What exactly is a Bush Nurse? Meet Annabelle Braley

Belles of Steel exist downunder too!  

photo of annabelle braley

A bush nurse at heart!

Take for example, Annabelle Braley, author of BUSH NURSES.   Annabelle grew up in rural Australia.  Out in the bush, as it is called downunder.  Amidst the big red kangaroos and thousands of sheep.    As a young girl, her parents wanted a better education than her small town in Queensland could provide, so she was shipped off to Brisbane to boarding school.

The state of Queensland is two and a half times the size of the state of Texas.  Think about how big that really is!   Being so far away from her family,  she spent a great deal of her childhood writing long letters home, becoming quite an avid story teller.   After school, Annabelle wanted to become a hair dresser, but her father had different ideas.   He insisted she choose between becoming a nurse or a school teacher.   Not having fond memories of her teachers at boarding school, Annabelle enrolled in nurse’s training.

Her nursing career was short-lived however, as soon she married a sheep farmer.    Packing up her hopes and dreams, she moved out to a huge, isolated cattle and sheep station in Southwest Queensland.    The station was 130 km from anything that closely resembled civilization.

Once again, she found herself writing long letters to family and friends.   Eventually, she wrote her first story for a competition.  In 2006, she published her first story.  It was a piece for RM Williams OUTBACK Magazine.   She’s been writing for them and other rural publications since.

Sheep station

1000 hectares of sheep!

In 2009, she was commissioned to write a book called Caging Octopuses; The first decade of Condamine Cods Rugby about a small community on the western Darling Downs in rural Queensland, near where she had grown up.    It was about a tiny town of 90 people, Condamine  whose inhabitants reconnected and strengthened their community by introducing a Rugby Union club.   Smack dab in the middle of a farming community, the fondness and vigor of  its residents for rugby completely revitalized a dying community.

The fabulous story was based around a fictitious character, Meg, who marries a local fictitious farmer, Boots.  Boots is a retired rugby player.  Meg writes stories about the Club for her soon to be born baby, Baby Boots.  Meg and Boots are based on a number of locals and their story reflects the story of some of the young people in the area.   Their antics were certainly was not all football!

People liked what Annabelle had to say.   Her stories and book became wildly popular.    In early 2012, she was recruited by Penguin Books to collect and collate the stories which make up BUSH NURSES.   Annabelle believed it an absolute joy to be involved in a project related to her chosen field of nursing.    She believes tha rural and remote Australia, and probably all rural and remote areas around the globe,  run on nurse power.

Just what does it take to be a nurse, out in the bush?  Often, a nurse is the only medical help immediately available.   They might be required to render emergency care,  sort out medical issues and decide who needs to be air-evac’d out.   Bush nurses might have to give immunizations or make home visits deep into the remote interiors of Australia.    They get there by jeep, helicopter or fixed wing.   Many fly as a part of the the Royal Flying Doctor Service.    They might stitch up a wound and deliver an Aboriginal baby all in the same day.    Many are trauma nurses that are certified as MidWives.  Annabelles suspects that a lot of people take nurses for granted, including many nurses themselves.   So for her, the opportunity to celebrate nurses who work in rural/remote areas was kismet.

Never for a “nursing minute” did Annabelle believe when she was a young nurse that she would be doing what she is today!  Writing about them.   A major obstacle in her pathway was her lack of any formal training as a writer.    But she believes that was balanced out by her own experiences living as a woman in outback Australia.    Generally, she loves writing about what she knows.   And she knows the outback well, having lived there most of her adult life.   No cell phones or digital TV.   Just sheer will, determination, and creativity with pen and paper.

BUSH nurses cover

A great read about what real nurse’s do!

A mentor taught her a couple of the montras by which she has survived the challenges the bush can deal out, “believe in yourself and your own abilities” and “stop and take a breath to let some things evolve in their own time.”   Days out in the bush and be long and hard.  Annabelle never gives up.   She admits practice “makes better if not perfect.”

For these reasons, AgeView Press is proud to announce that Annabelle Braley is the 9th Belle of Steel!    Congratulations to a woman who has overcome many odds to become a successful and published story teller, gifted at interpreting the trials and tribulations of other people’s stories.

Annabelles book, BUSH NURSES is available at Penguin Books online.   Australia is one of the most amazing countries you could ever visit.   Check out travel destinations by clicking Austravel.