Our History 

From humble beginnings in 1921 to today, Brisbane State High School's story is one of shared values, strong traditions, opportunity, the countless achievements of our past students and embracing and leading societal change over the decades.

Whilst the school has changed remarkably, Brisbane State High School has continued to symbolise and exemplify excellence in public school education.

The school campus has also dramatically grown since it opened in 1921 in the Normal School on the corner of Adelaide and Edwards Streets and moved to the present site in 1925. The efficient use of the available area, purchase of adjacent properties and judicious development of facilities on the site have resulted in a well-appointed school which today, caters for over 3,400 students across two campus sites on Vulture and Merivale Streets.

Take a journey through Brisbane State High School's 100-year history to discover the events that have shaped our school.



Brisbane State High School was founded on 1 July 1921, following the amalgamation of the Central Technical College High School, the Brisbane Junior State High School and the High Top at Wynnum State School.

Tuition commenced on 4 July 1921 in the buildings of the old Normal School on the corner of Adelaide and Edward Streets, Brisbane, with 490 students and 20 staff who worked using chalk, slates and quills in the classroom. From the beginning, this site was unsuitable and construction soon began on the new school.

  • 1920 – Mr Isaac Waddle appointed as Principal.
  • 1921 – school motto, Scientia est postestas (Knowledge is power) is adopted and the first annual swimming carnival was held in the Spring Hill Baths.
  • 1922 – the girl's hockey team won the school's first sporting premiership.
  • 1922 – the first Speech Day Celebration held in Albert Hall.
  • 1923 – the foundation stone was laid for the Red Brick Building on Vulture Street.
  • 1924 – the first weekly sports afternoon was introduced and the girls won the Wainwright Shield for lifesaving for the second time.
  • 1925 – the school moved to its new home in the Red Brick Building in South Brisbane, which officially opened on 27 January 1925.
  • 1925 – the school won their first All Schools' 'Head of the River'. The school also achieved victory in 1927, 1928, 1932 and 1948.
  • 1926 – the first annual school concert was held.
  • 1928 – tennis courts were constructed in the Lower Quad and the school exchanged land with the Brisbane City Council to construct the current school oval.


1932 saw the birth of the school song, Song of the High School, written by Mr Jenks and set to the music of Goodbye from The White Horse Inn.

  • 1934 – the Dramatic Society was formed for theatrical events and performances. 
  • 1935 – the first official Dux of the School was acknowledged, Garnet Greenbury.
  • 1936 – the school's Australian Military Cadet Corps formed.
  • 1937 – the first State High Rowing Shed was constructed on the riverbanks of Davies Park, West End.


From 1940 to 1945, the school’s War Work and Social Services Group provided items including medical equipment, clothing, books and funds to various organisations to support the war effort.

  • 1940 – introduction of the first boy school captain, Graham Barr
  • 1940 – Allenby, Birdwood and Monash Houses were established for boys and, in 1941, Kendall, Lawson and Paterson Houses were established for girls.
  • 1942 – the school's Army Cadet Corps was established (ceased in 1983).
  • 1945 – Mr Isaac Waddle retired and Mr James Barnes commenced as Principal.
  • 1946 – the school won its first GPS Athletics premiership.
  • 1947 – Mr Herbert Watkins replaced Mr James Barnes as Principal.
  • 1947 – the school won its first GPS Rugby premiership.
  • 1948 – introduction of the first girl school captain, Grace Garlick
  • 1948 – the first Isaac Waddle Cup was presented for loyalty and leadership.
  • 1948 – the school's Air Training Corps was established (ceased in 1983.)
  • 1949 – the school won its first GPS Cricket premiership.


In 1954, the memorial Isaac Waddle clock was unveiled by Eleanor Bourne (Waddle), Class of 1928. The clock is still displayed in the Red Brick Building to this day.  

