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Snapshot - Mullewa District Hospital

Published on Tuesday, 19 January 2021 at 12:57:37 PM

Mullewa District Hospital – Unique in WA History by Tanya Henkel

Certain dates matter in the history and development of regional towns. For Mullewa the 1 November 1934, was cause for considerable fanfare, celebration and indeed relief as the Mullewa District Hospital was officially opened. Following years of agitation and fundraising efforts, the town finally had a modern medical facility to service the needs of the local community and outlying areas. In the early years the health needs of Mullewa’s residents were addressed either out of Geraldton or by an occasional visiting doctor, Dr. Hungerford. In 1919, when Mullewa experienced an outbreak of ‘Spanish Flu’, Nurse Waters was sent to the town by the Health Department, and fortunately agreed to stay on permanently as a district nurse, working out of a small dwelling to the rear of the Masonic Lodge. In 1922, following efforts by the Road Board to attract a permanent doctor, Dr John R. Hobbs established the private ‘Keston Hospital’ in Gray Street. Despite these admirable efforts the Mullewa community needed a permanent public hospital, and following the granting of a reserve of five acres fronting Elder Street in 1922, all seemed assured until the Great Depression struck, resulting in a lengthy and frustrating delay. Finally in 1934 the hospital was officially opened by the Lieutenant Governor, Sir James Mitchell. Over the years the original building has been extended several times to accommodate increased demand, including a Native Ward which was funded by the local Aboriginal people who contributed one shilling a week. Built to a design by well known Priest-Architect Dean John Hawes, who was Chairman of the Mullewa Hospital Board, this ward was unique in the history of West Australian hospitals. The Mullewa District Hospital remains a beating heart within the Mullewa community to this day.

Photo Caption: Mullewa District Hospital, 23 April 1939

Image courtesy of Edna McConkey, caption by Tanya Henkel.

Snapshots is an initiative of the Geraldton Regional Library. For more information, or to donate a historical photo or slide to the Library, contact Heritage Services at the Geraldton Regional Library on 9956 6659 or

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