By Elizabeth Rogers Kotlowski
Once John Stuart, Warburton, Forrest and others penetrated the vast interior, another man spread "a mantle of safety" over inland Australia. He was "Flynn of the Inland", who pioneered the Flying Doctor Service. John Flynn was born on 25 November 1880 at Moliagul, near Bendigo, Victoria. His father, of Irish and Scottish descent, was a teacher at Moliagul State School. His mother, Rosetta Forsyth, nee Lester, was of Irish descent, but died when Flynn was two years old. Flynn was educated at state primary schools, University High School, Melbourne, and Theological Hall, Ormond College. He was a teacher with the Victorian Education Department from 1898 to 1902, when he joined the Home Mission staff of the Presbyterian Church and was ordained in 1911. In 1909, Flynn heard "the call of the Inland", as the result of a letter from Mrs Jessie Litchfield of West Arm near Darwin. In the letter, put into his hands by the Director of the Home Missions Department in Victoria, Mrs Litchfield described the plight of the people of the Northern Territory, an area of nearly half a million square miles. She concluded: "Why cannot the Presbyterian Church send a missionary?"
When Flynn examined a map of Australia, he saw that not only the Northern Territory, but a great deal of Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales and South Australia--almost two-thirds of the continent--were virtually without a minister, a doctor, or even a nurse. Flynn was undaunted by the enormity of the task ahead. As a first step, he conducted a mission among the shearers of Western Victoria during a summer vacation. As a result of the mission, he published a little book called The Bushman's Companion , which contained sections on first aid, directions for making a will, Bible readings, hymns and prayers, as well as other practical information useful to bush people. Four by six inches in size, with a blue linen soft cover, the first edition of 6000 copies sold out quickly. A Darwin police trooper carried copies to remote parts of north Australia.
Another result of the Shearers' Mission was the Mailbag League, which Flynn organised to meet the need of the isolated people of the Inland for letters and news. Flynn arranged for women and children in the cities to write to them. However, this was just the beginning; Flynn really wanted an on-the-spot survey of religious and medical conditions "beyond the furthest fences". To raise money for this, his cousin Charlotte, who wrote the Ladies' Page for the church magazine The Messenger, launched a Quarter-of-a-Mile of Threepenny Pieces--an appeal to help the Northern Territory.
In 1911 Flynn volunteered to go as Presbyterian padre to the Smith of Dunesk Mission in Beltana, 353 miles north of Adelaide. The township of Beltana, which looked "as bare as a heap of road metal", consisted of "sixty down-at-heel houses, a store, and a bush hotel" sprawled out under a scorching sun, while goats wandered around at will. The manse was "an unfenced mud-brick cottage with an unfloored verandah, broken windows, and white-ant-eaten woodwork".
In a parish the size of the British Isles, Flynn travelled by horse and buggy or camel. Sometimes he accompanied the mailman, government water conservation officer, or police trooper, on visits to get to know the boundary-riders, well-sinkers, drovers, miners, railway workers, villagers and pastoralists. He held services in the tiny townships, such as Leigh Creek, Farina and Marree, often preaching to congregations of seven or eight people. To keep in touch with his parishioners Flynn published a quarterly, The Outback Battler, and helped build a hospital at Oodnadatta.
In May 1912, when the Quarter-of-a-Mile of Threepenny Pieces had reached 150 pounds worth, the Presbyterian Church asked Flynn to conduct a survey of the needs of the Northern Territory. His report, Northern Territory and Central Australia: a Call to the Church, outlined a strategy to reach the north-west, and was presented at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church on 26 September 1912. The Assembly authorised Flynn to proceed with his plans and appointed him the superintendent of the newly formed Australian Inland Mission (AIM), which he directed for the next 39 years. The mission started with one nursing sister, one Presbyterian padre, a nursing hostel, and five camels in 1913. The first padre, Bruce Plowman, had a patrol area centred around Alice Springs, of 800 by 300 miles with a population of 400 whites. One of his patrols was 2500 miles long and took five months. Patrols were covered by camel, packhorse or buggy. In 1915, Flynn purchased a T-model Ford for Padre F. L. Heriot. The Padre's patrol covered north west Queensland and linked up with J. C. Gibson's packhorse patrol at the Northern Territory border. Flynn liked to go out on patrol himself.
Across the spinifex ridges and through the shimmering heat haze he would come: a trail of dust; then a Dodge utility; then a smiling man with a load of books; the mail perhaps; a magic lantern; medicine for old Harry and news from along the track. For a day or two his visit meant a happy interlude in the months of isolation. Laughter echoed through the homestead, the baby was baptized, a service held, the children given Bible lessons, and often school lessons too. On the stock rails or out under the stars at night, there would be long talks while Flynn, the dreamer, puffed thoughtfully on his pipe.
Besides the padres, there were the nursing sisters. Flynn's strategy in establishing nursing hostels and associated patrols, was to choose a "port", either inland or on the sea, to serve the surrounding area. He then ensured that the need was confirmed and supported by the local people, who were encouraged to "take over the entire management wherever they desired and when they were able to bear the burden".
The urgent need for hospitals became evident in a tragic incident that shocked the nation. In 1918, stockman Jimmy Darcy of Ruby Plains was injured when he was thrown from a horse. His mates, who found him three hours later, put him in a buggy and drove him an agonising 47 miles to Hall's Creek, a journey which took 12 hours. F. W. Tuckett, the Hall's Creek postmaster, who was the only person with a smattering of medical knowledge, realised the man was very ill, so he telegraphed Drs Wyndham and Derby, 250 and 450 miles away respectively, but both doctors were on vacation. Next, he telegraphed his former first aid lecturer, Dr J. Holland in Perth, over 1250 miles away. Using morse code, Tuckett described the stockman's symptoms and the doctor punched the diagnosis "ruptured bladder", followed by "you must operate at once". Reluctantly, Tuckett strapped Darcy to a kitchen table in the post office, and using a penknife, razor blade, and Condy's Crystals (there were no anaesthetics), he operated, following the doctor's directions. The operation took seven hours, but complications set in and within a day, two more operations were necessary. However, Darcy's condition continued to deteriorate, so Dr Holland set out from Perth on a cattle boat to Derby. The trip took six days; the remaining 400 miles were covered by a T-model Ford, a horse-drawn sulky, and on foot. When at last Dr Holland arrived at the Hall's Creek telegraph office, he found that Darcy had died the day before.
