with large brick sections and smaller sections - which symbolise the highs and lows that the college has been through.[24]

In 2004, the Aquinas College Foundation was established, it exists under the auspices of the Christian Brothers, this unit is responsible for acquiring (through donations) and providing the funds necessary to operate, maintain and expand the school.[23] The Foundation operates independently from the Board to ensure a sound financial future for the College, however it does work collaboratively with the College to assist in achieving the College's vision.[22]

2006 saw the college embark on further expansion. Churack Pavilion was constructed on the banks of Memorial Oval and the school canteen was relocated to the farside of the Murphy wing.[25]

At the beginning of 2011, the Brother Paull Centre was opened on the south-east side of the school. The state-of-the-art facility includes specialist classrooms and playing arenas for badminton, basketball and volleyball.


Br. Anthony O'Brien, the first headmaster of CBC Perth
Headmaster Years
Br. C.P. Foley 1938[26]
Br. W.V. Green 19391944[26]
Br. Garvey 19451951
Br. Vincent Murphy 19511956[27]
Br. Walter Godfrey Hall 19571962[27]
Br. Woodruff 19631968[28]
Br. L.B. Hassam 19691974[29]
Br. D.F. Drake 19741978[29]
Br. Terrence X. Hann 19791986[29]
Br. John Carrigg 19871993
Br. Kevin Paull 19931999[30]
Robert White 20002007
Mark Sawle 20072016
Duncan Walters 2016
David McFadden 2017-


Mount Henry Peninsula, as viewed from the banks of the Canning River

Aquinas College is located on a 62.4-hectare (154-acre) property with three kilometres (1.9 mi) of water frontage along the north bank of the Canning River. The land, which falls within the Manning ward of the City of South Perth, is valued at A$1.2 billion.[31] All of the land belongs to the school which manages and funds the area - including the Mount Henry Peninsula.[32][33]

The campus comprises a number of buildings and sporting facilities necessary for the day-to-day educational needs of the students. Two of these buildings are of historical significance, the Edmund Rice Administration Wing and the Chapel, which are listed with the Heritage Council of Western Australia.[34]

Mount Henry Peninsula is a land feature and reserve located 11 km (6.8 mi) south of Perth, which is owned by the Christian Brothers as part of the Aquinas property. The region is recognised as a bush forever site and is listed on the Register of the National Estate.[35]

Aerial view of the campus in 1949

The land is managed as a reserve with the Department of Environment and Conservation, Swan River Trust, National Heritage Trust and the City of South Perth for heritage conservation, education and passive recreation values. The college works collaboratively with the Swan River Trust and the City of South Perth on projects relating to the Mount Henry Peninsula including the Mount Henry Peninsula management plan.[7][35]

Memorial Oval

The decision to commemorate the oval to the servicemen of Aquinas by building a war memorial oval at the front of the main building was undertaken in by the Old Aquinians association in 1940. An appeal to fund the war memorial oval raised ₤5000, Memorial Oval was subsequently opened on 11 November 1951 as a tribute to the servicemen among the Old Aquinians.[36] Outside of the schools usage the ground is used for first-class women's cricket matches between the Western Fury and other state teams.[37][38]


The Hughes dining hall.

When Aquinas opened in 1938, it started with 173 boarders, there are currently 216 boarders residing at the college. In 2007, international students were required to pay an extra $4,903 in lieu of Government Subsidies and extra administration costs, which brought fees for international students at Aquinas to $29,435.[39]

All boarders live in one of the three boarding residences - Nunan, Gibney and Pinder Boor with their house masters, house mothers and boarding assistants. Meals are served in the Hughes Dining Hall which is located in close proximity to all of the residences, and boarders have 24-hour access to medical services at the college hospital.[40]

House system

Aquinas College has an eight-house system in both junior and senior school. Each house is named in honour of individuals who have had an association with the school including: Blessed Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers, William Bryan the first student enrolled at Christian Brothers College and later to become a Captain in the First Australian Imperial Force, and Patrick Ambrose Treacy who established the first Christian Brothers community in Australia.[41]

