Locums for a Small World Blog

Want to practice medicine in Australia? Three doctors fill us in on work, play and the locum tenens lifestyle.

Posted by Everett Fitch

There’s no doubt about it…Australia is, in a word, vast. Now, when we say “vast” we mean it. No single word in the English language is more appropriate in encapsulating the true essence of Australia. This country contains, in elegant manner, a multitude of cultures, cuisines, dialects, landscapes, oceanscapes and cityscapes all within its 2,969,907 square miles.

You’ve got Western Australia with its picturesque Perth and Queensland with its shining Gold Coast. Then you’ve got the gritty yet charming feel of the outback in the Northern Territory and the craggy island atmosphere of Tasmania. And still there's more: in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.

So yes, Australia is vast. To place any other adjective by its side would be tantamount to a disgrace. Three doctors who practiced medicine in Australia can testify to its welcoming greatness. They’ll tell you all about what to expect at work as well as what sights they experienced – in a nutshell, they’ll enlighten you on the locum tenens lifestyle here in Australia.

But before we get to their stories you should know that taking an assignment in Australia is about more than just the scenery. It’s about a life experience, a career change. It’s about being entirely immersed in a different culture and healthcare system. (Read: 3 interesting places to practice medicine in Australia plus a brief overview of their healthcare system.) Simply put, practicing medicine in Australia is a work experience you’ll never forget.

And as an Aussie would say, no worries: Your physician placement specialist will handle all the logistics along the way (licensing, registration, travel, etc.). They'll match you with a medical facility as well as put you in touch with the practice where you’ll be working. And if there’s a doctor who has practiced in that area before you’ll even have a chance to chat with them, help you get your bearings ahead of setting foot in the country.

All in all this process should take about three months once a job has been offered. If you’d like you can learn more about the requirements for taking a locum tenens assignment in Australia by visiting our Ask an Expert page. In the meantime, catch a head start on what to expect by reading all about the following doctors’ experiences below.

Isadore Unger, MD – Tasmania

On practicing medicine in another country:

For Dr. Unger, practicing medicine in another country – especially one with socialized medicine – presented a few challenges. “There were differences in language and terminology,” says Dr. Unger. “Interns were called house surgeons and residents were called registrars or 'reggies' for short. And surgeons are never called ‘doctor,’ they're addressed as ‘Mister.’” Kiwis and Aussies do speak English, but they not only have their own accent, they have a few of their own words. Fortunately, the nurses helped Dr. Unger translate the jargon. “One patient told me he felt 'like a box of fluffy ducks,’” says Dr. Unger, “Which I learned is 'great.’”

Rick Abbott, MD – Tasmania

On the differences between the U.S. and Australia’s healthcare system:

Beyond figuring out that a “long black” is Tassie's answer to a simple coffee, Dr. Abbott found out that both the healthcare system and work ethic are a bit different, too. “The ER was a great place to work. Because Australia is a national healthcare system, we had very little 'social safety net' to our practice and so we were a real ER. In other words, a very high proportion of our patients had an acute problem that required an acute intervention. We weren't trying to manage chronic disease that had nowhere else to go (as in the U.S.)." Dr. Abbott also praised Tasmania's implementation of an Emergency Medical Information Book (an organized booklet listing their medical and surgical history, active problem list, and current medications) that lots of patients carry with them.

On the adventures him and his wife, Jean Abbott, MD, had:

For his last month in Tasmania, Jean Abbott, MD (his wife, an ER doctor herself) joined him for some Tassie fun. The “Doctors Abbott” ventured to the capital city of Tasmania, Hobart, which serves as the home port for both Australian and French Antarctic operations. They also made their way to a few nature parks to see the wildlife that you'll only find in Australia: wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, kookaburras, and a lot more. They even saw Little Penguins or “Fairy Penguins” out on a quaint little Tassie beach. Ben Lomond National Park is a spectacular place and it's a haven for rock climbers, bushwalkers, and skiers. “Beautiful tundra - though we could only see a few feet of it at a time because of the thick fog,” Dr. Abbott says. “And wallabies were all over the place up there!”

Kathryn Starkey, MD – multiple assignments throughout Australia

On the experiences you won’t get anywhere else:

"You know when you come to Australia that you're going to see some kangaroos," she says. "What we didn't expect was to see them chewing on the putting green at the local golf course!" It was an event that became a nightly ritual for Dr. Starkey and her partner, Molly Evans, not to mention the famous marsupials. "Watching the kangaroos bounce in – a lovely movement in itself – and chew on the grass at sunset beat anything on the four TV channels," says Dr. Starkey. "And who ever imagines they'll be hiking along and see a platypus swim by on their webbed feet, right there in the wild? A platypus!"