This tragic event, more than anything else, galvanised support for Flynn's cause. Consequently, over the next 33 years, Flynn built 15 Inland hospitals. Each hospital had a nursing sister and companion. It was an adventurous life, especially for the early nurses. They had to travel through floods, dust storms, thunderstorms, and heatwaves of up to 120 degrees; learn to ride a horse and cross rivers by hanging onto the horse's tail; camp out in the bush on a diet of stale bread and dried beef; and make splints from tree branches. The first bungalow-style hostels could house six patients, but the Aborigines preferred lying in the yard on the dirt to the clean sheets of the ward. But conditions among the whites were sometimes no better as some of the white bushmen had not had a bath for years. Sometimes, the nurse had to treat leprosy or yaws or perform operations, under the directions of a doctor hundreds of miles away. She also had to know how to bake bread, milk a goat, or teach a Sunday School lesson.
Sometimes, the bush people would help the Sister with the many little odd jobs that needed to be done around the small hospital. From the beginning, Flynn encouraged each hospital to be self-supporting. With his headquarters in Sydney, he travelled constantly as an advocate for the Inland, while volunteers in each of the capital cities answered correspondence and distributed literature. Flynn also edited a quarterly magazine, the Inlander (later replaced by the Frontier News), "dealing with national interests from the outbacker's point of view". Through this publication, Flynn led his battle for a "brighter bush". Foremost on his mind was the problem of how to overcome distance to bring medical aid to the people. Then in 1914, with the beginning of the First World War, Flynn got the answer. It was the aeroplane; he needed a "flying doctor". Flynn's "crazy idea" was given clarity and credibility by a letter to Flynn from Lieutenant Clifford Peel of the Australian Flying Corps. Peel's plan, detailing the combined use of aircraft and radio to bring medical aid to the 50,000 people of the Inland, was published in The Inlander in 1917. Subsequently, Peel was killed in action over France, but his idea lived on.
The article in the Inlander was the beginning of Flynn's flying-doctor campaign to create "a triple alliance of medicine, aviation and radio", but it was to be another ten years before his vision became a reality. In 1921, after talks with Hudson Fysh, a founder of Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (Qantas), Flynn realised that all he needed to launch his flying doctor service was a small reliable radio that could transmit and receive messages. It needed to be battery-operated and simple enough for a child to operate. After much experimentation and searching, Flynn was introduced to a brilliant young Australian scientist of German origin, Alfred Traeger, who developed a radio to Flynn's specifications. Using bicycle pedals and a generator, Traeger designed a radio that could be operated by a seated person, using his feet to pedal, while leaving his hands free to send morse code signals. The development of both air and radio service served to relieve the isolation of the Inlanders by making two-way radio conversations possible. The School of the Air was another important development for children who lived far away from public schools.
After solving the radio problem, Flynn approached the Mission's board. Inventor and industrialist Hugh Victor McKay had left a gift of 2000 pounds to finance Flynn's flying experiment, provided the Presbyterian Church doubled the amount. The Church agreed on the condition that Flynn raise 5000 pounds, which he obtained from the civil aviation branch of the Department of Defence and the Wool Brokers' Association. Qantas leased a single-engined de Havilland 50 aircraft, and adapted it for aerial medical work. History was made on 17 May 1928 when the world's first flying doctor, Dr K. St Vincent, with pilot Arthur Affleck made the first flight in the Victory, from Cloncurry in north-western Queensland to Julia Creek. So the Aerial Medical Service, a branch of the Australian Inland Mission (AIM) was launched.
Within a year, Dr Welch had logged 20,000 miles in fifty flights to 26 townships that were without a doctor, visited 255 patients, and saved many lives. Pilot Affleck, in the open cockpit behind the doctor's cabin, flew on all these trips with no navigational instruments, no radio, and no adequate maps. To compound these difficulties, Victory needed a landing strip of 400 yards, which often required the hasty chopping down of trees and hundreds of ant hills so the plane could land.
From the AIM base in Cloncurry with its 40-bed hospital, Victory could reach north into Cape York Peninsula, west into the Northern Territory, and south almost into South Australia, a total area of a quarter of a million square miles. With the success of the Cloncurry experiment, Flynn sought support from the state and federal governments to establish a national network of flying doctor bases to spread a "mantle of safety" over the Inland. After much negotiation, Flynn was successful in merging the AIM and the Aerial Medical Service into a national community service having resources greater than any one Church could provide. In 1933 the new body, known as the National Medical Aerial Service of Australia (changed in 1942 to the Flying Doctor Service of Australia, with "Royal" added in 1954), was established with the cooperation of government and private agencies including the British Medical Association, the Pastoralists' Association, the Rotary Club, the Red Cross, and the Ambulance Brigade. Today, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia has branches in every state except Tasmania. Flynn's vision "For Christ and the Continent" had become a reality.
In 1933, Flynn was awarded the Order of the British Empire (0BE) for his work. In 1939, he was elected as Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. In 1940 and 1941, the honorary degrees of Doctorof Divinity were conferred on him by the University of Toronto and McGill University, Montreal, Canada. Flynn died in 1951. He was survived by his wife, Jean Blanch nee Baird. His ashes were interred, at his request, at the foot of Mount Gillen, Alice Springs.
