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Geelong Church of England Grammar School is a independent, Anglican, co-educational, boarding and day school. The School's main campus is located at Coriomarker, on the northern outskirts of Geelongmarker, Victoriamarker, Australia, overlooking Corio Baymarker and Limeburners' Baymarker.

Established in 1855 under the auspices of the Church of England, Geelong Grammar School has a non-selective enrolment policy and currently caters for approximately 1,500 students from Pre-school to Year 12, including 800 boarders from Years 5 to 12. The school's fees are the most expensive in Australia, based on a comparison of Year 12 student fees.

Geelong Grammar School is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA), the Australian Boarding Schools' Association (ABSA), the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA), the Association of Independent Schools of Victoria (AISV), and is a founding member of the Associated Public Schools of Victoria (APSV). The school has offered the International Baccalaureate (IB) since February 1997.

In 2001, The Sun-Herald ranked Geelong Grammar School fourth in Australia's top ten boys' schools, based on the number of its male alumni mentioned in the Who's Who in Australia (a listing of notable Australians).


The school was founded in 1855 as a private diocesan school with the blessing of Bishop Perry by The Ven. Theodore Stretch, Archdeacon of Geelong, with an initial enrolment of fourteen boys. The school grew rapidly and in 1857 it was assigned £5,000 of a government grant for church schools by Bishop Perry, the foundation stone was laid for its own buildings, and it was transformed into a public school. The school closed due to financial difficulties in 1860, only to re-open in 1863 with John Bracebridge Wilson, who had been a master under Rev. George Vance, as Head Master.

For many years Bracebridge Wilson ran the school at his own expense and through this time boarders came to compose the greater part of the student body. In 1875, James Lister Cuthbertson joined the staff as Classics Master. He had a great influence upon the boys of the school and was much admired and loved by them in spite of his alcoholism. Upon the death of Bracebridge Wilson in 1895, Cuthbertson became acting Head Master until the appointment of Leonard Harford Lindon early in the next year.

Lindon ran the school for 15 years, but was never fully accepted by the old boys and lacked the personal warmth with the boys that had been seen with Bracebridge Wilson and Cuthbertson. By the turn of the century the school was outgrowing its buildings in the centre of Geelong, and so it was decided to move the school. With this the school council decided to open the Head Mastership to new applicants - Lindon re-applied, but was rejected. Rev. Francis Ernest Brown was finally chosen as the new Head Master.

In 1909, the school purchased a substantial amount of land in the then rural Geelong suburb of Belmontmarker bounded by Thomson, Regent and Scott Streets, and Roslyn Road. On 21 October 1910, Chairman of the school, W.T. Manifold turned the first sod that was expected to be the new era of the school. These plans had faded by August 1911, when adjoining rural land was offered for sale as the Belmont Hill Estate. The school council indicated that the adjacent suburban subdivision would work against their plans for a boarding school, not one catering for day boys. The school made the decision to buy land on the opposite side of Geelong at Corio, with the land at Belmont, sold for further residential subdivision.
GGS Student Bollard at Melbourne Airport
At the end of 1927 the school left its old buildings near the centre of Geelong for the last time to move to an expansive new site at Corio. Brown put a greater emphasis on religion than his predecessors, and the new isolated location with its own chapel was ideal for this.

Upon Brown's retirement in 1929 the school council set out to find a 40 year old married clergyman as the next Head Master, they ended up choosing James Ralph Darling, a 30 year old layman and bachelor. This proved to be a most successful choice, ushering in an era of creativity, and massive expansion through the school purchasing the Geelong Church of England Grammar Preparatory School in 1927, Glamorganmarker in 1928, and starting Timbertop in the 1950s. Darling attracted many acclaimed in their fields to work as masters at the school including the historian Manning Clark, musician Sir William McKie, and artist Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack.

Thomas Ronald Garnett succeeded Darling in 1961 taking the school down a liberal path, most notably in early steps towards co-education with girls from Geelong Church of England Girls' Grammar School "The Hermitage" taking certain classes at Corio by the early 1970s and accepting girls into the senior years from 1972, but also through acts such as making chapel non-compulsory (since reversed).

