Outdoor education was introduced to Girls Grammar in 1978 by teachers passionate about the environment and the opportunities presented by the outdoors.
The following year, a tragic bus accident would lead to the establishment of what is now known as Marrapatta Memorial Outdoor Education Centre.
The accident occurred at Christmas Creek in the foothills of the McPherson Ranges on 21 April 1979. On that day, 19 students and four adults were travelling by bus on an outdoor education expedition led by staff member, Mr John Stamford. As the bus travelled slowly along the country road, a section of the roadway collapsed under its rear passenger wheels and it rolled several times down a steep slope.
Mr Stamford, his wife Janelle and two Year 10 students, Helen Gahan and Jillian Skaines, were thrown out of the bus and killed, while the dazed and injured—some seriously hurt—were scattered down the hillside. Only six passengers were in any condition to climb back to the road and seek help from a property some two kilometres distant.
This terrible event had a profound impact on all who were associated with the School—girls, staff, parents and even the wider community. Principal, Mrs Hancock, remained determined to provide a breadth of educational experiences that included a vibrant outdoor education program.
On Sunday 9 August 1987, the Memorial Outdoor Education Centre at Imbil was officially opened by Dr A S Gehrmann, Chair of the Board of Trustees. Mr Tim and Mrs Sue Lanham were appointed the first Directors.
Over the years, the centre has developed significantly, made possible through the generous contributions of the School community.
In 2003, Mr James and Mrs Carol McIntosh joined the School as Directors of Marrapatta. The centre was renamed Marrapatta Memorial Outdoor Education Centre in 2005; Marrapatta is taken from the School’s War Cry.