Reverend John FlynnPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Diane Watson / Graeme Saunders

The monument, erected at the site of the grave, commemorates pioneer churchman and founder of the Flying Doctor Service, the Reverend John Flynn (1880-1951). The granite monolith from the Devils Marbles was placed over the grave in 1953. 

For over twenty years the traditional owners of the Devil's Marbles, the Warumungu and Kaytej people, fought for the stone's return. Eventually the problem was solved when the Arrernte people, acknowledging Flynn's contribution to life in the outback, agreed to replace the original stone with a similar stone from a local Caterpillar dreaming site. The stones were replaced on 4 September, 1999.

In 1912 Flynn was commissioned to undertake a survey of the needs of both the Aboriginal people and European settlers of the Northern Territory. His detailed reports resulted in the creation by the Presbyterian Church of its Australian Inland Mission (AIM), of which Flynn was appointed Superintendent. The Mission, which commenced operation with one nursing hostel, a nursing sister and a padre, had by 1926, under Flynn`s leadership, become a network of ten strategically placed nursing hostels operating closely with patrol padres.

Keenly aware of the isolation of the people of inland Australia, he believed that a `mantle of safety` could be created for the isolated communities of Northern Australia only with the establishment of an aerial medical service and the introduction of radio communications. Despite many setbacks and considerable opposition, Flynn`s vision became a reality on the 17th May 1928 when the first flying doctor flew from Cloncurry to Julia Creek to answer the first call received by the AIM Aerial Medical Service.

On a great lonely stretch of road, right at the junction of the Stuart and Barkly Highways a magnificent granite memorial obelisk is on the way up. It is now over 10 feet high and will rear 25 feet into the air when complete. It is the Flying Doctor Service's Memorial to the beloved Dr. John Flynn of the Inland. Alice Springs builder, Mr. R. A. Drogemuller, is doing the work under the supervision of the Dept. of Works. Built on three wide tiers, the column will be surmounted by a great three-sided white cross, it will be visible for miles. In Alice at the foot of Mt. Gillen, where Flynn's ashes were laid to rest on May 23 last year, another memorial is being placed. An eight-ton boulder from the Devil's Marbles is being set over the ashes. A beautiful bronze plaque will be fitted to the boulder. The words on the bottom of the plaque read: "He brought gladness and rejoicing to the wilderness and the solitary places." 
Centralian Advocate (Alice Springs, NT), 26 September 1952.

Four cranes on Wednesday afternoon converged at the spot where the ashes of Dr. John Flynn —Flynn of the Inland — are buried, and lifted into position over his grave a huge natural granite monolith. Weighing eight tons, the monolith was carted 260 miles. It has been erected on a quartzite base on a hillock beside the Hermannsburg road in the shade of Mount Gillen.
The Advertiser (Adelaide), 14th August 1953.

The recent laying of the foundation stone of the Flynn Memorial Church at Alice Springs by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) prompts the Rev. R. C. Racklyeft to record a few details of the design of the memorial erected over the grave of Dr. Flynn at Mount Gillim, Alice Springs.  The general idea of the design of the cairn, which is erected over the remains of the Rev John Flynn D.D., D.B.E., first superintendent and founder of the Australian Inland Mission and the Flying Doctor Service was taken from the designs used in the building of obelisks and memorials in the Victor Harbour and Encounter Bay areas. The base of the Flynn Memorial cairn is stone, and it is surrounded by a granite boulder of about eight ton weight. This boulder was one of the famous Devil's Marbles, known to most Territorian travellers. The enormous rock was transported from Tennant Creek and had to be lifted into position by four cranes. It is worth mentioning here that most of the designs of the various memorials erected in this district were the work of local architect, Mr. Roy Milton.
Victor Harbour Times (SA), 17 September 1954.


Address:Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs, 0870
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -23.697778
Long: 133.819167
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:1953
Front Inscription

Beneath This Stone Rests The Ashes Of 
         1880 - 1951

The Very Reverend John Flynn OBE DD
First Superintendent (1912 - 51)
Of The Australian Inland Mission

Founder of the Flying Doctor Service

      Moderator General
Of The Presbyterian Church (1939 - 42)

`He Brought Gladness And Rejoicing
To The Wilderness And The Solitary Places`

Back Inscription

The Ashes Of 
1894 - 1976
Were Laid To Rest In This Place
Beside Those Of Her Husband 
Rev. Dr. John Flynn, On 14th November 1976.

She Was The Esteemed Helpmate And
Encourager Of Flynn Of The Inland
And His Fellow Workers In Their
Battle For A Brighter Bush

Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au