Posted by: jkirkby8712 | November 16, 2011

Wednesday, 16th November 2011 – a note on Flynn of the Inland.

Probably would have preferred to have slept a little longer today, but, after already having woken two or three times through the night [one midst a round of large thunder claps and heavy rainfall], I was up shortly after 6am, and off to the radio station – a bit overcast, 13.1 degrees, a mild kind of morning. Joined Ron Bourke on air, with my brief report on the local cricket and bowls results from last weekend, a few racing tips for the meeting down at Sale today, and a comment about the Test cricket & Peter Roebuck.

Straight back  home for some breakfast, and to take advantage of a quiet couple of hours.  Then it was off to the home of the Sunbury Football Club, where facilities had been hired by the local Family History Society to hold this year’s AGM followed by a luncheon. As often happens, I went along to that meeting, prepared to continue as a general committee member. Like all others present, I was a little disappointed to learn that our President of the last 12 months had decided not to continue, for health & other reasons. Peter had already withdrawn from the radio committee, and was also pulling out of a few other organisations – had been spreading himself too wide! Anyway, while I did manage to avoid stepping back into the now vacant President’/s position, I didn’t escape things completely, and ended up being voted back onto the committee, not as the general member I’d initially been prepared to continue with, but as Vice President for the next 12 months. Oh well, I guess it won’t be too difficult a burden.  The lunch which followed, and the company that went with it, was quite enjoyable. But I shouldn’t have had that dessert – a dish of pavlova!!

A few days back, I made reference to a community organisation named Frontier Services, and it’s forerunner, the Australian Inland Mission. Amongst the collection of books that I inherited from my late Father, were a number of books written by Ion Idriess. One of these was a small hard cover book, published in 1932 titled ‘Flynn of the Inland’, the man who was the central driving force behind the establishment of the Australian Inland Mission in 1912.   Ion Idriess was a prolific and influential Australian author who wrote more than 50 books over 43 years between 1927 to 1969 – an average of one book every 10 months, and twice published three books in one year (1932 and 1940).  His first book was published in 1927 at the age of 38, and his last was written at the age of 79. Several of his works, The Cattle King (1936) and Flynn of the Inland (1932) had more than forty re-printings. Idriess lived from 1889 until 1979. As an introduction to Flynn of the Inland, he noted  that he had written the book ‘in order that the people of Australia may learn something of the work which has been and is being done for isolated and suffering humanity by the Australian Inland Mission, its Padres and Doctors, its Sisters and voluntary workers – and by one Padre in particular. This book is not a history; but it is a true story’.

Ion Idriess in 1950

From Chapter 4 of the book, we read the following selected passages.  “Flynn’s dream was to banish isolation. How he did not know……Message communication, even, could not be assured, let alone doctors, ministers, and transport……………………He was detailed to travel through Northern Australia and report on the possibility of practically benefiting the country in spiritual, medical, material and national needs……..Flynn’s report on the Northern Territory and Central Australia was presented in 1912 by the Home Missions Board to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Australia and created intense interest and sympathy…….The Assembly agreed with Flynn…..that the linking of inside Australia with communications and a line of hospitals was a national as well as a humane thing; they believed that the greater Outback would welcome Christianity when it came as Christ came, with healing for the body as well as for the soul. They also believed that it was a movement that would appeal to a continent and that we had the men and women of steadfast courage, endurance, selflessness, and love that would see it through. And they believed that the public would help by finding the money and some of the toilers as well…….The work was to be quite non-sectarian; regardless of creed or none at all a sick man would be welcome to the best attention. To those who welcomed it, spiritual help would be ever ready, as well as material help, wherever possible. The work musty have a national aspect, all was to be for Australia……’[pp 26-30].                And so began the Australian Inland Mission, with Flynn,  following consideration of his Report, being appointed as the first Superintendent of the Mission. He quickly established the need for medical care for residents of the vast Australian outback, and established a number of bush hospitals, and amongst other things, pushed for the subsequent establishment of the Royal Flying Doctor Service from 1928. A few years later, in 1932, he would claim that for 50,000 Pounds a year, the whole of Australia could be covered by the ‘flying doctor’ service for doctor, pilot and plane. Speaking in Adelaide at the time, Flynn noted that ‘the big expense would be the installation of every homestead with a wireless transmitter, without which, the flying doctor service is useless……With that equipment and a medical service base, no woman would dread going outback, and no man would be afraid to ask her to. After all, those men inland have a right to wives, and their wives have a right to security.’ In an old undated newspaper article [written by an E Powell] which I found attached to the inside cover of Idriess’s book, the writer begins by saying ‘The civilisation of any nation begins with it’s pioneers, and it is the women, with their eternal love for a ‘place of their own’, their loyalty to the men they love, their bravery in pain when hundreds of miles from doctors, who have laid the strongest and most important tracks for the nation………………………City bred people know nothing of the long days, the soundless nights, the absence of white, human faces, and illness; the terror of illness without doctors; the fear and agony of solitary child-birth; the courage, the resource of that legion of nation builders………………………………’  [That’s an excellent article, and perhaps one day, when space permits, I will copy it here in full, if space and time prevails.

So amongst the variety of books etc, that I am into at the moment,  is the story of John Flynn as told through the writing of Ion Idriess. Actually I’m sure that some of these books that previously belonged to my father, could be a reasonable value these days, as collector’s items. I’m not sure when this book was given to Dad, but I would assume it was in his teen years just prior to World War II. As an avid collector myself, I have no intention of relinquishing possession of  the set of books by that particular author.

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