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Nurses of the outback: real stories, remote places

PUTTING IT IN WRITING: Author Annabelle Brayley signs copies of her latest book, Nurses of the Outback.
PUTTING IT IN WRITING: Author Annabelle Brayley signs copies of her latest book, Nurses of the Outback. Nev Madsen

IT IS impossible to have a quick conversation with Annabelle Brayley.

And there are not many instances when you would want to cut it short as this storyteller can keep you entertained for hours.

Mrs Brayley stopped by the Rural Weekly recently between shifts signing copies of her latest novel, Nurses of the Outback.

Although it was a publicity plug for her second book published through Penguin Books Australia, it was a meeting with a genuine crusader for the rural and remote.

There were some (stories) that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

Nurses of the Outback tells the true stories of 15 nurses in some of the most rural and remote areas of Australia.

Sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious - always honest - is the way Mrs Brayley described the book.

Having trained as a nurse herself some years ago, nursing is a field about which she knows a lot, but even the stories recounted in her book shocked her.

"Oh, there were some that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up," she said.

"I guess because nurses are sometimes the only ones in small communities working in health, or are at least one of the only ones, there's extra pressure on them, but these women don't complain.

"Nurses, by their nature, are reserved people who don't become a nurse for the glory.

"I believe true nurses are called to their profession, even though many of them don't necessarily recognise the initial summons."

It's not that the humility of nurses was what turned Mrs Brayley away from nursing, but more that she wanted to follow her true passion.

"At first I wanted to be a hairdresser," she said.

"I always had such an intense interest in people and their stories and as a hairdresser, you hear those stories.

"Hairdressers are sort of like the barman and counsellor all wrapped in one, and it's a safe job to get into.

"But my father said I probably should look at doing something else and so I trained to be a nurse."

The career didn't last that long as she married her husband and, as was the norm, left full-time work to run the home on the land.

After getting married and moving to a remote cattle property, she soon fell pregnant with her first child and discovered that the person in charge of her primary maternal care was a nurse - not a doctor.

"I guess that, even because I was a nurse and I knew a lot about it, it was still a shock to find that the nurses were my primary health person," she said.

She said the release date of Nurses of the Outback was a "happy coincidence" - it will be available in time for International Nurses Week, from May 6-12.

Mrs Brayley now lives in Morven with her husband and travels around the country sourcing content for books.

Nurses of the Outback is available online and in book stores.

Topics:  novel writer