On the reasons for taking a locum tenens assignment in the first place:

As Dr. Starkey tells it, “I had a gynecology practice in the Finger Lakes area of New York, but no life. I went to work early, got home late, had dinner, watched a bit of TV, went to bed, and then did it all again. I told my patients to take care of themselves, but I wasn't taking care of myself.” What she had done was keep a postcard from Global Medical, which inspired her to take action. “I told Molly to start planning; I brushed up on my OB work and we took an assignment a year later." Since then, Dr. Starkey has lost some 40 pounds; she respects a 9-to-5 workday and leads a balanced life. The primary requisite in each new area is a decent library. “I now have time to read, and I love to get books about the areas where we're living and dive into them,” says Dr. Starkey. “I learn the history, the geography, everything. It's fascinating.”

If it feels that you still have unanswered questions after reading these first-hand accounts then read the full stories and more. In fact, we have an online library of sorts you can visit. It's entitled The Locum Life – locum tenens stories told through the eyes of our own doctors. You'll find out more about what it's like to work in Australia, New Zealand and even the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Interested in practicing medicine in Australia right away? Go ahead and view our current locum tenens opportunities in the Land Down Under with the click of a button below.

Search for current physician openings in Australia


Topics: Australia, Tasmania, locum tenens lifestyle, Australian healthcare, Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, New South Wales, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Dr. Rick Abbott, Dr. Isadore Unger

Two turtle doves and one well-traveled doctor: Guess who’s back at the Top End?

Posted by Saralynn White
Hello again from Australia,

It is wonderful to be back living and working at the Top End of Australia–our tropical paradise. Despite the daily humidity and temperatures reaching the high 90s, we feel “at home” slipping easily back into our routine of work and play (the customs officers were skeptical about Kathy's work visa when they explored her bag and found snorkeling equipment, a bike helmet, multiple swimsuits and several pairs of walking shoes!)

We are enjoying the same condo, the same lovely oceanfront swimming pool, and wonderful young doctors eager to learn and care for their patients. The mix of Asian/Australian influence is what makes this place unique from our prior Australian experiences. Here, Kathy cares for patients from East Timor, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines Islands, Sri Lanka, China, India and refugees from as far as Iran–to name a few. In fact, one in eight Australians now speak an Asian language. This exposure to other cultures has piqued our interest to travel to these regions in the future.

Weather and natural phenomena continues to be a “hot topic”. Nightly spectacular lightning shows that are leading us to the eventual wet season dominate.

Our native Australian Aborigines will now enter the 21st century with their own television station. Going mainstream introduces their culture to a wider audience and breaks down multiple barriers. We eagerly await this chance to learn more about the first people of Australia and hope that sometime in the future the Constitution of Australia is ratified to recognize them.

The Northern Territory outlawed the use of plastic shopping bags last year and one year later, it is nice to see everyone parading into the stores with reusable bags in tow. It shows that it can and should be done. Molly even takes an “esky” (cooler) when she shops for things that need refrigeration.

Rafting the ColoradoAussie friends




Our time back in the USA brought a visit from Australian friends who spent part of their 77-day U.S. holiday with us. We caught up with them in the Grand Canyon after we spent five days rafting down the Colorado River, sleeping under the stars and hiking the nine miles out. The grand finale of their holiday was five days with Kathy’s brother in New Jersey during Hurricane Sandy....with no electricity.

In the spirit of the holiday season, two turtle doves have built a nest in a palm tree just outside our window. What makes it unique is that this same couple attempted a nest here last year but it was blown apart by a typhoon. Hopefully, they will have better luck this year. To ring in the New Year we’re sailing Sydney Harbour aboard the
James Craig–a tall ship built in 1874. The Sydney fireworks spectacular is world-renowned so watch for us on your television news!

Happy Holidays & Happy New Year!
Kathy and Molly

Dr. Kathy Starkey (far right) is an OB/GYN from Buffalo, New York who gave up a practice in the Finger Lakes region in 2007 to take her first locum assignment with us in New Zealand. She’s now on her 8th assignment–at the Top End of Australia in the Northern Territory (for the 2nd time) where they just arrived. Dr. Starkey says she’s sticking with locum work because she get to practice medicine–which she loves–versus working so hard at the “business” of medicine. Her partner in life and crime, Molly Evans (second from right) has been with her from the beginning and the pair’s locum adventures–which we tell often–have also taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Cayman Islands, Western Australia, and the Australian island state of Tasmania.

