Convict Nurses

Nurse's Walk, The Rocks, SydneyThe Nurse’s Walk is located in The Rocks area of Sydney. The Nurse’s Walk winds through a network of lanes and passageways at The Rocks. The walk was created in 1979 by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority in honour of the nurses that worked in both of the Sydney Hospitals, located in the area from 1788 to 1816.

After the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, nurses were selected from convicts to work in the first roughly constructed hospitals. The nurses weren’t paid for their work but were maintained at the public’s expense.

Makeshift Hospitals

Site of first hospital in Sydney, The RocksThe first hospital was constructed in 1788 and included a herb garden to help assist in treatment due to a shortage of drugs. The second hospital was a portable hospital that arrived with the Second Fleet in June 1790. The portable hospital was constructed in less than a fortnight and was soon filled with over 400 patients. The designer of the portable Sydney Hospital was Samuell Wyatt.

Lucy Osburn

Lucy Osburn Plaque, The Rocks, SydneyOne of the most noted nurses to arrive in Sydney was Lucy Osburn and she is honoured with a plaque along Nurse’s Walk. Lucy was known for introducing Florence Nightingale’s principles of nursing to New South Wales. Lucy Osburn was born in England on the 10th of May, 1835. She later trained at St Thomas Hospital in London and also Kaiserwerth Hospital in Germany. She became a successful graduate of the Nightingale School but not all were happy with her choice of occupation. It is said that her father turned her portrait to the wall when she entered the Nightingale Training School.

In March 1868 Lucy arrived in Sydney to take charge of an Infirmary. Lucy and five other nursing sisters were sent by Florence Nightingale following an appeal by the then Premier of New South Wales, Henry Parkes. One of her first patients was to be the Duke of Edinburgh who was wounded after an assassination attempt at Clontarf.