Skip to main content

Flynn of the Inland
, 1950s

by Harry Hudson

pen, ink and gouache on paper

The Very Rev. John Flynn OBE (1880-1951) was the founder and long-time director of the Australian Inland Mission of the Presbyterian Church of Australia. Flynn envisaged a number of schemes whereby both white and Aboriginal outback communities might develop their own safety network. To this end he established nursing hostels and patrols across Northern Australia, and later persuaded Alfred Traeger, inventor of the pedal radio, to help bring two-way transmission to remote areas. These developments paved the way for the inception of the A.I.M. Aerial Medical Service in May 1928. (It was renamed the Flying Doctor Service of Australia in 1942, with the 'Royal' designation added in 1954.) In turn, the strategies used by the Aerial Medical Service helped to inspire the creation of the 'school of the air'.

Flynn believed that 'A man is his friends', and he had many. This portrait furnished the frontispiece to Harry Hudson's book Flynn's Flying Doctors (1956).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1999
Accession number: 1999.24