Topics: Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Molly Evans, Northern Territory, Top End of Australia, Sydney Harbour New Year's Eve

How Dr. Starkey got her groove back: An open letter to doctors considering a locum

Posted by Saralynn White
Molly Evans and Dr. Kathy Starkey Kangaroos on the golf course with Molly




G'day all,

I’m asked a lot wDr. Starkey in the Caymanshat it’s like to be a US-trained doctor working as an OB/GYN in Australia and New Zealand and it's a question I love to answer.

First, a bit about me. I’m from Buffalo, New York; I completed my OB/GYN residency at Magee Women’s Hospital at the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) in 1990 and went directly into practice that same year (I have been board certified since 1992). In 2005 I lost my mother and that year I realized I did not want to work so hard at the "business” of medicine. I had a Gynecology practice in the Finger Lakes area of New York, but no life. I went to work early, got home late, had dinner, watched a bit of TV, went to bed, and then did it all again. I told my patients to take care of themselves, but I wasn't taking care of myself. I had kept a postcard from Global Medical Staffing and that inspired me to take action. I told Molly (my partner) to start planning; I brushed up on my OB work and in 2007 we took a locum tenens assignment with Global. It was a step that reinvigorated me and I got my life back. Now, I just practice medicine—which I love. 
new zealand windswept trees 123rfSince 2007, I have worked in the Caymans, on both islands in New Zealand, in two Australian States (Western Australia and Tasmania) and in Australia’s Northern Territory. I have loved each location and have traveled extensively before, during and after assignments. I personally prefer a six-month assignment, but many, many locums work for a year or more.

Working in the Southern Hemisphere has opened my eyes to medicine as it is practiced in other countries, including the UK, Singapore and India. Our American viewpoint is very welcome, but the UK Royal College Guidelines are first line as well in our field. It’s a breath of fresh air to see and learn other viewpoints (no, we Americans don’t know it all! There is definitely more than one way to "skin a cat"!).

The residents in New Zealand and Australia are a hard-working bunch. The hours are civilized, with morning report at 8:00 a.m., rounds at 8:30, clinics or surgery 9-12 and afternoon clinic or surgery from 1:00 until you go home at 4:00 p.m. Your call is 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. in Labor & Delivery, then the night person takes over and you go home. After a week of nights you generally have a week free.

Kathy and Molly at the Bungles Bungles

Australia and New Zealand are obviously first-world countries, but I have had some third-world experiences. The Aborigine population, for instance, does not embrace preventive medicine. You’ll also likely treat some of the many immigrants from Asia and the Middle East. You’ll see and care for some interesting cases here, but your USA training will ensure you’re up to the task. In Australia, the junior staff are equal to USA residents from year 1-4, but they call themselves registrars and resident medical officers—all doctors in various levels of skill. Some may have been specialists in other countries but need to repeat their training to obtain full medical registration here. Or are general practitioners but want to work remotely and are up-skilling in the specialty.

Now about travel. I have ventured through much of Australia and New Zealand (and beyond)—yes, you’ll have lots of time to explore! The exotic country of Bali is a great weekend getaway. My favorite spots in Australia are Tasmania and the the "Bungle Bungles" in the Northwest portion of the continent. Darwin (in the Northern Territory) is on the water and just beautiful—like Florida or even Pebble Beach in California—but weejkend getaways in the outback desert are close. We were there in the rainy season still saw the sun a lor. For a portion of the year, we can’t swim in the ocean because of jellyfish and crocs (don’t worry, there are signs posted!) but we still enjoyed the huge 50-meter pools every day.

Molluy in TasmaniaIf you work in Australia, be sure to visit Uluru (that big red rock - Ayers - in the center of the country) and ride camels, swim with whale sharks, dive the Great Barrier Reef, taste all the different wine regions, fly into remote Tasmania by bush plane, climb the remote rocks in Kakadu Park and see rock drawings from 50,000 years ago, ride the Indian Pacific Railroad East to West or The Ghan train North to South, climb the Hanger Bridge and visit the Opera House in Sydney, descend into a gold mine, sail on an America's Cup boat in Queenstown, hike New Zealand's great walks, helicopter onto a glacier and walk on blue ice at Fox Glacier in New Zealand's Southern Alps, stand next to penguins all over the place....I think I’ve made my point!

