Local Identities

Doctors at Yarloop

By Heather Wade, 2022.

In 1898, an eight-bed hospital ward with a kitchen, laundry and ablution block was built by Millars and a matron and staff employed. Workers contributed sixpence per week for their medical insurance but only company employees were treated. Workers pressured the company to provide for women and children and in 1911 another ward was built to cater for the company’s families. After the Yarloop Hospital closed in 2006 it was run as a Community Health Centre offering medical and social services to the community. It burnt down in the 2016 Bushfires.

The Doctor’s House was built in 1898 to coincide with the appointment of the first Medical Officer (resident doctor). It became dilapidated and was restored in 2007 but did not survive the 2016 Bushfires.

Before there was a resident doctor, rostered doctors from Bunbury travelled to Yarloop by train to hold surgery. Dr Rhodes, one of the rostered doctors, became Yarloop’s first Medical Officer appointed in 1898. Most doctors stayed for relatively short terms, but there were two exceptions – Drs Knight and Ong who both served in the latter years of the hospital.

The doctors and their tenure at Yarloop are listed. The dates come from newspaper articles so official records may differ slightly. There could have been other doctors at Yarloop but their time was short and they did not make the newspapers.

Dr Arthur Rhodes, August 1898 – May 1899

Dr Llewellyn Bentley Lancaster, May 1899 – May 1901

Dr E Scott Humphrey, May 1901 – September 1901.

Dr Frederic Thomas Alexander Lovegrove, 1901 – July 1902.

Dr Sampson Courtenay Moore, July 1902 – December 1905

Dr Frederic Thomas Alexander Lovegrove, January 1906 – June 1908

Dr Foley, September 1908 – July 1909

Dr Crichton Raoul Merrillees, 1 August 1909 – July 1910

Dr Arthur Horace Gibson, June 1910 – February 1911

Dr Sampson Courtenay Moore, May 1911 – May 1915

Dr William Adam Kennedy, May 1915 – September 1920

Dr Reginald Herbert Morgan, September 1920 – July 1924

Dr Thomas McAlindin, 1925

Dr Albert Peter Davis, 1924 – July 1927

Dr. Alfred Nailer Jacobs, circa March 1928 to June 1931

Dr E Stuart Welsh, 1 September 1931 – September 1933

Dr James McColl, September 1933 – December 1936

Dr Ronald Barrington Knight, 1 December 1936 – October 1980

Doctors Wayne Bradshaw, Goodman, Easdown, Kelly, Riseborough and Hannay

Dr Geok Hwee Ong, 1979 – July 2007

DR ARTHUR RHODES, August 1898 – May 1899

30 July 1897. Dr Rhodes arrived at Albany from London in 1897. (Western Mail, 30 July 1897)

26 Aug 1897. On Tuesday last a series of accidents occurred at the Waigerup Saw Mills, [the initial name of Yarloop]. A man named Deering, a faller at the Waterhouse Mill [sic, Waterous Mill], had the misfortune to be struck by a falling tree and had his thigh fractured in addition to sustaining a severe scalp wound which has left him in such a condition that he cannot at present be questioned as to how the accident occurred as the doctor considers that he should be kept as quiet as possible. In addition to this, two men had their fingers crushed so badly as to necessitate amputation. A man named R. Powell who was in charge of the docking saw had his right hand so badly lacerated as to necessitate the amputation of a portion of two fingers. The poor fellow cannot give an accurate account as to how the accident happened as it was done so quickly as to leave him in doubt, but he imagines that his mate let go the end of a piece of timber which they were holding, and the rebound forced his hand into contact with the saw, which caught him across the back of his middle fingers. Mr. Loughlin, who was handling some timber in company with some of the other mill hands, had the misfortune to have his left hand badly crushed, and in consequence Dr. Rhodes, who is acting as locum tenens in the absence of the medical officer, considered it necessary to amputate a portion of one of the fingers. (Southern Times, 26 August 1897)

