NLA John Flynn deposit 2One of the most iconic photos of Rev John Flynn, who founded the work of Frontier Services, will be safely preserved for future generations after the original negative was donated to the National Library of Australia.

The famous photo, taken of John Flynn sitting on a fence and speaking to a bushman, was in the safe-keeping of the family of Rev Fred McKay, who succeeded Flynn as Superintendent of the Australian Inland Mission (AIM).

The photo was taken by Fred in 1937 on his personal box brownie, while John Flynn was accompanying him on his patrol work in North Queensland. 

Flynn on fenceTOP: The family of Fred McKay donating the photo to the NLA. BOTTOM: The iconic photo of John Flynn speaking to a bushman.Last month, Fred McKay’s family, Bruce McKay, Liz McKay, Ruth Cook and Margaret Wheatley, presented the negative to the Pictures and Manuscript Section of the National Library in Canberra, into the hands of the curator Nicola Mackay-Sim. The photo will be kept in the official AIM collection held by the Library.

Fred’s daughter, Margaret Wheatley said the family felt it was the appropriate place for such a valuable item, and it would be stored in the optimum conditions.

Mrs Wheatley, who recalls seeing the image as a child, said the words written on the envelope which contained the negative read: “Rev John Flynn in discussion with Mr J. D. Chidley, manager Dunbar cattle station, Cape York Peninsula 1937.”

Interestingly, many copies were made of this photograph and some were printed the opposite way around with John Flynn on the right hand side of the bushman. In fact, John Flynn was sitting on his left.

Last year, Frontier Services, as the successor to the AIM in the Uniting Church, celebrated 100 years of support for the people of remote Australia.

Today, we continue Flynn’s vision by supporting thousands of families and individuals in the outback with our ministry and community services.

To celebrate this history, last year the National Library featured a display of early AIM photos, telling the story in pictures of how the AIM nurses and padres battled distance and heat to bring care to people in remote places. The year-long exhibition finished in August.

Many photos gathered from the history of the AIM and Frontier Services were featured in At the Very Heart, written by Storry Walton and released in 2012. The beautiful book, featuring stories and memories of the outback from across the century, is still available to purchase. Phone 1300 787 247 to place your order.

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.