A locum tenens assignment is the adventureFairy penguins in New Zealand of a lifetime; just keep your mind open, expect the unexpected, and learn ways to "be a good guest". I miss family and friends, but I keep in touch via Skype, email, Facebook and phone calling cards.

That's it for now, except this: Do it, do it, do it! One doctor in particular (who is just finishing her residency training) asked me about working as a locum and I told her the same thing. She has lots of time to eventually "get established and become one of the rat race."

Cheers,Dr. Kathy Starkey

Kathy Starkey & Molly Evans

Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle. They're preparing to head out for their eighth assignment with Global Medical now, and their previous adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Cayman Islands, Western Australia, the Australian island state of Tasmania, and the Top End of Australia in the Northern Territory.

Topics: Uluru, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Northern Territory, Tasmania

70 years later, Darwin is an all-new frontline; just ask Dr. Starkey.

Posted by Saralynn White

Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory


Hello again from the Top End of Australia,

We toured the Darwin Military Museum this past month and learned details of Australia’s role in World War II.
My father, Army Air Force Master Sergeant Joe Starkey, was an aircraft mechanic on various islands in the region (New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and the Philippines) and spent time in Australia. In fact, I still have a 1943 Australian dollar bill he brought home.

If you’re not familiar with the details, on February 19, 1942 Japanese aircraft brought fury down on Darwin. A total of 683 bombs were dropped killing 243 people in the first raid—though to prevent panic spreading throughout the country, authorities at that time played down the number of deaths. It was the first and the largest single attack mounted by a foreign power against Australia. Incidentally, the raid was conducted by the same pilots who had bombed Pearl Harbor less than three months earlier—and they flew from the same aircraft-carrier fleet! Ultimately, 64 raids occurred in the Northern Territory over the next three years, prompting ain influx of some 250,000 military personal from Australia, Great Britain, Canada and the USA to the region. The USS Peary destroyer became a watery grave for 91 brave US sailors who died during the attack; the sunken ship remains in Darwin.

Tragically, the city of Darwin was destroyed again in 1974—on Christmas Eve no less—when Cyclone Tracy came ashore. Now rebuilt, it is the most modern city in the country and has a young, growing population of about 120,000. The city itself is built on a low bluff overlooking the harbor, and the region (like the rest of the Top End) has a tropical climate with a wet and a dry season. We finally had our worst bout of rain with 4 inches falling in 8 hours, so our grand total for January was 20 inches. This made for wild wave action in front of our home when the tides were their highest. Molly caught a shot of a bloke who didn’t seem to be bothered by tidal waters as he fished!

Molly Evans atop "The Hanger"
This month, Molly also checked off two big items on her “bucket list”: she climbed the largest steel span bridge in the world over Sydney Harbor, “The Hanger” (it’s affectionately called that because it looks like a clothes hanger), and she took a two-day railroad journey on the famed “Ghan” train. She rode in the Kangaroo Red class with a backpack from Adelaide to Katherine

The famed Ghan, and nearly famous Molly EvansWe both enjoyed a coastal weekend fishing trip with new friends, including a sand dunes cruise in an open-air utility truck. We didn’t catch any fish, but we did see a magnificent sunset. I was completely enthralled by the "mudskippers" living on the mangrove and in water. These amphibious fish use their fins to move around in a series of skips—up to two feet into the air! Unbelievably, they breathe through their skin, which must remain moist. They pretty much blend right in here!

We are loving thA mud skipper in the mangrovee hot, humid experience at the Top End of Australia and have met so many wonderful people. We’re heading home soon, it's not the end of our locum tenens adventures - not by a long shot.

Dr. Kathryn Starkey and "Izzy"Cheers,
Kathy & Molly

Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle (they're currently on their seventh assignment). Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Cayman Islands, Western Australia, the Australian island state of Tasmania and now the Top End of Australia.

Topics: Darwin, mudskippers, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Molly Evans, Top End of Australia

From the Top End of Down Under, it's a new year with Dr. Starkey.

Posted by Saralynn White

By Kathryn Starkey, MD, and Molly Evans

Molly Evans and Dr. Kathryn StarkeyHappy New Year from the Top End of Australia

G'day from the Top End,

Over 60,000 years ago, when the sea level was much lower, people walked from New Guinea to Northern Australia and these wanderers were the origin of the Australian Indigenous Aborigines. By the time Europeans arrived in 1788, the Aborigines—scattered throughout the continent as hunters and gatherers—may have numbered close to a million people. They are the oldest continuously maintained culture on earth and now number about 455,000. However, homelessness is highly visible among Aboriginal people.

