The gown was purchased from Pikes Menswear store
The gown was purchased from Pikes Menswear store
14 July 2017

In 1960 June MacDonald finished her studies at St Mary’s College Ipswich and was heading off to university to continue her education.

June and her mother made a special trip to Brisbane by train to buy a cap and gown for her matriculation ceremony – a ritual for those starting their studies at The University of Queensland.

“Everybody was at the ceremony, including the Governor of Queensland, Henry Abel Smith, who went around and spoke to everybody there,” June said.

June donned her cap and gown again in 1973 when she graduated from UQ with a Bachelor of Arts – her gown altered to become a graduate gown with the addition of a hood.

In 1976 the regalia was pulled from the wardrobe and dusted off for another graduation ceremony – this time for June’s brother-in-law Maurice.

Seventeen years later the gown was still threading its way through generations, connecting strands of the family with each other and with UQ.

This time, nephew Mel was the next to wear the accidental family heirloom when he graduated from UQ.

The same gown was not packed away just yet, as more family members were lined up to wear it. Another of June’s nephews, Tom, would proudly wear the ageing but precious outfit at UQ Ipswich in 2001 and again in 2002.

Fast forward to 2016, and the family’s academic dress was dry cleaned and unwrapped for June’s great niece Marlena.

And, if all goes to plan, the gown – part of fabric of the June’s family history – will be brought out of the wardrobe again in 2019 for Marlena’s younger brother’s graduation – 59 years after its debut.

Read the full story of this remarkable accidental heirloom on Small Change.

Media:, 07 3346 7887.