Throughout 2018 and 2019 there are reunions and celebrations across the world as Brisbane Grammar School turns 150.

Story Ken Eastwood  

Brisbane Grammar School headmaster Anthony Micallef has been kept especially busy over the past 12 months. As the school celebrates its sesquicentenary, there has been a series of commemorative events, a royal visit, reunions in San Francisco and New York, and 72 of the school’s musicians completed a European tour. Of all the events so far, he particularly loved a boarding house reunion. “There were some guys there from regional centres and outback Queensland who hadn’t been on campus for 40 years,” Anthony says. “It was a fun night and a really heartfelt event. They talked about some great rugby matches that they played in, and long train trips back home to Cairns and Mareeba, but the theme that kept coming up was mateship.”

The 150th celebrations are continuing for two years because the school’s foundation stone was laid in 1868 (by His Royal Highness Prince Alfred), but the school actually opened the following year with 94 students. It now has 1710 students on the one campus, from years 5 to 12, about 100 of whom are boarders.

Commemorations started in March, with a gala dinner drawing 900 people to Brisbane City Hall. The event included a moving performance by old boy tenor David Kidd and a 200-strong ensemble. “He’s just got an incredible voice,” Anthony says. 

Another highlight was a sports lunch in September, attended by 400 guests and old boy sporting legends, such as former Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, former Socceroo captain Matt McKay, and Olympians Nick McKendry, Toby Jenkins and Richard Powell. One of the school’s other former students, John Millman, created headlines around the world in September when he beat Roger Federer in the US Open. “I taught John – he was here years 8–10, but then he went to Churchie [Anglican Church Grammar School, in Brisbane], so they probably have more claim to him than we do,” Anthony says. “He’s a lovely fellow.” 

In April, Prince Edward became the fourth royal to visit the school, and planted a tree using the same spade his father had used at the 100th anniversary, 50 years before.

In 2019, anniversary functions will include reunions in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.

This story excerpt is from Issue #122

Outback Magazine: December/January 2019