In 1995 St Mary’s College in Broome, was created as a Catholic K -12 College through the amalgamation of St Mary’s Primary School, Nulungu Catholic College (Secondary) and Holy Child Kindergarten.
The establishment of St Mary’s Primary School in 1908 was intricately linked with the early days of the Church’s presence in the Kimberley region, and to the pearling era of Broome. Upon their arrival in Broome, the Sisters of St John of God were approached by the Asian and Catholic communities requesting a school for their children. The Sisters responded, and classes were taught in the back of the Church building until a purpose built classroom was opened in 1912. In 1924 the Holy Child Kindergarten was added to the school.
During World War II, St Mary’s was re-located to Beagle Bay where it became the “Broome School.” After the war, the school moved back to Broome, with the population now being a mix of Aboriginal and Asian students.
In 1973, the Loreto Sisters joined the staff at St Mary’s School, and in 1977 took over the administration of the school until 1995. They established the Dakas Street campus and remained to work in the school and in the community until 1995.
The late Bishop John Jobst, SAC saw the need to provide secondary schooling for Aboriginal teenage boys in the Kimberley due to them having limited educational resources and access to external educational opportunities in the region. He invited the Christian Brothers to establish a school for upper Primary and Secondary boy students, and in 1971 Nulungu College opened for this purpose. Two years later in 1974, the Our Lady of the Missions Sisters arrived in Broome to work parallel to the Christian Brothers in a school known as Nulungu Girls College. The schools officially merged to form Nulungu College in 1985.
The name Nulungu was chosen as a connection to the Nulungu Waterhole, situated outside of Broome, where the people of old believed its water nourished, enlivened, and strengthened the Indigenous people on their journey. Bishop Jobst and the Christian Brothers in consultation with families saw this as an appropriate name as they envisaged that the students would come to Nulungu to drink from the waters of knowledge, then return to their communities to share what they have learnt.
The vision and dedication of these religious orders, the lay staff and the support of other Religious Orders of Brothers and Priests contributed to the rich history and ethos that thrives at St Mary’s College today. The legacy left by people of the past is cemented in the lives of many strong families who in turn worked and supported our school and who continue to serve their communities throughout the Kimberley region. Our College is blessed with these unique and strong foundations which we will always acknowledge.