Building Howqua - In the words of Ruth Tideman

What sparked the idea of a country campus like Howqua was one day realising that the year 9 frame of mind was not suited to sitting in traditional classrooms, doing traditional lessons.

I was teaching a year 9 class a topic called ‘Social Education’ and they told me loudly and clearly that they did not want to be at school in that moment. So, we wrote on the whiteboard all the places they instead wanted to be at 14 years of age. It filled up the whole board!

I learnt a lesson. Year 9 could be a wasted year for our girls if we did not do it differently. There were so many things they wanted to have a go at rather than being ‘locked up’ in a classroom. The girls had energy, ideas, and enthusiasms which could engage them in purposeful activities and in experiences which could develop and enrich their lives.

Outdoor education was commonly taught in schools and was good to a degree – Outward Bound, Duke of Edinburgh, ski trips and the like – but these are primarily based on recreation, not real life. I pondered this thought and talked to staff and gradually the idea grew.

We began to realise that Year 9 students could benefit from A YEAR AWAY. Looking after themselves, learning from the environment, without parents, siblings, mobile phones and the glitzy attractions of the city. It could truly be a growth year rather than a year of disengagement.

'Howqua meant the exposure of Lauriston girls to a transformative experience which could only occur when encouraged to reach beyond themselves in an unfamiliar environment.'
― Caroline Rasmussen. Lauriston: 100 years of educating girls 1901-2001

But how could we do it?

Council was briefed and support was given to explore options – ways of providing the dream. And we did! A group of staff, parents and Council members began the task of finding the right place to begin this massive educational project. We called in some professionals to help us – architects, town planners, and one land agent in our area of interest, Mansfield.

We wanted a place that they could call their own and grow. A place that tested their resourcefulness, creativity, resilience and independence, and one which engaged their heart, mind, and, importantly, grow team-spirit. We wanted a place to develop a campus where girls could live and manage their own living, find new things to see and do, experience new approaches to learning and take part in new recreations – things like survival hikes, riding horses and bikes, and snow sports.

The Howqua property was secured with help from a Mansfield land agent. It was a beautiful former farm on the edge of a State Forest with tremendous possibilities for just this sort of development.

Council bought the land in 1991 and the first stage was opened on the 27 June 1993, by Tim Macartney-Snape.

In the words of Ruth Tideman AM, Lauriston Principal 1983 - 2000

Curated by Ms Lauren Pickering, Executive Director - Marketing, Admissions and Advancement