Chanel College (Geelong)

Chanel College was a Roman Catholic school for boys in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Founded in 1958, it closed in 1999. The site was later purchased by the Geelong Baptist College.


The school was founded in 1958 by the Marist Fathers and established where Pettitt Park is now at Bell Post Hill in Geelong.

The school's Foundation Rector was Father Stanley Hosie SM. MA STL. Originally a school for day boys, from the start of 1962 the school took in boarders from Australia and Malaysia (notably one Robert Tan and one Matthew Chee). Whilst day students were enrolled, the focus of the school was on the boarding students.

The school relocated to a newly built complex at Lovely Banks, near Geelong, in mid 1963 under the guidance and direction of the second Rector of Chanel the Very Rev Father Stephen Maloney SM BA MACE. Fr Maloney was a very highly regarded and respected teacher at Chanel College.

The Bellpost Hill site (Old Chanel) became a boarding house for the junior boarders. The senior boarders were housed in two boarding houses at Lovely Banks, Braemar (named after the original name of the Lovely Banks property) and Futuna (named after the Island on which Peter Chanel met his death.)

The Marists encouraged independent thinking and resourcefulness in their students. To this end, the school magazine "Champion" (Chanel Monthly Publication) was commenced in 1965. The magazine was produced completely from student copy, and was also edited by the students. Controversial content was included (such as comment on the need for the celebration of ANZAC day, a topic often discussed in the broader community at the time) as well as student submissions including poetry and essays, satire, scientific discourse and so on. The school established an innovative and effective SRC in the early years. Throughout the early and mid 1960's, students learned valuable lessons from the SRC, but it was less successful from about 1969. The Marists expected much of students elected to the SRC, but these students were given little training in leadership and in many cases little or no encouragement. Some would argue that the SRC at Chanel was largely a waste of time with time consuming class meetings.

Unique for schools in Australia at the time, Chanel established a science club in 1964. The science club encouraged students to become interested in science. An annual feature of the science club was the science exhibition, which showcased the study of science at Chanel. The club met weekly and students gave presentations on various scientific subjects or viewed and discussed films of a scientific nature. From time to time external guest speakers were invited to address the science club.

The science club also sponsored end of term excursions interstate to such places as Perth, Cairns, Woomera, Tasmania and the Snowy Mountains.

In order to encourage and improve public speaking amongst the students, an annual public speaking competition was established. All students had to give a short speech in front of their class. The speech was assessed and the best three speakers gave their speech in front of the whole school. In 1968, at the suggestion of students, a teacher of speechcraft and voice production was employed to further improve the standard of public speaking in the school.

By 1966 enrolments totalled 446 students. However enrolments started to fall after that year. In 1970 around 395 students were at Chanel.

The Marist Fathers withdrew from teaching at the school in 1970. The then rector the Rev Fr Guiren had the unenviable task of announcing and overseeing the withdrawal of the Marists from Chanel. The withdrawal was announced to the students and parents at the annual playnight on 23 June 1970 at the Corio Centennial Hall.

An 'Action Group' of parents lay teachers and other supporters sprang into action in an attempt to save Chanel. This group held around three public meetings at Chanel as well as lobbying hard and pursuing all options.

The reason given for the withdrawal was to provide more Marists for the missions, a shortage of Priests. However a publication by the Marists in 1990 (SM Down Under page 45) gives financial reasons as well as a shortage of Priests as the reasons for the withdrawal of the Marists from Chanel. The Rector's report in the 1970 issue of the Sword also mentions money, as in Federal and State government grants, as a key reason for the Marist withdrawal from Chanel.

After some negotiations the Christian Brothers took over the running of the College. This change also resulted in the discontinuation of the boarding section of the school.

The first Christian Brother Principal of Chanel was the Rev Brother David Carey BA (Melb) MACE a highly regarded and respected teacher.

Over a number of years the Christian Brothers embarked on a major building program at Chanel, replacing the temporary buildings (the huts) that were a feature at Chanel for a number of years.


The closure of Chanel College was somewhat controversial. It was stated that due to new schools in the region had led to falling enrolments,and refurbishment was required to a number of buildings. However, there was evidence to suggest there had been an increases in enrolments in the years before the closure. This led to a popular belief by students and parents at the time that there were other motives for the sale of the college. The decision to close Chanel College was announced on Wednesday February 18, 1998 by the Christian Brothers. The school closed at the end of 1999.

The site was later sold and reopened as Geelong Baptist College.


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    Coordinates: 38°4′0″S 144°19′45″E / 38.06667°S 144.32917°E / -38.06667; 144.32917

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