Jane was born in South Australia, one of seven girls. Her training in nursing varied from Streaky Bay to Port Pirie. She studied midwifery at Rose Park, maternity at the Queen Victoria Hospital in Adelaide and six months in infectious diseases.
When a vacancy arose at Bruny for a nursing sister, the Bush Nursing Association had difficulty filling the position and advertised interstate. Jane Finn arrived at the end of August. She first boarded at the local Post Office and was retained on a salary of £160 PA with travel expenses. The Bush Nursing Hospital was opened at Alonnah by Lady Clark on October 17, 1935.
One of Jane’s more famous exploits occurred in January 1937. Rueben Peters (45) was relieving as a lighthouse assistant at the Bruny Light. He was going fishing with another assistant and his son to Trumpeter’s Hole. He was over 45 feet above the water on a ledge and carrying a net when the ledge they were walking on collapsed under him, sparing the others. Trooper Walker and the nurse at Alonnah were informed by the Lunawanna Post Office and Dr Wade from Port Cygnet was notified.
Sister Finn rode to the lighthouse where she was lowered by rope to the unfortunate man and reported life was extinct from a broken neck. On arrival the doctor was happy to accept her diagnosis rather than descend the cliff for himself.
Bruny was only visited about three times a week by boat which meant that patients sometimes died before they could be transferred to town. Such was the case in June 1937 when a three year old died from diphtheria. Sister Finn set about organising an emergency system whereby three fires lit on Alonnah Beach meant emergency transportation was required. The fishermen of the D’Entrecasteaux Channel responded magnificently. The situation eased somewhat when Grant’s Ferry started running three times a week to Simpson’s Bay.
In 1940 Jane returned to South Australia for a time before returning and marrying William Murphy, brother of the well-known hotelier Tim Murphy. They moved around from Melbourne to Bruny, finally settling in the Derwent Valley, where they were burnt out in the 1967 bushfires. Jane continued to nurse and in 1967 was acting Matron of the New Norfolk District Hospital and made Rotary Citizen of the Year. She died on December 12, 1996.
by Suzanne Smythe (with thanks to Jake Murphy)