Sometimes magic does happen. Several days ago I was privileged to come across this book, Innaminka, published 1960, by Elizabeth Burchill. Sister Burchill was one of my childhood heroes, along with Betty Jeffery, RN, OAM and Matron Vivian Bullwinkel, RN, AO , MBE , ARRC, ED. These women were extraordinary women, each one of whom has had an indelible impact on Australian history. Sadly today their names are fading from memory.
Role models for a generation of young girls in the post-war period,they endured hardship and deprivation. They did not ask to be heroes and went about their daily work unencumbered by the trappings of fame.
Innaminka is a story of the pioneering days of Australian Nursing. It features the work of the Australian Inland Mission Nursing Service at Innaminka in the days before ‘Flynn’s Flying Doctors’ reached into the heart of the Outback. This wonderful book complete with dust jacket just happened to come into my possession. When I opened it to my amazement and delight it has been autographed and dated by the author, The discoveries did not stop there, nestled in its pages is a roneoed copy of the original forward document for Sister Burchill’s autobiography ‘The Paths I’ve Trod‘. The forward is written by E O Smith Superintendent and Chief Surgeon of Smith Memorial Hospital, Marlin Texas.
What a privilege and honour it is to own this book, an unexpected treasure, providing insight into a slice of Australian history.
What stories these women have told and I am sure there are stories yet to be told of their valour under fire, and their dedication not only to their chosen careers of nursing but to the country they served.
Dora Elizabeth Burchill SRN, RM, TC, OAM. b.4 January 1904 – 3 December 2003 an Australian nurse, philanthropist, and author.