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visits since 23 June 2002


St. Mary's Convent, Cooktown was acquired by Hirings Section, No. 1 Lines of Communication (No. 1 L of C) of the Australian Army during WW2.

It was considered unsafe for all of the sisters to return to the school after the summer holidays in early 1942. Only two sisters, Sr. Benignus McCormack and Sr. Anthony Gough, returned to the Convent to finalise the handover of the Convent to the American Army. Before they left these two sisters were able to witness the far off glow of the Battle of the Coral Sea. These 2 sisters supplied spare mattresses for the comfort of wounded personnel who returned to Australia after this battle had finished.

St. Mary's Convent never re-opened. The Americans stayed at the school until the end of the war. The buildings at the school were significantly damaged because of the military occupation.

In the 1960's the Convent was donated to the National Trust of Queensland, who with funding from the Queensland Government subsequently restored the building into the James Cook Museum for opening by the Queen in the 1770-1970 Bicentennial Year.

It received extra funding for the Centennial of the Commonwealth in 2001 and an extra wing was added. It is open today for visiting as the James Cook Museum, and features an original cannon from the HMS Barque Endeavour.



"And all this shall be added"
Catholic Education in Queensland - Volume VI
by Susan Mary Tobin



I'd like to thank John McGregor for his assistance with this web page.


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This page first produced 23 June 2002

This page last updated 28 May 2009