Flynn will be remembered for his compassion and perseverance, his commitment, practical wisdom, and single-mindedness in completing the work God called him to do. In his understanding of community development, he was ahead of his time, for he encouraged outback communities to take responsibility for their own needs by local participation and Christian self-government. He was both a servant to, and an advocate for, the people of the Inland. His epitaph befittingly read: "'Flynn of the Inland.' . . . His vision encompassed the continent; he established the Australian Inland Mission and founded the Flying Doctor Service; he brought to lonely places a spiritual ministry and spread a mantle of safety over them by medicine, aviation, and radio". .i).Pioneers: Flynn, John;
While John Flynn spread a mantle of safety over the Inland, Caroline Chisholm spread a cloak of protection over the immigrant girls. Philanthropist Caroline Chisholm was possibly "the greatest of women pioneers in the history of Australia". The daughter of a well-to-do yeoman farmer, William Jones, Caroline was born in about 1808 in Wooton, Northampshire, England. Her parents reared her in the tradition of Evangelical philanthropy.
Her interest in emigration started at an early age. When Caroline was seven years old, Jones brought home a poor injured soldier, to whom he showed great kindness, explaining to his children that the man had lost his health and strength in serving his country so they should treat him with great respect. So Caroline listened closely to the stories the soldier told about his travels to the British colonies. He said what a wonderful thing it was for poor people to emigrate to these countries, where by hard work and perseverance, they could have a good and happy life for themselves and their families. Caroline's imagination was fired, and from then onwards, her favourite game was to play "emigrants". Using a washbasin of water for the "ocean", she "made boats of broad-beans; expended all her money in touchwood dolls, removed families, located them in the bed-quilt and sent the boats, filled with wheat, back to their friends". Interestingly, she had a Wesleyan minister and a Roman Catholic priest in the same boat, and she settled disputes between two argumentative colonists. One day she accidentally spilled the water over her bed. She was duly disciplined, but from then on she played the game in the coal-cellar, where it couldn't hurt anything if she spilled the "ocean".
Caroline's father died while she was still young, but the family was well provided for, so her mother could devote herself to the education of her children. But for Mrs Jones, schooling did not stop at books; she regularly took the children to visit the sick in the village, and to help others when they were in need. Caroline was brought up to believe that helping to relieve the suffering of others was a normal part of everyday life. This was a reflection of the heightened social consciousness of the time--a result of the Wesleyan "Methodist" revival. This philanthropic movement was led by Lord Shaftesbury.
As Caroline grew older, this early training developed into a firm resolve that she would dedicate her life to public work to improve the social conditions of the poor and needy. This commitment was so strong, that when Captain Archibald Chisholm of the East India Company asked her to marry him, when she was 22, she consented only on condition that he would allow her to be free to devote herself to any public service she felt called to. She insisted he take a month to think about it. After a month's time, Chisholm agreed and they were married. For their entire married life, Caroline's husband fully supported and supplemented her efforts to help the poor and suffering.
Just before or immediately after they were married, Caroline became a Roman Catholic. Chisholm was a Roman Catholic, so it was only natural that as his wife, she would want to avoid the problems that so often arose from mixed marriages. But Caroline was a woman of strong convictions, so no doubt her conversion to Roman Catholicism was not a matter of mere convenience. Her entire life was a testimony to her true devotion to the Roman Catholic faith. Because she was raised a Protestant in an intolerant age, Carolyn's conversion must have been a step of great moral courage.
In 1832, after they had been married two years, Chisholm was appointed to Madras in India, where Mrs Chisholm founded the Female School of Industry for the daughters of European soldiers. In 1838, for health reasons, Chisholm and his family left India for Sydney, Australia. They settled at Windsor, where Mrs Chisholm remained with their three sons when Chisholm was recalled to active duty in the Opium War in China in 1840. One day before the Captain left, the Chisholms were walking down a street when they met some Highlanders from Scotland who could not speak the language. Since Chisholm was from a Highland family, he spoke to them in their native tongue, and finding they had no money and couldn't get work, he lent them some money to buy some tools so they could start their own business as wood-cutters. This incident drew the attention of the Chisholms to the sad state of the immigrants, especially of the homeless girls.
Since the government transportation of convicts was to be discontinued in 1840, the Colonial Office came up with various plans for assisting immigrants in an attempt to meet the labour needs and to equalise the disproportionate numbers of men to women (2 to 1 in 1840). From 1835 onwards, emigration of both men and women was entirely free. The same year, the bounty system was introduced whereby colonists who sponsored suitable immigrants were paid a bounty on arrival of the candidate, who had to produce a character reference. However, because of the difficulty of sponsorship at a distance of 12,000 miles, shipping agents often handled the bounties. As it was a profitable source of income, they abused the system, overloading the ships and faking character references. Not only were the crowded conditions on the ships appalling, but there was much abuse by unscrupulous prospective employers.
The worst feature of the emigration system was that there was no plan for helping the immigrants after they arrived in Sydney. Following the bursting of the bubble of land speculation, the depression of the early 1840s resulted in many unemployed new arrivals roaming the streets during the day, and at night sleeping in holes in the rocks or in any sheltered crevice they could find. There was labour needed on the land, but the penniless immigrants had no way to get there. (The total wealth of 64 girls who landed in 1840 was 14 s. 1 1/2d.; 24 of them had no money at all).
In 1841, as a result of troubles in Canada, thousands of immigrants bound for Canada were diverted to Australia. So in 1841 there were 20,103 new arrivals who flooded into Sydney as compared with 6637 the year before. Those who suffered the most were the men with large families of small children, and the immigrant girls, who were exposed to all the moral dangers of the street. After berthing, the bounty immigrants were given 10 days free stay on the ship; after that, they were on their own. There was no job registry, and no trams, trains or buses to get anywhere if they did get a job in the country. Likewise, there were no telephones, wireless or TV; and the immigrants had little money for food, housing, or horses and buggies.
After Captain Chisholm left for China, Mrs Chisholm spent more and more of her time helping the homeless immigrant girls. She took some into her home in Windsor, where she had as many as nine at one time. However, her home soon became too small for the numbers that needed help. She found jobs for many, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands that needed help. Mrs Chisholm realised that she needed more workers and a larger home where the girls could stay. She knew she needed the help of the government, the press and the public. But what could she do? She had no money or wealthy friends. In addition, she was a Roman Catholic and a woman--a mother with three young sons to care for. She had been reared in a genteel protected environment. Shy and retiring by disposition, she was timid in asking the help of strangers.
