The History of Loreto College Ballarat

The Loreto school in Ballarat was the first Loreto school in Australia, established by Mother Gonzaga Barry and her community of sisters in 1875 following an invitation from the Bishop of Ballarat to establish a school for girls.

Melissa Jaffer front centre -Moorabool Picnic 1949Mother Gonzaga had come to Australia from Ireland instilled with the educational vision of Mary Ward, who more than 400 years ago was committed to education for women built on ‘the qualities of freedom, justice and sincerity’.

Holding close her faith and these ideals, Mother Gonzaga established Loreto schools in Ballarat vowing to ‘educate the whole child’ so that every girl, despite her background, was given ‘… a chance of distinguishing herself…’

It was Mother Gonzaga’s view that offering girls a rounded education, including the sciences, ‘would bring about reforms and improvements not yet dreamt of’.

Mother Gonzaga’s educational endeavors came to include two schools for girls in Ballarat, at Mary’s Mount and Dawson Street, as well as primary schools. From these beginnings, Mother Gonzaga’s extraordinary vision and ability also saw Loreto schools established in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

In 1978, Dawson Street Day School and Mary’s Mount were formally amalgamated to form Loreto College Ballarat, with Years 7 – 8 at Dawson Street and Years 9 – 12 at Sturt Street – Mary’s Mount. In 2007, Loreto’s junior and senior campuses were combined on the one campus at Sturt Street following the construction of the Mary Ward Centre for Years 7 -8.  The Mary’s Mount Centre, a performing arts centre housing a 500 seat theatre, music and dance studios, classrooms and multimedia labs, was opened in 2015. The building of the Mary’s Mount Centre provided space for the redesign and development of a new contemporary learning space, the Mulhall Centre. Year 9 students commenced classes in the Mulhall Centre in 2016.

View our beautiful and insightful video on Mother Gonzaga Barry.