Hospital to farewell a long-time worker
Karratha and Dampier will lose a local treasure this week when the region’s longest-serving hospital worker packs her bags to retire to Perth after almost 50 years of service.
Anna Walkinshaw, 73, a Scottish immigrant who grew up in Queensland, moved to Karratha 45 years ago when her husband was offered a job with Hamersley Iron.
She was soon employed at Dampier Hospital working in the support services department.
Today, she is the longest-serving staff member at Nickol Bay Hospital, where she has worked for 38 years. She is on her fifth long service leave, a record on the campus.
“I am what they call the dinosaur,” she said.
“I am the last of the people who come from Dampier Hospital.”
Mrs Walkinshaw said her first impression of the Pilbara in the 1960s was not good.
“I thought I’d died when I came to that airport,” she said.
“A water cooler and a tin shed — that was the airport. “There was nothing here. “Maybe a post office, but nothing else.
“It was all bush from here into Dampier.”
The nearby port town had many more services and Mrs Walkinshaw soon found a job at its hospital. In the mid-1970s, she saw Karratha begin to thrive as the iron ore industry expanded and people flooded in for mining work.
Nickol Bay Hospital was soon built to accommodate the bigger population and Mrs Walkinshaw was an inaugural staff member.
She even met Premier Sir Charles Court when he visited for the hospital’s opening.
She said her enthusiasm for the job and fellow workers had kept her working this long.
“I’m 73 now and I’ve just finished working,” she said. “I think I’ve done a good job.” Mrs Walkinshaw and husband Sydney leave to start their retirement in Perth on Friday.
Anna Walkinshaw and husband Sydney outside Nickol Bay Hospital, where she has worked for the past 38 years.