The first school established in Hunters Hill, although not a Public or State School, was in Fig Tree Chapel in Joubert Street, Hunters Hill. This Chapel was opened in 1858 for use as a church and Sunday School. It soon became an ordinary school on weekdays and in 1865 had a very substantial enrolment of pupils, as indicated by the school roll which is held in the Archives of the Historical Society.
Hunters Hill Public School in Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill, was built and opened in 1870; the school being a gift from the people of Hunters Hill to the Department of Education – surely something rather unique. This lovely building of sparrow-pecked stone was the first public school opened in the Municipality. Its first Headmaster was John Dobbie who retained that position for many years.
In the first year the school enrolment was 90, comprising 63 boys and 27 girls, and the first nominal roll of the school is held by the Historical Society. Interesting to record that a Savings Bank of NSW for the children was established in this school about 1875.
In the earlier years there were quite a number of private schools, including the following –St. Joseph’s College, a boarding school built by the Marist Brothers; the foundation stone being laid in 1882, Miss Florence Hooper’s “Cambridge Private School”, Miss Wright’s “School for Girls”, Mrs. Stephenson’s “School for Young Boys”, located in what is now known as 27 Alexandra Street, Miss Galloway’s “St. Alban’s School”, Miss Budden’s “Girrahween School” in Ambrose Street, Malvern Private School – founded in 1915 by Rev. AJ Rolfe and situated in Ernest Street, Mont St. Joseph’s School and John The Baptist School. Marist Brothers, Mark Street Boy’s School and Marist Convent in Woolwich Road were all Roman Catholic schools established in more recent years.
Woolwich Public School was opened in 1892, Boronia Park Public School, located in Pittwater Road, Hunters Hill, in 1928, Riverside Girls Domestic Science High School in 1933 and Hunters Hill High School in 1958. The latter two High Schools can cater for approximately 1000 scholars each while the Marist Convent at Woolwich has a very high enrolment.
Speaking of schools generally in the Municipality, it is of interest to recall that in 1938, as part of Australia’s Sesqui-Centenary Celebrations, Hunter’s Hill Council organised an Empire Essay Competition between the various schools in the British Empire established in areas of the same name as in Hunter’s Hill: Woolwich, Henley on Thames and Henley on Arden (England) and Huntley (New Zealand and Canada).
Essays were exchanged and published in local newspapers in the various areas and Council designed and printed over 1000 Special Presentation Certificates to all pupils participating.
Council also arranged for the exchange of Scout Flags between Scout Troops in Hunters Hill and Woolwich and those of Woolwich and Henley on Thames in England.