Camel bringing fuel for the flying doctor Dragon aircraft, 1940. Camels were very useful when first brought to Australia for Inland transport in the 1880s. They could withstand the harsh climate, sandy ground, and lack of water, better than horses or donkeys. But today camels are a big problem in the outback. When engine transport came along, they were no longer needed, and they were released into the wild. Their numbers increased dramatically, and today they are a threat to native flora and fauna, and a menace to Aboriginal communities and farmers.

Passing the flooded Laura River, on the way to the RFDS clinic: Situated on the Cape York Peninsula, in the tropical zone of Queensland, the township of Laura is subject to both "drought and flooding rain". When the river is in flood, families may be cut off from supplies, unable to get food and other necessities, for a very long time. It is sometimes even impossible for the flying doctor to land close by. Instead, supplies of medicine, and other urgent needs, are dropped from the plane in specially designed containers.

Flying over Kalgoorlie RFDS base, on the edge of dry desert country, on the Great Eastern Highway, 590 km from Perth. The base was established in 1937 to care for families and workers gathering around the gold fields. Its area of care now spreads over 750000 sq km, and its flight paths cover not only the busy Goldfields, but also the busy Wheat Belt, with its diverse ecosystem and rich agricultural production.

Trucks meeting on the Great Northern Highway, near Port Hedland RFDS base. The highway stretches 3200 km from Perth to Wyndham. Australia is a very large country and needs giant highways to link one place to another.

The flying doctor plane sometimes has to land in awkward and difficult places - on remote dirt airstrips, cleared paddocks, or even on roads and highways.

Bushfire in Victoria - bushfires have always been part of the Australian landscape. This photo was taken by John Flynn, in 1912. (It is coloured by hand).

There are no street signs in the outback, to help find your way if you get lost. If your car breaks down, don't wander away. Stay with the car, radio for help, and wait.

Salt hills in the Pilbara: Dampier Salt operations, on the way to Marble Bar flying doctor clinic. These hills begin as sea water in the Indian Ocean, which is pumped into a concentration system and evaporated by sun and wind, to crystallise eventually into pure sodium chloride salt.

Clinic in the desert

Football on the mud flats at Derby, on the shore of King Sound. The mud flats are formed by the very high tides - among the highest in the world, that sweep in and out rather violently at regular intervals.

Go to Top