4 August 1898. A Medical Man for Yarloop. — We learn that Messrs Millar Bros have appointed Dr Rhodes to the position of medical officer at Yarloop. Dr. Rhodes, during his residence in Bunbury, has gained a host of friends by his geniality and professional abilities. He has for some time visited Yarloop once a week on behalf of Dr. Williams. There are about 1000 persons in and around Yarloop, so that the position of medical officer at that centre can hardly be likely to be a sinecure.   (Bunbury Herald, 4 August 1898)

14 January 1899. It will be of interest to some of his friends in Bunbury to learn that we hear on good authority that Dr Rhodes, the Medical Officer of Yarloop, is said to be contemplating an immediate return home and that he will in all probability start for Ireland in about a fortnight’s time. (Southern Times, 14 January 1899)

13 April 1899. A BLACK MARE, 15 hands high, branded Z on near shoulder. Reward. DR. RHODES Yarloop. (Southern Times, 13 April 1899)


9 March 1899. Dr. Lancaster, son of Mrs. C. Christian, of East Frederickton, has been appointed medical officer of the Bunbury (W.A.) Hospital. Until the end of last year he held the appointment of medical officer to the Warwick (Q.) Hospital, and on his retirement was presented by the Committee and staff with a surgeon’s bag, handsomely fitted. Unfortunately, shortly after leaving, he was thrown from his horse and broke his leg, which compelled him to take a rather inconveniently long rest. He came home for a visit last week, and left for Western Australia via Sydney by last Saturday’s trip of the Macleay. His new appointment we understand is a lucrative one, and it speaks well for his ability that he was chosen out of a large number of applicants for the position. (Macleay Chronicle, Kempsey, NSW, 9 March 1899)

26 May 1899. On Monday afternoon whilst a little girl named Norah Beetson, aged 5, was assisting her brother to make a fire in a paddock near their parents’ residence at the Harvey a spark caught her dress which was soon in flames. The child went screaming to the house enveloped in flames. Her parents extinguished them as quickly as possible but it was found that their efforts had not been availed of soon enough as the child was terribly burned. Dr Lancaster was summoned from Yarloop and soon arrived and temporarily relieved the little patient and sent her to Dr Flynn, in Bunbury, the next day who had her admitted to the Bunbury Hospital. In spite of all attention she developed inflammation of the brain as a consequence of her severe burns and died early this afternoon. (Western Mail, 26 May 1899)

17 June 1899. Dr. L. B. Lancaster, Yarloop, has been registered by the Medical Board of Western Australia as a duly qualified medical practitioner. (Daily News, 17 June 1899)

21 October 1899. Yarloop, Yesterday. SNAKE BITE. Today a boy named Taylor living at the Harvey was bitten in the right leg by a snake. Fortunately a train happened to be passing at the time so that the friends of the youth simply placed him on board for Yarloop. On arrival Dr Lancaster immediately treated the sufferer and he is progressing favourably. (Southern Times, 21 Oct 1899)

31 October 1899. Mrs Gover and her daughters, May and Eva, fell underneath the heavy spring dray, and were liberated with difficulty from their precarious position. Mrs Gover was found to be badly injured, but bravely insisted on walking fully two miles over very bad road. After a delay of 12 hours and a further drive of six miles to Yarloop her injuries were attended to by Dr Lancaster, who found the right elbow badly dislocated and the arm broken near the wrist. She remained a short time at the hospital and then returned to Drakesbrook. (Southern Times, 31 October 1899)

21 December 1899. I am very pleased to be able to state that under the careful medical attendance of Dr Harvey, of Perth, and Dr Lancaster, of Yarloop, Mrs W. M. Clifton is recovering from the severe illness from which she has been suffering. It is a great boon to the district to have a medical man like Dr. Lancaster close to hand in cases of need. (Southern Times, 21 December 1899)

14 May 1901. DR LANCASTER. Last week Dr Lancaster, who has been the resident doctor in connection with the mills for the past two years, was tendered a social at Mornington. There was a good attendance, about 50 residents of the mills and settlers being present. Dr Lancaster was presented with a set of pearl and diamond sleeve links and studs, and a ruby and diamond locket, and the toast of his health was drunk with musical honours. Arrangements are being made for a send-off at Yarloop shortly. (Southern Times, 14 May 1901)

