16 Nov 2012

John Flynn - Faith in action

Last night Jemimah, her Daddy and I were privileged to hear a talk on Presbyterian minister, Reverend John Flynn and the Royal Flying Doctor Service by their Central Services CEO,  John Lynch.  A humorous, engaging and erudite speaker, John commenced his talk with these words:
John Flynn, what a mighty man.  His vision for the outback, a truly wonderful plan.
Of course, this made Jemimah and me sit up and listen, for these words are the chorus to a much loved song by another outback legend, Ted Egan. 

Ted's song, John Flynn, tells the story of the death of Jimmy Darcy, and Jemimah and I had often wondered whether it were true.  Here are the words:

John Flynn

by Ted Egan

I guess it was the death of Jimmy Darcy
that prompted the decision to provide,
A mantle of safety for the outback
and it took a man like John Flynn to decide,
that the people of the bush deserved a better life.
The furthest boundary ride, a lonely drover's wife,
deserved to be protected, kept in touch, given a go.
It took a man like John Flynn to make it so.

He was John Flynn,
what a mighty man.
His vision for the outback, a truly wonderful plan.

Flynn mustered his supporters all around him
and slowly to fruition came the plan.
Simpson, Traeger, Barber, his old mate Hugh Mackay,
and Hudson Fysh, They were loyal to a man.
Aeroplanes and wireless would span this big brown land
To reach the furthest outback family, the injured station hand.
Medicine for the bushies, a model for the world.
The Flying Doctor's banner was unfurled.

So rest easy in your grave now Jimmy Darcy.
In knowledge that your death was not in vain.
The Flying Doctor Service is a goer
To handle all the suffering and the pain.
The people of the bush now have a better life,
The furthest boundary rider, the lonely drover's wife.
The people of the bush, kept in touch, given a go
It took a man like Flynn to make it so.
Last night, John Lynch told us the real story of Jimmy Darcy, a stockman in Western Australia.  It went something like this:

Darcy had ruptured his bladder in an accident, and was taken to the closest town, Halls Creek by some friends.  The town was only 30 hours away, but the arduous journey to the remote town took 24 hours.  In Halls Creek, Mr Tuckett, the postmaster,administered first aid, and realising the serious nature of Darcy's injury,  attempted to contact doctors in Wyndham, and then Derby, by telegraph. Eventually he managed to get hold of  Dr Holland, a doctor in Perth. Using sharpened pocket knives and kitchen tools, and an anaesthetic of whisky, and guided by Dr Holland using Morse code, Tuckett then attempted to operate on Jimmy Darcy.  Operation complete, Dr Holland set out for Halls Creek.  The journey took ten days, and when the doctor arrived he discovered  that Darcy had died the day before. Turns out that Tuckett's operation had been successful, but the stockman had died from complications of malaria and a ruptured appendix.

John Lynch tells us that John Flynn was profoundly affected by this story, and that as a consequence of this case and others like it, Flynn was inspired to provide not just pastoral care, but also social and medical care to these isolated people in the Australian Outback.  Taking his report back to the Presbyterian Church, together they established the Australian Inland Mission, and from that The Royal Flying Doctor Service.  His is truly an inspirational story of faith in action.

You can learn more about Flynn here:

We will be studying Flynn in AO6 using Barry Brown's book, The Flying Doctor: John Flynn and the Flying Doctor Service, pictured above.  You can purchase it from Abe. Renowned Aussie author, Ion Idriess, also wrote a book about Flynn called Flynn of the Inland, which alone has created much of the mythology that surrounds this great man. Flynn himself was amused at the book, which represents him as a paragon of virtue, saying that it created 'my mythical self'!  Perhaps we'll read this one in secondary school.

The talk last night whetted our appetites for more study of this inspirational Australian next year.  It was fabulous to hear that Ted Egan's song was based on fact as well, because it is one of those songs that acts like an earworm.  If we hadn't known all the words already, we certainly do now!

If you still want to hear it, you can listen to a snatch on iTunes here.


  1. Have this book, but you have a lovely dust jacket, I don't;)

  2. oh cool! Didn't know that bit about how the Royal Flying Doctor service started! I look forward to reading this with Rebekah one day.


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