So for weeks a great battle raged within Mrs Chisholm's heart and mind. She saw what she needed to do but she hesitated because of her many fears. Because of many taboos and traditions, the prejudice of the Victorian Age against women taking part in public affairs was very strong. Added to the handicap of being a woman, Mrs Chisholm had to face the fact that animosity against Roman Catholic "popery" was intense. Furthermore, Mrs Chisholm was concerned for the welfare of her own children. But the more she contemplated the fate of the immigrant girls, the more she felt responsible for their welfare. If an innocent girl, who failed to find respectable work, fell prey to the owner of a brothel, Mrs Chisholm felt she was "not clear of her sin", because she had not done all she could do to prevent it. The struggle ended on Easter Sunday, 1841. Mrs Chisholm told it in her own words:
On Easter Sunday, I was enabled at the altar of our Lord, to make an offering of my talents to the God who gave them. I promised to know neither country nor creed, but to serve them all justly and impartially; I asked only to be enabled to keep those poor girls from being tempted, by their need, to mortal sin, and resolved that to accomplish this I would in every way sacrifice my feelings--surrender all comfort--not in fact consider my own wishes and feelings--but wholly devote myself to the work I had in hand. I felt my offering was accepted, and that God's blessing was on my work; but it was His will to permit many serious difficulties to be thrown in my way, and to conduct me through a rugged path of deep humiliation.
Mrs Chisholm added that with few exceptions, everyone she wrote to soliciting support for the home said they would subscribe to it once it was established, but that her idea was impossible.
However, having reached a decision, she immediately acted on it. She went to Sydney to try to gain the support of the leading newspaper. When her two friends would not go with her, she went alone. The editor, though polite, would not agree to support her unless Governor Gipps would take an interest in her work. So Mrs Chisholm tried to get an interview with the Governor. After much hesitation, he finally agreed to see her. Of his impressions, Gipps said later:
I expected to have seen an old lady in a white cap and spectacles, who would have talked to me about my soul. I was amazed when my aide introduced a handsome stately young woman, who proceeded to reason the question, as if she thought her reason, and experience, too, worth as much as mine.
Although the Governor discouraged her plans, Mrs Chisholm persevered, and after several interviews, he agreed to let her use an old government building, the Immigration Barracks, for her proposed home, on the condition she did not put the government to any expense in its management. It was an old wooden building overrun with rats.
In order to protect her girls, Mrs Chisholm decided to sleep there herself, so she cleared an old storeroom, seven foot square. An account of how she spent her first night is an illustration of her courage and resourcefulness. Tired after a busy day, Mrs Chisholm had no sooner lain down than such a rumpus started up that it sounded as if there were a pack of dogs in the room. Jumping up in terror, she lighted a candle and saw rats running all over the room. Her initial impulse was to run, but since that would defeat her plan, she decided to stay. But when three rats landed on her shoulders, she felt she might be very ill by the morning. Then she hit on an idea to get them to leave her alone. Taking two loaves of bread, she sliced them and with some butter and a dish of water, she placed them in the centre of the room. So while the rats enjoyed their midnight feast, she sat on her bed, reading "Abercrombie" and watching the rats, until four in the morning. The following night, she prepared a similar treat with the addition of arsenic.
The need for Mrs Chisholm's Female Immigrants' Home soon became apparent. It was not long before she had filled up the four rooms in the barracks with 94 women. How was she to care for her three little boys as well? She had already sent the two oldest back to Windsor, where they were well looked after by Miss M. Galvin, but she had hoped to have kept the youngest with her. Then an epidemic broke out among the immigrants, and she saw that if she were to continue to care for the girls, she had to be willing to part with her son. One night, still indecisive as she did her normal rounds of the girls, she asked them if they had any place to go if she turned them out. Not one had another shelter. When she returned to her room, she found a poor woman waiting for a white gown "to make her dead bairn (baby) decent" for burial. Mrs Chisholm suddenly realised the plague could strike her own little boy, so the next day she packed up her son's clothes and sent him to Windsor. That "was the last sacrifice it was God's will to demand".
That was the only mention she made of her great personal sacrifice. Later, one day each week was "inviolably set apart" for her family. Apparently, her children were well cared for and in later years all expressed a great love for their mother. However, God had asked that they take second place so that others might know domestic happiness.
There were ninety-four women in the home. Every night Mrs Chisholm ventured alone into the streets, into the notorious "Rocks" area, and into Hyde Park to gather up the homeless women. She was a familiar figure down at the docks, where she met every immigrant ship. Boldly believing that the Lord would provide, she opened a free job registry office at the home. Previously, verbal agreements between immigrants and prospective employers had been abused by dishonest employers who refused to pay. As a result, Mrs Chisholm insisted all employer-employee agreements be in writing with triplicate copies.
As the public realised the value of her work, they gave her voluntary donations of food for the home. Mrs Chisholm was able to find work for some of the immigrants in Sydney, but her main objective was to get the girls to the country where, in spite of a depressed economy, there was still a demand for labour. To evaluate the job market, she sent out hundreds of circulars (dated 21 October 1841) to prospective employers, landowners, clergymen, and police magistrates, asking for information that would help her place the immigrants, and requesting public support for her new home. Governor Gipps agreed to "frank" her letters to the country; this was a considerable help as postage was expensive. As people saw the wisdom of Mrs Chisholm's plans, others came to her support, including Bishop Broughton of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Vice-General of the diocese, Rev. Francis Murphy.
Having received some satisfactory replies to her circulars, Mrs Chisholm arranged for some drays to transport a party of her girls to the homes of their new employers in the country. But at the last minute, the girls, scared by stories they had heard of life in the bush, refused to go. In her usual practical way, Mrs Chisholm decided that if the girls would not go to the country, then she would take them there.