11 May 1901. Bunbury, May 7. Dr. Lancaster, who has been medical officer at Yarloop for over two years, is leaving this week for the Eastern States. He will be immediately replaced by another medical officer, who is on his way to Yarloop from New Zealand. Dr. Lancaster will be tendered a valedictory by the employees of the timber company prior to his departure. Western Mail, 11 May 1901)

29 May 1901. VALEDICTORY TO DR. LANCASTER. On Monday evening last, the 20th inst. about 60 or 70 people, including settlers from Yarloop and the surrounding district, gathered together to tender a farewell to Dr Lancaster, who is leaving Yarloop for New South Wales. Mr T M Rogers was in the chair with the guest of the evening on his right hand, and on his left Mr Teesdale Smith, M.L.A, member for the district. Mr A J Brown was vice-chairman.

After the usual loyal toasts had been proposed, the chairman proposed the health of Dr Lancaster, of whom he spoke very feelingly. He said he was very sorry to lose such a good and capable man.

Mr H. Teesdale Smith then presented the doctor with an illuminated address and a gold-mounted walking stick. Mr Smith referred to the many sterling qualities of their guest, and said that it was a matter of great regret to him that they were losing such a good man from the State, as he was not only a physician of a high order, but also a well-read man. He had enjoyed many an hour with the doctor, who had told him much of politics with which he was previously unacquainted, and had been of the greatest assistance to him during the recent election. One thing he could not forgive the doctor for, and that was that he was taking his sister away as well.[1] Dr Lancaster, in replying, thanked them for the kind references which had been made to himself and for the manner in which they had drunk his health, also for the address and stick with which they had so kindly presented him. He was sorry to leave the district, of which he would have many kind remembrances. He had always endeavoured to do his best to assist those who needed help, and he was glad to know now that his efforts in that direction bad not been in vain. He thanked Mr Smith for the references which he had made to his sister, and assured them that he appreciated them even more than if they had been spoken about himself. Several other toasts were honoured…. (Southern Times, 29 May 1901)

1 June 1901. Dr Lancaster farewelled from Bunbury Station. (Southern Times, 1 June 1901)

1910. Dr Llewellyn Bentley Lancaster married Hilda Edith Smith in Victoria in 1910, the daughter of Big Smith, Manager at Mornington Mill.

13 December 1921. DEATH OF DR. L. B. LANCASTER, KEMPSEY. Monday — The death has occurred of Dr. Llewellyn Burdekin [sic, Bentley] Lancaster. He was born at Frederickton. He practised in Perth, [sic, Yarloop] West Australia, and in Queensland, and then settled on the Macleay, where he resided and once competed against the State champion. He conducted a farm and experimented with sheep raising on the coast. He was a member of the P.P. Board, was first president of the Central North Coast Racing Association, was a member of the A.J.C., was the prime mover in the agitation for a pure water supply for the Macleay, and other matters of public importance. He was twice married, and is survived by a widow and five children, one son being of the first marriage. (Daily Telegraph, Sydney, 13 December 1921)

30 September 1932. Mrs. Lancaster, of Manly, New South Wales, is at present on a visit to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. Smith, of Mornington. Her husband, the late Dr. L. B. Lancaster, will be remembered as a medico at Yarloop many years ago. (Harvey Murray Times, 30 September 1932)

Nephews of Dr Lancaster, Jeffery Bentley-Johnston and Morgan Smith, in front of the Doctor’s House, 2004. Photo: Harvey History Online Collection.

DR E SCOTT HUMPHREY, May 1901 – September 1901. 

30 July 1901. MEDICAL OFFICER Dr Lovegrove will take over the medical officership early next month. Dr Humphries is at present occupying the position, but having accepted the position of Resident Medical Officer at Southern Cross, he will be leaving shortly to take up his new sphere of duties. (Southern Times, 30 July 1901)

27 August 1901. Yarloop Doctor. — Dr Humphreys, who has been temporarily acting as medical officer at Yarloop, has, we understand, accepted the position of resident medical officer at Southern Cross in succession to Dr. Lonergan. During his stay at Yarloop Dr. Humphreys has gained many friends in the districts, who will be sorry to hear of his departure. He will be succeeded by Dr. Lovegrove, a nephew of the principal medical officer. (Bunbury Herald, 27 August 1901)

10 September 1901. YARLOOP (From a Correspondent.) On Friday evening last, 6th inst, the staff and foremen of the Yarloop timber mills assembled in the Yarloop office to say farewell to Dr E Scott Humphrey, who leaves for Southern Cross to take charge of that district.

