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St Alipius' School

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St Alipius’ Diggings School

This ‘tent’ school represents the first parish school in Ballarat, which was opened in 1853 to cater for the Catholic children on the diggings. Today, the St Alipius’ Diggings School program is suitable for all schools, but it can be tailored to strengthen studies of Catholic faith and tradition.

St Alipius’ Parish School has its beginnings in the great gold rushes that started in Ballarat, in August 1851. As thousands of people made their way to the diggings and a town quickly took shape, Father Patrick Dunne celebrated the first Mass for the Catholic miners in October 1851.

In late 1852, Father Matthew Downing, a second priest, arrived and named his parish after St Alipius and the Bishop of the time, James Alipius Goold.

In February 1853, Father Downing moved to the present St Alipius’ site and erected a church made of slabs with a canvas roof. A school was also built and classes began on 1 April.

By 1865, there were 177 on the roll.

The current St Alipius’ Parish School is still operating on its original site in Victoria Street, Ballarat East.