With only four days’ notice in which to pack and prepare for a
journey halfway around the world, six women left Ireland in 1860
to join Bishop James Quinn in Liverpool for a journey to
Queensland. They arrived in 1861, by small boat which
brought them to the Brisbane River. These women founded
the Sisters of Mercy who later that year opened All Hallows'
School in Fortitude Valley.
Integral in the development of Wynnum and Manly townships was
the railway line to Cleveland. It enabled further
development in the region which created the demand for a
religious presence. The Wynnum South railway station
opened in 1898.
The first Catholic Masses were held in the Wynnum Shire Hall
(now demolished) on Tingal Road and the Sisters of Mercy began
visiting to teach the children of families residing in the area.
His Grace, Archbishop Robert Dunne donated the land on Bay
Terrace Wynnum (across the road from Mt Carmel Centre) for the
construction of a Catholic Church. The building was
designed by prominent architect Richard Gailey and is still in
Following the formal establishment of the parish of Wynnum in
1913, a new school was added alongside the Church in Bay
Terrace. This building was also designed by Richard
On the 8 August 1915. the Convent of Our Lady of Mt Carmel was
solemnly blessed and dedicated by His Grace, Archbishop Duhig.
It was designed by Hall and Dods Architects (1896 - 1916), a
prominent Brisbane firm led by architects Francis Richard Hall
and Robert (Robin) Dods who were highly regarded for their early
20th century ecclesiastical work including St Brigid's Catholic
Church, Red Hill and the Mater Misericordiae Hospital.
The Convent was built by Mr William Richard Juster, completed
within a year and at a considerable cost of £8,000. This
investment demonstrated the importance of a school presence for
the Wynnum community, who had limited schooling options for
children at this time.
During the opening ceremony, a collection was taken up for the
furnishing fund, which realised £110.
The Presbyterian Church building, which was located behind the
school, was relocated and converted into a new girls'
dormitory. It was demolished in 1986 and in its place a
Poinciana tree was planted to commemorate its story.
On land situated behind the Convent, the Mt Carmel Secondary
Girls’ School is opened and operated by the Sisters of Mercy
with an initial class of 21 students.
Modifications are made to the Convent with the advent of
building improvements. These changes included enclosing
verandahs at the rear with glass windows.
Reportedly due to the falling numbers of school-aged children
in the area, the school closes, leaving the Sisters as residents
at the Convent.
On the 27 August 1999, the Convent was added to the Queensland
Heritage Register and became protected under the provisions of
the Queensland Heritage Act 1992, for its historic,
aesthetic, scientific, social and historical values. At
the time, it is reported that only four Sisters were permanently
in residence and it was mainly used as a holiday centre for
Sisters of Mercy in the Southern Queensland region.
Now with only two Sisters permanently residing on site, the
Sisters of Mercy listed and sold the Convent.
The new owner undertook extensive renovations to remodel the
building as a residence with additional functions as a
bed-and-breakfast and student accommodation.
The Convent celebrates 100 years and is purchased by Brisbane
Works commence to return the building to sound condition for
school, parish and community use.
With Brisbane City Council approvals granted, the newly named
Mt Carmel Centre continues the journey of connecting the
community through education and engagement.
Brisbane Catholic Education Office
2A Burke Street, Woolloongabba Qld 4102 Australia
Turrbal and Yuggera Country
GPO Box 1201 Brisbane 4001 Australia
Phone: (07) 3033 7000
Fax: (07) 3844 5101