Mr Driver (Manager M. K. J. F) proposed “The Health of Dr Humphrey” in a neat and happy speech, and on behalf of those assembled presented the doctor with two silver-mounted walking-sticks. These were very handsomely finished (one sheoak with tuart handle and one curly jarrah) and engraved with the doctor’s initials and date.

Afterwards some of the party met Dr Lovegrove, who arrived the same evening about 9 o’clock, and was introduced to the meeting and duly installed, and another round was proposed to the health of the new doctor.

I should like to add that the sticks were made by Mr Wm Properjohn, foreman at Hoffman Mill, and were a really beautiful piece of work. They were mounted by Messrs Stewart, Dawson and Co, the well-known jewellers, of Hay Street, Perth. (Southern Times, 10 September 1901)


Dr Fred Lovegrove was the doctor for Millars’ Karri and Jarrah in Yarloop in 1901 – 1902 and 1906 – 1908.[2]  [See ‘Dr Fred Lovegrove (1875 – 1938)’ written by his grandson, Dr Fred Lovegrove, on this website.]

Dr Fred Lovegrove, grandson of Dr Fred Lovegrove outside the Doctor’s House.

DR SAMPSON COURTENAY MOORE, July 1902 – December 1905

7 July 1902. Dr Lovegrove, who has been practising at Yarloop for some time, proposes leaving for England in about a fortnight’s time. He has been succeeded by Dr Moore, who only arrived from England a few days ago. (Bunbury Herald, 7 July 1902)

10 Jul 1902. The Chairman proposed “The Medical profession,” to which Dr Lovegrove and Dr Moore responded.  (Southern Times, 10 July 1902)

3 November 1902. At an inquest into the death of a guard during shunting operations at Yarloop, Dr S. G. Moore of Yarloop Hospital deposed that death occurred from loss of blood and shock to the system. (Bunbury Herald, 3 November 1902)


Dr Fred Lovegrove was the doctor for Millars’ Karri and Jarrah in Yarloop in 1901 – 1902 (1 year) and 1906 – 1908 (2½ years). [See ‘Dr Fred Lovegrove (1875 – 1938)’ written by his grandson, Dr Fred Lovegrove, on this website.]

26 January 1906. Yarloop. Sickness is prevalent in the district and several children have died lately, there are also a few typhoid cases at the local hospital, and our new doctor has his hands full. We need an additional nurse badly, and it is to be hoped the company will engage one immediately. (Bunbury Herald, 26 January 1906)

2 June 1908. A large number of the residents of Yarloop entertained Dr and Mrs Frederic Lovegrove at a farewell conversazione in the local hall on Friday evening. Songs and recitations were contributed by Miss O’Connor, and Messrs Forster, Ross, and others. During the evening, Mr R. Driver made reference to the popularity of the guests, and on behalf of those present handed each a purse of sovereigns. An enjoyable supper and dance concluded a highly successful function. Dr Lovegrove left yesterday (Monday) for Bernier Island, to take up a Government appointment. Mrs Lovegrove and family sail for England in the course of a few days. (Bunbury Herald, 2 June 1908)

DR FOLEY, September 1908 – July 1909

8 July 1909. Yarloop Hospital Affairs. Dr Foley, who has been in charge of the local hospital for a period of some nine months, takes his departure at the end of the present month. During the time the doctor has been here he has endeared himself to all, besides being most attentive in his duties, and his departure from among their midst will be severely felt by his many friends in the district. Dr C. R. Merrillees, who succeeds Dr Foley, hails from Maldon, Victoria, and will commence his duties on the 1st August next. Dr Merrillees is a graduate of the Edinburgh University, where he gained first prize in surgery and midwifery. (Bunbury Herald, 8 July 1909)

8 July 1909. Consequent upon the visit of Drs. Lovegrove and Hope to the local hospital some time ago, the Government have decided to grant the district medical officer at Yarloop an additional salary of £100 a year.[3] The Government have also decided to make a grant of £50 towards making improvements to the Yarloop hospital. (Bunbury Herald, 8 July 1909.)

