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Dorothy Helena Herbert AM, BSc, MB BS, DObstRCOG


Dorothy Herbert’s medical and aviation career is now a silhouette in the collective memory of the Australian pioneer spirit. She was a local hero for the Charleville community in South West Queensland. Within her family, she was both a role model and someone who took an active interest in the studies and careers of the emerging generations.

Dorothy was born on 24 September 1922 and attended Ascot State School and then Somerville House in Brisbane. After finishing school in 1939, she commenced a science degree at the University of Queensland.

In 1942, she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force as a wireless operator based at General Douglas MacArthur’s headquarters in Brisbane. At the end of World War II, she returned to complete her degree, majoring in physiology and zoology. In 1947, she gained her private pilot’s licence flying a Tiger Moth and, in 1950, she became a foundation member of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA).

In 1948, Dorothy worked as a biochemist at the Peel Island leprosarium. She then moved to Tasmania in 1949 and worked as a biochemist at Royal Hobart Hospital.

After a year in the United Kingdom, she returned to Brisbane to study medicine at the University of Queensland. After graduating in 1958, she spent 2 years as a resident medical officer at Brisbane General Hospital.

In 1961, she moved to Charleville to work as a locum for the Royal Flying…