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Fairbridge Village
Fairbridge Chapel, located in the village, designed by Sir Herbert Baker

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Pinjarra, Western Australia
Coordinates 32°35′59″S 115°56′44″E / 32.59972°S 115.94556°E / -32.59972; 115.94556
Type Former Farm School for migrant children
Established 1912
Founder Kingsley Fairbridge
Status Currently used for education, school camps, and tourism purposes
Official name Fairbridge Farm School
Type State Registered Place
Designated 2 June 1998
Reference no. 1762

Fairbridge, Western Australia is a former farm school near Pinjarra in Southwest Western Australia. It is now used predominantly for education, school and community camps and tourism purposes.


On 15 April 1912, Kingsley Fairbridge and his wife Ruby Fairbridge arrived in Albany, Western Australia, from England and made their way to Pinjarra, arriving on 16 July that same year to establish the world's first Fairbridge Farm School. The school opened on 19 October 1912. Kingsley wanted to see "little children shedding the bondage of bitter circumstances and stretching their legs and minds amid the thousand interests of the farm."

From 1913 until 1982, Fairbridge Farm School assisted 3,580 children who came to Fairbridge under various child migration schemes. The school provided education in task-learning, husbandry, metal work and wood work. During World War II, Dutch refugee children evacuated from Indonesia were based at Fairbridge while waiting to be reunited with their families. During the same period, the site was also used as a training ground for the Women's Land Army, and Guildford Grammar School partially relocated there while their school was used as a hospital base. An airfield was constructed and operated from the school during the Second World War until the 1950s.

The Australian Heritage Commission commented, when announcing the listing of Fairbridge on the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate in December 1997 that "Fairbridge is a striking example of Australia’s early philanthropic movement to resettle and educate migrant children." The Chair of the Heritage Commission at the time, Wendy McCarthy stated that "'by entering Fairbridge in the Interim List of the Register of the National Estate, we are not only recognising the efforts of this philanthropist, Kingsley Fairbridge, but also its role in a significant phase in Australia’s migration history. From 1912 until 1980 Fairbridge Pinjarra played a significant role in the development of the British Empire and Australian migration history on child, single parent and family migration schemes."

Many of the child migrants were told that they were orphans and consequently never saw their families again. Australia has apologised for its involvement in the scheme, and in 1998 the Western Australian Government apologised to former child migrants: "The Western Australian Government apologises to former child migrants who suffered physical, emotional and other abuse in the state's institutions. The following year the Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy and Poor Sisters of Nazareth launched a computerised personal history index to the records of former child migrants." In February 2010 UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a formal apology to the families of children who suffered.

Royal visitors to Fairbridge

Members of the British Royal Family to have visited Fairbridge include the Duke and Duchess of York in 1927, the Queen Mother in 1964 and Prince Charles in 1979.

Fairbridge Chapel

Fairbridge church
Fairbridge Chapel

The chapel is the only building in Australia designed and construction overseen by noted British architect Sir Herbert Baker.

Described as "the architectural jewel in the crown" of Fairbridge Village, the chapel was built in 1930-31 by the Western Australian Government with construction funded by British interests.

Fairbridge Western Australia Inc.

Fairbridge Western Australia Inc. was established as a charity in 1983 and owns and operates Fairbridge Village. The organisation runs programs and services for young people who are at-risk, disadvantaged and living with a disability. Programs include mentoring, leadership and personal development, life skills, interest free loans, supported accommodation, appropriate education, nationally accredited training, supported employment opportunities and adventure therapy.

Programs are funded through providing tourist accommodation. Fairbridge also receives financial support from the Australian Government and corporate sectors.

All income raised from Fairbridge's tourism operations goes towards the organisation's charity work with young people.

Fairbridge Village

The 30 hectare Village is run as a tourism training facility for young people and as a tourist destination providing visitors with accommodation, activities and historic surroundings. It is the only Fairbridge Farm School site remaining out of the eight that were originally built around the world.

Fairbridge offers historical tours and activities. It has a number of buildings which are used as conference and function venues and a coffee shop featuring local artworks. The village has an on-site coffee shop that is open seven days a week. Visitors to the village are able to stay for the day or overnight.

Fairbridge Village consists of 55 heritage listed buildings and 10 newer buildings on 30 hectares of land. The Village also has a chapel, dining hall, single and double storey cottages, training and sporting facilities. Accommodation can hold 370 people. There are 23 different self-contained cottages that sleep from 2 to 56 people.

Guests staying at the village have access to a 30-metre swimming pool, full sized sporting oval, tennis, beach volleyball, mini golf, art gallery and museum.

Fairbridge was WA Tourism Award's Silver Medallist 2006 and 2007.

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