A book celebrating this year’s sesquicentenary of The Hamilton and Alexandra College in western Victoria has just been released.

Story Ken Eastwood   

It started with a vision – having quality education provided to people in western Victoria. Then, over the next 150 years, there were ups and downs, including times when classroom doors could have closed permanently. There were faithful teachers and principals, who worked for decades setting culture and agendas. And somewhere in there, there was a ghost.

Neil MacLean, a former long-term deputy principal of The Hamilton and Alexandra College in Hamilton, western Victoria, has completed an extensive and rich history of the school, which was released as a book in May to celebrate its sesquicentenary. “I taught at the school for over 40 years and I’d enjoyed delving into the archives during my time there,” Neil says. “It would be the oldest secondary school in the area.”

Two separate colleges, one for boys and one for girls, each began taking 30–40 boarders and day students from 1872. Neil says that Western District pastoralists and others had banded together and formed a company, buying shares in order “to provide an education beyond the elementary level of education that was available”. It saved their children from being sent to boarding schools in Melbourne, Geelong or further afield.

Now associated with the Uniting Church in Australia, the school has some 500 students, including 80 boarders. “Those numbers would have been beyond the dreams of people in the past,” Neil says. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #143

Outback Magazine: June/July 2022