School History


St. Joseph’s School was opened by the Sisters of St. Joseph (Brown Josephites) in 1970 as part of the South Murwillumbah Parish, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, catering for 100 children from Kindergarten to Year 4. Originally there were smaller schools in Burringbar and Tumbulgum. St. Brigid’s in Burringbar, founded in 1921 closed in 1969, as did the Little Flower School, Tumbulgum – a Presentation Sisters School.
The Josephite Sisters continued at St. Joseph’s School until 1982 when they were farewelled from the school community, having made a wonderful contribution to Catholic Education and, in particular, to the parish.
Mr Frank Godfrey was the first lay Principal in 1983, serving until 1996.
St. Joseph’s School Principals
Sr. Magdalen Mc Donald
Sr. Monica Joseph
Sr. Antoinette
Sr. Patrick Francis Mc Gettigan (Sr. Kathleen)      Sisters of St. Joseph’s 1970 – 1982
Sr. Thelma
Mr Frank Godfrey      (1983 – 1996)
Mr Chris Waters       (1997 – 2004)
Mr Paul Hookway     (2005 -2006)
Mr Paul McDermott  (2006 – 2011)

Mr Ray Nihill     (2012)

Mr Jason Clarke    (2013 –   )

 In 1979 extensions to the school were completed which included a renovated library building, enclosed basement and new administration block.
In 1994 further extensions were undertaken to add a classroom, a new library and a shelter shed.
Upon Mr Godfrey’s retirement, Mr Chris Waters was appointed Principal and additional extensions were completed in 1998 when a new classroom, staffroom, storerooms and library extensions were added.  In 2005 Mr Paul Hookway was appointed Principal to watch over both St. Joseph’s and Mt. St. Patrick Primary.  Following his retirement, Mr Paul McDermott was appointed Principal of Saint Joseph’s in 2006. Mr Ray Nihill was appointed Principal for 2012. Mr Jason Clarke, appointed in 2013, is the current Principal of St Joseph’s.
Over one million dollars worth of refurbishments were completed in 2007 with all classrooms being fully refurbished  and a computer laboratory being built.  The administration building was extended to include a meeting room and executive office along with a new entrance to the school.
In 2009, Saint Joseph’s was awarded another million dollars to add an additional two classrooms and refurbish existing facilities such as the parent barbecue area.
The school was devastated by the flood of April, 2017. The entire ground floor was designated ‘rebuild’! The entire ground floor was rebuilt with changes to the site being made throughout; a new contemporary toilet block, assembly room downstairs with library rebuilt upstairs, new adventure playground, top soiled, re-turfed and fenced school playground and administration redesigned. A major event for the school during which time admin, staff room and student and staff toilets were in temporary demountables. The rebuild took months to complete while students continued to attend school.
In 2018 a successful application for a School Revitalisation and Improvement Program grant funded by the Catholic Schools Office, Lismore, was attained for the construction of a break out learning ‘deck’ on the first floor. This learning space replaced the original soft roofing over the basement. The new learning space also provides greater movement options between classrooms and the library, replacing the narrow verandahs.  A true innovation toward providing a contemporary flexible learning space for all learners.
Parish History
Father Bede Parker was Parish Priest from the inception in 1955 to 1973. Father Eamon Leonard was Parish Priest from 1973 to 1997. In 1998 South Murwillumbah Parish was re-united with the Sacred Heart Parish of Murwillumbah, under the leadership of Father Paul McDonald.  Fr. Colin Reinhard replaced Fr Paul in July 2002, as Parish Priest.  In 2008, Fr David Gilbey was appointed as Parish Priest of the Sacred Heart Parish. Fr Anthony Lemon, appointed September 2014, is the current Parish Priest.
The Sport Houses at St. Joseph’s are
MacKillop                    (Green)
Leonard                       (Gold)
Parker                          (Red)
The houses are appropriately named after Mary MacKillop, founder of the Josephites, and the only parish priests of South Murwillumbah, Father Parker and Father Leonard.
From 60 students in 1921 at Burringbar, sitting on church kneelers and using the pew as a desk, the school has grown and developed to now cater for seven classes and an enrolment of 140 children. The faith and generosity of parents over the years has built the existing culture of the school.
The example and support of the clergy, the Josephite Sisters and the dedicated staffs over the past years has enabled the high ideals and Christian values presented, to students to remain the main focus of today’s school.