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Catholic Agricultural College, Bindoon


Shire of Chittering

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Cnr Dewars Pool Rd & Gt Northern Hwy Bindoon

Location Details

Incs: Catherine House, Dormitory Block, Classroom Block, Refectory Block, Central Block, Technical Block, Old Convent, Laundry & Bakery, 14 statues, statues of Christ the King & Holy Family, Cemetery, Bro Paul Keaney's Grave at the Grotto & his life size statue and the Main Entrance Gate. Old Power House, the Garages, Bro Dawe Memorial Swimming Pool, Lake Scott and Lake Musk

Other Name(s)

Keaney Agricultural College, Boys Town
St Josephs Farm & Trade School, Bindoon

Local Government



Avon Arc

Construction Date

Constructed from 1954, Constructed from 1941

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
State Register Registered 15 Dec 2000 Register Entry
Assessment Documentation
Heritage Council

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Municipal Inventory Adopted 30 Jun 1994 Category 1

Category 1

Highest level of protection appropriate; recommended for entry into the State Register of Heritage Places; provide maximum encouragement to the owner to conserve the significance of the place..

Classified by the National Trust Classified 12 Oct 1998

Heritage Council
Art Deco Significant Bldg Survey Completed 30 Jun 1994

Heritage Council

Statement of Significance

The Catholic Agricultural College precinct is of exceptional significance in the history of Catholic orphanage and farm school development in the state and nation. The associations with Brother Keaney, Brother Conlon, Mrs Musk, British immigrant children, Italian POWs, Benedictine Sisters, Christian Bothers, Dom Urbano, and Monsignor Hawes, are significant. The design, use of local materials, use of child labour, relationships of the buildings, and period during which they were constructed, make the places exceptionally significant, both individually and in their precinct setting. The place has an exceptional 'sense of place' for the 'boys', and their families, the Brothers and Sisters and any other people associated with the place.

Physical Description

The college comprises a number of buildings. The road into the college has paddocks
either side of the road are named after various associated people, y
Central building 1941-1953 : designed by Dom Urbano. The symmetrical two storey stone and rendered building has a dormitory wing flanking each side of the central domed entrance which is approached by a wide staircase. The roof is tiled with terracotta roof tiles. The entry interior is a double height void accessed by a sweeping staircase at the rear of the entry.
Administration block 1941: designed by Monsignor Hawes in 1939. Stone and mortar construction with brick dealing. A two storey tower is central in the frontage. Verandahs to the front and side facing the central cqiurt are semi enclosed with a stone wall.
Kitchen/Dining Block 1942-1943 Kitchen refit in c1965 : designed by Monsignor Hawes in 1939. Stone and mortar construction with brick detailing. A two storey tower is central in the frontage. Verandahs to the front and side facing the central court are semi enclosed with a stone wall.
Manual Arts Building 1952: designed by Dom Urbano. Cement building of the same aesthetic quality as the central building. Two storey classroom wings flanked the symmetrical central entry. The building comprised woodwork and metalwork facilities on the ground floor, and the science rooms above.
Nun's Convent c1948 designed by Dom Urbano. Toodyay stone and mortar with pointed finish, the building has an undercroft. The central entry has a tower and staircase. The place is condemned.
Laundry designed by Dom Urbano. The laundry has a stepped rendered facade at the front and is cut into the hill at the back -
Entry pillars and gates Girls dormitory
Schoolroom block 1954: A two storey rendered white structure with a central hipped tiled roof over the main structure. Verandah and walkway extensions at each end have flat roofs.
Christ the King statue : Designed by Father Eugene Perez, overlooks the complex from a nearby hill.
Stations of the Cross (12) 1950: Designed by Father Eugene Perez, they are placed along the driveway into the complex.
Grotto 1954: Laterite stone grotto with Keaney's grave in front.
Keaney statue 1954 Relocated in 1994.


