Also known as: née Crook

Born: 1904

Died: 05/02/1979

Special Achievements:

1977: First President of the National Trust (Northern Territory)

1978: First honorary life member of National Trust

1979: Awarded British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the Community

Additional Information:


The Crook family arrived in Adelaide from England in 1907 before travelling to Central Australia in 1909. They stayed at Doreen’s uncle’s cattle station Glen Helen, west of Alice Springs. They then spent a few years at the overland telegraph station at Alice Springs. The family then sought work at Wauchope, watering drover’s cattle that were travelling to the Top End. 

They established Singleton Station through calves which were left behind by the drovers. Doreen met William (Bill) Braitling while he was agisting his stock due to drought.

As a young girl, Doreen and her sister Kathleen did much of the whipping of the water, a method which drew water from the well either by using a horse, camel or working bullock to pull a long rope which lowered and raised buckets to and from the well.

They were married in 1929 and had one son, William. They gained a pastoral lease in 1932 at Mount Doreen (named after Doreen), where they spent the next 30 years. Doreen Braitling took up several mining leases during her time on the station.


Doreen wrote her own account of early station life, describing how stores for six to twelve months had to be ordered months in advance.  She used a scale of rations based on twenty-two pounds [10 kilograms] of flour, four and one-half pounds [2 kilograms] of sugar and about one-half pound [.25 kilograms] of tea for one person for two weeks, adding other items such as dried fruit, rice, salt and pepper.  She pointed out that many bush settlers went onto pastoral blocks with little more than their personal possessions, a plant of horses, a few goats and if they were very lucky a few cattle to start with.

Doreen stressed the resourcefulness of the outback dwellers.  "They were taught cleanliness and honesty and what they did not have they seldom yearned for.  They learned to make things themselves, or went without."

She gave medical help and support at their isolated property to all the people in the area, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. In the pre-Royal Flying Doctor Service days, many people owed her their lives.  

Through the herd of station goats, Mrs Braitling saved many Aboriginal children's lives by giving them goat milk.  She held great respect for the Aboriginal tribal lore.  


Following Bill's death in 1959, Doreen moved to Alice Springs where she became active in the formation of the National Trust (NT) and of the Alice Springs Branch.  She became President of the National Trust (NT) in 1977 and was made the first Life Member in the NT in November 1978. 

She battled successfully against great odds to save the old Stuart Town Gaol from being demolished when the new Court House was built.  The Gaol has since become a noted tourist attraction.

Doreen wrote stories and poems on bush life and the history of Central Australia. 

She was awarded a BEM for services to the community in January 1979, but sadly, died the following month, before the presentation.    


  • References

    Petrick, Jose.  (2010, November).  The History of Alice Springs through Landmarks & Street Names.  St Marys, South Australia:  Openbook Howden Design and Print.  p. 30.

    NT Dictionary of Biography Vol. 1. Mrs Braitling's story by the late Rev Tom Fleming.

    Petrick, Jose.  (2010, November).  The History of Alice Springs through Landmarks & Street Names.  St Marys, South Australia: Openbook Howden Design and Print.  pp. 147-148.

    Bucknall, Graham; Holmes, Kate; Wilson, Henry; Cook, Penny; and the late Mrs Braitling.  (year unknown)  Stuart Town Gaol.  National Trust Northern Territory.

    Richards, Dave.  Lyrical lovesong for ladies of the north.  Centralian Advocate.  April 18, 1986:p. unknown.

    James, Barbara.  (1989)  No Man's Land:  Women of the Northern Territory.  Sydney, NSW: Collins Australia.  Pages 246-247.

    Carment, David S., Maynard, Robyn, Wilson, Helen J. and Powell, Alan Ed. (1990). Northern Territory Dictionary of Biography: Volume 1. Darwin, N.T.: Charles Darwin University Press (CDU Press).  Pages 32-33.

    Northern Territory Women's Advisory Council.  (1991)  Northern Territory Women's Register 1948-1988.  Darwin, NT: Northern Territory Women's Advisory Council.  Pages 19-20.

    Gorey, Nathalie.  (1952)  The Alice - The Story of Alice Springs.  Mail Newspapers Ltd.  Page 55.

    Doreen Braitling Memorial Lecture, Alice Springs Town Council

  • Image - Doreen Braitling

    Doreen Braitling date unknown

    NT Library PH0333-0024