Street name tribute to Sugar Bird Lady

Jasmine BamfordNorth West Telegraph

Robin Elizabeth Miller - better known as the Sugar Bird Lady - was a nurse and pilot who worked tirelessly to administer Sabin polio vaccine in sugar lumps to outback children in the late 1960s.

By 1970 she had flown 70,000km and administered more than 37,000 doses of the vaccine.

Her nickname is to be immortalised in the form of a street name in Port Hedland's Kingsford Business Park after Town of Port Hedland councillors voted last week to approve the name Sugarbird for inclusion in the Reserve Road Name Register.

Sugarbird was suggested after the Geographical Names Committee recognised the street name Miller was already in use in Wedgefield, and the GNC advised it could not be used anywhere else in town.

The council resolved back in March to approve a number of road names for use within the business park which related to aviation and aeronautics.

Ms Miller's mission to protect country children from disease was the stuff of legend.

Born on September 8, 1940 in Subiaco, she was the second daughter of Horatio Miller, an aeronautical engineer, and Dame Mary Durack.

She trained at Royal Perth Hospital, graduating in 1962 after being awarded the State nurses' medical prize.

Ms Miller approached the Department of Health for permission to run a vaccination program in WA's North West.

She borrowed money to buy a Cessna 182, and on May 22 in 1967 set off on her mission to inoculate rural children.

During the course of her amazing life, Ms Miller flew nine aircraft from overseas to Australia for use by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

She also piloted a single-engine Horizon from Paris to Perth, earning her the Nancy Bird Award in 1970 as Australia's female pilot of the year.

Town councillor Jan Gillingham was the person who suggested the name Sugar Bird Lady be included in the Road Name Register.

"I put forward Sugar Bird Lady, but I think it was shortened to Sugarbird," she said.

"Robin Miller had such a presence up here in the Pilbara as the nurse that went around to all indigenous settlements."

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