History and Tradition

Durack College is a Christian values-based community of learners. The College is the former residence of the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent. Set in the quiet garden enclave adjacent to St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School, the buildings are positioned next to Community House which was purchased by the Sisters in 1910. Community House, or “Donatello” as it was then known was built by the Durack family, was the original school building and included the office, library, chapel, teaching and boarding facilities. In 1915 the nearby Sisters’ Chapel was built and 100 years later is still used by the remaining Sisters.

In the late 1940s, a south facing building with city views was constructed and used for the frail and unwell Sisters. The building, named ‘St Raphael’ after the Saint of Healing, included seven rooms where full time care was provided by a registered nurse. It also included a large common room and library (currently the College Student Lounge).

In 1967, the Clewer building was constructed next to St Raphael and opened as an accommodation facility for the Sisters who taught in the school and in more recent years used for retreats. The building was named after the founding sister, Sister Caroline, who worked as a missionary in the Clewer community in Windsor, England. Sister Caroline, upon arriving in Australia in September 1892, established the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent as a Church of England Religious Order and set about her work in education and establishing much needed Church Schools.

In 1984 the Labyrinth was built in the gardens of the precinct with stones gifted from St John’s Cathedral in Ann Street, Brisbane. Using the offcuts from the restoration of the Cathedral, the stone mason, who was contracted from England, set about constructing the Labyrinth.

In the 1990s, Mother Eunice commissioned the expansion of the precinct which linked both buildings by a central office and included an upgrade of the bathrooms and kitchens. In 1997, an extension was approved in St Raphael bedrooms, which included removing the balconies and enclosing the rooms with full length glass windows.

In 2011, the Sisters moved out of Community House, Clewer and St Raphael. In 2014 the St Margaret’s Anglican School Council, with the approval of Mother Eunice and the Sisters, commenced the upgrade and refurbishment of both building wings in readiness for the opening of a tertiary residential facility for undergraduate and postgraduate women studying in Brisbane. St Margaret’s College officially opened its doors to foundation students in February 2015 and was then renamed Durack College in 2018.

The name change on March 8, 2018 (International Women's Day) was a reflection of the growth and independence of the College and honours historical links to place, the College’s connection to the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent and St Margaret’s and their long standing service to educating rural women. The Durack name is affiliated with the College’s locality, with Community House (historical building) built by Patrick Durack. Durack is also a name synonymous with Australian pastoral history, and given many of the College’s residents are from rural and regional Australia it gave further justification to the choice of the Durack name. Furthermore, the Durack women were pioneers, well-educated and strong role models. Patrick’s granddaughters were Dame Mary Durack, a literary award winner and Elizabeth Durack, an artist and illustrator. Dame Mary’s 1959 book of history 'Kings in Grass Castles' is considered a classic of Australian literature and is the story of Durack’s family. Great great granddaughter Lucy Durack is also taking after her grandmother and great aunt in the creative arts as a successful actress taking on the lead role as Glinda 'the good witch' in the musical 'Wicked' and in the hit TV series 'Sisters'. These women embody the College’s vision to empower young women through education.