More than $500,000 and a free house weren’t enough to attract a doctor to a small town in rural far north Queensland, forcing residents to drive two hours to get treatment.
McKinley Shire Council in Julia Creek – 600km west of Townsville – has offered an enviable package for a GP looking for a tree change in his tight-knit community.
The job comes with a salary of up to $513,620 and a free house on a decent-sized piece of land, but so far no doctors have called back.
Temporary doctors fly in two days a week to assist the small medical staff at the local hospital.
If a local resident needs to see a GP on the other five days of the week, he has to make the 200km or two-hour trip to Mount Isa.
Deputy Mayor Janine Fegan told NCA NewsWire that the staggering salary package was offered three months ago, but they had been looking for a permanent GP for about 18 months.
“It’s not just about the money, it’s about the lifestyle,” she said.
A nurse by profession, Ms Fegan moved to Julia Creek for a three-month stint almost three decades ago and has never left.
“It’s just a nice, easy, simple lifestyle,” she said.
“We have plenty of room, plenty of room.”
In April, the city hosts the Dirt N Dust Festival, which includes bull riding and live music.
“We have wonderful events here; it’s never boring, you can go somewhere every weekend,” Ms Fegan said.
“You don’t have to book a hotel, you can just put the bribe in the back of the car.”
Julia Creek is home to a tight-knit community of just 500 residents.
It has warm, sunny days, a gym that costs $30 a month and a pool that costs just $2 to use, Ms. Fegan said.
The board accepted two applicants for the role, but both asked for a flyer agreement.
The locals are desperate for the return of a resident doctor to provide some stability and – more importantly – to provide emergency care when needed.
“If you have a sick child in the middle of the night, you might have to send you away,” she said.
“And some things aren’t serious enough to need an ambulance, but are serious enough that you need an ambulance.”
Ms Fegan said the community was able to do without a doctor thanks to the goodwill of neighbours.
“I guess that’s why we’ve gone so long without a doctor, because we’re such a close-knit community, and someone will help someone else,” she said.
The board has also committed to employing a new GP partner should they wish to do so.
“We will certainly do our best to find something suitable,” Ms Fegan said.
“And also with the Internet, you don’t have to work in the city anymore.”
Originally published as Doctors could earn $500,000 and a free house if they got a job in an idyllic regional town