Edmund Byrne arrived in 1848 as a Parkhurst boy, pardoned on condition of being apprenticed in the Colony. Byrne was indentured to Saul Spice who took up 'Brockhill' (Ref 78-B39) in Bindoon. He was subsequently 'free' in 1852. He took up the Mount Pleasant property in 1868. The homestead was the Byrne's second dwelling on the property. In the 1890s Byrnes sold the property to Mr Pearce, a Fremantle Publican, who then sold the property to John Musk in 1912.
The first North Bindoon School and school teachers quarters (mudbrick) were located on the Prospect Farm, that part of which is now college property, on the east side of the highway opposite Prospect Farm," and the site of quarters 100 metres north of the mud brick ruin, and the school site north of that. The North Bindoon School opened in 1895 and closed on 5 August 1901 - associations with Edward Wells, John Kay. The teacher was shared with South Bindoon School and the duties also included cleaning the schools. In 1901, the school site was moved to Swan Location 708, as this site considered unsuitable by Education Department.
By 1920, John Musk owned considerable properties in Gingin and Bindoon. They included 'Mount Pleasant' at Bindoon Hill. John Musk died in 1921, and his wife Catherine inherited the properties.
Mrs Musk sold the Mt Pleasant property to W Padbury, but the sale did not proceed, and she was fortuitously introduced to Bro Keaney. On 11 August 1936, Mrs Musk donated Mount Pleasant to the Christian Brothers and facilitated the establishment of St Josephs Farm and Trade School, for orphans and child migrants. The property comprised 17,000 acres with 5,000 acres cleared.
In 1802, in Ireland, Edmund Rice, a wealthy businessman, founded the Christian Brothers Congregation to assist handicapped and underprivileged children. In 1843, the Christian Brothers established in Sydney. In 1894, they established in Perth, and founded the Clontarf Orphanage in 1901, and later the Castledare and Tardun establishments.
Bro Patnpk Conlon had been sent to Perth to help save the farm schools that were not viable. Together with Bro^eaney, they lobbied Government and influential people, and in 1937, gained a rates exemption in perpetuity for their colleges and farms including Bindoon and securing freehold ownership of Bindoon. In 1938, Brother Conlon organised the immigration of British boys to Bindoon.
Three brothers and seven boys began at Bindoon in 1939, living in the Mount Pleasant farm house. They planted fruit trees, grape vines and crops, and tended a variety of animals.
In 1941, Mrs Musk laid the foundation stone on the first wing of the Administration building. Bro Keaney built the foundation and the boys were supervised by Mr O'Reilly, the former Clerk of Works for St Marty's Cathedral in Perth. It was opened in 1942, by the Hon JJ Kenneally, the Chairman of the Lotteries Commission.
In 1942, Br Keaney was appointed Superior-Principal of Bindoon Boys' Town, and proceeded with the construction of the buildings. He was assisted by 33 boys who were evacuated to Bindoon from Clontarf when it was taken over by the Airforce. They began the construction of the dormitory which is the lower level of the school block.
The foundation stone on the Dining Room was laid on 17 October 1943 by ARG Hawke, the Minister for Works.
In 1944, Bro Keaney planned an appeal to further establish Bindoon, by bringing 500 boys from Britain over a ten year period. However at that time, Bro Doyle replaced Bro Keaney and instigated a slow down in development and a regular school curriculum.
The World War Two airstrip was built in November 1944 under the Director of Works and Buildings. It had a satellite connection to Middle Swan.
Italian POWs lived on site during the war, with one of them living in the dining block tower. In 1946, local Bindoon identity, Tom Hayden, a former Tardun boy, lived in the tower.
In 1947, Bro Conlon organised the immigration of more British boys to Tardun and Bindoon.
In 1948, the convent was built to accommodate eight Benedictine Sisters. The Sisters influenced a new philosophy in childcare at Bindoon, and by facilitating the domestic arrangements, the Brothers had more time for school and extra curricular activities. Olives and oranges were for sale.
In 1950, thirteen boys came from Malta to the Bindoon Boys School, and in 1953, another seven boys joined them.
During the years that the central building was being constructed, work began on the cathedral designed to be behind the central building. After the deaths of Brother Keaney(1954) and Dom Urbino, the construction was abandoned, and the site was subsequently used to build the Brother Charles Dawe Swimming Pool. In 1953, the Manual Arts building was opened by ARG Hawke, the Premier of the State.
In 1954, the school block, incorporating the original dormitory building, was opened.
Bro Paul Keaney died in 1954, on the day of his departure to Ireland on a trip sponsored by the Committee. The Committee used the funds to commission a life size bronze statue of Keaney in front of the main building to overlook Keaney's grave in the grotto. The statue has since been removed.
In 1966, Bindoon Boys' Town was renamed Keaney College in commemoration of Bro Keaney and his contribution to the place. The migration schemes were completed by 1966, and plans were made for the future of Keaney College which was registered with the Education Department in 1968, as a Junior High Agricultural School.
In 1995, the name of Keaney College was changed to Catholic Agricultural College, and the school offered co educational residential college for years 8-12.
Keaney is also a registered Devon cattle stud, running a herd of 300 breeding cows.
In 1996,1997, and 1998,, the College took the top Agricultural Society award for the agricultural colleges and schools.
Bro Paiy Keaney MBE ISO. Born in Ireland in 1888, he emigrated to Australia in 1911, and subsequently joined the police force. In 1916, he became a Christian Brother in NSW, then worked in a Melbourne orphanage before transferring to Clontarf in 1919. He began a tradition of 'building', having the Clontarf Chapel constructed. He went to Tardun after two periods of Superior at Clontarf, and in 1942, was appointed Superior-Principal of Bindoon Boys' Town. He stayed there until his death in 1954 (except for 1945 & 1946).
Monsignor Hawes was a priest in the Geraldton diocese who designed and built many church buildings in Geraldton and surrounding region.
Dom Urbino, an Architect and town planner (Italian) was a Benedictine Monk from New Norcia.


Integrity: Intact or Redeemable
Authenticity: High Degree


Poor - Good


Name Type Year From Year To
Dom Urbino-(New Norcia) Architect - -
Mons J Hawes Architect - -


Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
"National Trust Assessment Exposition- Draft" National Trust 1998
"Boys' Town to Keaney College 1936-1986." Keaney College, 1986
Udell H; "A History of Gingin 1830 to 1960". Gingin Shire Council 1979
Hodsen J; "The Byrne Family from 28 March 1848." Unpublished 1993
Coldry BM; "The Scheme, The Christian Brothers and Chiidcare in Western Australia". Christian Brothers Congregation, 1993

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
5304 Conservation plan : Catholic Agricultural College, Bindoon / prepared by Laura Gray ; with research by Irene Sauman. Heritage Study {Cons'n Plan} 2001
5012 Catholic Agricultural College, Bindoon : conservation works : final report. April 2001 Report 2001

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Present Use EDUCATIONAL Secondary School
Original Use EDUCATIONAL Secondary School
Original Use RELIGIOUS Housing or Quarters
Original Use RESIDENTIAL Other
Original Use RELIGIOUS Church, Cathedral or Chapel

Architectural Styles

Inter-War Free Classical
Inter-War Romanesque

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall STONE Local Stone
Wall RENDER Cement Dressed
Roof TILE Terracotta Tile
Other CONCRETE Other Concrete
Other TIMBER Other Timber

Historic Themes

General Specific
DEMOGRAPHIC SETTLEMENT & MOBILITY Immigration, emigration & refugees
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Education & science

Creation Date

17 Mar 1995

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

01 Jan 2017


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.