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Our History

In 1857 Archbishop Polding founded the first Australian Order of Nuns, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St. Benedict. Among other work the nuns had become concerned with the large number of neglected children and began to search for a home where they could help them. In 1880 they heard of William Bede Dalley's house at Manly, then unoccupied and in disrepair. It proved an ideal spot and in 1881 was blessed as the Star of the Sea Convent and the Good Samaritan Sisters moved in.

That year the Sisters opened up an Industrial  School to care for neglected children and orphans where they were taught normal school subjects up to the age of 14, and trained in skills that would enable them to earn a living. It was fortunate they did, for in 1886 the Parramatta orphanage, also run by the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, was closed and the Sisters at Manly were able to accept the children and care for them as well as carry on their work in the Industrial  School. With their schooling and training the children were provided with a happy, home-like atmosphere and a Christian upbringing to make them good citizens.

By the time the Industrial School moved from Manly to Narellan in 1910 it had cared for more than 2000 children. The reason for the move was that Manly was fast progressing and the rural atmosphere the Sisters considered desirable for the children was being lost. The older girls of the Industrial School were moved to Balmain to be near the firms which provided them with work.

Four years after their arrival in Manly, the Sisters took over full responsibility for St Mary's School, Whistler Street. Under different names, it catered for boys as well as girls until the opening of the Christian Brothers School in 1929.

In 1930 the original house bought from Mr Dalley was demolished and the existing Convent and matching school were built. In 1931 the Sisters of the Good Samaritan took another giant step in the field of education with the opening of Stella  Maris  College. The College was opened on February 4 with an intake of 33 pupils from Kindergarten to Intermediate Certificate including two small boys.

During its 80 years Stella  Maris  College  has grown significantly from its first intake of 33 students in 1931 to approximately 1000 students, large enough to provide a breadth of learning experience, yet retaining structures to ensure each girl is recognized, supported and valued.

Stella Maris: A Brief History

1857 Institute of the Good Shepherd Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict formed.
1866 Name of institute changed to Sisters of the Good Samaritan to avoid confusion with the older Irish Order of Good Shepherd Sisters.
1880 Stella Maris property acquired at a cost of 5,000 (50 acres).
1881 Original house dedicated as Star of the Sea Convent. Industrial School for Girls opened to care for neglected children and orphans.
1888 Chapel built.
1910 Substantial acreage sold to clear debt.
1930 Original house demolished. Existing Convent and matching school built.
1931 Stella Maris College opened with 33 pupils (including two small boys) from Kindergarten to Intermediate Certificate. Chapel renovated.
1942 Last intake of boys.
1944 Primary section of Stella Maris discontinued.
1954 Extensions: hall built, tennis court re-surfaced, second court constructed.
1961 Wyndham Scheme introduced: School Certificate and HSC.
1963 Two rooms behind the Hall added.
1965 Extensions: 7 classrooms, laboratory, library, canteen.
1974 New library opened.
1985 Extensions: Home Science, Textile & Design, Interview room, PE change room, dark room, general purpose room, ceramics room, new Science Laboratory. Stella Maris College assumes Independent status.
1986 Vertical Semester Scheme introduced.
1987 Extensions: Music and Art rooms, administration and staff areas.
1989 Stella Day inaugurated.
1991 Diamond Jubilee of School. Extensions: Driveway, tennis court and Rose Garden project begun.
1993 College incorporated.
1995 Departure of Sister Lia Van Haren, last Good Samaritan Principal.
1996 First lay Principal, Allan Coman, commenced.
1997 Convent handed over to College.
1999 Organic community garden established in grounds.
2001 College refurbishment and Convent renovation.
2002 Heritage refurbishment of Convent and Chapel carried out.




Extensions: Star of the Sea Theatre, dance studio, drama studio, fitness centre, 8 music practice rooms, 7 classrooms.

Kerry Stirling appointed Principal







125th/75th Anniversary

Mary Ryland Acting Principal

Vicki Comerford appointed Principal

New Commercial Kitchen and Canteen completed

Purchase of Manly Fishing and Sporting Club as second campus


 130th/80th Anniversary


Opening of Benedict Campus on Pittwater Road.