Born: 30 October 1897, Port Pirie, South Australia
Died: 1 June 1938, England
Dr Willam D Walker, BSc, MB, BS (Adl), FRPS, FZS, FRGS, was a diarist and photographer who aspired to use medicine as a means to an end, particularly “to pursue travel and natural history”. He and his wife, Mary Vera (Mollie) Alexander, documented much of their life together in a series of diaries running from 1915 to 1938. They incorporate a vast number of descriptions of places, cultural activities, and observations of life and society in an upper middle class environment. The description of an 18-month 10,000 mile car journey through Central Australia is the highlight of the collection and is illustrated by about 15,000 photographs. Walker prepared and presented an illustrated report on the condition of Aborigines to the Australian government in 1928.
He joined the Australian Imperial Force in June 1918 and saw service in England. He enjoyed his first flight in an RAF “Stunhug” plane in December 1918 and later obtained a private pilot licence. Before returning to Australia in November 1919 he attended lectures and observed operations at various London hospitals and toured England, Belgium and France on a motor bike.
After graduation in 1923 and sundry Australian travels they journeyed to England in 1929 where he was employed in various medical locum positions while studying towards a Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons. Both supplemented Walker’s locum wages on the lecture circuit speaking on their Central Australian travels. Lantern slide illustrated lectures included: The Flying Doctor in Australia; the world’s first civil aerial medical service, Glimpses of Australia and its wild life from coast to coast, The Australian Aborigine; stone age man and his customs today.
Dr Walker was killed in a plane crash in 1938. Mrs Walker later returned to Australia and based in Adelaide was involved with the management of the Country Women’s Association. She donated the collection of personal diaries, photographs and emphera to the South Australian Museum in the early 1980s.
The South Australian Museum Archives contains photographs, post cards, publications, personal diaries and news clippings.