When wealthy landowner and widow, Mrs Catherine Musk, gave her Mt Pleasant property of 17,000 acres to the Christian
Brothers in the 1930s, it is unlikely that the original vision of establishing a farm school for boys extended to what Catholic
Agricultural College Bindoon offers today.
Initially its purpose was to provide training for socially-disadvantaged boys and orphans, much in the same way other Christian
Brothers' farm schools had been established at Tardun and Clontarf. The property became known as St Joseph's Farm and
Trade School and the first Christian Brothers' community was established under the leadership of Br Peter O'Sullivan in 1936.
The only building on the property was a mud-brick homestead that became the residence for the Brothers and the first group of
seven boys when they arrived at Bindoon in 1939. The site of the "Old Homestead" is a few kilometres north of CAC Bindoon's
front gates on the Great Northern Highway.
In 1940, Br Sebastian Bresnehan was appointed Superior and construction started on the buildings. Br Paul Keaney came from
Clontarf with eight boys to dig the foundations and one wing of the first building (the dormitory block now known as Edmund
House) was officially opened in 1941. Most of the building work was completed by 1953, although extensions and alterations were
made in the 70s.
The impressive part-Spanish Mission part-Italianate architecture is the result of the work of New Norcia monk Dom Urbano
Gimenez, who designed the Main Building and the Manual Arts Building, and architect-priest Fr John Cyril Hawes, who designed
Edmund House and the refectory block (kitchen/dining room).
The school began with a group of about 32 boys who were transferred from Clontarf to Bindoon Boys' Town (as it became known)
in 1942 as the result of the RAAF commandeering the Clontarf site during World War II. After the War, Bindoon became home
for many migrant boys from the United Kingdom and Malta. Migration from the UK ceased in 1957 and in 1965 from Malta.
1966 was a transition period between the completion of the migration scheme and developing a specific future for Bindoon Boys'
Town. After much thought and consultation, it was decided that it would become a residential college for the sons of farmers and
those interested in agricultural pursuits. This change was initiated with very little alteration and "Keaney College", a school for
boys from Year 8 to 10, was officially approved by the educational authorities in 1968.
In the early 90s, the future of Keaney College was reviewed. It was acknowledged that agricultural education for girls at years 8
to 10 level was unavailable in the State, although a few girls were attending Keaney College as day students. In May 1995,
Catholic Agricultural College Bindoon was officially opened, beginning a new era of agricultural education by being the only
agricultural college in WA that caters for day and residential students from Years 8 to 12.
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