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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Australia and Flying Doctors!

aka R'acquel has a great post up for the Cyber Cruise on the Leura and the Blue Mountains.

It got me thinking about my own family connection to Australia. Although I have never been, my oldest daughter has and here is some pictures from her trip below.

Other than that, I have a historical family connection with Australia on account of a first cousin who was married to an Australian Flying Doctor.

Her story is rather tragic, in that she died in a plane crash flying with him after being married only six weeks. Her name was Renee Burke, from Ireland. She died on October 22, 1953.

The pilot, Martin Garrett, died as well, though her husband, Dr. Timothy O'Leary, also from Ireland, survived. He went on to write two books, North and Aloft and Western Wings of Care about his experiences as a flying doctor.

Dr. O'Leary died in 1987 at 62 years of age. His focus was on doctoring in the outback, the isolated lands of inland Queensland and the Gulf country. As a member of the Royal Flying Doctor Service started by John Flynn.

Although an allure of a glamourous and exciting lifestyle made it easier to recruit new doctors, due to the remote and lonely living conditions, and sometimes dangerous situations associated with night flying, these recruits often did not stay on past twelve months. O'Leary did this for 27 years.

He spent his first five years at the Charters Towers post, which closed in 1972 (transferred to Cairns), and this is the basis for his first book, North and Aloft.

Thank you to Lori Harloe, of the Department of History & Politics, James Cook University of Nth. Qld for additional information I was not aware of from my own relatives.

As a child, I was very close to Renee's brother, my uncle Tony, who also had emigrated to Canada like me Mum. Although he lived with his family in another city, he would travel to Ottawa on business and I always anticipated his visits with great enthusiasm, as he always arrived with a bag full of chocolate bars while he and my parents stayed up all night, in typical Irish fashion.

Sadly he has passed on, and his wife. For a time we had stayed in contact. I met my second cousins, in fact my daughter is named after one of his children, Séana, and my niece shares the name with another daughter, Tara. His eldest, is named after his sister, Renee.

Thanks, Racquel, for helping me to dredge up this part of my story, which is really what this blog is all about, documenting my legacy. And thanks to you internets, who have made it down this post thus far!! LOL


Fleur de Lisa said...

I've never been "down under" either but it's on my list of places to visit. This is so cool that you've learned so much about your relatives. 27 years shows true dedication to his calling. He must have been a wonderful and very special man.

Hope your Sunday is a good one. :-)

claudie said...

I understand your happiness to know the story of members of your family! I'd like to read his book! Ihope to go one day in Australia even if I haven't family there but it seems to be a wonderful place!
Thanks for your visit on my space and hope tomorrow we won't tired but we need energy to enjoy after on the weeb!!
Have sweet dreams of Australia!
Grosses bises

Debbie said...

Australia is one of my dream trips! i would love to go one day.

Genealogy is great when researched properly and cool things get found. My father spent the last 10 years of his life doing our genealogy back to 1515 in England. He wanted to make the trip to do the final details. But he died before he could make the trip. It is one of my dream trips to finish what he started as I inherited all his documentation and paperwork!

Wonderful story you have shared here. I enjoyed reading all the way to the end!

Goofy Girl said...

Interesting story! I've never been to australia, seems like it would be a fun place to be!

Mostly Happy Thoughts said...

thanks for the post! I did read your Ottawa post just now. Very good idea, I should do that too! I cannot visit your blog often as I think there is too much going on and my computer has a hard time processing everything and shuts down. I usually get "error reports" and "program ending" pop ups when I come here.... sorry! I think my computer is just not fast enough to keep up :)

Gattina said...

I like such stories, I also tried to dig out where I came from and who were my ancestors. Sometimes really strange things come up. I should also write about that one day, and some are really funny stories !

Captain Wet Lifecruiser said...

GReat pictures, seems like she had a lot of fun there :-)

I wanna go there too some day... *sigh*

Great to have connection like that. Flying doctors huh? Very admirable service I must say.

Irish Church Lady :) said...

Thanks for your comments everyone!

My favourite video for Australia was the one on Racquel's blog that showed such pride in Australia. It's the first video linked called I am Australian by the Seekers. Really good!!