  • 1950 – the school musical was Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe. Gilbert and Sullivan operettas including Ruddigore, Patience, Princess Ida, HMS Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance,The Mikado and The Gondaliers continued to 1965.
  • 1951 – Sporting activities were restricted as a result of a ban imposed on sport by the Poliomyelitis Advisory Council due to the polio epidemic.
  • 1952 – Mr Arthur Copeman replaced Mr Herbert Watkin as Principal.
  • 1952 – a two-storey classroom block, known as the M Rooms (subsequently named D Block), opened on the Vulture Campus. It was demolished in 2000.
  • 1953 – the first H. G. Watkin Cup was presented for scholastic and sporting ability.
  • 1954 – The Royal Visit – Army, Air Force cadets and female students lined the streets near the school to welcome Queen Elizabeth II.
  • 1954 – ten senior students were awarded open scholarships to The University of Queensland. Eight senior students were also awarded in 1953 and 1955.
  • 1958 – Mr Fredrick Cafferky replaced Mr Arthur Copeman as Principal.
  • 1958 – introduction of the school's first Cross Country event – a 2.4 mile circuit around Musgrave Park.


In 1963 and 1964, the first major development of the school's facilities took place, included the Assembly Hall and classroom block on the former Lower Quad tennis courts.

  • 1961 – Mr George Lockie replaced Mr Fredrick Cafferky as Principal.
  • Early 1960s – the separate girls and boys entrances to A Block were abolished.
  • 1962 – the school's Parents and Citizens’ Association was founded and the Ladies Auxiliary operated a temporary tuck shop.
  • 1963 – Houses for boys and girls were combined into Allenby, Birdwood, Glasgow and Monash.
  • 1963 – the first State High tuck shop opened in the Upper Quad, which was relocated to E Block in 2007.
  • 1964 – Year 8 was introduced into high schools and 'The Farm' (Merivale Campus) was incorporated into the State High site.
  • 1964 – Andrew Elek won the Lilley Medal, which was also won by Martin Green in 1965 and Gayle Adams in 1969.
  • 1965 – enrolments exceeded 2,000 students.
  • 1968 – the first Forgan-Smith Memorial Trophy was presented for citizenship.
  • 1969 – the Science building (E Block) was built. It was named the 'Lockie Block' after former Principal, Mr George Lockie.


The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip, paid a royal visit to Brisbane State High School to endorse the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme in 1973.

  • 1970 – The Commonwealth Library building (F Block) was opened, converted to Home Economics in 1995 and demolished in 2005 to enable the construction of the Sports Complex.
  • 1971  the school won the first of nineteen consecutive QGSSSA Athletics premiership (1971 - 1989).
  • 1972 – Mr Raymond FitzGerald replaced Mr George Lockie as Principal.
  • 1972 – the first George Lockie Memorial Trophy was presented to the Dux of the School.
  • 1973 – Tertiary Entrance (TE) replaced Senior Examination.
  • 1973 – the school won the first of four consecutive GPS First XV premiership (1973 – 1976).
  • 1975 – the school won the first of nine consecutive GPS Athletics premiership (1975 – 1983).
  • 1975 – the school celebrated its Jubilee anniversary—50 years—on the Musgrave Park site.
  • 1976 – the school's Astronomy Society was established.
  • 1978 – Brisbane State High School was the first Queensland state school to be provided with a computer.
  • 1978 – the Year 8 and Music Centre (G Block) was built and known as the ‘White House’.


This decade saw the expansion of satellite sites for school sporting activities including the playing fields at Fursden Road Sports Complex and the rowing shed located on Riverside Drive.

  • 1980 – State High was the first Australian school to have a seismological station.
  • 1980 – the second Rowing Shed was opened on Riverside Drive.
  • 1981 – Mr Colin Mason replaced Mr Raymond Fitzgerald as Principal.
    1986 – development of the Fursden Road Sports Complex commenced. 
  • 1985 – Vulture Productions commenced, involving a group of students to provide technical light and sound support for school productions.
  • 1987 – the first annual school fashion parade commenced. The parade took place until 1993.
    1988 – Overpass over Cordelia Street built for Expo 88 to provide safe pedestrian access for students and the general public.
  • 1988 – State High was the Rock and Roll Eisteddfod winner.
  • 1989 – Upper Quad development, utilising funds raised by the P&C through Expo 88 car parking. 


In 1996, the school celebrated its 75th anniversary and the School Museum opened in A Block.

