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28 August 1911 John Flynn

 28 August 1911 John Flynn

On 28 August 1911 John Flynn, a Presbyterian Minister, wrote to his father in Victoria about his trip up the Birdsville track as far as Pandie Pandie  station some 11 miles from the Queensland border. This was only one of his many journeys through outback South Australia to preach to all kinds of people in this desert region. Earlier in the year he had been posted to the Smith of Dunesk Mission at Beltana and it was from this centre that he began his great work for the people of the inland. In December 1911 he helped establish a nursing hostel at Oodnadatta and in 1912 he was appointed superintendant of the Australian Inland Mission which began with one padre, one nursing sister, a nursing hostel and five camels. He spread his caring missions through northern Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland and in 1928 established the Aerial Medical Services to Cloncurry, Queensland. For this to be successful he needed to have suitable radio transmissions and after much trial and error George Townes and Alf Treager were able to develop a transmitter which could cover the great distances of the inland. On 17 May 1928 Dr St Vincent, with pilot Affleck at the controls, answered the first call received by the Australian Inland Mission and the Flying Doctor was a reality.

On 7 May 1932, at the age of 51, Flynn married his secretary Jean Baird. In 1929 he was elected for a three year term as Moderator-General of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. He died in Sydney on 5 May 1951 and is fondly remembered as ‘Flynn of the Inland’.

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, pp.531-34.

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