Celebrating 30 Years of Howqua

Year 9 done differently

For 30 years, Lauriston’s Howqua campus has been a picturesque and tranquil location that holds a special place in the hearts of many former Howquarians. For those who have called Howqua their home, their memories and experiences remain etched in their memories forever.

Howqua has had a transformative and long-lasting impact on all of our Year 9 students, allowing them to develop a strong sense of self and independence. Since the first group of 35 girls resided there in 1993, this unique pastoral, academic, and outdoor program has been designed to push each student beyond the confines of the classroom and help them develop resilience, independence, and confidence for their senior years and beyond.

The Howqua Vision

Lauriston’s Howqua Campus was officially opened on Sunday 27 June 1993. The establishment of the campus was the result of the vision of Ruth Tideman AM, Lauriston Principal 1983 – 2000, and the School Council. Lauriston has long had a history of involvement in outdoor education, from the skiing trips and walking trips of the 1920s and 1930s, to the Duke of Edinburgh and Outward-Bound programs introduced in the 1970s and 1980s.

As a member of the Lauriston community and a passionate advocate of integrating experiential learning into daily life, Mrs Tideman recognised the transformative power of outdoor experiences and sought to make them an integral part of Lauriston’s curriculum. With her support and guidance, planning for an outdoor campus began, leading to the establishment of Howqua in 1993.

Asked about the lasting impact of the Howqua experience, Mrs Tideman reflected that the real results would be seen not at Year 10, but rather in the girls’ adult lives. At 25, 35, 45, ‘they would be different, they would be the better for this experience … and that, I think, is how it has worked’.

'One of the greatest opportunities I had during this time was something I didn’t recognise then but has had a significant influence on me and continued from my time at Lauriston.'
― Dr Diana Barker (OL 1997, O'Brien 1994)
'After spending a whole year at Howqua, I finally realised what an experience it is for all of us. Remember that everyone has good and bad times but to never give up. At the end of the year, you will be so proud of what you have achieved.'
― Karen Zhang (OL 2001, Thompson 1998)
'Howqua pushed me to become a risk taker and throw myself into everything even if it is daunting. This challenging year matured me and allowed for my confidence in myself to grow. After completing the year, I am a changed person and I feel capable of achieving whatever I put my mind to.'
― Isabella Calder (OL 2021, Cramond 2019)
'The resilience you learn, the independence you learn, the problem solving you learn. I think those skills learnt at Howqua are so powerful and will take you so far in your career and life.'
― Dr Danielle Gescheit (OL 2007, Fitzgibbon, 2004)
'Every girl who has been to Howqua says how it’s the best year but you truly only understand what they mean once you have experienced it for yourself.'
― Morgan, Year 10 (Howquarian 2022)
'When I speak with our post-Howquarian students, I am consistently struck by the sense of self, connectedness and self-confidence they demonstrate, among many other skills and attributes we strive for at Howqua, and that they continue to master on their educational and personal journeys.'
― Susan Just, Principal
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The Role of Howqua Today – 30 Years of Experiential Learning

The Howqua program has evolved over the last thirty years to meet the changing needs of our students and to reflect the growing body of research now available on adolescent development, learning and outdoor education. The pandemic, climate change and the future sustainability of our environment have also informed some changes to the program and its intentions. 

Research on girls’ participation in experiential and outdoor programs reinforces the importance of the Howqua program in supporting our girls as they develop a strong sense of self and confidence in their ability to step out of their comfort zone and participate in a broad range of physically and mentally challenging activities.

The ability to enjoy new experiences forms a fundamental part of the Lauriston journey and encourages life-long learning, and this is particularly evident in the Howqua program. At the Howqua campus, our students participate in experiential learning which involves learning in the classroom, the Outdoor Program and within the social setting of a residential community.

Howqua is a defining feature of the education we provide at Lauriston. The outcomes we strive for are quite complex in that they are about supporting our girls to build skills and attributes for life. These skills and attributes will continue to develop when our students return to the Armadale campus and some of the important life lessons learned at Howqua may not be fully understood and articulated by our students until they leave Lauriston and have a broader range of life experiences.  

“When I speak with our post-Howquarian students, I am consistently struck by the sense of self, connectedness and self-confidence they demonstrate, among many other skills and attributes we strive for at Howqua, and that they continue to master on their educational and personal journeys.”

Susan Just, Principal

Howqua Memories

For 30 years, Lauriston’s Howqua campus has provided students with a home away from home, where they can forge lifelong memories and traditions. Howqua’s impact is long-reaching, with many Howquarians and past staff providing us with an insight into varied memories that remain crystal clear today, and how their experiences shaped who they are.

From signing the bed slats in your house to running the Ringroad, to receiving a Spirit Award or wearing a Howqua Blue Jacket down the Mount Buller slopes, these traditions have been passed down through generations of Howquarians. And who could forget the iconic Milo?