5 August 1909. Your committee [of the Yarloop District Hospital] have also to report that since the last half-yearly report, the resident officer (Dr. Foley) and the matron (Miss A. B. Hicks) tendered their resignations, which were both accepted with regret, and their positions have since been filled by the appointment of Dr. C. R. Merrillees, of Victoria and Nurse Rose Hitch, of Pingelly, the latter assuming office on July 13, and the former on August 1.[4] (Bunbury Herald, 5 August 1909)

DR CRICHTON RAOUL MERRILLEES, 1 August 1909 – July 1910 

26 July 1910. Dr. Merrillees, who has occupied the position of resident medical officer to the Yarloop District Hospital for the past twelve months, severs his connection with that institution at the end of the present month Dr. Gibson, who comes from the Fremantle Hospital has been appointed to take Dr. Merrillees’ position. (Bunbury Herald, 26 July 1910)

Dr. Merrillees, of Yarloop has been appointed medical officer of Broad Arrow. (Kalgoorlie Argus, 16 Aug 1910)

DR ARTHUR HORACE GIBSON, June 1910 – February 1911

8 February 1911. Dr Gibson, who has been in charge of the local hospital for the past eight months, has tendered his resignation, and will be leaving Yarloop about the end of the coming month. During the time the doctor has been here he has been ever courteous and attentive, always ready to attend any case of emergency, and his departure will be greatly felt by the many subscribers to the hospital. (Bunbury Herald, 8 February 1911)


9 March 1911. Yarloop Hospital. Dr. S. Moore, of Jarrahdale has been appointed medical officer to the Yarloop Hospital vice Dr. Gibson resigned, and will commence his duties about the beginning of May next pending the arrival of Dr. Moore.  Dr. Foley, who [has] previously held the position of resident medical officer to the hospital, will act as locum tenens for Dr. Moore. (Bunbury Herald, 9 March 1911)

9 May 1911. Dr. S. C. Moore has been appointed to the position of District Medical Officer and public vaccinator for the Yarloop district. (Bunbury Herald, 9 May 1911)

4 May 1915. At the meeting of the Harvey Roads Board on Saturday, a letter was received from Dr Moore, of Yarloop, resigning his position with the Board as its Medical Officer, owing to the closing down of the Mill at Yarloop necessitating him seeking other scenes of labour. The chairman (Mr R. Driver) said that the Board was sorry such a good man was leaving the district. Mr Cook, in moving that the resignation be accepted with regret, stated that the District had greatly appreciated Dr Moore’s professional services. He had proved himself highly efficient, and had carried out his professional duties to the Boards entire satisfaction. The motion was carried. On Mr F. J. Becker’s motion, the Board decided to offer Dr Kennedy the position on the same terms as Dr Moore had held it. (Southern Times, 4 May 1915)  NB Dr Moore in Jarrahdale by June.

DR WILLIAM ADAM KENNEDY, May 1915 – September 1920

Dr Kennedy was appointed Harvey’s Resident Medical officer in 1914. With the resignation of Dr Moore in 1915 due to the Yarloop Mill closure, Dr Kennedy serviced Yarloop from Harvey until 1920 when Dr Morgan commenced at Yarloop in September of that year.


