Gweneth Wisewould is a legend in Trentham, a small town at the southern end of Australia's Great Dividing Range. After a rocky road as a young doctor in the big city of Melbourne, she came to practice medicine in the town and districts in 1938 - and stayed until her death in 1972.
These were hard times: few facilities, mostly dirt roads, scattered farms - and a factory in town that made iron jacks. There was a small Bush Hospital and that was about it. Dr Wisewould would go out in any weather to attend to bush homes - and is especially remembered for saving the life of a man crushed at the factory.
'Outpost' is a gripping read, telling the stories of countless people as Dr Wisewould encountered them. And she was quite a character herself - dressing in men's clothes, using minimal instruments, very direct in manner. Despite her idiosyncracies, she became a deeply loved doctor. She is commemorated in the town clock, a special room in the Trentham Hotel, and the sanctuary lamp of St George's (Anglican) Church Trentham. A devout Christian, Dr Wisewould is the only non-Catholic to be mentioned in the centenary book of St May Magdalene, Trentham.
Beyond her own story, 'Outpost' is notable for painting vivid picture of what rural life was like in Australia in the 40s-60s - almost unimaginable today, but still within the life experience of many residents. Outpost is thus a significant piece of social history.
Highly recommended reading!
(reviewed the day of purchase)