St Mary's Star of the Sea Church


Shire of Carnarvon

Place Number



21 Johnston Carnarvon

Location Details

Cnr Rushton & Johnston Sts; Lot 337 on Plan 222239

Other Name(s)

Church of St Mary Star of the Sea Group
Church of St Mary’s

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1935

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
Heritage List Adopted 26 Feb 1988
Heritage List Adopted 23 Jun 2015
State Register Registered 17 Feb 2006 HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument, HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Classified by the National Trust Classified 27 May 1974
Register of the National Estate Indicative Place
Municipal Inventory Adopted 23 Jun 2015 Category 1

Statement of Significance

Aesthetic Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea displays a high degree of artistic and technical sophistication, both internally and externally, and exhibits a well resolved combination of architectural, symbolic and artistic motifs. Aesthetic Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea is an excellent example of the ecclesiastical architecture of John Cyril Hawes, and is relatively rare as a building, designed by Hawes, constructed of concrete blocks. Aesthetic Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea is a landmark in Carnarvon as a substantial church building sited in a prominent location at the corner of Johnston, Francis and Rushton Streets. Aesthetic Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea, together with the Presbytery, and the Convent School, forms a precinct of early twentieth century Catholic buildings in Carnarvon. Historic Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea was the third Catholic Church to be constructed for the expanding Catholic community of Carnarvon, and is indicative of the growth of the area throughout the early part of the twentieth century. Historic Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea demonstrates the use of locally manufactured concrete blocks for construction during the 1930s, a time of material shortages and economic depression. Historic Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea was designed by acclaimed architect and priest, Monsignor John Cyril Hawes, whose life and works are prominent within the history of the Mid-west region of Western Australia Historic Value – Father John G. Mackay, later Archdeacon Mackay, was involved in overseeing and implementing plans for Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea in his role as the Carnarvon parish priest at the time that the church was constructed, and served as a priest in Carnarvon for over thirty years, from 1930 to the mid-1960s. Research Value – The building is a notable example of the innovative use of building materials and techniques to suit local conditions. Social Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea is valued by the Catholic community of Carnarvon and surrounding districts as a focus of religious activity and the location of many cultural events associated with the life of this community. Social Value – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea contributes to the Carnarvon community’s sense of place as a prominent building in its streetscape, and as a fine example of the work of John Cyril Hawes. Rarity – Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea is an unusual example of a church constructed of concrete block masonry walls and corrugated colorbond (originally fibre cement) roof sheeting. Representativeness - Church of St Mary, Star of the Sea is representative of Hawes’ distinctive and somewhat eclectic style of church architectural design.


Hawes finished the working drawings for Carnarvon’s Church of St Mary Star of the Sea in 1934, having completed the sketch plans and two form study models in 1933. The Hawes designed church at Carnarvon was built to replace a simple timber-framed structure measuring 40 feet by 20 feet (12.19 metres by 6.10 metres) that had been built in 1901. Hawes’ Carnarvon church design led to some conflict between himself and the parish priest of Carnarvon, Fr John Mackay. Hawes’ already unsettled temperament conflicted with the forthright wishes of his client in this case. Fr Mackay had been disappointed in the delay that Hawes had requested for the design because of his other commitments at Morawa, and then the restrictions that Hawes placed on any alterations to the design of the building. Bishop O’Collins managed to intervene in the conflict, and the Carnarvon church was eventually commenced. The successful tenderer was E. Bello of Maylands with a tender price of 2,087 pounds. The existing church was to be demolished for general sale. The Church of St Mary Star of the Sea was blessed and opened on Sunday 10 November 1935. The appearance of the Carnarvon church differs from the majority of Hawes’ churches in Western Australia, due to the roof and wall materials employed in construction. The cross on the peak of the Carnarvon church is the work of the renowned metal craftsman Wilfred Priestner whom Hawes employed for many of his jobs from the late 1920s.





State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
5385 Conservation plan for St Mary's Star of the Sea Church, Carnarvon Western Australia. Heritage Study {Cons'n Plan} 1997
519 Carnarvon. Book 1980
5671 St Mary's Star of the Sea Church Carnarvon : 2002 conservation works to roof (final report) Conservation works report 2002
9343 Assessment and report on Church of St Mary Star of the Sea Group, Carnarvon. Heritage Study {Other} 2009
7211 Images CD No. 36 : assessment images : Church of St Mary Star of the Sea Group, Carnarvon; Poinciana House, Marble Bar; Corunna Downs Station & Wartime Airbase; Gascoyne Research Station, Carnarvon. C D Rom 2004

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Present Use RELIGIOUS Church, Cathedral or Chapel
Present Use RELIGIOUS Church Hall
Original Use RELIGIOUS Church, Cathedral or Chapel
Present Use RELIGIOUS Monastery or Convent
Present Use RELIGIOUS Housing or Quarters
Present Use EDUCATIONAL Combined School

Architectural Styles

Inter-War Free Classical
Victorian Georgian
Inter-War Romanesque

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall BRICK Common Brick
Wall STONE Local Stone
Roof METAL Zincalume
Wall CONCRETE Concrete Block
Roof METAL Corrugated Iron

Historic Themes

General Specific
OCCUPATIONS Domestic activities
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Education & science

Creation Date

30 May 1989

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

27 Apr 2021


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.