We witnessed this first hand while working in a small remote 60-bed hospital in an outback town called Katherine (where 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans hails from). I worked alongside an outreach nurse specialist who provided gynecology care to our patients, whom she called “the women from the long grass”. Often found living in the surrounding fields, these women lack education and have nowhere else to live. The government has tried to supply housing, but the demand outweighs the supply, so housing eventually becomes crowded and unsanitary.

Dr. Starkey delivered twin Australian girls just before the New Year

Molly Evans poses in Katherine, home of cyclist Cadel Evans

While the Aboriginal people now receive what they call “sit-down pay” (deposited into bank accounts for their use) this monetary support means the younger generation has lost the ability to live off the land; they have no “need” for work, nor do they see a role for education. As I found out, healthcare is also on the back burner. Clinics and transportation are available, but the people find it difficult to attend. Both preventive care and early detection are not yet embraced; unemployment is six times the rate of non-aborigines; and truancy in the primary schools is at 60%.

Cultural practices are also profoundly different; we do try to understand but find it difficult. This is demonstrated by the following story: I recently had a patient arrive with internal bleeding that occurred as a result of repetitively jumping out of a tree onto her abdomen. This was her way to demonstrate grief over the death of a grandparent and - coupled with an undiagnosed bleeding disorder - it almost cost her life. Also, once a person dies you can no longer view their image or say their name. This practice to honor family ties is just one instance of cultural differences.

A "mob" of Aborigines in Katherine

Journeys of the Dreamtime, Aboriginal Art Exhibit 

Despite the aforementioned “doom and gloom", the Aborigine culture is slowly gaining ground - with the granting of full citizenship in 1967 and the return of their traditional ancestral land. If there is any area that has defined the renaissance of Australian Indigenous cultural globally, it is visual art. We have enjoyed learning about and collecting art from the different regions where we have worked. One of the most telling films of Aboriginal history is the film The Rabbit Proof Fence depicting a time when half-caste mixed blood children were taken from their homes and placed in missions in the hope of educating them and eventually “breeding out” the black color. It is a very powerful story.

On another note, the rainy season has arrived with its hot humid conditions and rain that comes in horrific downpours, but we're enjoying the adventure as always.

Happy New Year to All,

Kathy and Molly

Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle (they're currently on their seventh assignment). Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Cayman Islands, Western Australia, the small Australian state of Tasmania and now the Top End of Australia (in the Northern Territory). Read more of their adventures right here. And if you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet - do it now!


Topics: Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Molly Evans, Cadel Evans, Top End of Australia, Katherine AU, The Rabbit Proof Fence, Australian Indigenous Aborigines

You can't rain on Dr. Starkey's locum parade (well, maybe during the wet season)

Posted by Saralynn White

By Kathryn Starkey, MD, and Molly Evans

Dry season at the Top End of Australia

G'day All!

We are currently enjoying Kathy’s seventh medical locum assignment and have adapted quite easily to our new location at the Top End of Australia.

As the cockatoo flies, we are closer to Papua New Guinea and Bali than Sydney! We arrived at the beginning of September, which is toward the end of the dry season. During the "dry", the weather is near perfect with warm temperatures and very little or no rain, so we're enjoying sunrise swims at the local Nightcliff Beach pool, sunset bike rides along the foreshore path, and alfresco dining at our beachfront condo (pictured at the end).

Everything seems perfect, except for the ever-looming “wet” season. The locals speak of a constant vigilance: Keeping mold and mildew from invading your home, leather shoes from disintegrating before your eyes, and restaurants and businesses from closing their doors. Once the monsoon or “tropco” rains do arrive, it’s more difficult to get around. The rains make rivers impassable and some areas inaccessible. During the "wet", the flooding also cuts off many remote bush communities (we're noticing an increased AborA wet season storm over Darwiniginal migration into the area). Alongside the rain, there are wild electric storms that turn the sky into a spectacular light show. Having survived hazardous snow blizzards at home, it should be interesting to live through this coming weather pattern.

