No grass ceiling here! Two Rangakarra ovals

What makes a simple open space extraordinary? Is it because it looks green and inviting, because it has a memorial plaque or sign, or because of the blood, sweat, and tears of the girls who have sat on it, run over it, or competed across it?

In an inner-city school, open spaces are at a premium and, as Girls Grammar grew, areas for play, sport, and outdoor activities became limited. Therefore, the announcement by then Chair of the Board of Trustees, Elizabeth Jameson, in November 2012 of the purchase of what were at the time the Marist Brothers, Rosalie playing fields at Fig Tree Pocket was met with much jubilation.


2013 Rangakarra

The School then set out to improve, rejuvenate, clean up, and develop this site to fit the diverse needs of a 21st century girls’ school. Rangakarra of 2022 looks markedly different from the grounds that were purchased with the creek cleared, groves of trees planted, amenities improved, and ovals manicured.

Girls Grammar has a penchant for allocating names to features of the School from the digital learning space that became Minerva to meeting rooms to the Marrapatta Memorial Outdoor Education Centre. These names have clear and direct associations with the School; indeed, some of the names mean nothing to anyone outside the Grammar community. This makes these places, especially ours.

One development in these naming protocols is the use of the names of people who have made outstanding contributions to the School. That is why, at Rangakarra (another one of our names), there are two ovals commemorating the skills, careers, loyalty, and dedication of two exceptional Grammar girls: Daphne Pirie (Welch, 1949) and Pauline Harvey-Short (Harvey, 1971).

Daphne Pirie was an outstanding athlete and a student who maintained her close connection with the School right up to her death in 2022. She was thrilled to have such an important sporting space named in her honour and the name she chose to adorn the plaque was Daphne Welch, her name as a Grammar girl. What a testament to her love for her old School! This decision also recognised her family’s connection to the School, a connection that both Daphne and her sister, Nola, held dear.

2015 naming of the Daphne Welch Oval with the Welch sisters and brothers

Daphne’s death was remembered this Hockey season when, on 30 July, the 2022 Hockey Captains, Olivia Clive (12B) and Anna Tilley (12E), laid a bouquet of flowers against the sign at her oval and led the Hockey teams in a rousing war cry in her honour, a war cry Daphne delighted in and knew so well. Olivia and Anna said, ‘The celebration of Daphne Pirie (nee Welch) on the weekend highlighted how the celebration of Grammar women in sport can inspire and encourage younger girls to pursue the sports they love.’

The BGGS News article about the Interhouse Athletics champion’s trophy, created from Daphne’s running spikes, recounts more about this special Grammar girl.

2022 The Hockey teams’ war cry in honour of Daphne Pirie

2022 Remembering Daphne

Pauline Harvey-Short was a student at Girls Grammar from 1967-1971. She was actively involved in every Interhouse sporting event she could manage (Go, England!) and represented the School in Softball, Netball, and Ballgames. She later returned to teach, appropriately, Health and Physical Education. She gave exemplary service to the School for 41 years, as a teacher, leader, role model, Director of Sport and Physical Education, Acting Dean of Administration, and completed her full-time work as Dean of School.

The Pauline Harvey-Short Oval

The importance of these ovals can no better be explained than by the words of Pauline Harvey-Short on the occasion of the naming of her oval on 29 March 2018. She said:

‘an oval has always been a place to express yourself, a place of success and failure, a place to get to know yourself and others. It has now become a place where the “grass ceiling” can be challenged by sportswomen across Australia—whether it is in Cricket, Football, Australian Rules, Rugby 7s or League. As sportswomen, you are part of a truly exciting time in Australian women’s sport, where girls can legitimately aspire to become professional athletes in a wide range of sports, and perhaps your Rangakarra experience may be the beginning.’

2018 Naming of the Pauline Harvey-Short oval

In a school that has a reputation for academic excellence, it is sometimes overlooked how important the physical is in the nurturing of the all-around Grammar girl. These ovals are a constant and present reminder of the influence physical activity has. It enables a sense of balance, healthy competition, the drive for personal bests, teamwork, resilience, and joy. Are not these attributes vital for success at school and beyond?

Mrs Kristine Cooke (Harvey 1967)
English teacher

2017 Grammar Logo on the Daphne Welch Oval with then Head Girls, Lucy Duke (2017) and Elizabeth Prins (2017)