He in turn was succeeded by the Hon. Charles Douglas Fisher, under whom Garnett's co-educational ideas were achieved. In a staff meeting in which the votes for and against co-education were equal he cast the deciding vote that led to G.C.E.G.S. accepting girls through all levels of the school. In 1976, after a year of negotiations, G.C.E.G.S., G.C.E.G.G.F.S. "The Hermitage", and Clyde School amalgamated. Fisher died as the result of a car accident on the way to Timbertop for an end of year service in 1978.
An interregnum of a couple of years followed until the appointment of John Elliot Lewis in 1980. Under the leadership of Lewis the school set about renovating the boarding and day houses to try and bring them up to somewhere near acceptable modern standards (which was successful), and a focus on improving academic results for while the school had offered a generally rounded education its poor academic performance had earned it the tag of a "finishing school for idiots." In part, this was achieved through introducing timetable flexibility to allow able later-year high-school students to undertake Victorian Certificate of Education studies ahead of their cohort. The school is now one of 43 high schools in Australia to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme as an alternative to the VCE. The later years of Lewis' Head Mastership saw an effort (which has been largely successful) to make the school less hierarchical.

The period since Lewis has seen two brief Head Masterships by Lister Hannah and Nicholas Sampson, and in 2004 the appointment of the current Head Master, Stephen Meek.

Head Masters

Period Details
1855 – 1862 Rev. Dr. George Oakley Vance
1863 – 1895 John Bracebridge Wilson
1896 – 1911 Leonard Harford Lindon
1912 – 1929 Rev. Dr. Francis Ernest Brown
1930 – 1961 Sir James Ralph Darling
1961 – 1973 Thomas Ronald Garnett
1974 – 1978 Hon. Charles Douglas Fisher
1980 – 1994 John Elliot Lewis
1995 – 1999 Lister Hannah
2000 – 2004 Nicholas Sampson
2004 – Present Stephen Meek


Geelong Grammar School has four campuses:
  • Corio Years 5 to 8 (Middle School) and 10 to 12 (Senior School), boarding and day.
  • Bostock House Pre-school to Year 4, day.
  • Toorak Campus (formerly known as Glamorgan) Pre-school to Year 6, day.
  • Timbertop Year 9, Fulltime boarding

The school had planned in the 1990s to open a campus in northern Thailandmarker, but the project was cancelled following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, as the Thai government suspended many major projects, and also due to the collapse of the hillside site on which the campus was to built, as the school had failed to undertake a geological survey to establish the suitability of the site. The school lost approximately $3.5 million in this planning failure.

Buildings at Corio

The Chapel of All Saints
The Music School
Some notable buildings at Corio include:
The Cloisters
Linking the Quad and Chapel, the Cloisters are the school's main war memorial. There are plaques commemorating OGGs who died in the First and Second World Wars at either end. The ANZAC Day service is held around the Cloisters every year. Silence is to be maintained at all times in the Cloisters.
The Handbury Centre for Wellbeing aka. The Wellbeing Centre
The Handbury Centre for Wellbeing is Geelong Grammar's main centre for sport, health and overall wellbeing. It was opened on 20 April 2008. The Centre comprises a multi purpose sports hall, a FINA-accredited 25 metre pool with diving bowl, a fitness centre, a dance studio, the John Court Cafe, the GGS Shop and the School's Medical Centre, Kennedy, that also has rooms for counselling services and physiotherapy.

Notable alumni

Prince Charles' return visit to Geelong Grammar
Former students of Geelong Grammar and old girls of The Hermitage and Clyde School are known as Old Geelong Grammarians (OGGs), and may elect to join the schools alumni association, the Old Geelong Grammarians Association.

In 2001, The Sun-Herald ranked Geelong Grammar School fourth in Australia's top ten boys' schools, based on the number of its male alumni mentioned in the Who's Who in Australia (a listing of notable Australians). Amongst the school's notable alumni are: HRH Charles, Prince of Wales; Media mogul Rupert Murdoch; Portia De Rossi, John Gorton, Prime Minister of Australia (1968-1971); HM Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, Sultan of Terengganumarker, King of Malaysia; and Kerry Packer, who was Australia's richest person at the time of his death.


  1. Belmont Heritage Areas Report - Volume 1 August 2007 (PDF-3133KB)

Further reading

  • Collins Persse, Well-Ordered Liberty, Cliffe, Melbourne, 1995
  • Corfield, Geelong Grammarians: A biographical register, G.G.S., 1996
  • Geelong Grammar School Quarterly 1877-1913
  • The Corian 1914-2007

See also

External links

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