Each house has one tutor group for each year, from 7 to 12. Each tutor group is overseen by a house tutor and head of house. These houses include, Bryan, Clune, Edmund, Egan, Glowrey, Quinlan, Redmond and Treacy. The members of each house are led by the house captain. The eight houses compete against each other in events such as athletics, cross country, swimming, debating, chess and a House music competition. Points are awarded which go towards the Tuatha shield. The Tuatha shield comprises a diversity of sporting, cultural, and academic activities that set in opposition house against house for points towards the Tuatha shield.[42]


In 1905, CBC Perth (Aquinas) was a founding member with The Church of England Grammar School (Guildford Grammar School), The High School (Hale School), and The Alexander Scotch College (Scotch College) of the Public Schools Association of Western Australia. In the early years of the PSA, rivalry between the four schools was increasingly competitive. The honour of each school was closely linked with performance on the sporting field. Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian sectarianism had a huge cultural impact, and the Christian Brothers and students of CBC Perth perceived themselves as underdogs who had to work hard to build traditions at the school:[43]

... we had no traditions to speak of. They had yet to be made – but the builders were even then stripping to the waist. We were late comers into the arena [Hale School was established in 1858] , and were despised, an object of scorn and derision, for we had hardly a scholastic attainment, or a single athletic performance to our credit. The stream of prosperity on which you now float so magnificently was not won without labour and effort. Jack Savage, 1938[44]

When Aquinas opened in 1938, the brothers and students who made the move from the city also took the sporting records, achievements, and PSA membership of CBC Perth.[45] In 1962, CBC Perth moved from St Georges Terrace to the riverside of East Perth and became Trinity College. When Trinity joined the PSA in 1968 the two schools immediately became arch-rivals with each school claiming the heritage of CBC Perth from 1894-1937. Meanwhile, there were no doubts in the minds of Aquinas students when the crowds at PSA inter-school athletics meetings shouted, "Kill the Micks", they meant Aquinas and not Trinity, given the overwhelming dominance of Aquinas over the rest of the PSA competition.[46]

Aquinas competes in seasonal PSA inter-school sports, as well as one day PSA events which include golf, sailing and surfing. The junior school participates in sailing, softball and squash programs outside the PSA sporting competition.

Community service

The service-learning program at Aquinas was implemented in 1997. It calls students to "make every day at Aquinas a better day for others." Social justice has been part of the religious education program since the mid-1980s.[47]

The college's students were the first to participate in the Red Cross soup patrol, the Adult Migrant conversational English program, and the Kindred Family support program. The college won Volunteering WA's difference award in 1998 and 2001 for innovative and outstanding service to the community. In 2002, the college became the first school in Australia to implement a graduate requirement of community service for senior students.

Drama and The Arts

Aquinas has a strong arts program, one which has grown over recent years. The majority of these activities take place in the Mary Kerr building, named after a long serving former music teacher. Each year, there is a visual arts exhibition, displaying work from arts students, whilst there are many evening throughout the year where bands and choirs perform.

The highlight of the Drama calendar at Aquinas is the senior school production. This annual event sees students from year 10 to 12 perform a well known musical, presented in the college gymnasium. The production runs over 3 to 4 nights, from Wednesday to Saturday.

The following productions have taken place in recent years:

2010: Little Shop of Horrors
2011: Grease!
2012: Camelot
2013: Oliver
2014: Guys and Dolls
2015: Anything Goes
2016: Happy Days

Beginning in 2014, Middle School Productions are also staged, presented in the McAppion Theatre. Thus far, the productions have been:

2014: It's Cool in the Furnace
2015: Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat

Notable alumni

Main article: List of Old Aquinians

The Old Aquinians Association is an incorporated organisation representing the former students of the college. The association exists to provide fellowship to former students, and to support the college in the provision of scholarships and financial assistance to families in need.[48][49] Aquinas has had many athletes among its alumni, including inaugural Fremantle Football Club captain Ben Allan, Brownlow medallist Simon Black, Brownlow medallist Nathan Fyfe, eight-time olympian Tom Hoad[49] and former test cricketers Justin Langer and Terry Alderman. It has also educated businessman Trevor Flugge, and the leader of the WA Coffin Cheaters motorcycle club, Eddie Withnell.

