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Love and lifestyle on the Tablelands

16th September 2020

For Dr Gene Walker the pull to work in the Tablelands wasn’t just about the training experience, but a chance meeting with his future wife.

A city boy with a heart for rural, Dr Walker grew up in Brisbane and began his medical training in the Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay and Gympie.

He said he met his wife on placement and their relationship cemented during their time in Atherton. “I met my wife by coincidence about 10 years ago in the Tablelands.”

While his time in the region was fleeting, it left a lasting impression. After five years living and growing their family on the Sunshine Coast. They made the decision to move back to where it all began.

“It was special to return to Atherton, to see all of the things we had seen when we became a couple. We have been able to relive the experiences we had when we first met, with the children that we now have together. We are creating some fond memories here.”

Love story aside, the broad practise experience has also been a major drawcard to stay rural for the training General Practitioner (GP).

“I started out in a General Practice where there was a very experienced GP who gave lots of practical advice and mentorship. I've been supported through James Cook University (JCU) with regular tutorials and workshops. I also had a period of time in Indigenous health and had a specific Indigenous health workshop.”

“Most things we try to manage ourselves and are able to manage ourselves. The patients want us to be able to manage them. It builds a broad range of skills and a confidence in your own abilities as well as a pretty solid base of knowledge.

“Being in a rural area we have very close links to hospitals and other services around us, so there is a lot of interdisciplinary communication and so forth, which is possibly slightly different to what you would see in the city."

Now practising at Eacham Medical Centre in Malanda, Dr Walker is grateful for the mentorship of local Medical Educator, Dr Aaron Hollins.

“He has a lot of time for mentoring and teaching and it shows through in the way he teaches for JCU. I've been quite impressed with the training I've been provided. "

Outside of the clinic, Dr Walker enjoys living and raising his young family in the area.

“It's a beautiful part of the world. There are so many things to do. There's waterfalls, hiking, walks, all sorts of cafes, specialty food and dining options. It's also very close to tropical far north Queensland, the Daintree and the Barrier Reef. It’s very family oriented. It's a place where there are a lot of young families. Each of the towns around the Tablelands have various options for schools as well as childcare."

Despite the distance of family, who are based on the Sunshine Coast, Dr Walker said he and his wife have found a community of supportive friends who make them feel at home.

"My wife has some really close friends from the playgroup she is in. They help us and we try to help them."

“We are looking to stay here permanently from now on. We moved up to see how it goes and do the training. But as it turns out, we are really happy here. The kids are really happy and we have had a lot of support. We love living up here.”

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