Early Doctors

The first European doctor other than the surgeons of visiting ships to practice in Western Australia was Isaac Scott Nind, the Regimental Surgeon who accompanied Major Lockyer and a detachment of the 39th Regiment to King George Sound (later Albany) in 1826. His first recorded patients were two soldiers speared by the local inhabitants. He also made the pioneer studies of Aboriginal anthropology by Western settlers and published the first Aboriginal vocabulary with the Royal Geographical Society. 

Above:  Bone saw. Amputation was once a common form of a cure!

James Stirling's 1829 arrival at the Swan River brought medical men to the new colony. Some medical practitioners arrived as settlers and were given grants of land, however "official" doctors such as Colonial Surgeons, were attached to the military or the navy. In the first few years no fewer than twelve doctors out of a few hundred colonists either died or lost their reason. Near Preston Point, 29 year old Dr John Whatley drowned while trying to ferry a live cow across the Swan River.  27 year old Dr Charles Simmonds, the first Colonial Surgeon also died young.

Others of note included the first Resident Surgeon of King George Sound, Alexander Collie; Captain F. C. Irwin of the 63rd Regiment; Dr W. L. Milligan who erected the earliest hospital in WA and the first to be a licenced medical practitioner in WA; Dr J. S. Hampton who was Governor from 1862 to 1868; Dr T. H. Lovegrove, the Principal Medical Officer and WA's first Coroner. In 1886, the still current Health Act was enacted and in 1909 Dr J. W. Hope became the State's first Commissioner of Public Health.

One of the features of our museum is the an old doctor's surgery. Dr J. Ralph Donaldson (1895-1985) was a general practitioner in the Perth suburbs of Wembley and Floreat from 1922 until 1985. Following his death his widow Mrs Ruth G. Donaldson donated many of the furnishings and objects from his surgery, which is now recreated at our museum.