The Harvey Agricultural Hall was tolerably well filled on Friday evening last, the occasion being the tendering of a welcome to the district of Harvey’s new medico, Dr. W. A. Kennedy, by the residents. The welcome took the form of a social and dance … (Southern Times, 10 December 1914)

23 March 1918. Whooping cough is very prevalent here now. Dr Kennedy is doing his best to cope with the epidemic. I also learn that Mr D. H. Murray, a swamp cocky out Wilchusens way, has contracted typhoid fever. He is at present in Pinjarra Hospital. (Bunbury Herald, 23 March 1918)

The hospital closed, probably in late 1916 [5] and reopened in late 1920.[6]

DR REGINALD HERBERT MORGAN, September 1920 – July 1924

24 September 1920. The Yarloop Hospital Committee is getting their institution into full swing and has succeeded in getting a Government grant to tide them over their initial difficulties. Dr. Morgan has been appointed to the post which has been vacant for some years. (Westralian Worker, 24 September 1920)

15 August 1924. On Monday, July 26th, a very large gathering assembled at, the hall to bid farewell to Dr and Mrs Morgan, who are leaving the district, and a most enjoyable social evening was spent.  (South Western Advertiser, 15 August 1924)


1925 – Dr Thomas McAlindin. (WA Post Office Directory for 1925) Nothing more has been found.

DR ALBERT PETER DAVIS, 1924 – July 1927

7 September 1924. DAVIS-DUNNETT. Quietly solemnised at the Presbyterian Church, Claremont, on the 1st inst, was the marriage of Kathleen, daughter, of the late Mr. and Mrs Dunnett, of Adelaide, South Australia, to Dr. Albert Davis, of Yarloop, elder son of Mr. and Mrs. A. B. Davis, of Claremont. (Sunday Times, 7 September 1924)

8 November 1924. The following have been appointed justices of the peace: … Dr. A. P. Davis, of Yarloop, for the Wellington magisterial district. (West Australian, 8 November 1924)

22 January 1926. The many friends of Mr. and Mrs C. Offer, Benger, will be pleased to learn that their little daughter, Sybil aged 4 years, who was badly burned last May, has now quite recovered. All thanks are due to Dr. Davis, Yarloop, for his untiring care and attention during their little girl’s long months of suffering, also sister Allen, Harvey and the Matron and staff of the Yarloop hospital. (Bunbury Herald and Blackwood Express, 22 January 1926)

29 January 1927. Mr. J. D. Davidson and Jack desire to THANK all friends for personal sympathy, for letters, cards, telegrams, and floral tributes in their recent sad bereavement; also Dr. A. P. Davis, Sister Thomson, Nurse Robinson, and Miss Gwen Fowles for their untiring kindness.  (West Australian, 29 January 1927)

23 July 1927. Dr. Davies, of Yarloop, who has been appointed D.M.O. here, arrived by the Koolinda with his wife and child, and will relieve Dr. Dermer who left by the Koolinda on her return trip south. (Northern Times, Carnarvon, 23 Jul 1927)


22 October 1927. GUARD KILLED. Nanga Brook Tragedy. YARLOOP, Oct. 21.— While marshalling a timber train at Nanga Brook on Thursday afternoon, Henry Shadforth, employed by Millars’ Timber and Trading Company, was caught beneath the trucks and fatally injured. No one witnessed the accident. When the guard was missed the remainder of the train crew searched and found him with one leg almost severed and an arm broken. Dr. Nicholls of Yarloop, who was at Nanga Brook at the time, rendered first aid and Shadforth was immediately placed on the train for Yarloop. He died before reaching the hospital. Deceased, who was a resident of Yarloop, leaves a widow and one child. (West Australian, 22 October 1927.)

DR ALFRED NAILER JACOBS, circa March 1928 to June 1931

Dr Jacobs was the District Medical Officer at Yarloop. He moved to Harvey and became the Medical Officer there from June 1931 until March 1939. The Harvey Government Hospital opened in 1933. Nurse Larsen had started a private hospital in 1924 with a subsidy of £50 a year from the Government but it closed in 1926.[7]

7 March 1928. Accident. — On Monday afternoon at Waroona Dave Richards sustained severe injuries as a result of being dragged around the paddock by a horse. Richards was putting a bridle on to the horse and had the latter secured with a piece of rope round its neck. The horse took fright and bolted, dragging Richards, whose thumb became entangled with the rope, along with him. Eventually Richards was freed and Dr. Jacobs, of Yarloop, was summoned. He found the injured man to be suffering from broken ribs. He was taken to the Yarloop hospital for treatment where it was found necessary to amputate the injured thumb. (Bunbury Herald and Blackwood Express, 7 March 1928)