So Mrs Chisholm made many journeys inland, riding ahead on her white horse, Captain, while the girls followed behind in drays to Parramatta, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Maitland and Port Macquarie. Later, as she ventured further afield to Goulburn, Bathurst, Yass and Gundagai, she was sometimes gone as long as five weeks on the road on one trip. On one journey, she had no less than 240 people--men, women and children--in her party. For supplies, she relied entirely on the kindness of the settlers along the route. The farmers and local townsfolk were always very generous in their response, bringing bread, meat, vegetables and fruit or other provisions. So great was Mrs Chisholm's popularity, that if bad weather prevented her party from pitching camp, the local settlers and innkeepers would offer free accommodation. Others offered covered carts for the children and coaches for the ill. She rode from home to home, farm to farm, looking for suitable places for her women and families. She also inspected the homes, to see that the bonding arrangements were fair and in writing.
In each town where she stopped, Mrs Chisholm held a public meeting, explaining the objectives of the Female Immigrants' Home, giving an account of her work, and seeking interested persons to form committees to establish branch homes and local employment-registry offices. She established twelve such agencies.
Although Mrs Chisholm did not run a matrimonial bureau, she was sometimes able to make successful arrangements that resulted in matrimony. If she found an eligible bachelor-farmer, she placed a practical capable girl with the nearest married neighbours. This practice resulted in many suitable and happy marriages. One lonely widower wrote to her, asking her to find him "a young woman between the years of 25 and 35, English, clean in person, neat in habit, mild in manners, and an accomplished needlewoman". Always resourceful, Mrs Chisholm endorsed his letter: "Managed to send a clergyman's sister to Mr. H.
In her first year's report, Female Immigration, considered in a brief account of the Sydney Immigrants' Home (Sydney, 1842), Mrs Chisholm announced the closing of the Home because her work had been so successful. She then turned her attention to granting long land leases to promote the settlement of families on the land. She felt that would help ensure the prosperity of these families. This proposal met with opposition from landowners; however, Mrs Chisholm was undaunted. She arranged, at her own expense, the settlement of twenty-three families on the land at Shellharbour, given to her by Robert Towns. Though this experiment was successful, she was still denied government assistance.
When Captain Chisholm retired from the army and returned to Australia in 1845 to work with his wife, the Chisholms travelled throughout the colony of New South Wales and collected 600 voluntary statements from immigrants about their lives in Australia. This information was to be used as a guide to those in England who wished to emigrate. In 1846, they sailed for England to promote their own colonisation scheme.
Mrs Chisholm had strong views on the importance of keeping the family group together in emigration. In London, her eloquent arguments won the ears of Earl Grey and James Stephen, and she achieved two of her objectives: free passages for emancipists' wives and for 75 children who had been left behind by immigrants. She gave evidence before the House of Lords committees, on the execution of the criminal law, and on colonisation from Ireland, a rare tribute for a woman. She published several other pamphlets: Emigration and Transportation Relatively Considered (1847), Comfort for the Poor! Meat Three Times a Day! Voluntary Information from the People of New South Wales (1847), The ABC of Colonization (1850). The Chisholm's house in London became an Australian Information Centre, and for several years, they received 140 letters a day.
After two years of government indifference to her main concern--that of emigration of families--she decided to go ahead with her own plan, which was supported by Charles Dickens. In 1849, with the help of some wealthy London merchants, headed by Lord Ashley as President, she formed the Family Colonization Loan Society, with branches in Britain and agents in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. Mrs Chisholm's Society was designed to send groups of families to Australia. The prospective emigrants were to save two-thirds of their fare; the other one-third was provided as a loan by the society, and repaid out of the immigrants' earnings in Australia. In its first four years, the Society sponsored 3000 immigrants, mostly skilled workers. In the 1850s, the gold rushes assured the success of the scheme. Mrs Chisholm's work was over. The lure of gold stimulated emigration more effectively than philanthropy.
In 1854 Mrs Chisholm returned to Australia to rejoin her husband who had gone ahead to assure the success of her scheme. She was rightly acclaimed a national heroine, but in later years, the family suffered from financial difficulties, despite a public subscription that raised 7500 pounds. In 1866, Captain and Mrs Chisholm returned to England, where they lived on a government pension. Mrs Chisholm died in 1877 and was buried in Northampton. Inscribed over her grave are the words: "The emigrants' friend." She was survived by three of four sons, two daughters, and her husband, who died the following year.
Reflecting on Mrs Chisholm's life, Sir Keith Hancock aptly commented: "It is scarcely an exaggeration to assert that Mrs Chisholm established the dignity of womanhood and of the family in New South Wales". By protecting the immigrant women, Mrs Chisholm gave them the opportunity to become productive colonists. But Mrs Chisholm did not only act as a protector; she was also a radical reformer. She cried out against the abuses of the immigration system. Though she was not successful in changing government policy because of the vested interests of the squatters, she helped awaken the public conscience, and some of the changes she advocated were later incorporated in government policy. She insisted on the importance of the family as the foundation of society, and the significance of land ownership to the settlement and prosperity of the immigrant family. Mrs Chisholm's strong Christian faith was the motivation of her courageous life.
Elizabeth Macarthur, the wife of John Macarthur, army officer, pastoralist and public figure, was another courageous woman. Born in 1767(?) in Devon, England, Elizabeth was the daughter of R. Veale, a farmer who died when she was six. She received private tutoring at the Kingston vicarage at Bridgerule, and in 1788 she married John Macarthur. As it was difficult to support a family on his lieutenant's half-pay, Macarthur volunteered for the New South Wales Corps, and 14 months later the couple and their infant son Edward, sailed for Sydney on the Second Fleet, arriving there in June 1790.
Elizabeth Macarthur has been referred to as "Australia's first and greatest lady". Upon her death in 1850, her grand-daughter wrote of her: "Through all the difficulties and trials that beset her path, her Christian spirit shines forth, and in all her letters to her children, with whom she corresponded regularly until her death, there is found no complaining or ill-natured word".
Elizabeth Macarthur can be classed among the great pioneer women on her own merits. As a devoted wife, mother and home-maker, as well as a pastoralist and a sheep breeder, and a gracious "first lady" in the society of her day, she was a role model of Christian character for those who came after her.
