Oakey High School

The town of Oakey is situated in South-east Queensland approximately 160km west of Brisbane in the rich agricultural area known as the Darling Downs. Unlike many rural communities in Australia, Oakey is thriving due to its proximity to Toowoomba and to the fact that there’s a large army base there.

Mike Rimmer taught at Oakey High School between 1974 and 1976, and while there took hundreds of photos. Most were colour prints but, like Mike himself, the negatives are now faded and useless. Fortunately, however, he also took dozens of black and white photos and slides (many of which were developed by his colleague Ron Smith) and he was able to use these to create this website.

In the mid-1970s Oakey High School had a formidable reputation as a centre of academic excellence. It was also a very happy place. Whenever teachers and students from that era get together and reminisce they become misty-eyed as they recall those halcyon days.

The main reason for Oakey’s fearsome reputation was the set of values the students inherited from their parents. From an early age they’d been encouraged to make the most of their educational opportunities, work hard and be well-mannered. Teachers came and teachers went during the 1970s but the school’s ethos remained virtually unchanged thanks to the nature of the student intake.

When Mike took these photos he’d only recently begun to take an interest in photography   and, to be frank, a lot are pretty ropey. On the other hand, some of those taken on the unforgettable trips to Ayers Rock and North Queensland aren’t bad!

What all these images do is give an insight into a bygone era in which several hundred students and dozens of teachers had some of the happiest days of their lives.

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