Royal Flying Doctor

The Royal Flying Doctor Service in the Corner Country

In 1928 the vision of the Rev John Flynn to provide an Aero Medical Service for people living in remote Australia became a reality.  Joining forces with Hudson Fysh, the founder of Qantas, the first very flight of the Aerial Medical Service took off from Cloncurry in Queensland.  Since that time the charity has grown into a national organisation providing emergency and primary healthcare to people right across Australia.

In 1938 a base was established in Broken Hill to cover an area of more than one million square kilometres including the townships of Milparinka and Tibooburra. The name was changed to Flying Doctor Service in 1942, and then to the Royal Flying Doctor Service in 1955 following a visit to the base in Broken Hill by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1954.

Transmitter radios invented by Alf Traeger were installed on most station properties to enable calls to be made to the Flying Doctor.

Today, the Royal Flying Doctor Service continues to provide a vital health care to the people who live, work or visit the Corner Country.  Face to face clinics are held at the Tibooburra Health Service each week and routinely at localities such as Packsaddle, Marrapina and Pine View Stations, but a doctor can be contacted at any-time for emergency and general health issues. The service also provides mental health and dental care as well as some visiting specialist services.

In 2019 an emergency landing strip was constructed on the Silver City Highway about 20 kilometres north of Packsaddle, near the junction of the White Cliffs Road.  The widening of the highway and the installation of landing strip lighting, and gates which can be closed during an emergency provides another major safety feature in the Corner Country.

But, please do not stop on the strip.  It is for emergencies only.

Notably, almost everyone carries a piece of RFDS history in their wallet from time to time.  A photograph of a service aircraft overflying The Veldt homestead is featured on the new $20 note with a Sturt’s Steps information post on Sanpah Road south-west of Packsaddle indicating the location.

The health care provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to the bush is not fully funded by either the Federal or State Governments with a large proportion contributed through fundraising and donations. Activities such as the making of Christmas puddings by the Broken Hill RFDS Women’s Auxiliary, or funds raised by the epic bike rides of the Silver City Treadlers, are vital.  Donations can always be made through the charity’s website

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More information about the RFDS can be found in Milparinka and Tibooburra with an all new Bruce Langford visitor centre being developed at the Broken Hill base.