Thursday, 28 October 2010

No More North

Nobby continued to be an interesting find this morning after a night free of rail transport.

My small new best friend, Pumpkin, was outside my door bright and early with a stick for us both to play with. Each time she would drop the stick at my feet, she would just as quickly grab one end and fight me for it. The throwing of the stick was a secondary feature of the game Pumpkin had designed.mI ate a hearty breakfast in the sunshine and then drafted another poem before having an APC bath and packing up the camper. By that stage it was time for coffee so I went across to the General Store for conversation and coffee.

As a result, I went back across the road further up to the Sister Elizabeth Kenny Room - a new structure which has been built from donations to honour a former resident of Nobby who went on to develop a new treatment for polio which took her to more fame in the USA than in her country of origin. Born in Warialda, NSW, in 1880, her family came to live in Nobby when she was 19 and following the support and encouragement of Dr Aeneas McDonnell, a doctor from Toowoomba,

Elizabeth trained as a nurse in 1905 and was soon installed as the Bush Nurse for her home area. In 1910, polio came like a plague to strike down children in Australia and was dealt with by physicians in the time honoured way of placing twisted limbs in calipers and backs bent in wicked shapes into heavily constrictive corsets with steel ribbing. Sister Kenny faced her first case of polio in 1911 when a local 10 year old girl was soon in agony. After consulting Dr McDonnell, Kenny decided to try an alternate method of treatment of hot flannel strips placed on the major muscle groups, gentle massage and mild exercise - both the basis of what would become known as the Kenny Method and one of the earliest forms of physiotherapy.

Sister Kenny spent the Great War travelling with wounded soldiers as they made the long ship journey from England to Australia, making 12 journeys in all. In 1925, Sister Kenny started the first CWA Branch in Nobby and in 1928, she designed and built a new type of stretcher which she called the Sylvia Stretcher after the patient she designed it for. Sister Kenny continued to treat her patients and spreading the technique across Australia but not everyone was happy with her work. In 1937, a Royal Commission instigated by the Qld Government found that the failure to apply calipers placed young bodies in grave jeopardy. The public reaction was one of furore and soon after, the Qld government refused to accept the Royal Commission finding and endorsed the Kenny Method. In fact, in 1939, the Qld Government paid for Sister Kenny to travel to America to show the medical fraternity there her Method for treating polio.

It was here her fame was made and her method completely endorsed and nine times during the 1940's she was second only to Eleanor Roosevelt as America's most admired woman. From such a humble beginning, this amazing lady with such strength of character changed the lives of young polio sufferers to such an extent that it wasn't until polio vaccine came along that a bigger impact was made. All of this, in a small country village proud of this wonderful lady who was from among them, so long ago.

My last experiences of Nobby were a tour of the excellent facilities at the Rudd Pub by a proud publican Sam and an invitation to take pictures in someone's backyard of a family of Tawny Frogmouths, perched on a tree. I left copies of my book with some interested conversationalists from the night before and went back to the real world.

Lunch was in Warwick and included a visit to the Regional Art Gallery where I made my last holiday purchase. I took a drive to Killarney only to realise I was about to visit waterfalls I had seen with Sue at the start of this tour! Tail between legs, I turned back toward the New England Highway and the way home.

Like gravity on an ageing piece of space junk, the closer my orbit comes to home, the stronger the pull and this afternoon I have been straight lining my way home, possibly because the territory within 300kms of home is so familiar and mostly because I am bored with my own company. So bored I would blog on my phone in a certain Scottish restaurant.

I don't want to go home. I don't want to do same things every week. I like these days of new horizons and new days and things to learn and wrap safely in my words, my precious trusted friends which give me air to breath and reasons to open the front door. At home, subtle chains slip around me with lead weights of responsibility - Peter Pan has to bid ticking crocodiles goodbye and become a prisoner of men who know nothing of mangroves, or cattle egrets or a Geraldton sunset or standing in the 65 year old footsteps of a man you'll never meet but only admire. Back home life will slowly leech from me in mundane conversations which loop endlessly.

200kms to go - Major Tom to Ground Control ...

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home Peter. It has been really interesting reading about your trip up north and back. How were Jim and Judy?
    How about a ‘slide show’ one evening ….. a selection of your top 20 with stories.


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