Bush Wives & Midwives

I found this snippet in The Australian Women’s Weekly, Wednesday 30 October 1963.

Blue Gum Flat To Budgewoi,” the latest volume produced by Charles Swancott, the folk historian of Gosford and neighboring parts, reminds its readers that many of the bush wives used to do their own doctoring. They had to.

Consider Mrs Priscilla Waters, of Yarramalong, born in 1859. She is said to have cured her six-year-old Diana’s lockjaw (tetanus) with hot packs and to have saved her niece’s almost severed hand by stitching it and splinting each finger.

Then there was Mrs Isabella Robley, who died at 100 in 1944. From Ourimbah she often rode on errands of mercy on nights too dark to see the tracks over Mangrove Mountain at Kangy Angy and across to Dooralong.

After she’d returned from one journey her husband gravely announced to the Rev. Mr Moore, who was at the house, “I’m going to divorce my wife.”

The clergyman gasped. “Tut, tut, man. What’s your reason?”

“I can tell you of 28 children she has brought into the world, and none of them is mine.”

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Pioneer Women’s Monument, Jessie Street Gardens, Sydney. Sculptor: Alex Kolozsy

Pioneer Women’s Monument, Jessie Street Gardens, Sydney. Sculptor: Alex Kolozsy

This 3.5 metre bronze sculpture in Jessie Street Gardens at Circular Quay, Sydney was installed for Australia’s Bicentenary in 1988. It was commissioned by the Women’s Pioneer Society of Australasia in recognition of the courage and endurance of Women Pioneers and their vital role in the development of Australia.

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Sources: Wyong Museum & Historical Society ArchivesTrove Digital Newspaper ArchiveWomen’s Pioneer Society of Australasia.

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