Roderic Sutherland receives Member of the Order of Australia recognition

FORMER Natimuk doctor Roderic Sutherland has been recognised with one of Australia’s highest honours being named a Member of the Order of Australia.

Dr Sutherland has received the recognition for significant service to medicine as a general practitioner and to the Natimuk community.

He was the sole practitioner at the Natimuk Bush Nursing Hospital from 1959 until 1988.

Dr Sutherland is a life member of the Australian Medical Association and he founded the Bird Observers Club of Australia’s Horsham Branch.

He has also been involved in Horsham Rotary Club, Mt Arapiles-Tooan State Park Advisory Committee, Natimuk Field and Game Club, Natimuk Tennis Club, Natimuk Golf Club and Natimuk Book Club.

Dr Sutherland said the recognition was a great surprise.

“I didn’t expect it,” he said.

“It’s nice to see solo practitioners in the country towns recognised.

“It’s a hard job, you’re on duty all the time.

“It’s hard on your family, you can’t take holidays when you want to take them.

“But if I had my time again I’d do the same thing.

“I wanted to be a doctor even from an early age.”

Dr Sutherland finished his studies and became a doctor in 1952.

He worked at a number of different hospitals including Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital and Royal Children’s Hospital and completed a stint abroad in England.

After his time in England Dr Sutherland, his wife Barbara who he met at the Royal Children’s Hospital and their young family decided to move back to Australia.

Dr Sutherland said it was then time to go rural.

“I loved the country and I loved this area,” he said.

Dr Sutherland bought the Natimuk practice from a retiring doctor.

He said it was a great decision.

“Natimuk is a wonderful town,” he said.

“Everyone knows each other – it’s like a family.”

He said he saw everything, including thousands of births, car crashes and sporting injuries. 

“I was a jack of all trades,” he said.

“It was very satisfying.”

Dr Sutherland said as the only doctor in town, he had stories that could fill several books during his time as a general practitioner.

”One time I went out to a party in the middle of the night where there had been a bit of a fight,” he said.

“When I got there a man was dead.

“Suddenly I was looking down the barrel of a shotgun.

“He told me if I didn’t save the man’s life he was going to shoot me.

“My hair was standing on end, but I grabbed his gun, uncocked it to get the cartridges out and realised there were no cartridges at all.”

Dr Sutherland retired in 1988.

He still lives in the area with his wife Barbara and his jack russell dog Jodie.

Healthcare seems to be in the Sutherland’s blood; Dr Sutherland’s three children Ian, Anne and Bruce are all in the health industry.

Ian is a general practitioner at Port Fairy, Bruce is a pharmacist at St Arnaud and Anne is a nurse.

Dr Sutherland and Mrs Sutherland will attend the Australia Day celebrations at Natimuk.


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