For various reasons, it has not been possible to include a photo with this Archive entry. If you’d like to come forward with photos, please see the Contribute page at the bottom left

Patricia Mary LILLECRAPP

Also known as: née Kempe

Born: 30/3/1919

Died: 5/10/2003

Special Achievements:

1947 - First kindergarten teacher in Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

Additional Information:


Born in Adelaide, Patricia was the only daughter of Ernest and Eileen Kempe. She was raised in Oodnadatta on the remote cattle station Macumba, with her brothers John and Bob.

Patricia loved station life and enjoyed horse riding and bush excursions with Aboriginal stockmen's children who also lived on the station.

Her early schooling was by correspondence from Adelaide before she was sent to Adelaide to complete her high school education at Loreto College as a boarder.

She then underwent teacher training in Adelaide gaining a Diploma in Early Childhood teaching. During the depression years – taught at Kings College, Kensington Park (now Pembroke College), South Australia.


To assist in the war effort, Patricia undertook Morse Code training in 1941.

A dedicated student, she rode her pushbike three nights a week from Kensington to Prospect to learn this important skill.

In 1942 she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and completed officer training at Melbourne University.

In 1944 she was transferred to Townsville, Queensland, as a sergeant in the WAA but returned to Adelaide in 1945 to care for her ailing mother who died late that year. She then moved back to Mecumba to care for her father.


She relocated to Alice Springs in 1947 and became the first kindergarten teacher in Alice Springs, then Director of a free facility which cared for over 30 pre school aged children from the outback. It was housed in the Country Women's Association Recreation Hall for Women's Services in Stott Terrace.


In 1949 she married Doug Lillecrapp, a stock and station manager for Dalgety. Early married life was spent living in a caravan and tent on the banks of the Todd River in Alice Springs while Doug built a family home in Warburton Street. Here they had four children, but sadly lost one boy, Geoffrey at the age of three.

In 1963 they relocated to Blalclava in SOuth Australia, then to Winton in Western Queensland where Patricia opened a kindergarten and served as Director of the Winton Preschool until drought forced her to reduce her hours there.

Her children were schooled locally at Winton before boarding at schools in Charters Towers and Yeppoon.

In 1968 Patricia and Douglas were relocated to Townsville where Patricia had spent time during the war. After a year they moved back to Alice Springs with their children and later grandchildren before Douglas' death in 1983 followed by Patricia in 2003.


Music plated an important role in Patricia's life. At an early age her mother purchased a second hand piano in Adelaide which was then transported at Mecumba station where Patricia learnt to play. Wherever she moved, the piano went too and she played at every opportunity including school dances, and concerts as well as teaching many children. Her children learnt to play and her son David would play duets with her at concerts. Her grandchildren also learnt to play.

We have this piano in the WMA collection. The piano has quite a story to tell and can be found HERE.


  • Video - Aunty Pat's Piano

    A short video made with David Nixon for ABC Open's 'Objects' project featuring Helen Kempe.

    David Nixon