title illustration thomas swarbrick

Dr Bruce Burnside

Published in Walpole Weekly 23 October 2019
 Looking Back With Molly
by Life Member Molly Smith

 Tap image thumbnail for enlargement.
Though the little town of Nornalup didn’t realise it at the time, the arrival of Doctor Robert Bruce Burnside in 1929 was to prove a significant benefit for the picturesque township.
Grace and Dr Bruce Burnside 1931
GRACE AND DR BRUCE BURNSIDE
1931.
Dr Burnside left his practice in Katanning and, with his wife and three children, purchased a property in Nornalup. His medical skills were welcomed and were much in demand.

Residents of Tingledale and Hazelvale, as well as timber workers, road and bridge builders had no one to turn to, and in 1930 the Walpole Land Settlement Scheme saw an influx of new settlers also needing care from time to time.

Nockolds Store 1936
NOCKOLDS STORE 1931.
Dr Burnside held consultations in a shed here
(likely left). Also free trip to do the shopping!

Dr Burnside’s consultations were held in a small shed that was Bob Nockolds store and here he examined, advised, prescribed and dispensed medication, as well as carrying out basic dentistry!!

Local farmer and early settler, Jack Clarke, provided transport to isolated settlers with his horse and cart. With sudden, urgent and closer calls, the doctor would often arrive from the dairy in his overalls and rubber boots. However he preferred to be properly dressed for consultations and would change to a suit and tie when leaving the farm.

When the Cottage Hospital opened in Nornalup in 1932 [ Nornalup Cottage Hospital], Dr Burnside had a base to work from and the Sisters welcomed his expertise.

Bushfires in 1939 destroyed the Burnside property and the family moved to Jarrahdale. The doctor re-enlisted in the army but later returned to Nornalup and resumed his duties together with his wife, Grace, who was a nursing sister.

Dr Burnside was an extremely generous man and was known to give his services free of charge to struggling patients. He served the district for 28 years and was a driving force in setting up and sponsoring the St John Ambulance Association in Walpole [ comenced in 1956] and in acquiring the first ambulance.

Dr Burnside gravstones
GRAVESTONE DR BURNSIDE AND GRACE;
Also military service memorial at Walpole Cemetery.
  Walpole Cemetery Inventory

He ran First Aid Courses and supported the building of the Walpole Infant Health Clinic which opened in 1962.

As a farmer he assisted with veterinary work, was a keen gardener, and beekeeper. His love of woodwork led him to construct the pews for the Mission House when it was moved to Walpole. And in direct contrast, he was an experienced knitter and produced intricate Fair Isle patterns.

The good doctor was affectionately known as “Butch” and had a dry wit. He was gentle and caring with the sick and loved children. He endeared himself to all.

Dr Burnside died in 1958 and is buried in the Walpole Cemetery. The family property “Crantock,” is run by his grandson Lloyd and wife Roslyn.

This article was published in the Walpole Weekly, 23 October 2019.
Information from an article by Lee Hunter (R.I.P.: Life Member WNDHS)
Photo: WNDHS collection.

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