The Launceston Examiner - October 7 2006
Swapping a farm for a shot in arm By Noel Shaw
Working as a GP, especially in the good old days when you were called out at night to make
home visits, sounds like a full-time job.
But not for Frank Madill. He wanted to be a weekend farmer, too.
At first he bought 20ha of undeveloped land on Los Angelos Rd, East Tamar.
Then he upgraded to 74ha Barrow View, near Nunamara, not an area known for its balmy climate.
His new book, a successor to If You Faint, Fall Backwards, which recalled his years as a family
doctor, mixes recollections of doctoring with the pleasures and pitfalls of life on the land.
Of course, farming looks easy to those of us who are not engaged in it.
And, yes, he learned all about the unexpected difficulties as he built Barrow View into a
successful romney marsh sheep stud.
Those who know Frank Madill are aware that he makes friends easily.
He soon accumulated advisors and helpers from among his patients and elsewhere. In particular,
he acknowledges Dick Ranson, Jim Barrenger and Albie Cashion "great mentors and great friends".
To add to his workload, he also bought the 55ha farm Red Banks.
One of the unexpected aspects of farming was that his pastures were overrun by wallabies
with big appetites.
Here another patient, former detective Tony Crichton, stepped in.
"He regularly shot between 400 and 500 each year", he writes.
"It seemed to be a pastime that appealed to quite a few of my friends and acquaintances, because
along with Tony, other shooters and ourselves, we accounted for more than 1000 wallaby a year."
Again, Frank Madill's reminiscences are wonderfully readable.
You will enjoy his visit to an old recluse living in squalor in the bush at Prossers Forrest.
He was clad in foul smelling rags and had a chest infection and a mouth full of rotten teeth.
He stank to much to take to the dentist in Launceston, so Frank Madill arranged for a woman
dentist, Mala Anthony, newly-arrived from Malaysia, to go with him.
"As well as being a very capable dentist, Mala was a very attractive young woman," he writes.
"When we arrived, Henry got up from his old rocking chair without being asked and sat at the
kitchen table, staring at this beautiful apparition who had miraculously turned up in his hovel.
"He seemed mesmerised and never took his eyes off her as she inspected his teeth."
The dentist duly returned with a nurse and pulled out all the teeth.
"Henry sat with eyes and mouth wide open during the entire procedure, never uttering a sound,"
"Despite the operation, he wore a huge, gummy smile."
At the age of 44, Frank Madill decided he needed a new direction in life.
"After practising in the one place for nearly 20 years, I had got to know a lot of my patients
as friends,"he says.
"Many of these were elderly people in the latter stages of their lives. I became increasingly
dismayed as I learnt that I could not alleviate all their health problems, and I was often
upset when one passed away."
No doubt there's something to be said for patients who stick with their doctor until they die.
But Frank Madill was persuaded by Robin Gray to stand as a candidate for State Parliament.
That's another story, and is still to come.