Mrs Macarthur was the first educated white woman to arrive in Australia. She also possessed a natural charm and beauty, with a touch of aristocracy, that brought the elegance and gentility that was lacking in the harsh male-dominated convict settlement. The officers flocked to the Macarthur's small cottage. Food was rationed and whenever there was a party at Government House, the guests had to take their own bread with them, except Elizabeth. Governor Phillip said: "There will always be a roll for Mrs Macarthur". Notwithstanding her husband's constant fights and disagreements with anybody of any substance or authority, including all of the governors (except Governor Phillip), no one ever spoke ill of Elizabeth. She was above reproach, liked and respected by everybody; and she stayed sweet and cheerful through it all.
In 1793, John Macarthur received a grant of 100 acres at Parramatta, which he named Elizabeth Farm in honour of his wife. They built a house, "a very excellent brick building", in which Mrs Macarthur lived for more than forty years and where she raised her five sons (one of whom died in infancy) and three daughters. Elizabeth's greatest achievement was her ability to build and maintain a strong and harmonious family life, even through the long absences of her husband overseas and the innumerable demands of farm life. Elizabeth Farm was one of the few homes in which the dignity and gentilities of family life were maintained in the face of the surrounding harsh realities. Elizabeth carefully supervised the education of the children, in both secular and religious subjects. (The boys were later sent to school in England.) She brought to the home an order and peacefulness that contrasted sharply with the chaos and violence of her husband's public life. Elizabeth's industriousness was also evident in their extensive productive gardens with fruit and vegetables. It was obvious also that she delighted in the beauty of nature. She commented: "The beautiful variegated landscape; almonds, apricots, pear and apple trees are in full bloom; the native shrubs are also in flower, and the whole country gives a grateful perfume".
The unique beauty of Mrs Macarthur's home and her carefully reared children escaped any criticism which was directed at her husband. Elizabeth was a devoted wife, a warm and caring mother, a charming and hospitable hostess, an intelligent and witty entertainer, and an able administrator.
During the forced absences of her husband from the colony, from 1801 to 1805 and from 1809 to 1817, Mrs Macarthur managed Elizabeth Farm, Seven Hills Farm, and the Camden Park estates. By 1820, the Macarthur's owned 9600 acres, which together ran over 4000 head of sheep as well as cattle and pigs. Her responsibilities were considerable. "The management of our concerns gets troublesome to me in the extreme, and I am perpetually annoyed by some vexation or other", she wrote to Captain Piper in 1804. "God grant me Health and Patience, for indeed my good friend, I have need of both to keep my mind in tolerable frame."
In addition to the care of the home and livestock, Mrs Macarthur supervised the work of up to ninety convicts. Not only did she need good health and patience; she also needed courage. She was often at risk from Aborigines, who had murdered several shepherds (including some of her stockmen), women and children. Yet Elizabeth regularly rode on horseback to Camden Park, fearlessly staying overnight in a "miserable (slab) hut", so she could make inspections or supervise the culling of sheep and cattle. In 1804, when the Irish convicts ("Croppies") arose, she and her children had to flee from Parramatta. They stayed with Elizabeth's friends, Rev. and Mrs Samuel Marsden.
Elizabeth's husband appreciated his wife's work. In 1810, he wrote:
I am perfectly aware, my beloved wife, of the difficulties you have to contend with, and fully convinced that not one woman in a thousand, would have resolution and perseverance to contend with them all, much more to surmount them in the manner that you have so happily done. . . . I am grateful and delighted with your conduct.
In 1816, Governor Macquarie made a grant of 600 acres to the farm at Parramatta in recognition of Mrs Macarthur's contribution to the agricultural improvement of the country. In a letter to Lord Bathurst, John Macarthur commended her able management of the flocks that had resulted in an improved breed of sheep and in increased wool production. In 1816 she sold 15,000 pounds of wool. Elizabeth's practical wisdom and flock management was critical because it was the time when the foundation of the Australian wool industry was being laid. While Elizabeth supervised the farm and crucial breeding decisions and day-to-day management of the flocks, her husband John, in London, researched the market for the wool and was able to solicit government support for his vision. The husband-wife team kept in close touch with each other. Elizabeth sent John detailed reports of the farm operation, and carefully followed John's directions. However, because of the many months between letters, Elizabeth often had to act on her own initiative. It was largely the result of her work that John Macarthur was awarded a gold medal for the greatest quality of fine wool imported from New South Wales in 1821, and a second for the finest sample of wool from the colony, by the Royal Society of Arts in London.;
In spite of the long absences, John and Elizabeth were devoted to each other. Elizabeth, in a letter to Bridget Kingdon, on 1 September 1798, wrote:
How bountifully Providence has dealt with us. At this time I can truly say no two people on earth can be happier than we are. In Mr. Macarthur's society I experience the tenderest affections of a husband, who is instructive and cheerful as a companion. He is an indulgent Father, beloved as a Master, and universally respected for the integrity of his character.
Not everyone would have agreed with Elizabeth's assessment of her husband, but she was able to see beneath John's rough exterior. Their devotion was mutual. In a letter to Elizabeth, John wrote: "My dearest Elizabeth, my beloved wife . . . Believe me, Elizabeth, the period of separation from you has been almost indescribable wretchedness. . . . Dearest beloved, how great are my obligations to you". While John gratefully expressed his admiration for her "excellent and prudent management", Elizabeth was always loyal to her husband. Later in life, when he was losing his mind and accusing her of unfaithfulness, she bore it with "becoming fortitude" and cheerfulness fitting for a Christian, and was devoted to him until his death. Her suffering was great, but she confided to her son Edward: "Let us be thankful to the Almighty, that a wholesome restraint was placed upon your beloved father before his malady had induced him to acts of greater violence". Even when her husband's illness threatened to destroy the home, she managed to keep the family together.
Mrs Macarthur died in 1850 and was buried at Camden Park with her husband. Her precepts and example had much importance in forming the character of her sons, Edward, John, James and William, all of whom played an important part in the family business, and in the life of the colony.