Dr Diana Barker (OL 1997, O'Brien 1994)

“When asked why I chose to send my two girls to Lauriston, I get quite passionate about the incredible life skills Howqua teaches us. Where else do you have the opportunity to really challenge yourself, physically, emotionally and mentally multiple times a day, experience success and failure and ultimately achieve incredible personal growth and learning through these challenges all at the age of 15?

I firmly believe that what Howqua taught me, was to love a challenge and embrace opportunity, and this has shaped my career so far. It is amazing what limitations your own mind can place on you, and it is enlightening when you can understand those limitations and break free of them. This is something that is integral to Howqua, challenging your fixed mindset of not being able to hike up a mountain, or pitch a tent, or my personal one was that I wasn’t a runner, until I was made to run almost every day at Howqua! – Dr Diana Barker (OL 1997, O'Brien 1994)

Edwina Graham (Lee, OL 1998, Fitz-Gibbon 1995)

“It was the relationships formed with the other girls that have really stayed with me over the past 28 years. I remember nights spent in Fitzgibbon house singing renditions of the classic 90s ballad by Mr Big, ‘To be with you’ … However, the real memories that stay with me from Howqua are the memories of achievement and the sense of pride in completing all that was thrown at me that year. It was an unforgettable experience that I will hold dear to my heart forever.” – Edwina Graham (Lee, OL 1998, Fitz-Gibbon 1995)

Annabelle Vivarini (Bodsworth, OL 1998, Howquarian 1995)

“My time at Howqua was incredibly rewarding. I remember the fun and laughter first and foremost. Lifelong friendships were made over Milos by fire! The abundance of challenging activities forced me to expand my comfort zone whilst fostering resilience and perseverance. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience life at Howqua.” – Annabelle Vivarini (OL 1998, Howquarian 1995)

Dr Caitlin Louey (OL 2017, Kirkhope 2014)

"I will never forget the joy of receiving a letter from home. Being able to rip open the envelope and relish over those handwritten words of love and support was truly special. I would spend hours (no really…hours) writing pages and pages for my own letters home. I think this is what sparked my ongoing love for journaling and handwriting. I have kept and treasure all my letters from Howqua as they truly hold the memories of my year there.” – Dr  Caitlin Louey (OL 2017, Kirkhope 2014)

Miranda, Year 12 (Mirrabooka 2019)

"On the morning of my birthday, my Hollyer housemates had decorated the house with colourful streamers and balloons. I wasn’t surprised as this was a tradition for Howqua birthdays, but I set off at the beginning of this day feeling loved. Friends from other houses had all gathered at our door, even people from the neighbouring houses I hadn’t really gotten to talk to, all singing happy birthday with cameras and smiles. This was the very first birthday that I had had with my cohort, having a September birthday that always falls on the school holidays. All my friends and teachers also wished me a happy birthday all throughout the day, but the most special part was the snow that started to fall on our campus during breakfast. After missing such a crucial part of Howqua, the skiing program, it was incredible to see it snowing on this day especially with the low elevation that the Howqua campus is at. We all ran outside in the middle of breakfast to play in the falling snow and took a year level photo with the snow all on our clothes and hair. It made my birthday so much more memorable and will be a day I never forget." – Miranda, Year 12 (Mirrabooka 2020)

Felicity, Year 10 (Wirringga 2022)

“I remember on my first day of the three day [hike], my group has just summited Mt Cobbler. It was a clear day, and we could see what felt like everything around us. We could see where we had come from and where we were going to end up. The plan was to have a quick lunch and then keep moving on, but we stayed up there for hours. Zoe had bought her ukulele with her, and we all sat in a circle singing songs and talking about what we had planned for the hike. It felt perfect, the year was coming to a close and it was a time that allowed me to reflect on the year.”– Felicity, Year 10 (Wirringga 2022)

Jiah, Year 10 (Cramond 2022)

“On the last night of Howqua, we had all pulled out our sleeping set ups for the last time with our closest friends. We had saved weeks of nightos and arvos for a big feast. We remembered all our favourite memories we had shared and cried when the feeling of realisation hit that this was our last night together.” – Jiah, Year 10 (Howquarian 2022)

Sam Ridley, Vice-Principal Howqua 2012-2022

“Howqua has had a profound impact on myself and our family. We have been impressed with the capabilities that the girls have; their energy and enthusiasm is contagious, their ability to grow through the year and meet adversity never fails to amaze me. Every year group included our children and made them feel so special - we are forever grateful” – Sam Ridley, Vice-Principal Howqua 2012-2022

'The Howqua Valley is a beautiful, tranquil place forever etched in the memory of every Lauriston student who’s called it home.'

- Susan Just, Principal