St Joseph's History: Our School Story

​​​​St Joseph's Primary School Kangaroo Point was founded by Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop in 1870. It is one of the oldest primary schools in the Brisbane Catholic Education System.

At first the school was housed in a cottage in Hubert St, One Mile Swamp, now called Woolloongabba. It opened with an enrolment of over 70 children, and over the first year this increased to 90. Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop accompanied Sister Teresa Maginnis and Sister Josephine Carolan on the first day and then these two sisters continued teaching for the first year.

In January 1871, the school moved to Leopold Street (now called Leopard Street) in Kangaroo Point where it was housed in the newly erected church. This was an unlined timber building with a shingle roof and had been built on land donated by James Toohey. By 1879, the enrolment at this school had reached 120. At this time, Kangaroo Point was the receiving depot for migrants arriving in Brisbane by ship. The Sisters of St Joseph lived in what had been a hotel in Montague Road, South Brisbane, that they rented from a Mr Toppin who ran a bakery. This was at some distance from St Joseph's Primary School so the sisters who taught there rented a cottage close by.

Mary MacKillop left Brisbane in March 1871 but would have visited St Joseph's after its relocation.  During the 1870s St Mary of the Cross MacKillop visited Brisbane on several occasions and probably would have visited the school. It was usual for her, when she visited a school to give each child a spoonful of boiled lollies as a treat.

After a disagreement with the Bishop, Mary MacKillop and her Sisters withdrew from St Joseph's in 1879.

In 1880, the Sisters of Mercy began teaching in our Parish. At that time, the weatherboard Church served as both Church and School and the Sisters walked daily from All Hallows to Kangaroo Point. It was at the Bishop's insistence that the people would prefer to have their own nuns - on the spot - rather than daily visitors.  A Mr Toohey bequeathed two acres to the Sisters for a Convent as well as land for a school and church. By 1889, the new Convent was a reality.  Among the early Superiors were Sr Mary Borgia later to be Reverend Mother and Mother Mary Regis. 

By 1914, there were 439 children on the roll.  The last Sister of Mercy to be Principal at St Joseph's was Sr Mel O'Connell and the sisters withdrew their presence from our community in 2015. The dual charisms of The Sisters of Mercy and The Sisters of St Joseph's are embedded in the school community today. School buildings are named in honour of both the Mercy and Josephite traditions.  Staff are committed to educating students in the Christian values of mercy, compassion, stewardship, justice, dignity, excellence and hospitality in the tradition of The Sisters of Mercy.

 The foundation stone of the present three-storey building was laid on the 5th November 1950.

St Joseph's is now a thriving, cosmopolitan, contemporary, inner-city school, set in lush surroundings and servicing the Parish of Kangaroo Point and East Brisbane. As part of the Federal Government's 'Building the Education Revolution', major refurbishment took place in 2009 and 2010, with new classrooms added in 2016 as well as a new administration centre and classrooms in 2017.

We invite you to come and explore the integration of our tradition with our contemporary learning environments!