Bellinger River District Hospital is celebrating 120 years of service to the community.

Bellingen Hospital celebrates 120 years of care

Jul 12, 2023
This article was published 1 year ago.

The birthday celebrations were in full swing at Bellinger River District Hospital last week as community members and staff came together to celebrate 120 years of providing health services to the local community. 

The official opening of Raleigh District Hospital, later changed to Bellinger River District Hospital, was held on 5 July 1903 with it officially opening its doors to patients on 6 July 1903.

The milestone was marked on Wednesday 5 July with a Welcome to Country by Uncle Micklo Jarrett, speeches and attendances from current and former staff, Bellingen Shire Mayor Steve Allan, cake and a special photographic display of the hospital over the years.

Executive Officer and Director of Nursing, Lisa Slater, spoke at the event and said it was about celebrating the contributions the hospital has made to the Bellingen community and surrounds.

“Commemorating our 120th anniversary is a time to reflect on our history and how far we’ve come and the many people who have a connection to the hospital,” she said.

“It was formerly a training hospital and innovative in its treatment, it was one of the first country hospitals to use x-rays and adopt a hospital contribution scheme.

“The original building contained wards housing four men and two women. Today it’s a 42-bed facility with a 24-hour ED and a range of specialist services including emergency medicine, general medicine, day surgery, rehabilitation and palliative care.”

Many stories and memories were shared. One in particular by Doctor Trevor Cheney who recited a story of an Aboriginal doctor from Bowraville who treated a man with a broken femur at the hospital, using traditional bush medicine and techniques.

As part of the celebrations, the hospital staff and volunteers are working toward reinstating the deteriorating pathways in the protected bushland (Arboretum) which houses many rare species of trees planted by Dr George Hewitt.  The new pathways will allow for safer pedestrian access to the tranquil space this protected eco wonder provides.

Community and volunteer support is being sought to attend a working bee for the pathway upgrade on Saturday 22 July from 9:30am to 12:30pm.

If you are interested, or know others who might be, please phone or email at

Please bring sturdy footwear, gardening tools and gloves for some rewarding bonding with nature.

The community will have another opportunity to celebrate the hospital’s milestone on 11 November with the planning of a Community Ball – look out for details on the MNCLHD FB Page.

Former staff are invited to contact the Hospital to share their stories of the hospital which will form part of a display at the ball.

Click on the image below to view a gallery of photos. 

Top of page