17 February 1929. A wedding took place at Mt. Lawley last Tuesday morning, when Miss Eva Hurst, staff nurse of Yarloop Hospital, was quietly married to Dr. Alfred Jacobs, resident doctor of that hospital. Only near relatives of the bride were present. Dr. Jacobs will be remembered as one of the resident medical officers of Fremantle Public Hospital. Dr. and Mrs. Jacobs are honeymooning in the South-West. (Sunday Times, 17 February 1929)

(Transcription of interview recorded with Dr Alfred Jacobs, at Narrogin on 10 October 1968.) I finished up my medical training at Ormond Hospital, Melbourne, in the latter half of the 1920s and after being in a number of hospital appointments I finally came to Western Australia and ultimately settled into my first practice in Yarloop, then as now a timber town. I liked it very well there but I liked it better at Harvey. I ultimately moved from Yarloop to Harvey where I already had the bulk of the practice. I extended southward to Brunswick Junction as well as the Harvey area.

Things went along quite happily for a time then people’s income started to drop and to drop and my own income dropped commensurately. It did not particularly worry me because we had quite enough to live on. And then quite suddenly I had thrust under my medical care about 3500 sustenance workers and dependents. Of these the single men were in one very large camp and one smaller one out near the coast right away from the town of Harvey, and they were sent down without any provision whatever for their medical care; no hospital stores of any type and there was not adequate hospital accommodation at Harvey, and to add to our disabilities, the first winter they were there they were struck by a ‘flu epidemic which was really quite serious. I managed to get the Govt. to supply transport in the form of an old truck, and the very sick ones were sent down to Bunbury Hospital which they filled and over filled. Ultimately after a lot of pressure I managed to get 2 medical orderlies made available for the men out at the camp and some few medicines and so on were supplied.

I visited the camp two or three times a week from Harvey, running out over the track, and made quite a lot of friends out there.

 Victor Fall (left) and Dr Alfred Jacobs at the Chief Clerk’s House, Yarloop 1934.

DR E STUART WELSH, 1 September 1931 – September 1933

28 August 1931. Dr. Jacobs, who has been away on a brief visit to the Eastern States, has returned to Harvey. Dr. Welsh, who is taking over the position lately vacated by Dr. Jacobs at the Yarloop hospital, will officially take over the hospital next Tuesday, September 1. (Harvey Murray Times, 28 August 1931)

11 September 1933. Yarloop – Dr. S. Welch, resident doctor for the district, has tendered his resignation to the hospital board and will leave the district on September 23. Dr. McColl has been appointed as his successor. (West Australian, 11 September 1933)

DR JAMES MCCOLL, September 1933 – Dec 1936

27 November 1936. Dr. R. Knight, of Fremantle, will from the beginning of next month take over Dr. J. McColl’s practice at Yarloop. (Harvey Murray Times, 27 November 1936.)

4 December 1936. Dr. and Mrs. J. McColl, of Yarloop, took their departure during the week for a short holiday to be spent in the metropolis before the doctor takes up practice as locum tenens for Dr. Cameron, of Collie. Dr. Knight has commenced practice in Yarloop. (Harvey Murray Times, 4 Dec 1936)

DR RONALD BARRINGTON KNIGHT, 1 December 1936 – October 1980

Dr Ronald Barrington Knight came to Western Australia in mid-1933 after he qualified from Adelaide University. His first posting was at Fremantle Hospital where he stayed for three years, initially as Resident Doctor and the last 18 months as Medical Superintendent. He did locum work for about six months until he obtained an outside practice. He arrived in Yarloop on 1 December 1936 and was Yarloop’s longest serving doctor. He retired in October 1980 and moved to Safety Bay.[8] He died on 8 April 1993 aged 86. [For more details see ‘Dr Ronald Barrington Knight OBE, JP’ on this website]

From around the year 2000 a framed photo of Dr Knight hung in the Yarloop Hospital passageway.[9]

In the later years, Dr Knight was joined by Doctors Bradshaw, Goodman, Easdown, Kelly, Riseborough and Hannay until Dr Ong came into the Practice in 1979.[10]

DR GEOK HWEE ONG, February 1979 – 2006

In November 2021 Dr Ong wrote:

Well, after graduating from Singapore University in 1972 I did 1 year of housemanship (known here as residency) and came to Australia on an unlimited stay visa. All paperwork processed in less than 3 months. Employed by Royal Perth Hospital as a resident and later by Repatriation Hospital as a registrar. Went to Scotland for further studies and returned to Perth in 1979.