Like Elizabeth Macarthur, Georgiana Molloy, early pioneer and botanist, had a great love for the beauty of the Australian countryside. Georgiana was born in 1805 in Cumberland, England. As a young girl, she was very devout and active in the Presbyterian Church, teaching Sunday School and helping wherever she could. When she was twenty-four years old, she married Captain John Molloy, a retired veteran of Waterloo. In 1829, they emigrated to Western Australia, with their servants, horses, pigs, sheep and cattle. Her husband had promised Georgiana the life of an English gentlewoman, but when they arrived they found the best pasture land had been taken up, so they settled at Augusta. A week after they arrived, Georgiana gave birth to her first baby while she lay in a leaking tent in the rain, with only a servant holding an umbrella over her. The child died in her arms soon afterwards, but she turned to God for comfort. Later, she lost a 19-month-old boy who fell in the well and was drowned. Her life revolved around never-ending chores and family. Domestic help was hard to find, and she missed her women friends. There were few diversions--sometimes a visit from a government official or a threat from hostile Aborigines. Her husband was often away on business, but she carried on with a cheerful spirit, as evidenced in the following letter to a friend.
What goes to my heart is that dear Molloy has so much exertion bodily and mentally but I am repaid with interest when any part I perform eases his task. The Lord is good and has shown Himself to us in many wonderful instances.
Georgiana grew to love the strange Australian countryside, found the climate to be "heavenly", and the wildflowers and birds "minutely beautiful". In 1836, she received a letter from Captain John Mangles, a retired English naval captain and cousin of Lady Stirling, requesting that she send him specimens of native plants that he could grow in his garden for scientific research purposes. Mrs Molloy took the request very seriously. She collected, labelled and packaged the corresponding seeds together with as much data as she could obtain from either her own research or from the Aborigines. With the bags of seeds, she sent annotated albums of carefully pressed flowers to Mangles.
For the next seven years, she continued in this work, which became her hobby and her passion, as well as enjoyment for the whole of her family. With sharp eyes for details, her children often discovered minute samples she may have missed. Her husband and soldiers also brought her new plants from their travels, while the Aborigines gave her medicinal plants. All these she carefully documented. She became known as the "Madonna of the Bush", and the leading botanist throughout Western Australia. However, Mrs Molloy never received proper acknowledgment of her great contribution to scientific research. Her work was published in 1839, in a book entitled A Sketch of the Vegetation of the Swan River Colony, by Professor Lindley, of London University's Botany Department, as part of Edward's classic Botanical Register series. Based on the materials sent to Captain Mangles, this series contained no acknowledgment of Mrs Molloy's work. However, upon news of her death in 1843, following the birth of her seventh child, an eminent horticulturist, George Hailes of Newcastle, in a letter to Mangles, wrote: "Not one in ten thousand who go to distant lands has done what she did for the gardens of her native country".
What had seemed like a wilderness to many, had become "the Garden of Eden" to Mrs Molloy. To the end, she sang a hymn of praise to God for all the beauty she had discovered in the Western Australian bush. The tall, scented Boronia molloyae was named after her.
Another farmer's wife and Queensland pioneer, Mary McConnel (nee McLeod), founded the Brisbane Children's Hospital. She was born in Scotland in 1824, and in 1848 she emigrated to Moreton Bay (Brisbane) with her husband, David McConnel, who had spent several years pioneering in Australia. Mary's family and friends had all advised against such a drastic step, but her decision had been made only after much thought and earnest prayer for guidance. "Surely I was helped", she wrote later. "My subsequent life, I think, proves that my Father had chosen this way for His child."
On the voyage out, David, an experienced bushman, had taken aboard two terrier dogs, which proved most useful, as the passengers were plagued by rats. One terrier was always out on loan; the other was constantly needed in the cabin. One night, after Mary had sat down to a supper of bread and cheese with Mrs Hobbs, the mother of the ship's doctor, a large rat bounded across the table straight for the cheese. A tussle followed but the old lady won!
The McConnels settled at Cressbrook, a sheep and cattle station in the Moreton Bay area. Although they were reasonably well off, Mary was not exempt from the rigours of pioneer life. She still had to face the endless farm chores, domestic chores, child rearing, lack of conveniences, and loneliness. Letters from home (Scotland) were infrequent and her faith in God was tested daily. With characteristic resourcefulness, Mary used what she had to make her drab environment look cheerful. A roll of unbleached calico was good for curtains, cushions and covers. She took twelve of her husband's red silk handkerchiefs, cut them into strips, used them as binding for the covers, "and then I had a pretty room to sit in". The door opened onto the flower garden:
. . . and the beautiful hills beyond it. The bunya tree was growing quite stately by the path but it was all very solitary in this vastness, terribly so. I believed that the Lord must have sent me to this new land for some practical purpose.
Both McConnel and his wife were Presbyterians and deeply religious. Their faith in God had a practical outcome. They were the ideal settlers--hardworking, enterprising, thoughtful and caring. As they were able to afford it, they hired new immigrants, many of whom had been sponsored by the Presbyterian pioneer missionary Dr John Dunmore Lang, who had made arrangements with the British Government for the emigration of good quality Scottish folk. For the payment of two hundred pounds, an immigrant was able to buy land upon arrival in Australia. The McConnels helped many of these immigrants get started by selling them land on easy terms. McConnel would often bring many people to the station--splinters, sawyers, carpenters, bricklayers--for a cup of tea and fresh scones. Mary played her role also. She visited the wives and children in their huts. Her heart would also go out to the young wives who worked long hours alongside their husbands on the crosscut saws, digging out roots of trees, and living in tents until their huts were finished. However, she was particularly concerned about their children for they were very far from medical help in the event of sickness or accident. It was a long way to town on a cart pulled over rough roads. Besides, most people could not afford the doctor's fee. As a result, some children died.
There was also no school, so Mary started one. Her dining room was converted to a schoolroom on weekdays, and to a church on Sundays. She taught lessons and Scripture, and hired a full-time teacher, started a library, held a weekly mothers' meeting, and entertained the many visitors. The McConnels were deeply involved in the lives of the settlers, and in a few years Cressbrook station was the centre of a thriving busy district with homes, a church, a school, small shops and even a sugar mill. By the time Mary was an old lady writing her memoirs, three generations of some families had worked with them.
