Thirty years ago Mike Ahern was the Premier of Queensland, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were still married and visiting Queensland for Australia’s bicentennial year, and the museum dedicated to the pioneering work of John Flynn was opened in Cloncurry.
It was the culmination of five years of work, begun in 1983, when the Cloncurry Culture Show and Sports Association responded to the Queensland branch of the Australian Bicentennial Authority call for submissions for major commemorative projects, with a proposal to develop a museum to commemorate the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the work of John Flynn and his successors.
It was in Cloncurry that Flynn began his flying doctor experiment and pioneered his scheme of outback radio communication.
The first flying doctor flight took off from Cloncurry Airport in 1928 and the following year Flynn’s radio expert, Alfred Traeger, installed the world’s first household pedal radio at a local homestead.
The bicentennial proposal was successful and so construction for the centre, with an estimated price tag of $1.5m, began in October 1987.
The formal dedication and opening, by the Rev Fred Mackay and the Duke and Duchess of York, took place on October 4, 1988, and it’s this 30-year milestone that the group is preparing to celebrate next week.
Christine McDonald said they wanted to pay tribute to the people who donated to the fund and the committee that had the foresight to build it.
“It was built before tourism in the outback and we now need to redevelop the site,” she said. “So, October 4 is our Dinner under the Stars to remember with gratitude the community groups and locals who gave so generously to build JFP.”
As well as being the building’s 30th birthday, 2018 is the 90th anniversary of the founding of the RFDS in 1928, making for a double celebration in Cloncurry on October 4.