Kambala School

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For the buffalo race in Karnataka, see Kambala.
Kambala School 2012 crest.
Rose Bay, New South Wales
Australia Australia
Coordinates 33°51′54″S 151°16′19″E / 33.86500°S 151.27194°E / -33.86500; 151.27194Coordinates: 33°51′54″S 151°16′19″E / 33.86500°S 151.27194°E / -33.86500; 151.27194
Type Independent, Single-sex, Day and Boarding
Motto Latin: Esto Sol Testis
(Let the Sun be your Witness)
Denomination Anglican
Established 1887[1]
Chairman Chris McDiven
Principal Debra Kelliher
Employees ~113[2]
Key people Louisa Gurney (Founder)
Enrolment ~950 (P–12)[2]
Colour(s) Grey, Gold and Blue

Kambala is an independent, Anglican, day and boarding school for girls, located on one campus in Rose Bay, an eastern suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Established in 1887, Kambala has a non-selective enrolment policy and currently caters for approximately 950 students from Pre-school to Year 12, including 95 boarders from Years 7 to 12. Students come to Kambala from the greater metropolitan area, rural New South Wales and overseas.[2]

The school is affiliated with the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia (AGSA),[3] the Junior School Heads Association of Australia (JSHAA),[4] the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA),[5] the Australian Boarding Schools' Association (ABSA),[6] and is a founding member of the Association of Heads of Independent Girls' Schools (AHIGS).[7]



Kambala was established in 1887 by Louisa Gurney, the daughter of an English clergyman. Gurney conducted her first classes with twelve girls at a terrace house in Woollahra called 'Fernbank'. In 1891, Mlle Augustine Soubeiran, who had assisted in the running of the school and who taught French, became Co-Principal. To accommodate increasing enrolments, the School was moved to a larger property in Bellevue Hill called Kambala, from which the school took its new name.

In 1913, with an enrolment of nearly fifty, the School moved again, to its present site in New South Head Road, Rose Bay. The property was known as "Tivoli", from the original Tivoli Estate, and was previously occupied by Captain William Dumaresq and later by merchant James Robinson Love. The spacious new building was built in 1841, and the notable architect John Horbury Hunt was commissioned to extend it. Today this building houses Kambala's boarders in Years 7 to 10.

In 1926, Kambala became a Church of England Foundation School controlled by an independent council. During Fifi Hawthorne's tenure as Principal, 1933 to 1966, the school grew from 100 pupils to more than 660, and buildings and facilities expanded accordingly.[8]


Kambala students, c1890s
Period Details
1891 – 1914 Augustine Soubeiran
1887 – 1914 Louise Gurney
1914 – 1927 Clara Roseby
1914 – 1926 Minnie Roseby
1927 – 1932 Flora Stewart
1933 – 1966 Fifi Hawthorne
1966 – 1984 Joyce Gibbons
1985 – 1987 Barbara Monk
1988 – 1999 Peter Moxham
1999 Roderick West
2000 – 2013 Margaret White
2014 – 2017 Debra Kelliher[9]


Kambala is located on a single campus on the rising shore above suburban Rose Bay, overlooking Sydney Harbour.[10] The school is divided into four main areas:

  1. Hampshire House - the Early Learning Centre (creche)
  2. Massie House for students from Preparation (4 year olds) to Year 2;
  3. Junior School for girls in Years 3 to 6; and
  4. Senior School for girls in Years 7 to 12.[11]


Boarding students from Year 6 to Year 10 live in Tivoli, the home of the original Tivoli estate, of which the school was once a part. Frequented by the colonial artist Conrad Martens during the 1840s, extensively renovated by architect John Horbury Hunt in the 1880s, Tivoli features modern dormitory-style living amenities.[12]

Boarders in Years 11 to 12 reside in Fernbank. Opened in 1997, Fernbank provides students with more independent living, social privileges and greater privacy for study.[12]

Kambala overlooking Sydney Harbour, as seen form New South Head Road.

House system[edit]

"Tivoli" - Kambala, Rose Bay

The House system was introduced at Kambala in 1928, and each student from Years 3 to 12 are allocated to one of the four houses:


Named after Louisa Gurney, Principal of Kambala from 1887 to 1914. Colour: Green.


Named after Fifi Hawthorne, Principal of Kambala from 1933 to 1966. Colour: Black.


Named after Clara Roseby, Principal of Kambala from 1914 to 1927. Colour: Blue.


Named after W.C Wentworth, a Founder of the School when it became a Foundation School in 1926. Colour: Red.

There are several interhouse competitions throughout the year in which houses can earn points towards the Angus Cup at the end of the year. Each house is led by two house captains. Tutor groups are formed according to Houses. Hawthorne recently won the Angus Cup in 2016 .[13]

Notable alumnae[edit]

Kambala Old Girls' Union Logo

Ex-students of Kambala are known as Old Girls and may elect to join the Kambala Old Girls' Union (KOGU).[14] Some notable Kambala Old Girls include:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kambala". Directory. Sydney's Child. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  2. ^ a b c "2006 Annual Education and Finance Report" (PDF). About Us. Kambala. 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  3. ^ Butler, Jan (2006). "Member Schools". Members. The Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  4. ^ "JSHAA New South Wales Directory of Members". New South Wales Branch. Junior School Heads' Association of Australia. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-27. 
  5. ^ "AHISA Schools". New South Wales. Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia. April 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-06-19. 
  6. ^ "Kambala". Schools. Australian Boarding Schools' Association. 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-11-17. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  7. ^ "Heads of New South Wales Independent Girls' Schools". About AHIGS. Association of Heads of Independent Girls Schools. Retrieved 2007-11-28. 
  8. ^ "Our History". About Us. Kambala. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  9. ^ "Kambala principal Debra Kelliher resigns after 'nasty campaign'". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2017-04-10. 
  10. ^ "About Kambala". About Us. Kambala. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  11. ^ "Our School: One School". Our School. Kambala. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  12. ^ a b "Boarding at Kambala". Boarding. Kambala. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  13. ^ "About the Senior School". Our School. Kambala. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  14. ^ "Kambala Old Girls' Union (KOGU)". Community. Kambala. Retrieved 2008-01-16. 
  15. ^ Durie, E. Beatrix (1979). "Aspinall, Jessie Strahorn (1880 - 1953)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. p. 118. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  16. ^ Lehmann, Megan. "ABC boss Michelle Guthrie: 'We can do better.'". Weekend Australian Magazine. Retrieved 28 December 2016. 
  17. ^ Australian Dictionary of Biography: Munro, Grace Emily (1879 - 1964) (accessed:06-08-2007)
  18. ^ Suzannah Pearce, ed. (2006-11-17). "WILLIAMS Suzanne Gae". Who's Who in Business Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Nobbs, A. 1997. Kambala: The First Hundred Years, 1887-1987. Melbourne, Globe Press.
  • Lenskyj, H. 2005. A Lot to Learn: Girls, Women and Education in the 20th Century. Toronto, Women's Press.

External links[edit]