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Three Sisters United in the Penrhos Boarding House

10 July 2024

The Carlow family’s decision to send their three daughters to Penrhos College for boarding school is a unique and heartfelt journey, enriched by the family’s deep roots in regional Western Australia.


The Carlow family, from Broome WA


Despite the challenges of sending their 12-year-old daughters 2,000km away, the experience has fostered remarkable independence and resilience in their girls. 

Here, the Carlows share their reflections on the transition, the quiet adjustments at home, and the joy of seeing their daughters thrive in Penrhos’ supportive and dynamic boarding environment.

Why did you decide to send your daughters to Penrhos?

Unlike some other regional families, we had a choice whether or not to send our daughters (Sophie, Amelia and Jacynta) to Boarding School as Broome offers K-12 education. 

Having both grown up in regional WA (Cranbrook and Wyndham) and with Emma having attended a boarding school herself, we had an insight into the amazing educational opportunities and boarding experiences an IGSSA school provides.

When touring all the schools in Perth with Sophie, she instantly felt connected to Penrhos, the stunning grounds, welcoming staff and students and a Boarding House that replicated the home environment. Penrhos has spacious single rooms for every girl, year group common rooms and TV rooms and beautiful courtyards to relax in. 


A snapshot of the beach at home in Broome


Sending your 12-year-old daughter 2,000km away is truly heartbreaking and completely nerve-wracking. 

Waving goodbye in the airport terminal, praying their flight goes well and is running on time, that they are collected at the other end and then settling themselves into their room, unpacking their belongings, making their bed – all while watching the other girls’ parents settling their daughters in makes them become incredibly independent very quickly. 

One of the hardest things is not being present in their day-to-day lives; we really miss being on the sidelines supporting them in their sporting games and school events. 

We are forever grateful to the College and other parents that keep us updated in our girls’ school and co-curricular life with photos and videos. Technology certainly plays a big part in our lives keeping us all connected.

What is it like for you at home now that your girls are in Perth?

Home life now in Broome is very quiet. We eagerly await phone calls, emails and when they ‘have time’ a FaceTime call. I must admit, I do ‘stalk’ Compass to keep an eye on all their school assessments and the IGSSA app to keep an eye on all their games of sport they participate in. 


The girls all together at home


It takes a bit of planning, but we try to fly to Perth once a term to see our girls, watch them play their sport and of course catch up with the other boarding parents. 

Messenger or WhatsApp group chats between the boarding parents allow us all to check in with each other, which is always comforting, and we have found communications with the girls’ teachers easy via Compass. 

I would highly recommend Penrhos to any future parents. The Boarding House certainly provides so many incredible opportunities for the girls to experience ‘city living’, while being supported by the kind and caring house mothers. 

Regular weekend outings to the AFL at Optus Stadium, watching the Fever at the RAC Arena, movie cinemas, shopping centres, roller skating, ice skating, Bounce, Yochi and Macca’s runs to name a few. It really is like a home away from home.

Emma and Gene Carlow 

Sophie, Amelia and Jacynta’s parents

Were you excited to join both of your sisters in the Boarding House this year?

I was so excited to finally join both of my sisters in the Boarding House. Being away from them was very lonely, feeling like I was an only child, but seeing them every day now is the best! But not seeing my mum, dad and dog can be daunting. 


Jacynta in the Boarding House with her two older sisters, Amelia and Sophie


l have found a good set of new friends. My favourite part of Penrhos is definitely the experiences like Boarders’ Netball, all the fun weekend activities and meeting girls from all over WA. 

I feel very lucky to be at Penrhos. I hope I can survive my first winter! 

Jacynta Carlow, Year 7

How has it been having your older sister at the Boarding House with you for your boarding journey; and what is it like now that your younger sister has joined too?

Having my older sister in boarding when I first started at Penrhos made it so much easier to settle in, as it made me a lot less homesick and a lot more comfortable in the Boarding House. 

When my younger sister joined it was a bittersweet feeling. Knowing we were all together meant that no one was at home with Mum and Dad. It was so much fun getting to see Jacynta in my life a lot more. 


Amelia and Sophie Carlow at Penrhos netball, and 2023 boarding memorabilia


My highlights in boarding are definitely the recs (activities) on the weekend and dress up dinners. It is so much fun when our whole year dresses up for dinner as we all get involved and have fun. Recs are always interesting as we get to go out of the Boarding House and catch up with all our friends from different boarding schools. 

Amelia Carlow, Year 10

What is it like now that both of your younger sisters have joined you in the Boarding House?

It’s great fun to be altogether again and share our experiences. It also makes it easier to connect with younger years and it brings back the memories of when I was that age. 

One of the highlights of my time at Penrhos is definitely Boarders’ Week with various activities planned to make each boarder feel special. My favourite is secret friends. Everyone gets gifts for someone else in the Boarding House and delivers it to them anonymously for two days before a big dinner where everyone reveals themselves. 


Sophie Carlow in Year 12 at Penrhos


A bonus about boarding is that it makes it so much easier to do IGSSA activities as they are right on campus. I’m going to miss the atmosphere in the Boarding House, hearing all the laughter and the noise of girls running around. 

Boarding has been a massive part of my life in the past five years and I’m lucky to finally have both of my sisters here as well. 

Sophie Carlow, Year 12