Locums for a Small World Blog

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

All work and no play makes Bentch a dull doctor

Posted by Jesse Black

Dr. Leonard BentchNowhere in Dr. Leonard Bentch's CV does it mention his knack for writing, but his talents extend well beyond Internal Medicine. A retired physician, Dr. Bentch was sailing the Caribbean when he received a call that took him on a six-month locum adventure with his wife, Sue. He recently put his many remembrances to paper, and we're proud to present the last of the three-part series here (if you missed the first installments, read them here and there.)


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New Zealand was definitely not all work. Day and weekend hikes in Cormandel were precursors for even more spectacular and rigorous multi-day experiences: Tongariro Crossing, Milford Track, the Siberia Experience, Franz Joseph (for glacier hiking), and more. 

We flew to Sydney with a transfer to Hobart, arriving just in time to revel in the celebrations marking the completion of the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race, which is probably the most vigorous and dangerous ocean race in the entire world. Hundreds of sailboats complete in a 680 nautical mile journey with colorful spinnakers prodding their hulls forward for just a few more miles to cross the finish line. The not so fortunate ones crept into

australia ocean yacht 123rf

Constitution Harbor with busted masts, defrocked rigging, and tired crews. Celebration with beer by the barrel, fish and chips by the bushel, and hugs and kisses from anxious family and friends by the score spilled onto the venerable quays and marina of this picturesque and noble seaport.

Out from Hobart, the countryside reminded us of Texas: dry, relatively flat, small towns with limestone buildings built during the mid 19th century, friendly and tough people throughout. The restored convict prison at Port Arthur was an incredible site. The endless views along the South Pacific, the long stretches of barrier islands offering sanctuary to countless sea birds, and the knowledge of the magical legacy of Captain Cook inspires reflection of times long past. The Captain Cook museum, a small locally maintained facility, is well worth the stop. 

We thoroughly enjoyed driving from Hobart to Launceston. The graceful river arch at Campbell Town and the restored windmill at Ross are particularly striking remembrances of beautifully simple classic architecture. In Launceston, we enjoyed a river boat cruise up into Tamar River Gorge. So enticing was this spectacular geography, that we returned for a day hike, ending with a luxurious swim in the huge public pool and adjacent Tamar River cascades. The swing bridge hovering hundreds of feet above the cascading river offered a fabulous walk and photo opportunity.

Launceston to Sydney is only 45 minutes by air, but nearly a world apart. Launceston is a quaint provincial town, while Sydney is one of the most cosmopolitan urban environments in the world. The famous Opera House and background bridge are icons for all and both lived up to their reputations. Travel within Sydney by foot, subway, or ferry is easy, fun and rewarding. The harbor scene is spectacular and a cruise is well worth the time. We enjoyed international food, regional Australian wines, and "hip" music.

Our six months Down Under seemed to fly by. Between work and travel, it felt like we were only in country for only a few weeks - though we made the most of our journey in the short time we had in New Zealand. To truly appreciate this area, aptly named the "Land of the Long White Cloud", you really have to experience it for yourself.

Topics: Port Arthur Tasmania, Tamar River Gorge, Siberia Experience NZ, Dr. Leonard Bentch, Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, Launceston

Locums for a Small World Blog

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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