A book of people’s stories and rarely seen photographs capturing the past 100 years in Australia’s remote heartland was launched today at the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

At the Very Heart, written by Storry Walton AM and published by Wakefield Press, celebrates the work begun by outback legend John Flynn with the Australian Inland Mission and its successor Frontier Services.

The book carefully weaves together memoirs and stunning images from generations of people who have walked alongside remote families and provided vital services for a century.

Frontier Services Patron and former Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer AC, officially launched the book at 12.30pm. In the foreword for the book, Mr Fischer writes: “Frontier Services deserves the salute of the nation. Enjoy this account 100 years on, relating to the vital work that goes to the very heart of the fabric of the Commonwealth of Australia.”

Mr Walton gave a lecture at the launch sharing his reflections on the work across the century and the moving stories uncovered in the research of the book.  

“Many of the extracts from diaries and memoirs have not been published before,” said Mr Walton. “I found these accounts redolent of the laconic wit of people in tough circumstances. They include moving stories of love, duty, survival and resilience, the wiry qualities that have kept inlanders going for a hundred years.

“The book celebrates the economic and cultural contributions of outback people to the grand narrative of Australian life.”

Historian Rob Linn, author of the book Shifting Sands to Solid Rock, also spoke on Flynn’s vision to create a “mantle of safety” for the people of remote Australia and how this became a reality with the work of the AIM and Frontier Services.

The images in the book include professional portraits of outback life, fascinating historical photos from the AIM archive in the National Library of Australia as well as snapshots from family albums brought to life through the book.

To order your copy please contact the National Office on 1300 787 247 or download an order form here.

Acknowledgement of Country

Frontier Services acknowledges the sovereign First Peoples on whose lands and waters we live, meet, and work.

We pay our respects to their Elders past and present and to all descendants of these Nations who have cared for this place since Creation.