Per Aspera ad Astra

Queenwood was founded in 1925 in a large Victorian house on the sloping hills of Balmoral, with an initial enrolment of just five pupils. The school still stands on the original site and additional facilities have been added over time. 

The school grew quickly and the two founders, Miss Grace Lawrance and Miss Beatrice Rennie, took on more staff including Miss Violet Medway in 1928. The school was led by some combination of these three remarkable women for the next 57 years. 

Reflecting their own diversity of faith, Queenwood was established from its inception as a non-denominational Christian school with an ethos of inclusion, rejecting the sharp sectarian divisions in Australia at the time.

The significance of the School’s motto, Per Aspera ad Astra (‘Through Struggles to the Stars’), was explained by Miss Rennie:

‘Per Aspera’ precedes ‘ad Astra’ and so it is that strength and courage are necessary, for the highest and best are not attained without struggle… There is so much that needs reforming in the world today, so many wrongs to be righted, so many poor and sick to be tended, so many weak to be protected. Are not these high adventures which call for women of strength and courage and purpose?

That sense of purpose, the willingness to engage with challenge and the desire to make a contribution remain at the heart of Queenwood’s mission.


Miss Grace Lawrance
1925 – 1930

Miss Beatrice Rennie
1931 – 1962

Miss Violet Medway
1942 – 1982

Mrs Alison Stalley
1982 – 1987

Mrs Judith Wheeldon
1987 – 1996

Mrs Kem Bray
1996 – 2008

Mr James Harpur
2008 – 2012

Ms Elizabeth Stone
2014 – 2023

Mrs Marise McConaghy
2024 – Present