Royal Flying Doctor Service

Broken Hill’s airport is also the Royal Flying Doctor Service  headquarters.

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Entrance to the HQ

On entering we were invited to watch a short film about the service, which included real incidents where sick and injured people were picked up by a flying ‘hospital’ and flown to a major population centres.

It is thanks to the Rev John Flynn who was ordained in 1911 and began to set up centres for the sick and injured in the Australian bush. He had a dream of supporting the bush hospitals, miners, farmers etc with a fast medical service, and in 1928, thanks to a large bequest, he began the what we now know as the Flying Doctor Service. The first aircraft being a single engine fabric bi-plane.

The ‘Royal’ was added in 1955 by the Queen.

The explanation of each exhibit in the museum, and the educational video, brought home how important the service is to anything up to 220,000 people who live in remote areas.

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The above is a picture of ‘where does it hurt’ – the injured person could be hours flying time from the nearest doctor, so over the short wave radio he tries to describe his injuries and ‘where it hurts’ by the number & letter code system.

 At the end of the video the receptionists asked us if we would like a conducted tour of their operation. Of course we agreed, and Larry (one of the operational staff) showed us around and explained how the whole system worked.
We saw that day’s operational team, and up to the minute situations. The Service operates 24 hours a day, three hundred and sixty five days a year. When I realised how large the organisation is, the cost of running such an operation is a question that I had to ask. The total cost is around $360 million dollars a year, split between Federal and State Governments for operational costs, but not for replacement of equipment, including about forty aircraft, which have to be replaced after each aircraft reaches about twenty years of age, or so many thousand of landings. On average the Service has to replace three aircraft a year at a cost of $8 million each.

For these aircraft replacements, and everything else from an office chair to a computer printer, has to come from public donations.

FD hanger

Inside the hanger. (Picture from the RFD web site)

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and outside.

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Concrete landing strips at HQ, but out in the bush it is a dirt landing.
The above picture is from the RFD web site.

Flying Doctor Service

Check the above link for a 90 second piece of film for some real medical items.

Australian TV made a fictional series of the Service in the 1990’s, which became very popular in Germany, UK & Belgium (no idea of  the number of repeats), but donations from the European fan club to help support the Flying Doctor service, is worth about $1 million a year to the Service!
There is also a souvenir shop with a wide range of items for sale, but the best part for me was being shown around the operational centre. The centre was ‘real’ it was not created for the tourists.

Silver City Comet

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Around the corner from our accommodation was an old railway station called Sulphide Street Station. It is no longer in use, but is now the location of a small railway museum.

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Silver City Comet is now part of the museum.

train Blurb

The above is the left side of the explanation of the train at the museum.

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Pictures of the two engines.

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Economy Class

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First Class . . . .

The yellow signs at the end of the carriage (under 202 and to the left & right) indicates that the area ahead is the smoking area for first class passengers – very un PC today!

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I was impressed with the size of the fully electric kitchen to supply the needs of passengers in 1937.

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Dinning car

The museum had other trains as well as the Silver City Comet.

We were allowed to climb all over the various trains, including inside the engines – you don’t have to be a child to enjoy playing with trains..

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Explain

Within the museum they have a section that has been given over to stories and interviews of migrants to the Broken Hill area from Europe, just after the WW II.

Some stories made very sad reading, and others are quite inspirational. Particularly those who could not speak English when they arrived, yet they managed to make a new home, learn a new language, and in a number of cases they became successful businessmen. They all wanted to fit in to Australia; none of them demanded that they should receive special treatment.
Multiculturalism hadn’t been invented when they arrived; all they wanted was a new safe life, and the right to be Australian.

 

 

Sons of Broken Hill

After visiting Silverton we decided to visit Pro Hart’s gallery in Broken Hill. I am not a particularly enthusiastic art viewer – I know that it has been said before, ‘I know what I like’, but I don’t always understand what I am viewing. The gallery is well laid out over three levels. Many of the paintings had a description alongside, which helped the viewer (me) to understand what the artist was thinking as he painted. The Australian picnic or race meeting were easy to understand, but each one took time to study the full detail. He painted many pictures of ants.
Coming from Broken Hill he would have had a great deal of experience with ants and other insects. Dragon flies were also popular with this artist.
I have read that he approached a tattoo artist to have ants tattooed across his feet, but it never happened due to his illness, he died in 2006 at the age of 77Pro hart

Called the ‘chop bone’ – look closely at the centre.

During our visit to the gallery we watched a short video of his life and his work, which I found interesting, considering that I knew very little of the artist, except that he was Australian, from Broken Hill and created a famous advert for Stainmaster carpet in the 1980s. (Click the link for the 29 second ad)
At the entrance to the gallery we saw his 1973 Silver Shadow Rolls Royce, which he’d repainted with Australian historical scenes.

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The day was an arty day because our next stop was Jack Absalom’s gallery, a short drive from Pro Hart’s gallery.

Jack Absalom’s gallery is part of his home (click on the link to see his paintings). We walked up the path and read the notice on the door – if locked ring bell – if unlocked come in.
It was locked so we rang the bell and an elderly lady came to the door and invited us in to the gallery area. As you see the centre display contains jewellery, and one of the finest displays of Australian opals.

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As we entered the gallery we were left alone to view the paintings. For me, Jack Absalom’s paintings capture the great expanse and feel of outback Australia.

The colour of the floor was carefully thought out to fit with the overall ambiance of the gallery, and the lighting is such that it doesn’t show a shadow. I felt that I could stand and ‘drink in’ the views, feel the heat and smell the bush.

As well as being an artist specialising in the outback, he is also an author – Outback Cooking, Safe Outback Travel to name two. At the age of fifteen he was a professional kangaroo shooter.

We were viewing the paintings when an elderly man came in to the gallery from the private home area, and stood at the counter under Jack Absalom’s portrait. It was then that I realised that it was Jack Absalom himself.

As Maureen and I were the only people in the gallery it didn’t take long before we were in conversation with the artist. I’d picked up a book about his life and his painting and had it in my hand as we spoke. I offered the cash for the book, which he accepted and also took the book and signed it for me. He was telling us that he would be off again to the bush to paint. He expected to be away for several weeks and would be living in the bush – not bad for an 88 year old. He did comment that he had to keep painting in the bush, while he was still young enough to get about  . . .

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This is the portrait of Jack Absalom, painted by Cynthia Dowler, I think it was painted in the early 90’s, so at the time he would have been in his mid-60’s. It now hangs in the Jack Absalom’s gallery.

With hindsight I should have taken his photo with Maureen. Aren’t we all wise after the event?

It had been a long day from mines to film sets and art galleries and it was time for home and a relaxing drop.

Having our drinks on the balcony allowed us to watch the traffic passing, not that there was a lot of traffic after 5.00 pm, but we always received a wave from the passengers in the tourist buses. Perhaps we looked like locals  . . . .