Backward Glance - Shining a light in May: Mothers, Nurses and Carers
  • Wednesday 09 May 2018

On the second Sunday in May, Australians celebrate Mother's Day.

We thank our mums and also show appreciation for the love and dedication of mothers and motherly figures from all walks of life.

It’s also the month for International Nursing Day which is celebrated on May 12 and marks the birthday of Florence Nightingale, who famously tended to the wounded during the Crimean War and is credited with founding modern nursing.

May is a time to recognise and thank our nurses for the demanding jobs they do to care for their patients.

At times, being a carer, a nurse or foster mother can be hard, but it comes with the satisfaction of knowing you’ve helped someone in need.

Many returned soldiers from World War I were injured, both mentally and physically.

Local nurses tended to the sick and cared for many in the Beerburrum Soldier Settlement Hospital.

The general hospital was on the side of a hill overlooking the little business district which was established either side of Anzac Avenue, Beerburrum.

There was much hardship, with many unsuited to farming and the harsh country life at that time, but a community was established with dignity and in time it grew. 

Dance nights were well attended and Cupid’s arrow often brought about romances during the Pride of Erin and other popular dances.

Large families soon followed and nurses cared for mothers and their babies who were born in the busy maternity section of Beerburrum Hospital during that era.

A branch of the Bush Nursing Association was formed in Beerburrum in July 1934 with 30 fully financial members.

Equipment had been acquired along with a building, which was initially occupied by nurse Miss A.W. Dean from Buderim.

Later Sister Watherson was the nurse in charge of the Beerburrum branch.

Regular clinics were held at Beerburrum and nurses also made visits, sometimes on horseback, to homes throughout the district.

The Bush Nurses encountered much hardship in their communities as they cared for those who needed assistance.

Maleny nurse Jean Dickson worked as a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse in 1940.

She did her nurse training at the Maleny Soldiers Memorial Hospital during World War II.

At that time, she was also assisting her parents to milk a herd of 60 Friesian dairy cows twice a day.

Jean would finish the afternoon milking and then ride her horse to the hospital from North Maleny where her family lived.

She would then work the night shift at the hospital and ride back to the farm early in the morning in time to do the next milking. 

Jean was a dedicated carer to both her family and the sick.

Seventy-five years ago, the Australian Hospital Ship, AHS47 Centaur, was torpedoed and sunk at 4.10am on May 14, 1943, off the coast of South-East Queensland.

This was a time of great sorrow for many in Australia, particularly the loved ones of the nurses, doctors and orderlies who perished at sea.

The 3222 tonne, shallow draft Centaur, with 363 people on board, sank quickly.

The 64 survivors spent 36 hours in the water before the USS Mugford DD-389 rescued them.

Nursing Sister Ellen Savage was the only nurse to survive and was able to give a factual account of the incident.

In March 1993, Caloundra RSL established the Centaur Committee.

Erica Costigan OBE, a special caring person who worked tirelessly to find answers about the sinking of the Centaur, was a member of this committee and received many letters over the years from those who sought help in finding their loved ones.

With support from her husband Bryan, Erica never gave up her search seeking answers until AHS Centaur was located.

Both Caloundra Headland and Point Danger on the New South Wales-Queensland border have memorials to the Centaur.

Many heartbroken wives, mothers and families were never to know that their loved ones resting place would eventually be located years after it went down.

The wreck was found using modern technology on December 20, 2009, about 30 nautical miles off the southern tip of Moreton Island.

During World War II, Mrs Jean MacArthur, wife of US General Douglas, visited Red Cross nurses who were caring for the sick and refugee families staying at Strathallan Guest House located in Lower Gay Terrace, Kings Beach.

Those being cared for were American refugees who had refused to surrender to the Japanese, some were prisoners of war who had escaped from capture or hidden in the Philippines and children were amongst those covertly recuperating in Caloundra under the care of the Red Cross.

Felicity and Maurice Stiensen of Caloundra devoted many years to helping others.

The couple formed a local committee for children with cerebral palsy after spending time working in Brisbane for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

They regularly hosted disabled children and their families so they could enjoy the seaside and the country life.

Maurice also took elderly locals out once a week in his car for shopping and social contact.

They assisted with the Caloundra Meals on Wheels Service, including transport of lonely people to the regular Tuesday dinner at the CCSA building.

Their home, named 'Felicity Cottage', is now the site of Felicity Park named in memory of Felicity, at Maurice's request, when he sold the property to the Landsborough Shire Council.

This park is now the site of Caloundra Library and Caloundra Art Gallery to be enjoyed by all.

Loving mother, Lewes Tutt with her timber-getter husband Herbert, raised four children; Stan, Nigel, Mary and Charles near Mt Cooroy.

Lewes was a qualified teacher and taught her children in their younger years, instilling a lifelong love of literature in them all.

Poor but happy, the family moved to Kenilworth in 1923.

They settled near the Mary River and lived in a rough slab hut with a shingle roof and no running water.

Lewes Tutt cooked over an open fire, using converted kerosene tins to carry water for drinking and washing, whilst her husband worked long distances away. 

In 1939 the family moved to Landsborough with the older boys walking the livestock from Kenilworth to Landsborough. 

Their son, Stan Tutt, became a writer of history and conservation and studied journalism through the Army Education Service during World War ll.

His prolific writings of the Sunshine Coast region on local history and conservation remain a gift to this region. 

He was awarded an OAM for his services.

In 2000, Stan was awarded an honorary senior fellowship from the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Stan cared about his community and was always ready to assist those in need.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.

Image Captions

Hero image: M863272 Jessup and McIntyre family members at Coolum Beach, August 1949

The two families often spent school holidays together at Coolum, where Arthur Jessup (Ralph's father) had a holiday cottage on Coolum Esplanade.

Image 1: Blue Nursing Service, Nambour Centre staff with their feet of vehicles, Nambour, June 1966

Image 2: American Army Officers and United States Red Cross and American army nurses are pictured with Mrs Jean MacArthur outside Strathallan Guest House, Caloundra, ca 1944

Image 3: Tutt family members at their property 'Woodnook', Landsborough on Christmas Eve December 1942. 
Pictured L to R: Lewis Catherine Tutt, her sons Herbert Stanley (Stan) Tutt, Nigel Reid Tutt and Charles William Tutt. Daughter Mary Ethel Tutt (third from left) and Nigel's wife Madge. The brothers were visiting the family while on leave from the Army.

Image 4: Beerburrum Centre of the Queensland Bush Nursing Association, 1930s. 
A branch of the Bush Nursing Association was formed in Beerburrum in July 1934 with thirty fully financial members. Regular clinics were held at the Beerburrum Clinic and nurses also made regular visits to mostly sick soldier’s homes throughout the district.

Image 5: Nambour Private Hospital, owned by Doctor Arthur E. Malaher, Petrie Creek Road, Nambour, ca 1908

Image 6: Presentation to the Caloundra Hospital by the Caloundra Branch of the Q.C.W.A., Caloundra, 29 May 1976

Image 7: Children’s Ward at the Nambour General Hospital, 1975. The ward was established in 1946

Image 8: Operating Theatre, Nambour General Hospital, 1975

Image 9: Caloundra identities Maurice Stiensen, Felicity Stiensen with a group of children and their careers.