The Aquinas campus has produced four Rhodes scholars: P. D. Durack (1949), M. C. Cullity (1958), W. G. Jack (1987) and John McAnearney (2009).[50]

An alumnus of Aquinas College is called an Old Aquinian. Notable Old Aquinians include:

See also


  1. Massam, p. 18
  2. Massam, p. 115
  3. City of South Perth (2003). "South Perth Municipal Heritage Inventory. Page 3" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  4. Massam, p. 1
  5. City of Perth (2002). "10 September 2002 Perth Council Minutes. Page 39-40" (PDF). Retrieved 1 July 2007.
  6. 1 2 Aquinas College (2012). "Our History" (Website). Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  7. 1 2 City of South Perth (2004). "Origins of street names" (PDF). Retrieved 15 February 2007.
  8. "AHISA Schools". Western Australia. Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia. November 2007. Archived from the original on 2 November 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2007.
  9. "JSHAA Western Australia Directory of Members". Western Australia Branch. Junior School Heads' Association of Australia. 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2007.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Massam, Katharine (1998).On High Ground: Images of One Hundred Years at Aquinas College, Western Australia University of Western Australia Press ISBN 1-876268-05-0
  11. 1 2 South Perth Municipal Heritage Inventory Archived 21 September 2006 at the Wayback Machine. (accessed:14-02-2007)
  12. 1 2 Florey, Cecil (2000), Canning Bridge to Clontarf: An Historical Journey Along Manning Road
  13. City of South Perth Municipal Heritage Inventory (No.1). 1994
  14. Florey, Cecil (1995), Peninsular City: A Social history of the City of South Perth
  15. 1 2 Massam, p. 123
  16. City of South Perth (1998). "Draft Municipal Heritage Inventory - Origins of Street Names" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
  17. City of South Perth (1998). "Municipal Heritage Inventory" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2007.
  18. Westcourt - Christian Brothers WA & SA (accessed:14-02-2007)
  20. Curriculum Council of Western Australia Archived 4 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine. (accessed:18-02-2007)
  21. Aquinas College Brochure. Published by Aquinas College. c1990's
  22. 1 2 3 Aquinas College Website
  23. 1 2 Aquinas College Website - Foundation Page (accessed:17-02-2007)
  24. The Aquinian Newsletter - 2003, Term 2, Week 3
  25. Aquinas College FISH Magazine - Winter 2007
  26. 1 2 Heritage Council of Western Australia (2010). "Register of Heritage Places - Assessment Documentation Administration building and chapel Aquinas College. Page 9" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  27. 1 2 Heritage Council of Western Australia (2010). "Register of Heritage Places - Assessment Documentation Administration building and chapel Aquinas College. Page 10" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  28. Heritage Council of Western Australia (2010). "Register of Heritage Places - Assessment Documentation Administration building and chapel Aquinas College. Page 11" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  29. 1 2 3 Heritage Council of Western Australia (2010). "Register of Heritage Places - Assessment Documentation Administration building and chapel Aquinas College. Page 14" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  30. Heritage Council of Western Australia (2010). "Register of Heritage Places - Assessment Documentation Administration building and chapel Aquinas College. Page 15" (PDF). Retrieved 2010-10-02.
  31. Rooney, Jay; Robins, Emma; Gibson, Dawn (2007-11-17). "Top schools sit on $3b land fortune". The West Australian.
  32. City of South Perth (2006). "City of South Perth Council Meeting Agenda - 2006-09-26" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 December 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  33. City of South Perth (1998). "Municipal Heritage Inventory" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-10.
  34. Heritage Council of Western Australia (1998). "Aquinas College Register of Heritage Places". Retrieved 2007-02-14.
  35. 1 2 City of South Perth (2002). "Mount Henry Peninsula Management Plan Review" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 August 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  36. Massam, p. 155
  37. The Western Cricketer 2003-04. Western Australia: Western Australian Cricket Association. 2004.
  38. CricInfo (2002). "Memorial Oval, Salter Point". Retrieved 2006-02-14.
  39. Massam, p. 116
  40. Massam, p. 215-217
  41. Massam, p. 80-82
  42. Massam, p. 218
  43. Massam, p. 193
  44. Massam, p. 63
  45. Public School Sports Association Minutes. Western Australia: Public Schools Association. 1938-06-02. Accessed at J S Battye Library
  46. Massam, p. 195
  47. Massam, p. 204-205
  48. Aquinas College (2007). "Old Aquinians Association". Retrieved 2007-02-18.
  49. 1 2 Massam, p. 7
  50. "Western Australian Rhodes Scholars". Retrieved 11 May 2014.


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