I’m coming to the end of my medical days and I thought I would go back to Bourke in NSW, where I had worked for three and a half years in the early 1970s, as a fitting place to do a locum and then retire from clinical medicine. I’ve always liked the place. There is something magical about Bourke and its history and people. I did my locum and I really enjoyed it. But … one weekend, I went to the cemetery to pay homage to some of the people I had worked with in the 1970s, particularly Aboriginal leaders Bill Reid and Wally Byers, as well as Fred Hollows. Wally’s grave was completely unmarked, and Bill and his wife’s graves were marked with a picket with a tag on them. Compared with the size of Fred’s grave, I found this to be completely offensive. They had worked with Fred and me; they were my friends. So I thought, I’ve got to do something about this. I sought out an Aboriginal man, an artist called Bobby Mackay, who’s originally from Bourke. He said it would be an enormous honour to make headstones for them, because he knew them both. Once the headstones are up, probably towards the end of the year, I will try and do another locum in Bourke and that will be my clinical swan song. I’ll retire when my registration runs out next September. I’ve got a lot of writing still to do, and I think my wife, Jackie (pictured), deserves a bit more of my time.

Dr Max Kamien
Perth, WA