History of Mac.Rob

The book "The Making of Women" by historian Pauline Parker covers the history of The Mac.Robertson Girls' High School. This book is available from the school at $40 or $53.85 for packing and postage. Download an order form here 

The Mac.Robertson Girls' High School traces its origin to the establishment of the first Victorian State Secondary School, the Melbourne Continuation School, in 1905, in the buildings of the old National Model School, Spring Street, and Melbourne. Emphasis was placed upon the educating of students to become teachers in the State system.

The school was an outstanding success and in 1912 the name was changed to Melbourne High School. From its inception the school was co-educational, but the second Principal, Mr Claude Searby, held the view that boys worked better in a single-sex environment and directed his energies towards obtaining a new school for the boys. In 1927 a new school at Forrest Hill was opened and called Melbourne Boys’ High School. The girls remained in the cramped, dilapidated Spring Street building as Melbourne Girls’ High School. When this building was condemned in 1930, the students were moved to Government House which had been vacated. With the appointment of a Victorian Governor in 1933 the girls moved again, this time to State School No. 1689 in King Street.

In 1934 Victoria celebrated its centenary. Sir MacPherson Robertson made a centenary gift of 100 000 pounds, 40 000 pounds of which was to be spent to provide a girls’ high school. The present building was officially opened as The Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School on November 7th, 1934.

In 1942, during World War II, the school building was occupied as the U.S. Army Headquarters and later by the R.A.A.F. During  this period students were located at Brighton Road State School, Camberwell East Girls’ School and University High School.
In 1987, the building, designed by Norman Seabrook (architect), was given a National Trust Classification. It was previously gazetted as a Historic Building in 1982.

In September 1990 the school gained occupancy of the second floor of commercial premises at 7 Bowen Crescent as the result of a 10-year lease by the Ministry of Education. In 1995, the Bowen House lease was extended to include an additional six classrooms on level 3.
In 1996, the Government approved funding of $800 000 for the building of a Gymnasium and change facilities and a further $4.96m was promised in 1997 for construction of classrooms, Learning Resource Centre, Information Technology rooms, Music suite and Visual Arts Centre, VCE lounge, and Canteen. The school community pledged $2m for additional works, including a Lecture Theatre. Construction of the Lakeside buildings was completed in October 1999. Refurbishment of the 1934 building was completed in 2001.


1905  Began as the Melbourne Continuation School, the first Victorian State Secondary School

1912  Name change to Melbourne High School 

1927  Name changed to Melbourne Girls’ High when boys moved to Forrest Hill

1931  Students move from the Spring Street building to Government House 

1933  Students move to State School No. 1689 in King Street 

1934  Sir MacPherson Robertson makes a centenary gift of 40 000 pounds to be spent to provide a girls’ high school. On November, 7 the present building officially opened as The Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School 

1942  School building occupied as the U.S. Army Headquarters and later by the R.A.A.F. 

1962  Hall balcony constructed 

1972  Senior library extended and science rooms refurbished 

1987  The school building given a National Trust Classification 

1990  September, school gains lease of the second floor at 7 Bowen Crescent 

1996  Government approves funding of $800 000 for the building of a gymnasium and change facilities 

1997  $4.96m promised for construction of the Lakeside building and Canteen 

1999  Construction of Lakeside buildings completed 

2001  Refurbishment of the 1934 building completed 

2004  70th anniversary of the building 

2005  Centenary Celebrations and the restarting of the Clock. 

2013  Celebration of the centenary of the Adelaide Exchange 

2014  80th anniversary of the building 




School Archives

In the early 1980s, Monica Jacomb commenced the task of formulating an archive collection for Mac.Rob. The process of collection and recording is an ongoing task. The archive contains records and memorabilia dating from the commencement of the forerunner of Mac.Rob, the Continuation School, in 1905.

The collection contains:

student records from 1905 on 

a complete collection of the school magazine ‘Pallas’ and an incomplete collection of the magazine ‘Ours’ which predates the 1927 splitting of Melbourne High School into separate girls and boys schools (the boys’ school has a complete set of ‘Ours’) 

a collection of photographs of school events, personalities and infrastructure 

programs for a wide range of school activities – speech nights, concerts, chorals and musicals, drama and sports 

uniforms, original and copies, badges and trophies 

a selection of correspondence to and from the school 

architectural plans of changes or proposed changes over the years in Albert Park 

The archives are located in two rooms, Archive 1, Level 1 at the southern end of the Kingsway building and Archive 2 on the third floor of the Kingsway building next to the hall.

The archive collection continues to grow with numerous donations from current and past staff and students and the acquisition of items during the day-to-day running of the school.

Donations are most welcome and the origin of the items is now identified for future generations. The archive office may be contacted by phoning the school, or by the email address below.

Email archives : archives@macrob.vic.edu.au