  • This decade saw the expansion and consolidation of the South Brisbane sites.
  • 1990 – H Block, dating back to 1864, was restored and opened together with I Block as the Junior School by past student and Governor General The Hon. Bill Hayden AC.
  • 1992 – Overall Position (OP) replaced Tertiary Entrance (TE) scores and J Block was opened as the Year 9 Centre with the first Merivale Campus canteen.
  • 1994 – H Block was added to the Queensland Heritage Building Register.
  • 1995 – the Performing Arts and Music Centre (K Block) was opened in acquired premises.
  • 1997 – The Student Centre / Gymnasium (P Block) was opened on the ‘The Farm’ site.
  • 1998 – Mr David Sutton replaced Mr Colin Mason as Principal and the school held its first formal graduation ceremony in the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.
  • 1998  the first Colin Mason Trophy was presented for citizenship.
  • 1999 – The Visual Arts Centre (L Block) was opened in acquired premises.
  • 1999 – the State High Foundation was initiated.


The inaugural Donnelly Dash began in 2000, a 1,500m dash around the school block.

  • 2001 – the computer network was rolled out to all buildings.
  • 2002 – First Music and International Food Festival (MIFF) took place
  • 2002 – the new Information Technology Centre (D Block) was opened by then Minister for Education, The Hon. Anna Bligh.
  • 2002 – the new Rowing Shed opened in conjunction with Rowing Queensland, All Hallows School and Commercial Rowing Club.
  • 2003 – the Friends of State High Foundation launched.
  • 2007 – the new Indoor Sports Complex (F Block) was opened by the Premier, The Hon. Anna Bligh
  • 2007 – the school held its first induction of 21 Legends of State High.
  • 2008 – the Assembly Hall underwent a major renovation to become the Resource Centre.
  • 2008 – the tennis courts were relocated to The Mound from 'The Farm' to facilitate the construction of the Performing Arts Centre.
  • 2009 – a covered walkway was constructed over Cordelia Street to finally link the Vulture Campus and the Merivale Campus.
  • 2009 – Mr Richard Morrison replaced Mr David Sutton as Principal
  • 2009 – The school mascot, the Griffin, launched.


This decade saw enrolments exceed 3000, the catchment modified and further major facilities constructed.

  • 2010 – the Performing Arts Centre (P Block), that formerly incorporated the Student Centre / Gymnasium, was opened by the Premier, The Hon. Anna Bligh.
  • 2011 – the school celebrated its 90th anniversary
  • 2011 The Ink Drop was published, the second student newspaper since State EYE was first published in 1973.
  • 2011 – Mr Wade Haynes replaced Mr Richard Morrison as Principal.
  • 2012 – Implementation of the national curriculum began at the school.
  • 2013 – Brisbane State High School became an Independent Public School.
  • 2014 – The second induction of nine legends as part of the Foundation Day Assembly.
  • 2015 – the introduction of Year 7 into secondary schooling. Year 7 students were accommodated in temporary facilities on the Edmondstone Annexe.
  • 2016 – I Block, a six-storey classroom block incorporating a canteen, the Uniform Shop and parking was officially opened by the Minister for Education, The Hon. Kate Jones MP.
  • 2016 – a covered walkway on the western side of the Oval was connected to the Cordelia Street overpass.
  • 2016 – The first annual CREATE Festival of Learning in The Arts was held.
  • 2018  A Block, the Red Brick Building and three significant Moreton Bay fig tress on the Merivale campus were added to the Queensland Heritage Building Register.
  • 2019 – The Innovation studio opened in I Block.


In the lead-up to State High's centenary year, COVID-19 presented unprecedented challenges. With little notice, we moved from face-to-face learning, to online learning, to a hybrid model and then back to face-to-face learning within the space of 10 weeks.

  • 2020 – the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) replaced OP—the biggest change in Senior Schooling for 30 years in this State.
  • 2020 – For the first time ever, State High has been awarded the Jack E. Ross Memorial Trophy as premiers of the 50th annual GPS Cross Country Championships.

Happy 100th Anniversary
Brisbane State High School