Emerald’s Wendy McPhee has been recognised for her service to rural communities with the ‘Backbone of the Bush’ award during the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland’s David Horn Memorial Dinner.
Awarded each year by the Queensland Rural Medical Family Network (QRMFN), the ‘Backbone of the Bush Award’ recognises the incredible contributions made by the spouses and partners of Queensland’s rural doctors.
Mrs McPhee said she didn’t expect to be nominated for the award and was surprised by the announcement that she’d won.
“The rural doctors are such a great bunch and there’s so many wives that do so much that being singled out is definitely an honour,” she said.
Born in Longreach, Wendy and husband, Dr Ewen McPhee, returned to the rural landscape as soon as they could.
“I grew up in the bush, and when Ewen graduated from medicine he was bonded so we chose to go to Charleville as our first choice,” she said.
“Everyone else in his year thought it was crazy, but we were happy to go back to the country.”
After several years practicing in Charleville, the couple relocated to Emerald and have remained there for the past 29 years.
“We started our practice with just Ewen and I, so I had to do everything that he didn’t do as the doctor,” Mrs McPhee said.
“I had to learn about running a practice and then when we got second doctors it was up to me to introduce them to the practice and the town.
“The more at home you made them feel, the more likely they were to stay.”
Humbled by the award, Mrs McPhee said she loved her time in Emerald and other rural Queensland communities.
“I haven’t really moved that far from home I guess, but I’ve gone a long way round to get there,” she said.
“We’ve just made it our home and I’ve very much enjoyed my life in the bush and raising my children there.”