Vale Dame Olivia Newton-John

Ormond pays tribute to Olivia Newton-John, an international star who retained a strong connection to our College, in which she spent four happy years as a child.

The Newton-John family moved to Australia from Wales in 1954 for Olivia’s father Brinley to become Master of Ormond. Five-year-old Olivia loved living in Allen House where she pretended to be an explorer or a princess in a castle. She also roamed the grounds happily, using the Tower to navigate and waiting patiently on the stone steps of Main Building to walk her father home at the end of the day.

Olivia’s memories of Ormond were infused with the sights and sounds of College life: she remembers the sounds of ‘spoonings in’ echoing out of the dining hall and how when she returned to College years later to see her father’s portrait, the spoon dents on the tables from such occasions brought back happy childhood recollections.

Although the family departed Ormond in 1958 when Brinley accepted a new post elsewhere, the Newton-Johns remained connected to the College. Olivia had one of her earliest stage roles in the 1959 Ormond play in which her brother and Ormond student Hugh Newton-John had a significant role. The family also returned to visit in the following decades and another relative attended College.

Although Olivia’s career took her to fame and fortune overseas, her time at Ormond remained a treasured and important part of her childhood: recollections of College open the first chapter of her autobiography. Ormond pays tribute to this stellar member of our community.

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