Image of the original Charleville Base

The Flying Doctor’s Charleville team celebrate 80 years of life-saving services

Date published

03 Oct 2023

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) (Queensland Section) is this month marking the momentous 80-year anniversary of its Charleville Base.

Established in 1943, the Charleville Base services a waiting room of more than 622,000 square kilometres, connecting the residents of this significant South-West Queensland region to leading, and often lifesaving, health services.

From saving a seven-year-old stroke sufferer to emergency trauma revival on helicopter crash victims and everything in between, the dedicated RFDS Charleville team have seen it all. 

Over the past 14 years alone, RFDS Charleville has treated more than 56,000 patients across more than 6,700 clinics and undertaken 8,200 transfers. In fact, during this same period, the Charleville fleet has flown almost 6.5 million kilometres – the equivalent of eight return trips to the moon.

RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Executive Officer Meredith Staib said Charleville held a special place in the fabric of the Flying Doctor’s heritage.

“Charleville’s 80-year anniversary marks a momentous milestone, not just for the Flying Doctor as a near-100-year organisation, but more importantly, the hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders living in regional, rural and remote parts of the state,” Ms Staib said.

“As the longest serving RFDS Base in Australia, it’s rare to find a local Charleville resident who hasn’t been touched by the services of The Flying Doctor at some point in their lives – be it general GP check-ups and vaccinations right through to harrowing life and death emergency situations.

“The 80th anniversary of Charleville also serves as an important moment to recognise the hard work and commitment of the team who turn up day in and day out to serve their community.”

As part of the 80-year anniversary, the RFDS (Queensland Section) will also celebrate the individual 20-year anniversary of two of its nurses, Joanne Mahony and Diane Dowrick.

RFDS Nurse Manager Joanne Mahony said 20 years simply flies by when working in a community like Charleville, whose locals epitomise the resilient, kind-natured, and easy-going persona Queenslanders are renowned for.

“The best part of my job is the people I get to interact with day in and day out - those I work with, those we service, and those we just say hello to on the street,” Ms Mahony said.

“I consider myself lucky to be part of the RFDS for over two decades because of the lasting relationships and connections with our thousands of patients in this area.

“I have so much pride in the Charleville team past and current, knowing that no matter how isolated someone is within our patch of Queensland, we’re there to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Established in 1928 by the Reverend John Flynn from Cloncurry, Queensland, the RFDS has grown to become one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations.

The Charleville Base provides a range of essential medical services including primary health clinics, patient transfers and emergency aeromedical retrievals to those living, working, and travelling across the region.

In addition to its critical medical services, the Charleville Base is also home to Queensland’s only RFDS Visitor Centre. The modern tourist precinct educates guests about the origins of the Flying Doctor and the evolution of the outback service, paying tribute to its remarkable history.

In Queensland, the RFDS operates from nine bases at Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Charleville, Longreach, Mount Isa, Rockhampton, Roma, and Townsville.