Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Sad End for First Doctor; Looking Back with Di Millar

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Sad End for First Doctor; Looking Back with Di Millar

Article excerpt

NO MEDICS: Tumbulgum township around the turn of the 19th century.

EARLY Tweed settlers relied on the services of travelling medical practitioners and while they were grateful for any treatment provided, the arrangement was far from ideal. Patients often lay in agony while waiting for the doctor who had to travel long distances to reach them and a large number of people died before medical aid arrived.

The Tweed River district was in desperate need of a permanent medical officer who could be easily summoned to any emergency.

On July 17, 1882, Richard Sullivan arrived in Sydney from London on board the Windsor Castle. He was employed as the ship's surgeon during the voyage.

Dr Sullivan stayed in the NSW colony and submitted to the NSW Medical Board his necessary testimonials and qualifications in order to practice medicine. On Tuesday, September 19, 1882, the NSW Government Gazette published a list of people entitled to be deemed legally qualified medical practitioners that included the name of Richard Tresillian Sullivan.

Mr Ernest Hermann, who had first begun work as a saddler in Lismore and then later qualified as an apothecary in the same town, opened a business in Tumbulgum in 1882, working as both a saddler and a dispenser. Mr Hermann acted as a dispenser to the first doctor to settle permanently on the Tweed River at Tumbulgum, Dr Richard T Sullivan LRCP (Licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians).

It is easy to imagine the excitement felt by the local citizenry at the prospect of having their own doctor close at hand. A 39-year-old single, highly educated man from Ireland was also likely to create a great deal of interest among the local women folk who were on the matrimonial market.

By the end of July 1883, local building contractor John Trout had put the finishing touches to a cottage for Dr Sullivan on an allotment at Tumbulgum, formerly the property of Mr William R Isaacs JP, who was the manager of the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company's mill at Condong. …

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