Anne Kidd arrived in Windorah, Qld, as a 21-year-old newly qualified nurse for a few weeks’ work. She’s been caring for the community ever since

Story By Sue Williams

The temperature is a sizzling 42 degrees Celsius in Windorah, in the heart of Queensland’s Channel Country, and the town’s been cut off from the outside world by rising floodwaters from rain further north. The local hotel has run out of food, with fresh supplies marooned on the far side of the swollen river, while the sudden wet has spawned a veritable plague of insects laying siege to residents – thick clouds of mosquitoes, sandflies, moths, flying beetles and grasshoppers – with forecasts of even more rain to add to the 6.8-metre floods on the way. But Anne Kidd isn’t perturbed. She’s standing in her kitchen, making cream puffs.
All around her, it’s absolute bedlam. Windorah’s getting ready for one of the biggest events it’s ever seen: the 70th-birthday party Anne’s organising for her husband Sandy. For days, family and friends from all over Australia have been drifting in ready for the bash, piloting their own planes, flying in on the airline that services the area or driving – then abandoning – their cars and having to be ferried the last lap by boat. All the accommodation in town has been booked up for months, and dozens of partygoers will be forced to battle the bugs sleeping out in swags. “But it’ll be all right on the day,” smiles Anne, evenly. “It always is.”
It’s precisely this calm under pressure that has made Anne such a treasured figure throughout the state’s west and beyond. Many people’s lives have depended on it over the years – and they’re still around to tell the tale.
As a 21-year-old newly qualified nurse, she first arrived in Windorah, 1060 kilometres west of Brisbane, in 1963 for a few weeks’ work. Nearly 50 years later – the first 29 of those spent working as a nurse for the local community on a completely voluntary basis – she’s recognised as a true pioneer in outback health and is still treating patient after patient in the town’s health centre and anywhere else she’s needed.
It all began when Anne took a short posting as a private nurse to elderly Frances Kidd, who’d been the first white child to be born on the Cooper and who was then the ailing widow of the great rural empire founder James Kidd. Immediately, however, their 23-year-old grandson Sandy wooed her. After six weeks, the pair went out flying together in Sandy’s Cessna 172, and returned engaged. They were married shortly afterwards.

This story excerpt is from Issue #73

Outback Magazine: Oct/Nov 2010