Early history

St. Virgil’s College in 1911. (Photograph has been colourised).

The Congregation of Christian Brothers arrived in Australia in 1868 and gradually established schools around the country.

The Brothers came to Tasmania in 1911 and established St. Virgil’s College in Barrack Street in Hobart. They dedicated it to Saint Virgil (hence the name).

The College officially opened on 22nd January 1911. Brother Mark McCarthy stated that the Christian Brothers aimed to make it “synonymous with all that was broadest, best, most liberal, and most progressive in educational work in the state.”

“They hoped, year by year, to send forth a stream of young men of well-trained intelligence, of strong moral character, and of high ideals, young men who would enter as a vitalising force into the social, intellectual and civic life of the century and contribute the part of good to its purpose.”

St. Virgil’s had 58 students when it opened, but by the end of 1911, the number had increased to 158. Classes were large, but there were limited financial resources. The school’s only income during its early days came from fees and charity. It nonetheless grew a reputation for scholastic achievement.

The Brothers emphasised gaining academic qualifications, which the boys could use to join public service or gain other employment. The College offered boarding facilities from day one, which allowed Catholic boys from all around Tasmania to gain those academic qualifications.

St. Virgil’s also became well-known for its successes in sport. Fierce rivalries with other non-government schools quickly emerged, especially with The Hutchins School.

The religious life of St. Virgil’s was also strong (and remains so today). Along with regular religious instruction and Masses, the Catholic ethos was infused in all areas of College life.

The Junior School

In 1916, the Christian Brothers took charge of the school that was on the grounds of St. Mary’s Cathedral and started teaching primary classes there.

The school was first known as St. Mary’s Boys’ School, but its name was eventually changed to the St. Virgil’s College Primary Department.

In 1923, the Brothers moved the junior boys across to the St. Mary’s campus to join the primary school children. The Brothers received criticism for splitting St. Virgil’s across two campuses, so the decision was made to remove the junior boys from the St. Mary’s campus.

The two sites became separate schools from 1939, with St. Virgil’s resuming its position in Barrack Street. The Primary School became known as St. Peter’s School.

In 1996, the St. Virgil’s name returned to the St. Mary’s site, becoming the St. Virgil’s College Junior School.

Austins Ferry

Student numbers at St. Virgil’s grew considerably after World War II, reaching 720 in 1960. The Barrack Street site became over-crowded, and there was no room to expand. So the Brothers purchased a 58-acre site at Austins Ferry.

This campus, catering for Grades 7, 8, and 9 students, commenced classes in 1962.

With the added space and facilities, the College was able to provide a broader range of subjects.

St Virgil's

The Austins Ferry campus in 1962.

Relinquishing of the Barrack Street campus

In 1994, the decision was made to relinquish the Barrack Street campus to the Catholic Education Office, who turned it into Guilford Young College.


St. Virgil’s celebrated its centenary in 2011.

St. Virgil’s College today

St. Virgil’s is currently expanding into a Kinder to Year 12 school.

Former students (the author of this article included) are called Old Virgilians. The Old Virgilians Association exists as a way for them to meet regularly.