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Yumi mas trai hat long mekim wanem samting yumi mekim long wanwan de i kamap gutpela moa yet.

We must strive to do ordinary things extraordinarily well. - Mother M. Catherine McAuley

The first Sisters of Mercy who arrived in Perth, Western Australia, in 1846 opened a school within a month. They were severely under-resourced and made furniture from planks, bricks and packing cases. Despite these difficult beginnings, the sisters quickly made a difference to the lives of local children – many of whom had never attended school. Eight months later a letter to the editor of The Perth Gazette commented: ‘Truly these pious ladies deserve much praise for their unwearied exertions in the grand work of education, and every affectionate mother in this colony will remember with gratitude the day on which the Sisters of Mercy first came amongst us’.

Left: Measuring stick used at the Rosario Kindergarten in Townsville, Queensland.


Many more schools followed, in Western Australia and across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. In 1956 the sisters began opening schools in Papua New Guinea. Shown below are some of the many photographs and objects that are now held within the collections of the Institute of Sisters of Mercy of Australia and Papua New Guinea.


Above: Sister M.

Gertrude at a picnic

with students from the

convent school at Albury

in New South Wales.

Right: Chalkboard liner,

which was used to draw

lines onto blackboards by

teachers at the Academy

of Mary Immaculate in

the Melbourne suburb of

Fitzroy – the first Catholic

girls’ school in Victoria.


Above: The choir of Saint Mary’s College in Grafton, New South Wales in 1926. Sisters of Mercy arrived at Grafton in 1884 and commenced a primary and secondary school. Left: Painting of Saint Agnes from the Range Convent High School in Rockhampton, Queensland. It is one of three icons that were purchased by Archbishop James Duhig in Rome in 1909 and shipped to Rockhampton.


Above: Classroom at Mount Gambier in South Australia.

Above: Violin and case that belonged to Sister M. Leo, who from the 1940s to 1960s was a music teacher at the Railway Estate School in Townsville and at Giru, South Townsville, Ingham and West Townsville.


Above: Sister M. Paul with music students in Papua New Guinea. Sister M. Paul, who had come from the Singleton Convent in New South Wales, was instrumental in the development of the Sacred Heart School in Faniufa Papua New Guinea, which opened in 1957.

Left: Cruet set, which was gifted in 1914 to the Saint Monica’s Convent in Cairns by the pupils of the All Hallows School in Brisbane.


Above: Sports drill at the Convent School in Bunbury, Western Australia in 1908. Left: Prospectus for Saint Catherine’s College in Singleton, New South Wales, which opened in 1910. ‘Includes all the usual subjects required for a Firstclass education’. The subjects on offer were mathematics, languages, history, geology, music, singing, elocution, dancing, physical culture, drawing, painting, fancy work and commercial subjects. Music included the piano, organ, violin, guitar and mandolin.


Above: Music teacher Sister M. Cecilia in the midst of a youth orchestra at Grafton in New South Wales. Sister M. Cecilia was a foundation member of the International Society for Musical Education and in 1982 was presented with an Order of Australia for her contribution to musical culture. Right: Case for a Chromatic pitch pipe, which was used in Western Australia by Sister M. Paschal.


Above: The Convent School at

Bridgetown in Western Australia.

Left: Late 1930s autographed

uniform collar from Saint Mary’s

College in Gunnedah, New South

Wales, which catered for both

day students and boarders.

During the Second World War the older students contributed to the war effort by providing soldiers at the nearby training camp with socks, sweets, cigarettes and cakes.


Right: This Piano, dated to c. 1912, came from the Cooktown Convent in Queensland. It was then removed to St. Monica’s Convent in Cairns after World War Two and finally to Herberton Convent where it now resides.

Right: One part of a set of intricately carved chairs, believed to have come from the Cooktown Convent in Queensland. For many years the convent was the only school in Far North Queensland offering secondary education to girls.


Above: Four students of Saint Mary’s College in Grafton, New South Wales.

Long kamapim lain Mersi sista, em i wok bilong God – i no bilong mi. Ol lain Mersi Sista em inap long gohet sapos mi no stap.

The order is God’s work – not mine. It will do just as well without me

Familiar Instructions p. 136


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