Our History

Mullumbimby Parish - established 1917

The Brunswick Valley has a rich history, with timber-getting and boat-building in the 1850s and 1860s being the initial industries in the area, followed later by farming and agriculture. Brunswick Heads became a thriving seaport with large numbers of sail and steam-powered vessels carrying cargo of red cedar to southern markets.

From a small village, Mullumbimby prospered after the Lismore to Murwillumbah railway line was established in 1894. The foundation stone of the Catholic church in Mullumbimby was laid in May 1906, and a cottage near the railway station was acquired for a convent.


The first community of three Sisters of St Joseph arrived in 1910 to teach 28 children in a room adjoining the church. As was the practice at the time, children from outlying areas boarded at the convent.

St John’s Primary School, Mullumbimby…

St Joseph’s School was built and opened in 1911 and a new brick primary school was opened in January 1916.

A new brick convent was erected in 1920 after the first convent, a timber building, burnt down. St John’s was made a parish in its own right in 1917, and a presbytery was erected and opened in 1920. The parish ministered to those living also in Brunswick Heads and Billinudgel. Extensions to the original school building were completed in 1938. While documentary evidence is unclear, interviews with former pupils suggest that St Joseph’s Convent School changed its name to become known as St John’s School around this time.

A new infant's school was built in 1955, and in 1964 more new buildings were erected, and the school gained registration as a high school. New science laboratories were constructed in 1966 as part of an extension to the years of schooling under the Wyndham Scheme. In 1977, the secondary school closed, but St John’s remained open as a primary school.

The last Sister of St Joseph to fill the role of principal at the school left in 1992 and was replaced by the first lay principal.

St John's Community Video