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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Interview with Marlene Davies

Marlene Davies, currently residing at Culpaulin Station, reminisces about her time working at Wilcannia Hospital from approximately 1977 to 1981. During this period, she shares vivid recollections of the hospital’s operations and the town’s unique atmosphere.

Marlene recalls her colleagues at the hospital, including Peter Donnely, the Hospital Secretary, Timmy Mitchell, the wages clerk, and May Lewis, the Matron. Despite the small staff, around 32 full-time employees, Marlene was responsible for managing a considerable workload, processing 90-100 Group Certificates annually. She fondly remembers notable figures such as Harry Barlow, John Elliott, and Mrs. Elaine Connell, who served on the hospital’s board.

May Lewis, the Matron, played a pivotal role in managing both the hospital’s affairs and its social activities. Marlene describes her as an exceptional nurse, highly skilled in patient diagnosis, and dedicated to her role. Other notable individuals include Betty Crisp, who managed the Dispensary, and Pauline Barraclough, the cook. Marlene also mentions the camaraderie among the groundsmen and highlights Tim’s exceptional efficiency and neatness in his work.

The hospital’s facilities, including separate dining rooms for staff and doctors, reflected the norms of the time. Smoking was permitted in these areas, and the hospital’s only vehicle, a Ford station wagon, served as both transportation and ambulance. Marlene recounts the innovative methods employed, such as rigging up drips on the car racks during emergencies, demonstrating the resourcefulness of the staff.

Marlene’s personal journey to Wilcannia, originating from New Zealand, adds depth to her narrative. She reflects on the initial culture shock of adjusting to life in Wilcannia, with its lack of modern amenities such as television and phone services. Despite the challenges, Marlene fondly recalls the vibrant social scene, characterized by frequent balls and various sporting activities.

The narrative concludes with Marlene’s departure from Wilcannia and subsequent relocation to a property near Bourke. Reflecting on her time in Wilcannia, Marlene expresses gratitude for the enriching experiences and the confidence gained from living in the “exciting wild west” during her formative years.

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