St Catherine's Girls' Orphanage - Geelong, Victoria

St Catherine's Highton Geelong 1930s playground

1862 - Our Lady’s Girl's Orphanage, Newtown
In 1859 the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Geelong to take responsibility for orphan girls. In 1864 Our Lady’s Orphanage was built as part of the buildings incorporating a convent, a boarding school and a day school for girls.

1912 - St Catherine’s Orphanage, Newtown
This name change was an effort to distinguish the orphanage as a cause in its own right, apart from the schools with which it shared buildings. It also foreshadowed the move to a new site in Highton.

1928 - St Catherine’s Orphanage, Highton
After four years of soliciting government approval and sufficient funds, the new and purpose built St Catherine’s Orphanage was opened at Highton. It provided very good facilities for the girls but was quite an imposing building.

1960 - St Catherine’s Children’s Home, Highton
The new name reflected more accurately the service offered. The majority of young residents were not orphans and the male siblings of girls at St Augustine’s were brought to join their sisters.

1975 - Mercy Family Care Centre, North Geelong
After several years of caring for the children at St Catherine’s in groups of ten to twelve, St Catherine’s is sold and all the children are relocated to family group homes with the administration centre at North Geelong, the site which had at first been considered for St Catherine’s Orphanage. The services are expanded to include families.