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History of Padbury


  • Sr Carmel Wringe RSM: 1985 - 1992 (Foundation Principal)

  • John Willett: 1993 - 1995

  • Roma Criddle: 1996 - 1999

  • David Barras: 2000 - 2005

  • Helen O'Toole: 2006 - 2011

  • Pina Hutcheson: 2012 - 2018

  • Margaret Williamson 2019 - Present


In the early 1980s the area now known as Padbury was rapidly growing and referred to as ‘nappy valley’. In order to provide for the education of the population of young people the Catholic Education Commission (CEO) decided to build a regional school to service Padbury, Kingsley, Duncraig and the overflow of Whitfords.

The Sisters of Mercy assisted in establishing schools in the northern suburbs between 1960-1990 by providing Foundation Principals at Nollamara, Mirrabooka, Balga, Greenwood, Whitfords, Padbury, Ocean Reef, Woodvale and in earlier times Wanneroo.

Sister Carmel Wringe would refer to the beginning of Padbury Catholic as a ‘shaky’ start. In 1984 she was called back from studies in the eastern states, interviewed and appointed as the Foundation Principal. ​Late in 1984 a meeting was held with parents to discuss the fact that the school was not ready and with Christmas holidays fast approaching and a strike by builders they would need to find temporary accommodation for the beginning of the following school year. ​Liwara Catholic Primary School in Greenwood offered to help out by making available their Library. The start of the 1985 school year saw 114 children transported by bus from Gibson Avenue in Padbury to Liwara in Greenwood. One Pre Primary class, two Year One classes and a Year Two class, along with one container of furniture arrived at the makeshift accommodation.

The staff and students finally moved into Padbury Catholic in March 1985 with no grass or playground equipment and 3.5 hectares of sand. A requisition of one box of reading material meant that in the first year the children read anything and everything donated from other schools. Sister Carmel commented on the ‘tremendous spirit’ of staff who worked really hard under conditions that were a far cry from the lush grass and many buildings that adorn the grounds of the school today.

​​Many British immigrants made up the school community and with few friends or extended family, depended on the school for everything. The Parents and Friends Association insisted that functions be held at school as the new residents had difficulty finding the parish. School functions brought many very lonely parents together. A thriving sense of community is still a hallmark of Padbury Catholic Primary School today.

The first School Mass was held in 1985 on the Feast of St Joseph. Parents were asked to drop their children at the church and a whole page of instructions about behaviour was distributed. Mass began and parents with young children proceeded to bring out food and a picnic atmosphere took over. For the poor parish priest things only got worse as it began to rain and the noise level became even louder.  Sister Carmel knew that there was a need for faith education of some of the families.

Being a small group, the children were happy to play in the sand or on the limited verandahs. In time lawn was planted in sections however there were times such as when the reticulation blew up that Sister Carmel said it was “…enough to send you crazy”. Because of the low water table (150feet) there was only one tree that stood alone in deference to the dry conditions of the land. It was difficult to get the trees to grow and it took almost seven years before new ones planted began to take off. The salt air and wind did not help with rust being no surprise to nails that needed to be replaced. ​There were ongoing carpark issues with many meetings held to solve the problems. 

Statistics in 1988 showed that children came from thirty suburbs and at that time there was nothing west of Marmion Avenue.

The foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, must look with pride on the work that the Sisters have done. The Mercy Order was founded in Dublin in 1831 and the archbishop appointed Catherine McAuley as the first superior. She aimed at making the convent a home where the love of God and love of neighbour were fostered. ​By 1846 the Sisters of Mercy had arrived in Perth and established themselves at what is known today as Mercedes College. In the Mercy tradition they began their work in providing an education for the children of poor and struggling families.

Today, the contributions made to our school and Catholic Education by the Sisters of Mercy are still recognised in the celebration of Mercy Week. The Sisters have left a mark that will long be remembered and for which they and all those who call themselves Catholic can be duly proud.​

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