Celebrating 50 years of Nulungu Girls College

School News

June 13, 2024

We recently came together as a community to celebrate 50 years of Nulungu Girls College. At St Mary’s College, our rich history spans 116 years, and this year marked the 50th anniversary of the inclusion of the secondary girls’ school, previously known as Nulungu Girls’ College. In 1995, St. Mary’s College in Broome was established as a K-12 College through the merger of three wonderful schools of St Mary’s Primary School, Nulungu Catholic College (Secondary), and Holy Child Kindergarten and this was a timely reminder at 50 years to recognise and celebrate this!

The name “Nulungu” was chosen in connection with the Nulungu Waterhole, situated outside of Broome. It is believed to nourish, enliven, and strengthen the Indigenous people. In consultation with the elders of Broome, the pioneers found it to be an appropriate name. They envisioned the students coming to Nulungu to gain knowledge and continue their journey back to their communities, sharing the nourishment of education and learning. The founders and old families of the College hoped students would come to Nulungu from all over the Kimberley to drink from the waters of knowledge, then return to their communities to share what they learnt. This was certainly the case and this vision is alive and well fifty years on!

We celebrated the pioneers of Nulungu Girls College. We welcomed staff, students and families who had played a significant part in the journey and success of Nulungu. There was great laughter, hope, joy and gratefulness for this special time and place.

Our Sisters lead beautiful opportunities for our community to come together and great thanks to Our Lady of the Mission Sisters; Sr Helena Brabender, Sr Catherine Brabender and Sr Margaret Spain, along with Sisters of St John of God, Sr Pat Rhatigan for your leadership with this event, strong women continuing to do wonderful things for our community.

Celebrations commenced with a welcome dinner, then a day at the Sisters of St John of God Heritage Centre to see the incredible `Acknowledgment of Kimberley Women’ exhibition, photo displays and slideshows of Nulungu days. Many stories were shared and celebration of the days that were and what these incredible individuals have become.

We then invited past Nulungu students, staff and families to join a tour of St Mary’s College, primary and secondary campuses. Our St Mary’s College student leaders shared their College tours with pride and enthusiasm. The visitors were moved to tears with the wonderful resourcing that the College now has from its humble beginnings, along with how settled and focused on learning and education our students and staff are today. It was wonderful to hear how proud these visitors are of our St Mary’s College.

We then moved over to Notre Dame for a tour and fabulous morning tea, to see the wonderful progress of this current facility. The Nulungu Girls used to board on this university site, so to see the flourishing place this is now exciting for visitors to see and feel.

A very special and meaningful Mass was held at our Nulungu Chapel celebrated by Father Brian McCoy and Father Patricio. St Mary’s College were presented with a plaque recognising this significant event and both sisters orders were recognised with a small gift of our pearl shell logo as a sign of our appreciation and thanks from our College. We then moved into our secondary Staff Lounge for dinner, cake, storytelling and being together.

These 50 years of celebration would not have been possible without the exceptional commitment and vision of our Sisters Catherine, Helena, Margaret and Pat and the efforts of the SSJG Heritage Centre team and Ms Anthea Demin from our SMC College to coordinate all of these events.

It was a wonderful celebration of these pioneers and also a fabulous recognition for our College of our history and what we are built upon. An exciting time to be proud of St Mary’s College for what was and what has become and how very blessed we are to be a part of a community with such a steadfast history of student and Christ-centred learning. Today we carry forward these values of Courage, Love, Empathy, Acceptance and Resilience with our Listening Hearts for future generations and give heartfelt thanks for our pioneers.

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