I remembered going to the AMA (Australian Medical Association) asking if there was any job going. Martyn Harris asked me if I would go to Yarloop as a locum for 1 month. He said no doctor could work with Dr Ronald Barrington Knight. I met with Dr Knight (as he was referred to) and started work on 15 February 1979 for 1 month and he asked me if I would stay on. No contract signed, just a handshake and I stayed on until the Yarloop Hospital was closed by the government. I was not informed officially and I thought how rude and therefore I closed shop and left without informing the Bunbury Administration.

Work in Yarloop/Waroona districts was interesting and challenging. There were the timber mill, abattoir and bauxite mine workers along with the farming community. The Yarloop Hospital provided emergency care for accidents (road & farming) and age care. The people of the area were friendly, supportive and patients became acquaintances and friends. Typical of country people – they gave me eggs, vegetables, sausages, fruits, lobsters, fish, numerous dinners and invitations to weddings and Christmas celebrations.

Dr Knight was an all-round GP. He did the plumbing and electrical work for the hospital as well. His shoes were hard for me to fill in.

Dr Peter Hannay, (born in Coolup) joined Dr Knight and myself but didn’t stay long. He went to Bunbury where he did anaesthetics.

The voluntary St John’s Ambulance was fantastic and supportive. So was the Flying Doctor in accident cases. The hospital staff was most proficient, especially Matron Wendy Blakely.

I enjoyed my time in Yarloop and am grateful for the opportunity. I am still working and wondering when I shall hang up my stethoscope. Currently doing locum work to give other doctors a break.

Yarloop Hospital Nursing Staff. Back Row L-R: Raelene Giblett, Lorraine French, Anne Lalor, Christine Fielder, Peta Moir, Wendy Corby, Gwen Roberts, Caitie Atkinson, Liz Brittain Gardiner, Maree Schlam.  Front: Jenny Devereux, Margaret Knight (Matron), Dr Ong, Betty Cook, Trish Zappia. Taken between 1993 and 1995. Photo: Harvey History Online Collection.


I hope to write a similar article on Matrons at Yarloop but they are much harder to trace than doctors. When families showed their appreciation for the care given by doctors and nursing staff in the newspapers, often the doctors were named but the Matron would not be. In advertisements, replies were to be forwarded to ‘The Matron’ without naming her.

If anyone has information about the hospital matrons of Yarloop, please contact Harvey History Online.


[1] Dr Lancaster brought his sister with him to keep house. Conversation with Maidee Smith, 1 Feb 2020.

[2] In his article, Dr Fred Lovegrove states Dr Lovegrove commenced at Yarloop in August 1901.  Newspaper articles and official records may differ.

[3] Dr Thomas Lovegrove was the Principal Medical Officer and Dr Hope was his successor.

[4] Tresna Shorter, granddaughter of Rose Hitch, contradicted the commencement date by email. ‘Rose Hitch applied for the position of Matron at Yarloop Hospital and was successful in her application. She commenced work as Matron at the Yarloop Hospital on 30th July 1909 and the date of her Reference on leaving was 7th December 1909. She resigned for family reasons.’

[5] Western Mail, 3 November 1916.

[6] Westralian Worker, 24 September 1920.

[7] Harvey Murray Times, 26 May 1933, p.3

[8] Interview of Dr Barrington Knight on 14 January 1984 by Laurie Snell of Waroona Historical Society

[9] Conversation with Kerry Davis.

[10] Yarloop District Hospital booklet written for the Open Day held on 17 April 1988.