Rockhampton high school DUKW Cadets in the 1981 Capricana Parade.
Rockhampton high school DUKW Cadets in the 1981 Capricana Parade. Rockhampton State High School

A century in history books

THIS year marks a significant milestone for Rockhampton State High School as it celebrates its centenary year.

On February 14, 1919, the school's founding principal, Major John Hill, opened what was then called the Technical High School as a department of Rockhampton Technical College.

The old school in Bolsover St - now the Regent Hotel - has a special place in the history of Rockhampton in that it was the city's first state-run secondary school offering free education.

Transition to the new site at Wandal began in 1959 and was completed by the end of 1961. From 1962 the school and college were separate entities.

In the past century, more than 28,000 students have attended the school.

A group shot, year unknown.
EARLY DAYS: Students in 1931, of the now named Rockhampton State High School. Rockhampton State High School

The admission registers are particularly rich in recording the names of people who went on to lead distinguished careers in so many areas: science, education, the performing arts, the military, government, business, politics, sport and community service.

But it is not just the high flyers who will be remembered during the centenary celebrations.

The school has made a major contribution to the community as a whole in providing opportunities for students to develop the values and skills necessary for leading successful vocational, family and personal lives.

A school assembly in 1965.
A school assembly in 1965. Rockhampton State High School

For former students and staff members, the centenary will be a time of reconnecting and reminiscing, in many cases with people they have not seen for decades.

On the whole, people are fascinated to learn about the life journeys of old school mates and enjoy recalling, usually with considerable embellishment, the events, pranks and characters - especially teachers - of yesteryear.

Schools have a unique place in an individual's memory and emotions.

Pictured is the first principal of Rockhampton High School.
Major John Hill, the founding principal of the now named Rockhampton State High School, 1919-1923. Rockhampton State High School

In those few years of unforgettable events, indelible characters, great achievements, personal struggles and friendships, a unique bond is formed with that time.

It is quite different from a connection to the workplace. School musicals often evoke the most nostalgic memories; strangely, a moment of sudden revelation in understanding a mathematical formula or an obscure poetic verse generally lacks a similar effect.

Pictured is the 1927 Rockhampton High School Clive Rudd Cup Winners for the Junior Athletics.
Pictured is the 1927 Rockhampton high school Clive Rudd Cup Winners for the Junior Athletics. Rockhampton State High School

Dr Barbara Webster, former senior lecturer in History at Central Queensland University and a past student of Rockhampton High (Barbara Cole, 1964-67) has captured the life of the school in her coming book, Brown and Blue: A Centenary History of Rockhampton State High School, which will be officially launched at the centenary celebration evening at the Leagues Club on June 8.

It's a colourful narrative history of the school over the decades and will bring a smile to the face of the reader.

For tickets to events, for the purchase of Brown and Blue and/or to make a contribution go to:

Other Centenary celebration events include:

  • June 8, 2pm: Old Boys rugby league match at Rocky high oval. Main game at 3pm. Games, food, entertainment and bar. All welcome.
  • June 9, 9.30am-11.30am: Open Day at the school: opening of time capsule (from 1994 75th Jubilee), tours, displays, entertainment, memorabilia, book sales etc.
  • June 9, 11.30am-12.30pm: Barbeque lunch
  • July 6, 11am: RSHS Centenary Race Day and Rockhampton Cup at Callaghan Park. Admission includes five-drink package, gourmet barbecue lunch, live music and special guests.

John Allison