John Flynn's Grave
John Flynn's Grave
John Flynn's Grave


On one of our hikes this day, we visited John Flynn's Grave. The information below is taken directly from, word for word.

Reverend John Flynn was the founder of the world's first flying medical service, The Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service. No matter where illness or accidents strike medical help is on call thanks to the man known as 'Flynn of the Inland'. John Flynn was born on the Victorian goldfields in 1880. His mother died in childbirth, when he was only two, leaving John's strict father to raise the family.

Quiet and sensitive, young John set his mind on becoming a church minister. For a while he worked in the bush as a lay preacher, someone who preaches the gospel without formal qualifications.

Later, while studying at Melbourne University to qualify as a minister, Flynn remembered the loneliness of bush life. He wrote a booklet - The Bushman's Companion - with information on everything from first aid to postal services to how to conduct a funeral. Flynn's first appointment as a minister was to a mission in northern South Australia. The sight of lonely bush graves distressed him.

"He had a deep practical concern about the needs of bush people, and the graves in the inland of people who should never have died worried him." (McKay) When asked to conduct a survey on how the church could help bush-people Flynn jumped at the chance. His report impressed church leaders so much that they told him to proceed with all his plans. The Australian Inland Mission was born!

Bush-people are tough. Flynn and his fellow ministers, known as 'Flynn's Mob'- worked beside them to win their respect. "Flynn's exact words were 'Go out there and listen to people'." (McKay) Dressed in a suit, driving an old ute, and endlessly puffing on his pipe, Flynn became a welcome sight for isolated settlers. "Funny thing about Flynn. He looked liked a bloke from the city, but he always had the smell of the bush about him". (McKay) Flynn would arrive armed with tools to mend anything broken . He had a special knack for fixing clocks and watches. And no matter what he was doing, Flynn loved to talk ... and talk ..... and talk. "He was always talking about making the bush safe, making it possible for men to marry and have their families out there." (McKay) Flynn established fifteen hospitals which were scattered all over the outback. The nurses who ran them brought an angel touch to the harsh, lonely country. But Flynn knew a truly effective outback medical service needed two things: communications and transport.

World War One gave Flynn an idea. Why not use planes to fly medical help to where it was needed? "He was a dreamer, and a visionary..and his dream was to make the outback secure." The first official flight for the Flying Doctor Service left Cloncurry, in north-west Queensland, in March 1928. In his first year, the world's first flying doctor - Dr St Vincent Welch - saw two hundred and fifty five patients suffering everything from typhoid fever to gunshot wounds.

Flynn's idea had worked but people living far from telephone and telegraph wires still had no way of calling for medical help. Encouraged by Flynn, a young inventor from Adelaide, Alfred Traeger, came up with the solution, a pedal-powered wireless. It was to revolutionize life in outback Australia. Through the pedal wireless and his popular magazine - The Inlander, Flynn had given the Bush a voice. By the time Flynn died in 1951, aged seventy one, his vision of a 'Mantle of Safety' covering Australia's sunburnt interior had become a reality. "They are there when you need them. If it weren't for them you'd have to travel miles and miles to see a doctor." Life back of beyond will never be so dangerous or lonely again, thanks to the compassion and determination of 'Flynn of the Inland'