The Early Years
St Faith's School for Girls was opened in 1923. In 1921 Bishop Crick purchased fifty-three acres of land on Mt Stewart, about a mile from Yeppoon, from MLA Mr JC Stewart. There he hoped to found a secondary school for girls and also later a secondary school for boys. St Peter's at Barcaldine would become the co-ed primary feeder school in the west.
The original school buildings consisted of the homestead buildings already on the site and St Paul's hostel. It was relocated from Rockhampton where girls had boarded to attend the nearby Girls Grammar. In spite of much effort the buildings were not ready for them and the seven founding students had to lodge in town for a time, and classes were held under the mango trees until the classrooms were completed at Easter. Enrolments had risen to 23 by the end of the first year.
Importance to the Community
By 1928 more accommodation was needed and the old Carlton House, former residence of the General Manager of Mt Morgan Gold Mining Company was acquired, moved to its site further up the hill and repurposed as dormitories and primary classrooms. This brought the school's capacity to 100 students/boarders. The Chapel dedicated to the memory of Archdeacon Rogers was added in 1935.
The Sisters of the Sacred Advent joined the school in 1932 and guided it through the next 13 years. When WWII threatened, the whole school moved to St Peters School, (which by then had closed) and other buildings around Barcaldine. Though difficult, this was a successful time for the school, with great cooperative effort from teaching staff, clergy, Mr Bailee, the very capable groundsman, and the girls themselves. Here academic results were high, music standards high and enrolments reached their highest numbers (129).
The school returned to Yeppoon in 1945 but the post war period was one of disruption for the school. Staff, both teaching and domestic, were hard to obtain and keep, maintaining high academic standards proved difficult in these circumstances and from 1951 the provision of new state high schools and secondary departments meant that many girls could now find their schooling much closer to home.
By 1961 so much needed to be done to renew the school, to attract new students and to house and provide for them, to improve the academic record and secure the staff they needed, that closing the school seemed a very real possibility.
The Later Years
A last earnest endeavour was undertaken by students and staff, both past and present, to save their school, making huge efforts with school subjects, music and sport, and producing some good results. The school also received Commonwealth Government money to help build and equip Science laboratories.
In an optimistic year, 1964 saw gifts, donations, loans, scholarships and awards to support the school, but with 44 students, about half the number needed for the school to prosper, the future remained unsure. At the end of 1968, drought affected Central Queensland meaning that fewer families from the west could afford to send their girls away to school. Government schooling now was much more accessible and plane flights connected well with southern schools so that St Faith's in Yeppoon was remote by comparison and no longer met the needs of the people it was meant to serve. The school closed, 45 years after it began. The property was eventually sold for re-development. The chapel still bearing its cross has been remodelled as a home and with the removal of the last of the original bamboo clumps in 2016, the only part of the school now readily visible is the Bishop Crick memorial.
1. A 1920s image of St Faiths school. (CCHS Collection)
2. St Faiths after the addition of Carlton House above the main school building. (CCHS Collection)
3. A 1923 image of a classroom from the Capricornian Newspaper. (1 Dec 1923, p.3)
4. A postcard showing the main building, Carlton House, and the Chapel. (CCHS Collection)
5. Front gate and bamboo clumps at St Faiths. (State Library QLD, Image 241583)