Molly and Kathy, Litchfield National ParkWe’ve also been busy exploring both Darwin City and the surrounding National Parks. A few weekends ago, we enjoyed a relaxing day at Litchfield National Park. The Park is known for two things: Its 2-meter tall termite mounds that point north-south (to minimize sun exposure) and its waterfalls with their beautiful, cool swimming plunge pools. We enjoyed swimming at Wangi Falls, but as the floods arrive, so do the Saltwater Crocodiles or “salties” (be crocwise)!  

A "Salty" captured on film by Dr. StarkeyTo celebrate Molly’s birthday, we cruised Corroboree Billabong, which is part of the Mary River Wetlands and adjacent to World Heritage Kakadu National Park. The Park is huge and exactly the same size as Ireland. Aboriginal rock paintings here have been dated to 20,000 or more years old. Kakadu also boasts the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world - and the birdlife here is fantastic! Ibis, Brolga, Jacana, Egrets, Herons, Kites, Sea Eagles, Whistling ducks and Magpie Geese can be seen gathering among the
flowering lA flowering water lilyotus lily. There are also large flocks of Jabiru.

Kathy is busy at work seeing patients and supervising/teaching the younger doctors in training at a large public hospital. Patients arrive from the far corners of the remote Northern Territory, which stretches for miles and is 2 ½ times the size of Texas - with a population slightly less than the city of Buffalo (226,000 people). Imagine traveling that distance for medical care! Darwin has an interesting World War II history, having been bombed by the same Japanese fleet several weeks after Pearl Harbor. It is also the most modern city in Australia, as 80% of it was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Day in 1974 and has been newly rebuilt since then (more about the city in another letter home).

All in all, we are happy and once again so grateful for this opportunity to work, travel and experience! For now, we have PBS and a few NFL games to remind us of home (go Bills!). Molly is also very happy with a new pet chameleon that wandered into the condo. Staying dry for now...cheers!

Temporary Territorians,
Kathy and Molly

Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle. Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Caymans, Western Australia, the small Australian state of Tasmania and now the Top End of Australia. We love to tell their tales here (read more stories from Kathy and Molly). Watch for future installments here, and if you haven’t subscribed to this blog yet - do it now!



Topics: Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park, Darwin City, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Molly Evans, Top End of Australia

Dr. Starkey bids farewell to Tasmania: her own piece of heaven on earth

Posted by Saralynn White

purple-flowers-and-lake-australiaDr. Kathy Starkey, her sister, Norey Starkey Reger, and "Roo"

G'day All,
Our time in "heaven on earth" (Tasmania) has come to a close. We took a two-week vacation to savor one last look around the island community and reveled in the lavender fields of Bridestowe. If you thought that lavender grew only in France, you have not seen this! After a walk through the acres and acres of violet, nothing tops the day like a lavender ice cream cone and a slice of lavender chocolate cake.

The rainforest timber of Tasmania was on display in the 600 strong wooden boats shown at the festival in Hobart - and on our road trip through their original forest homes. A 12 km, four-hour kayak trip down the Pieman River was enough to remind us of our age as we came upon ocean waves in the last hour! Here’s a great
8-minute video tour of the area, or check out the YouTube video here.    
echidna-in-grass-australiaWet and frozen, we accepted a tow to complete the last kilometer. We looked high and low for animals, and came across echidnas, sea eagles and wallabies in the wild. At the camp site, we were warned to take our hiking boots indoors lest the Tasmanian devils "have a feed". We took no chances.

beach-sunset-australiaThis special area is in the protected Tarkine temperate rain forest. It's hard to imagine that dry Australia even has a rainforest! Our last adventure was climbing a striking extinct volcano called the "Nut", which overlooked the ocean and is blasted by winds from Antarctica. It is the closet port to the coast of South America, 12,500 miles away.

Kathy’s sister, Norey Starkey Reger (note the striking family resemblance) braved the long flight over the Pacific and spent a week on the East Coast beaches exploring and watching penguins. She also had a memorable sail of Freycinet National Park - a World Heritage Site on a peninsula of granite mountains that's all but surrounded by azure bays and white sandy beaches. Gorgeous!

A Tasmanian Poppy FieldAn odd and unexpected find during our travels was the cultivation of poppies throughout the agricultural heartland. Tasmania grows 40% of the global production of medicinal painkillers (morphine). The fields are beautiful in full bloom, though the danger (the unrefined sap from opium poppies can kill) is clearly posted!

On our last night, we enjoyed dinner at a restaurant owned by chef "Starkey" (no relation).

We’re now back in the good ole US of A catching up with family and friends, but we head Down Under again soon. Australia here we come (again)!

