Our Foundations

If we build it, they will come…


In the 1989 film Field of Dreams, an Iowa farmer named Ray Kinsella is walking in his cornfield when he hears a persistent whisper: appIf you build it, he will come app app

In the movie that whisper is the beginning of a dream that magically becomes a reality.

In the mid-1980s, a small group of young educators heard an almost identical persistent whispering: appIf we build it, they will come appapp

That whisper wouldnappt leave them alone, and in 1987, two years before Field of Dreams was released, another dream magically became a reality.

(Taken from ‘If we build it …they will come’ a book written by the co-founder of Hillbrook, Norm Hunter OAM) – you can read Norm’s book online here.

The future belongs to those who believe
in the beauty of their dreams.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

Our Built History

Hillbrook always has, and always will be much more than its built environment, The buildings and grounds have been developed to blend intrinsically with what is at the heart of Hillbrook – ‘there’s a place for me here’. All buildings and social spaces have been been carefully planned to feel welcoming and warm.

The concept of Hillbrook had been carefully thought through by the founders, and the parents on the original Buildings and Grounds Committee felt it was just as important to be careful and considered with the planning of buildings.

For example, when planning and building the Performing Arts Centre in 2003, six years of careful consideration went into ensuring this was an exciting and inspiring learning space as much as a performance facility. A venue used only on special occasions was never going to be an option.

Hillbrook dared to be different.


Why coeducational?

Believe it or not, the world is coeducational. The world is actually made up of men and women who will have relationships, and live, learn and work together. By the mid-1980s the role of women in western society had changed in ways that were genuinely revolutionary.

If the main purpose of schools is to prepare young people for life, then coeducation was the only way to go. We linked this with other key principles like personal development, collaboration and community, and could see great potential, especialy with a co-ed outdoor education course.

When we were putting Hillbrook together pretty much every non-Catholic independent school at the time was single sex. It’s hard to believe, but back then our idea of an independent coeducational high school was cutting edge!


…the idea of an independent coeducational high school was cutting edge!

I think at the very core of our thinking was a deep confidence and trust in the inherent potential and decency of young people, and a desire to find ways to tap into this and nurture and develop it. That’s why when we designed the logo we wanted a tree as the central symbol; not only because it combined many ancient and modern ideas including Christian symbolism, but also because it suggested something alive and growing.” – Norm Hunter OAM, co-founder of Hillbrook


Hillbrook in 1991

Hillbrook in 2020

‘We were building it, and they were coming.’
Norm Hunter OAM

The pioneering spirit of the first parents was inspirational, and they were called the ‘true believers’. They not only rolled up their sleeves and put in endless hours getting the school ready for students, they also spread the word.

In 1987, 90 Year 8 students turned up for school and Hillbrook was in business.

The target for 1988 was 120 students and thanks to the ‘true believers’ that target was reached late in 1987 with a small waiting list.

Ready to Enrol?

Choosing your child’s secondary education is a big step in the life of a parent. If you are ready to take that step you can start your application now, however you don’t have to complete it all in one sitting. Once you start, it will be uniquely saved for you to return and complete when convenient.

You can also find out more about our enrolment process, including our Enrolment Policy and Entry Year Guide.


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