BRIEF: Our History
There were 15 Catholic children at the National School at Creswick
Early in the year Father Smyth completed the first parish building in Creswick, a church - school designed by B.W. Walsh and built by J.H Spark. The School's Board noted that it was all wood, "the framework being of sawn native timber and the stumps of hardwood"; it was 35 feet by 18, with walls 10 feet high, and two windows, east 6 x 4. It had 23 seats, each 6.5 feet long, and sported a bell turret. It cost 270 pounds. Father Smyth applied for a grant of 200 pounds, and got I00 pounds.
In May, it had a roll‑call of 24 boys and 22 girls. William O'Donnell was the first headmaster. Assisted by his wife, he remained several years.
The arrival of Father Meade he organised the building of a new brick school, he varied the more usual practice of building church‑schools by making this a substantial school‑hall. It was not a practical combination, since the considerable height of its walls and ceiling, desirable in a hall, made it appalling acoustically and severe on the teacher's larynx.
It was blessed by Bishop Moore on September 9, 1900 and in October Father Meade departed for Horsham.
Father Daniel Foley then came to Creswick and his first concern was to persuade teaching Sisters to take over the parish school. It has been served through the years by a succession of devoted lay teachers, of whom the last were Misses Lougham, Devaney, Malone, Meehan and O'Brien.
A community of nuns headed by Sister John came to Creswick. They were the black‑robed Sisters of St. Joseph of Nazareth, founded in 1872 by Father Tenison Woods, and were an off‑shoot of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart founded at Penola, S.A., by Mother Mary of the Cross McKillop 1866.
During Father Walsh's time as Parish Priest, the Josephite sisters were withdrawn to the Mother House in Bathurst, N.S.W. in 1913. Fortunately for the 190 young scholars, Fr. Walsh persuaded the Presentation Sisters to fill the vacancy at Creswick, and a community came from Daylesford. These were the war years. Creswick Red Cross was formed in 1915, and it is recorded that in that year the proceeds of the Easter Monday sports (long run to finance the Catholic School) were divided between school and Red Cross ‑ whose members co‑operated. Within Father M.H. Gaffney's pastorale in 1951 the Presentation Sisters were withdrawn from the school, and Sisters of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart, founded by Mother Mary, for the bush apostolate, readily swapped Glen Iris, which the city had engulfed, for the austerer conditions in Creswick.
During Monsignor J. McInerney's time as Parish Priest in the 1950's the grim years of the depression were over, and Creswick began its revival.
Bishop O'Collins bought the old de‑licenced Railway Hotel for a Migrant Hostel and many Dutch people settled in Creswick.
School numbers were 109, 71 were migrant children and soon the school was crowded.
A new three‑roomed school plus basement was completed and opened in September by Bishop O'Collins. It was built by J. Bennett to the design of S.J. Moran. The teas relief of St. Augustine is by J.‑ Orval, Hamilton.
It was fitting that Sister M. Nathy. who laboured ‑ with a succession of assistants ‑for eight years in trying conditions in the old school, should be there to lead staff and pupils into the new.
A bequest of 2000 pounds from Miss B. Mullins meant a good start in liquidating the debt.
A feature of the period was the service given by Miss B. Kennedy who, retiring as a State School teacher (her "mark" had always been "outstanding") came to help at St. Augustine's and taught there, on a minimal salary, for eight years.
"Drummond", a block adjoining the school grounds, was purchased for 1972 pounds, providing increased playing grounds for the pupils.
A classroom was added to the school, built by D. McMahon and advisors R. Kennedy and B. Schreenan.
A new toilet block was added to the school, built by J. Bennett.
To help the Sisters, in the 1970's lay teachers again became a part of the staff of Creswick's Catholic School.
Sisters of St. Joseph were withdrawn from Creswick and a total lay staff, headed by Mr. B. Waddell, became the teaching team.
Monsignor Mc Inerney retired and his successors were Father M. Delahenty, Father D. Hurley and present parish priest is Father William Melican.
Other upgrading to the school grounds during the 1980's has been the development of an adventure playground and the changing of "the paddock" into a school oval, at the cost of $6500 and generous voluntary labour.
A main building development was the renovation and conversion of the school hall to the multi‑purpose room, library and administration areas.
The “Old Convent” had outlived its usefulness and being in much need of repair was instead demolished and removed opening up a clear space between the church and the school.
Major building program was undertaken. The Principal Mr. Barry Griffiths and Parish Priest, Father William Melican were able to obtain $400,000 ex GST from the Commonwealth Government to undertake such task. W. Bylsma Pty Ltd. Were engaged to build a new administration area, library, staff room and sick bay. This addition was made to the immediate front of the building. In addition to this the four classrooms had a major refurbishment. The playground “climbing frames” is a major focus of our current attention with a project figure of $20,000 being used to complete this project. The grounds are undergoing continual improvement.
Our last school review was held in 1992. The current socio-economic status of our school sees over one third of our families receiving Education Maintenance Allowance (23/60 families). There seems to be a rising trend whereby people are really struggling to meet their financial need to the school. A transient population seeking cheap housing has become a trend in Creswick.
This year (2006) we celebrated at least 150 years of Catholic Education in Creswick, an achievement that makes us all very proud. We celebrated this occasion on the weekend of 3rd/4th/5th of November with Mass and a school reunion and a thanksgiving concert.
The school underwent massive changes with funding from the Federal Government enabling our community to build a synthetic turf playing area, as well as building two new learning areas and a modern school hall.
The building program was completed and handed over with significant development of our outside garden spaces taking place throughout the year. The old hall was removed which enabled the original school building to become once again a focus for all at St. Augustines
Throughout the year further works were completed , with upgrades to our entrance and school hallway.
A complete overhaul of the school administration area took place and signage was added to show our values and vision statement. The school took over the St Augustine’s Presbytery and has turned the space into Visual Arts Centre ( running ), Library and Japanese Room ( to be completed by the end of 2018).
The school Library and Japanese Room are now finished and classes are now using them. The space that was the Library, Visual Arts and Japanese Room is now a classroom, as we now need six classroom spaces to cater for our growing enrolments.