This is the Canberra region’s first school and school master’s residence. It was built in 1845 (70 years before Canberra was named) by Robert Campbell of Duntroon estate, to provide an elementary education for children from his estate and surrounding farms.

The original building was destroyed in a fire in 1864 so the building you see today is a replacement building of that date, again built by the Campbell family. The school operated continuously from 1845 to 1880 and again from 1895 to 1907 when it finally closed as a school. Between 1907 and 1969 the building was either leased out or used by St John’s church.


In 1969 the Schoolhouse opened as a museum of early district education. It displays many nineteenth and early twentieth-century photographs relating to Canberra’s schools, churches, rural history and the beginnings of the city. 67While this is a small display it is very informative if you take time to examine it in some detail. It provides the visitor a great photographic summary of Canberra’s development. While I don’t know when the black and white photo attached was taken it shows St John’s church and schoolhouse before much other development in the area. The chap out shooting is located roughly where ANZAC Parade is to-day. The absence of the current spire on St John’s church dates the photo as pre 1878.


Entrance fee: Adults $1.50, schoolchildren 50c, family $4, concession $1

Opening hours
Wednesday 10 a.m. – 12 noon
Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays 2.00 – 4.00 p.m.
Closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day

Address: Cnr Constitution Avenue and Anzac Parade West Reid
Directions: Can also be accessed via the rear entrance to the Church of St John the Baptist (St John’s) from Anzac Parade.
Website: http://www.stjohnscanberra.org/

For my next CANBERRA – INNER NORTH review click HERE.
For other Canberra reviews click HERE.


4 thoughts on “St John’s Schoolhouse – Canberra’s First School

    1. The school was built around 70 years before it was decided to build a Capital for Australia in the area, which pre the creation of Canberra, was called the Limestone Plain. Then it was a rural farming community which, of course, needed a school and a church.

      Liked by 1 person

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