|Elevation:||406 m (1,332 ft)|
Oakey (pronounced /ˈoʊki/ (deprecated template)) is a rural town situated in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia. It is situated 160 kilometres (100 mi) west of the state capital, Brisbane, and 29 kilometres (18 mi) west of the regional city of Toowoomba. At the 2001 census, Oakey had a population of 3,657.
Oakey and the creek around which the town is located, were named for the river oaks that dominate the banks of the creek. The area was first settled in the early 1840s when pastoralists moved into the area and found the land to be suitable for grazing. The building of the western railway line through the area prompted the growth of a township to service the pastoral community. Growth of the town was slow, however featured some enterprising ventures, including a short-lived meatworks near the town, which planned to tin and export kangaroo and wallaby under the marketing name 'Australian Game'. The enterprise was unsuccessful and closed down in 1876.
In 1859 Jondaryan Woolshed was built to service the rapidly growing wool industry. The railway reached Oakey and Jondaryan in 1867. The Jondaryan Property dominated the area, encompassing over 400,000 acres (1,600 km2). The Woolshed was responsible for over 200,000 head of sheep and could cater for in excess of 50 shearers working simultaneously. Following World War I, the homestead landholding was reduced and separated to allow for soldier re-settlement programs.
The town's moment of glory came with the birth of the brilliant horse Bernborough at Rosalie Plains in 1939. For the first four years of his life Bernborough was restricted to racing in the local area (because of a ban the Queensland Turf Club had placed on his owners) and he became something of a legend on the tracks around Toowoomba. Eventually the horse was sold to a businessman in Sydney and raced in three states, winning 15 consecutive races between 22 December 1945 and 19 October 1946. His memory is honoured by the life-size bronze horse cast (the first in Australia) which stands outside the Jondaryan shire office. His trainer Harry Plant believed that Bernborough was the greatest horse ever to race in Australia.
During World War II the requirement for aircraft maintenance and construction exceeded the capabilities of Brisbane-based facilities. To expand the capability, a 934-acre (378.0 ha) site at Oakey was purchased to facilitate the raising of Number 6 Aircraft Depot (6AD). An airbase was sited approximately 2 miles (3 km) north of the town, and runways were built. With a full complement of RAAF personnel, the base housed almost 2000 troops. The Depot serviced, assembled and conducted test flights of Bristol Beaufort, P-51 Mustang, Norsemen, CAC Wirraway and Supermarine Spitfire aircraft.
In 1975 Jondaryan Woolshed Historical Museum and Park was established to present the history of Jondaryan Station and its role in the development of pastoralism on the Darling Downs. The woolshed has been in continuous operation since it was built.
The town is bypassed by the Warrego Highway (National A2), and is also on the main rail link connecting Brisbane and Toowoomba with south-western Queensland. Oakey is connected to Toowoomba and Brisbane by bus. The airport, which primarily functions as the Oakey Army Aviation Centre is located on the site of the original World War 2 airbase. It was serviced by Macair Airlines commercial air services originating in Brisbane, however the failure of Macair has seen services commenced by Skytrans being routed via Toowoomba.
The climate is varied, with hot dry conditions in summer and cool conditions in winter. Cold nights and frosts are frequent in the winter months. Temperatures below −10 °C (14 °F) have been recorded.
Industry is rural based, with emphasis on meat and cropping. A meatworks is located in the town. There are also mining operations in the surrounding districts. The main town centre was redeveloped during 2005 by the council and now includes new shops, landscaping and tree plantings.
The township also provides services for agricultural and mining activities in the local area.
Oakey been regularly mentioned on the Australian soap opera, Neighbours, with characters both originating from the town and moving to the town. A storyline which aired in July 2009 saw the Parker family going on a road trip to Oakey, however the car crashed before it reached its destination, resulting in the tragic death of a family member. As a result the rest of the family decided to leave Erinsborough and move back to Oakey.
Facilities and attractionsEdit
The township has many amenities, including an Olympic swimming pool and Golf course. There are several motels and hotels in town providing accommodation, as well as a caravan park catering for tourists. The local RSL (Returned Services League) Club provides convention style facilities, and is the hub of the war remembrance activities for the local area on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day. The town has a junior state school and state high school, as well as daycare and pre-school centres. Oakey has a local hospital providing emergency services and inpatient care as well as a large co-located nursing home facility known as the EAF McDonald nursing home. There a two private GP practices in the town.
Nearby attractions include the Jondaryan Woolshed, The Acland Coal Mine Museum, The Museum of Army Aviation and the Brookvale Nursery.
The University of Queensland also has a campus for Equine Studies in the town.
Oakey is one of the towns contained in the Queensland State Electoral district of Condamine.
- ^ a b Australian Bureau of Statistics (9 March 2006). "Oakey (Urban Centre/Locality)". 2001 Census QuickStats. http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/ABSNavigation/prenav/LocationSearch?collection=Census&period=2001&areacode=UCL344800&producttype=QuickStats&breadcrumb=PL&action=401. Retrieved 2007-06-30.
- ^ Macquarie Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2005). Melbourne, The Macquarie Library Pty Ltd. ISBN 1-876429-14-3
- ^ The Oakey Region Tulk, Darren Australian Railway History, August 2008 pp251-264
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