Kathy and Molly

Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle. Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Caymans,
Western Australia (twice) and the small Australian state of Tasmania. Their amazing travelogues grace this blog often. They're headed back to Australia soon. Watch for more from Kathy and Molly in future editions of Locums for a Small World.

Topics: Bridestowe Lavender Farm, Tarkine Rainforest AU, Freycinet National Park AU, Poppy Fields of Tasmania, The Nut in Tasmania, The Pieman River AU, Dr. Kathryn Starkey

From Port Arthur to the petting zoo, more locum tales from Dr. Starkey

Posted by Jesse Black

By Kathryn Starkey, MD, and Molly Evans

australia jail window 123rfAustralian ContinentAsk any Aussie and they’ll tell you that Australia was built on the “backs of sheep.” After traveling throughout Tasmania, we reckon this country was built on the “backs on convicts.” From 1830 to 1877 the largest penal colony in Australia was located on the Tasmanian Peninsula at Port Arthur. The site was ideal for a penitentiary because it’s surrounded by water, which authorities reported were infested with sharks. Whether that’s true or not, we’re not certain, but it would definitely keep us out of the water.

old jail australia 123rfFrom 1804-54 more than 12,500 female convicts, including children, were transported from the British Commonwealth countries to Tasmania. It was not uncommon for starving Irish teenage females convicted of stealing food to be transported 10,500 miles to the Southern Hemisphere. Some of these parts of Australian history weren't mentioned for many years, but the free labor of convicts did build many of the cities now found throughout Australia.

World HeritagePort Arthur, TasmaniaThe good news is that the Port Arthur prison property was eventually acquired by the National Park Services and has earned the status of a World Heritage Site. We marveled at the beauty of the peninsula, and were impressed at the lenghts that have been taken to preserve this part of Australia's history. We found it hard to believe that such a beautiful location was the former site of a colonial penitentiary.

Fast forward to the 21st Century, where we continue to meet and greet an odd assortment of furry animals. Recently, we enjoyed feeding kangaroos, baby pademelons, devils, and wombats at a local animal rescue park.

During the holiday break, we also watched the arrival of several yachts compDr. Kathy Starkeyeting in the 66th Annual Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race. Sixty-nine yachts braved the 31 mph (50 km) winds crossing the strait between Tasmania and mainland Australia, and from what we could tell, only one yacht hailed from the U.S. We were lucky enough to be able to sail on a square rig tall ship and cheer a few yachts over the finish line.

Along the waterfront there was the weeklong festival that celebrated the food and wine of the state called The Taste of Tasmania, and we paid our respects more than a few times. We're still enjoying 15 hours of sunlight daily and temperatures in the 70’s!

On a side note, Oprah Winfrey paid Australia a call in December and brought with her 300 loyal American fans. Her television show was tapaustralia white wine and cheese 123rfed at the renamed Sydney “Oprah House” and plays in the U.S. in mid-January. It should showcase the country nicely, so stay tuned!


Kathy and Molly

Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle. Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Caymans, Western Australia (twice) and the small Australian state of Tasmania. For several years, their exploits have graced the pages of our blog. Watch for more from Kathy and Molly in future editions of Locums for a Small World.

Topics: Port Arthur AU, Taste of Tasmania, Locum Tenens, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Molly Evans, Tasmania, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race

A bite of Tasmania: Another locum adventure with Dr. Starkey

Posted by Saralynn White

By Kathryn Starkey, MD, and Molly Evans

Kathy at the Market resized 600We had a few days to kill, so we decided to head south - across the Tasman Sea - to Hobart, the capital city of Tasmania. We were a bit overwhelmed to learn that over 100,000 people call Hobart home; however, we soon realized that Hobart is more like a village than a big city. The old-world city streets, combined with the fact that we were staying in a 100-year-old refurbished horse stable, led us to believe this was no bustling metropolis.

The Stables-Starkey's homeWe didn’t completely appreciate the incredible sustainable food and wine production on the island until we had the opportunity to visit Salamanca Place. What we found were a collection of old stone warehouses built by convicts in the 1800’s, all filled to the brim with purveyors of fine foods, local wines, baked goods, artisan cheeses and restaurants. Local fishmongers sold their goods from Victoria dock, which we soon discovered was the center of the waterfront activity.