Mary's greatest contribution to her country grew out of her concern for the welfare of the children--a concern reinforced by experiences and tragedies in her own life. The McConnel's first baby, Harry, was a lively and adventurous child. One day, when she was busy preparing a keg of pineapple jam to send home to England--crushing the fruit into pulp, placing it in large earthenware containers, and sprinkling it with sugar--she had not noticed that the toddler was busy helping himself to the pulp. That night, as Mary described it in her memoirs, "the Lord" woke her up at 2.00 a.m. Immediately she sensed something was wrong and rushed down to the nursery. Harry was having a fit, foaming around the mouth. His face was dark purple, his eyes glazed, and his body cold and rigid. Mary remembered the advice of a neighbour who had given her a list of rules for young mothers. One was never to be without hot water. Mary had faithfully adhered to the rule and she quickly put Harry in a hot bath. Soon he became less rigid and vomited up a large amount of pineapple pulp! She wrote in her memoirs: "Could I ever doubt the ever watchful eye of our Father in Christ our Lord for this deliverance?"
After the birth of her second son, she became very ill herself and almost died, if it had not been for the help of an old German doctor. As was common in those days, medical help was often not readily available. It took four days by buggy on rough roads through swamps and mud, in rainy weather, to get Mary from Cressbrook to Brisbane. While she was still recovering from her own illness, her seven-month old baby became sick and died in her arms. McConnel, who was "the best and kindest of husbands", tried to comfort her. She "tried not to fret" and to "accept [her] Father's will". Several years later, the McConnels lost their fourth baby, who was just two months old.
Although the death of an infant was common in those days, the loss of their two babies left an indelible mark on Mary. She pondered these things in her heart. What good purpose did her loving Heavenly Father have for her in these seeming tragedies? She resisted the temptation to become bitter, choosing rather to trust in Him and to believe that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose" (Rom. 8:28; Gen. 50:20). Mary became very interested in infant and child welfare. She saw the need for a children's hospital, as infants under five could not be admitted to the Brisbane Hospital, and there were no special wards for children. So while visiting Britain, she visited the Sick Children's Hospital in Edinburgh and the famous Great Ormond Hospital for Sick Children to observe their methods.
When she returned, Mary instigated a fundraising campaign to build a children's hospital. She also undertook to find staff for the new hospital. Since none could be found in the colony, she wrote to her brother, Dr McLeod, in Yorkshire. His wife was able to find and engage the services of a matron and two nursing sisters. They also purchased medical equipment. The new hospital opened on 11 March 1878 in a converted private house in Spring Hill. It rapidly outgrew the premises and was moved to its current site in Bowen Hills. The Brisbane Children's Hospital has continued to prosper. It is an enduring memorial to a woman who allowed God to take the tragedies of her life and use .i).McConnel, Mary:children's hospital;them "for some practical purpose"..i).Pioneers: McConnel, Mary;
By the 1850s, wheat became an important Australian export, as well as wool. John Ridley, inventor of the stripper-harvester, was born on 26 May 1806 near Durham, England. He was interested in science from an early age. When he was seven years old, he invented a workable electrical machine. Ridley's father, a miller, had died when he was only five. His mother carried on the business, and when he was 15 he began to take a share in the management. Although baptised in the Church of England, at 18 Ridley became a local Wesleyan preacher. In 1835, he married Mary Pybus and in 1839, with two infant children and a flour mill (worked by steam), he sailed for South Australia. By 1842 he had a well-stocked farm of 300 acres. In 1843 Ridley invented a stripper-harvester. On 18 November, the Adelaide Observer announced that "a further trial of Mr. Ridley's machine has established its success". By 1845, Ridley had manufactured over fifty machines that were operating in South Australia; others had been exported. Ridley's stripper was ideally suited to the hot dry Australian conditions. It harvested the wheat quickly with a minimum of labour and ensured that the grain was kept dry so that it arrived in London in good condition, after a long sea voyage. Ridley's invention helped make wheat become the next most important Australian export, after wool. Ridley's profits from his invention, his shares in the Burra copper mine, his flour mill, and his land investments, enabled him to return to England with his family in 1853 to pursue his interests in evangelisation and missions..i).Pioneers: Ridley, John; 
It was Hugh Victor McKay, inventor and manufacturer of the Sunshine Harvester, who mass-produced the stripper-harvester. He was born on 21 August 1865 at Raywood, Victoria. His parents, Nathaniel McKay and Mary, nee Wilson, from Monaghan, Ireland, were members of the Free Church of Scotland. McKay had little formal schooling, but his parents read the Bible, as well as sermons, the works of John Bunyan, and other edifying literature, to their large family. All eight sons became successful businessmen and four of them were closely involved with McKay's enterprise. His first harvester won a prize in 1884. The Sunshine Harvester factory was for many years the largest factory in Australia. It grew to cover 30 acres and employed 2500 workers. In a famous court case, McKay supported a "fair and reasonable wage", based on the normal needs of the average employee, but he was strongly opposed to unionism (collective bargaining). McKay was ahead of his time in looking after the needs of his workers. He instigated a system of pensions and retirement plans, a sick-pay and accident fund, generous holiday leave, and a personal loan scheme. When he died in 1926, McKay left an estate of 1,448,146 pounds and a large Charitable Trust. The Presbyterian Moderator-General said at the funeral that McKay "was an inspiration to Australian youth, and stood for what a man can do by determination"..i).Pioneers: McKay, Hugh Victor;
This perseverance that marked so many of Australia's early Christian pioneers was more than human effort. They suffered hardships because, like Moses, they saw Him Who is invisible (Heb. 11:27). They remembered Christ Who endured the Cross, despising the shame because of the joy that awaited Him (Heb. 12: 2). They saw themselves as ambassadors of the King of Kings, sent by God Himself to start a new nation. The founding of the colony of South Australia was another such venture.