Monday Memories – Marjorie Burton Part 3

As planned, Miss Burton returned to WA in March 1937, accompanied this time by Miss Whalley who was to be driver/companion until November 1938, when she returned to England. Miss Burton obtained her driver’ s licence on 30 November and she felt it was particularly significant that it should be on St Andrew’s Day – “the first missionar y!” she noted beside the item in her diary.

Miss Burton found a special joy in driving the van and although she often had friends accompany her on her tours, she also liked to drive on her own. This concerned the Caravan Committee members, who stressed the importance of having someone with her in case of accidents or illness. However, she still did many trips on her own, although arrangements were made as often as possible for a companion to be with her.

Miss Burton kept a ‘ Daily Diary’, as did all the workers on the van. These are a treasure house of memories as they cover the 17 years of ministry to the people of the outback. They·are full of drama in many cases and the following is just one example taken from a report by Miss Burt on in July 1942:

“I left Wyalkatchem parish and crossed to Bencubbin…the roads were so wet and greasy that I was travelling with wheel chains on. On the way to Mukinbudin the next morning the van slid down four miles to the next school! When I left South Tammin I was accompanied by the owner of the farm several miles over paddocks, partly fallowed, to reach a better road than I could have found alone. My aim was to make Bellakubella and Doodenaning schools before they closed for the week. After passing the rabbit proof fence the road became a swampy track. For part of the way I had no notion where I was except that the direction was mainly right. The house which I went to for guidance proved to be empty, but a man cutting timber was able to tell me where to find another house. The track to this was so bad, with so many rivers and roads and washaways and much mud, that I hardly knew if even our sturdy caravan would make it, but so much praise had been poured on our engine on bad tracks recently, that it warmed her to fresh effort and we reached the house safely, and – more wonderful still – both schools were reached in time.”
 
 

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