Lakes Entrance is a stunning wee town on Australia’s Southern Coast. It sits at the junction between the Gippsland Lakes and the Bass Straight, with a channel at the western edge of the town connecting the two. The sea border of the town is marked with the beautiful white sand 90 mile beach which as the name suggests stretches as far as the eye can see in both directions. Fishing boats are moored in the lake adjacent to the main street and holiday parks are numerous in the back roads. Lakes is an extremely popular summer holiday destination for families, but in winter one can find themself alone on the beach to enjoy the crashing surf and magnificent views.

My time in Lakes was spent at Cunninghame Arms Medical Centre where there are 5 senior doctors and a similar number of training GPs. One of the GP registrars was from Otago Medical School graduating in 2006. He informed me that at one point there were 20 of his classmates practicing in Victoria, all just from his year. While it is no secret that a number of our recent grads move to Australia for work this demonstrated to me how significant this issue really is.

The practice is very used to medical students and I felt welcome at every moment. The doctors were prepared to take time out for me to see patients alone and offer explanations at teaching opportunities. At other times I was involved with procedural work with numerous opportunities to get involved. The practice is busy but with only 4000 people in Lakes and a few thousand more in the surrounding areas it would seem there are plenty of Drs to meet the demand. The Monash University students who we are staying with spent some time in the practice while I was there, but their weeks seem to be broken up with on call work in Bairnsdale Hospital and in other clinics further up the road. The students have been generous with their hospitality and I value the contribution they have made to our visit so far.

I’m finding it challenging to identify drug names in Australia. I suspect because of the influence of Pharmac generic names tend to be used far more often in NZ, whereas brand names are the norm here. As different Drs have their own preferences there seems to be a number of different agents used in each class so not only are the names different but there are more of them. In Australia patients must pay for their prescriptions making me thankful that we have most common drugs subsidised to $3, making them more accessible to people regardless of wealth.

Before leaving Lakes I managed to squeeze in some golf with James at one of the local courses and watch the Crusaders fall short of winning the SuperXV title. Fortunately we’re in the middle of AFL country so the locals didn’t feel the need to rub the victory in too much. Each day there is at least four pages of Aussie Rules news in the local paper. The rugby and State of Origin were lucky to get a mention, despite being finals time.

Next week I’m moving town to Bairnsdale Hospital to spend some time in the ED and in theatre. No doubt that will be an equally interesting time and I look forward to exploring that area.