Salamanca Market resized 600Every Saturday, the Salamanca Market is in full swing. There are over a 250 stalls that line the streets; each specializes in Tasmanian produce, honey, jams, wool products, wood-fired baked bread, cheeses, wood crafts and every form of the Tasmanian Devil known to the artistic mind. Our first day at the market, we enjoyed an egg and bacon roll with what the locals call, “the lot." The Aussie "Brekkie" sandwich included egg, ¼ lb of ham, grilled tomato, cheese, mushroom and a sauce of your choice all on a massive toasted, buttered roll. Yummy!

Later, we visited the Tassal Salmon Company - a beautiful store filled with farm-raised, fresh and smoked salmon. They conduct cooking demonstrations a few days a week throughout the year. It’s a great way to learn new ways to prepare salmon and enjoy a free lunch, too.
Veggie shopping resized 600
Our visit wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to Hobart’s own distillery and brewery, Lark Distillery. Known for its exceptional barrel-aged, single malt whiskey and its unique Tasmanian Bush Liqueur, Lark isn't alone on the island. There's Cascade Brewery, which is Australia’s oldest continuously operating brewery. Needless to say, we employed a few cold ones to wash back that smoked salmon.

Flat Stanley at the Bakery resized 600Although we couldn't stay more than a week, the locals reminded us that summer would soon be there, and so, too, another bounty of great food. At the end of December, Hobart plays host to a seven day “Taste Festival” which coincides with the famous Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

By far, this has been our favorite place to visit. The locals constantly remind us that Tasmania is “a world apart, but not a world away.” We welcome company to latitude 40-44 degrees south. Cheers!

Dr. Kathy Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have chosen locum tenens as a permanent lifestyle. Their adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North and South Islands, the Caymans, Western Australia (twice) and the small Australian state of Tasmania. They're such great storytellers that they appear in our blog often, so watch right here for more amazing tales from Down Under and beyond.

Topics: Locum Tenens, Australia, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, Tasmania, Tassal Salmon Company, Salamanca Market Hobart

Biplanes, sky swings, yacht races & jet boats: it's all in a locum day's work

Posted by Jesse Black

Early this year, Dr. Kathryn Starkey and Molly Evans left Australia and headed for their fifth locum assignment, this time on the South Island of New Zealand. After settling into their new digs, they sent this:

Starkey on locum in New ZealandDear All,

In mid-February, two friends from Invercargill meandered with us to Queenstown to gather our friend, Patti, from New York. On the way, we stopped at a local "fly-in" rally of vintage planes. We flew in a 1930's Fox Moth biplane which was the original Air New Zealand plane for service to the South Island. The Fox Moth has an interesting design, because the pilot's seat was behind us, which gave us an unobstructed view of the fabulous weather and scenery. After a safe landing, our drive continued through the Central Otaga Valley - the land of stone fruit orchards and wonderful wineries - where we managed to squeeze in a wine tasting.

Mt. Aspiring National ParkLater we traveled to Mt. Aspiring National Park to hike a portion of the Routeburn track. The track is one of New Zealand's nine great walks and is very scenic and popular. Along the way we were delighted by the variety of landscapes - meticulously maintained by the Department of Conservation - that included snowcapped mountain peaks, sheer rock faces, pristine, turquoise lakes, and cascading waterfalls. After our tramp, we drove to the Gibbston Valley to have a fabulous lunch at the Gibbston Valley Winery.

Ledge Swinging in New ZealandWe spent two fun-filled days in Queensland, dubbed the "Adventure Capital of New Zealand." There Patti and Molly, two aged adrenaline junkies, ventured up the gondola to the "Ledge Sky Swing", which is positioned 300 meters high above town. The next day, went jet boating on the Dart River and finished up with a walk through Mt. Aspiring National Park. Whew!

Dr. Starkey on America's Cup yachtFinally, before placing our friends on a plane for home, we went sailing on a former America's Cup yacht on Lake Wakatipu. We welcome visitors and love showing off our "home away from home".


Kathy and Molly

Dr. Kathryn Starkey, an OB/GYN, and her partner, Molly Evans, have wanderlust in their veins. Their locum adventures have taken them to New Zealand's North Island, the Caymans, Western Australia (twice) and now the Kiwi South Island. For more of Dr. Starkey and Molly's amazing tales from Down Under, keep coming back. Or better yet, subscribe to this blog!

Topics: Locum Tenens, Dr. Kathryn Starkey, New Zealand

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Twice a month, our inquisitive locum tenens community asks us to tackle topics ranging from cuisine and culture to recreation and entertainment. We also include great storytelling from our doctors. Have a topic you’d like to read about? Let us know.

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