Courageous Care Mural
The Story Behind This Mural
This mural commemorates those who lost their lives in Australia’s only outbreak of pneumonic plague in Maryborough – in particular, the courageous care given by nurses Cecelia Bauer and Rose Adelaide Wiles. In 1905 wharf worker, Richard O’Connell rented a cottage on the corner of Sussex and Pallas Streets – circumstances made Richard an absent father to his seven children who relied on the generosity of neighbours, often scavenging for food. The cottage was cramped and the children slept on hessian bags on the floor. These came from the ships that passed through our docks. Apparently rats carried the plague which spread through the O’Connell house.
On 19 May, Richard’s eldest son, John took ill and was initially diagnosed with dengue fever by Dr Robertson.. He was nursed by a neighbour, Mrs Letitia Edwards. An accurate diagnosis of pneumonic plague was not made until 2 June. By May 29 all of the children and their neighbour were in Maryborough Hospital. Nurse Rose Adelaide Wiles immediately volunteered to care for the children, Cecelia Bauer returned from a family holiday to nurse the family. By the end of the outbreak, five of the children John, Ellen , James, Mary and Ritchie, Mrs Edwards and the two nurses had died. The authorities ordered the O’Connell cottage to be destroyed by the fire brigade.
The artist’s commission was sponsored by Dr Anderson, Dr McCawley and Dr Mushan. This mural can be viewed at the Kent Street Medical Centre – 254 Kent Street.
About the Artist
Craig Winter has been a professional artist since 1984 and had his first major exhibition at World Expo 88. Subsequent solo and group exhibitions over the past 20 odd years have been held around Australia and abroad. More recently, Craig has continued to paint commissions and is well represented in collections in Spain, Germany, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.